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Timurid Queens of Babar's Zenanah

Updated: May 8, 2023


Timurid Dynasty

Kutluk (also spelled as Qutlugh) Nigar Khanum, Babur's mother, was the Princess of Moghulistan, Persian for "Land of the Moghuls" - she was then married to the ruler of Ferghana, Umar Shaikh Mirza II.

Her father was a Mongol prince and came into power with the help of the father of Umer Sheikh II, Abu Said Mirza. So to show gratitude to his well-wisher, he married his daughters to the sons of Abu Said Mirza, the Timurid Emperor.

Widowed, she accompanied her son, trying to protect him. Babur wrote about their dire situation: he and his party were down to two tents, one for him and one for his mother. She died in 1505, the time coinciding with the death of Babur's grandmother, Aisan Daulat Begum.

Zainab Sultan also died of smallpox during the same time. Although he was never very close to Zainab, his second wife, or his first wife, Ayisha Sultan, who left him after their only daughter died in infancy, it left Babur bereft.

The following year he married Maham Begum, his favorite wife, with whom he had five children, out of which only Humayun survived. He also married Masumah Begum, his distant cousin, who fell in love with him at first sight.

Babur then married Dildar Begum and Gulrukh Begum. Two of Dildar's children, Hindal and Gulbadan, were adopted by Maham. Her son, Alwar, died in infancy. Although Maham was crowned the Padshah Begum, Khanzada returned, and the title was given to her.

Both of Dildar's children proved to be very important to history. Prince Hindal was put under house arrest by Prince Kamran Mirza in Kabul, for he refused to swear allegiance to him after Sher Shah defeated Humayun.

As for Gulbadan, the memoirs of the princess in Turki and Persian became one of the most important sources for early Timurid-Mughal history. Princess Gulbadan mentions a very interesting woman in her memoirs: Bibi Mubarika, the daughter of Malik Shah Mansur.

She lovingly refers to her as "Afghani Agacha" - Malik Shah Mansur married his daughter to Babur after Bajaur fell into Babur's hands. Shah Mansur was a notable Yousafzai tribal chieftain. It was under her supervision that Humayun shifted Babur’s remains to be buried in Kabul. She stood up to Sher Shah to defend her husband's corpse. Tawus Khan, Shah Mansur's brother, carried Bibi Mubaraka and the tribe's tribute to Babur's camp. Her brother, Mir Jamal, entered Babur's services Babur and accompanied him in the famed battle of Panipat.

Her brother rose amongst the ranks later, but perhaps this was a sacrifice on his part to ensure his sister's safety. Ulugh Beg's massacre of some 700 Pakhtun chieftains hadn't been forgotten. However, Babur was the dawn of the dark legacy between Timurids & Afghans.

Bibi Mubarika, Babur's forgotten queen, remained childless. However, after Babur's demise, she was a part of her stepson, Humayun's, Zenanah. She was well respected. There is also evidence of Humayun being very upset with Kamran for being mildly disrespectful to Bibi Mubaraka.

 

This blog has been written by Komal Salman.


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