Mughal Emperor Humayun (also Nasir-ud-din Muhammad Humayun) was born in Kabul in 1508 (March 17) and although he had received education due to the arrangements made by Babur and acquired knowledge of Turki, Arabic and Persian he does not seem to have developed any scholarly interest in anything. He learnt Hindi after Babur’s conquest of northern India. He acquired experience of battle in Panipat and Khanua during his early life when he was barely eighteen. In 1526, he was assigned Hisar Firuza and afterwards he was given Sambhal as jagir. After the battle of Khanua, he was put in charge of Badakhshan where he fell sick and was brought to Agra. Babur nominated him as his successor while on death bed.
King Humayun’s accession to the throne was delayed by four days (Babur‘s death Dec. 26, Humayun’s accession Dec. 30), during which attempts were made to set aside his claim and place Mahdi Khwaja on the throne. Situation at the time of his accession was not an easy one as there were hostile forces on all sides and as these were disguised, so were more dangerous. Prime Minister Nizam-ud-din Muhammad Khalifa had sustained a very poor opinion of Humayun and preferred to support Mahdi Khwaja, brother-in-law of Humayun to the throne. The situation therefore, was intriguing. There was also no unity in the royal family and Humayun’s cousins Muhammad Zaman and Muhammad Sultan were pretenders to the throne.
Among the Muslims, the theory of primogeniture was not strictly followed which made Humayun’s three brothers Kamran, Hindal and Askari aspirants to the throne.
Humayun’s court was full of nobles who were busy in engineering plots for occupation of the throne. His empire which included the provinces of Balkh, Qunduz, Badakhshan in Central Asia, and Multan, the Punjab, the modern Uttar Pradesh; Bihar, Gwalior, Bayana, Dholpur and Chanderi in India was not completely reduced to submission and was ill organized.
The Afghan chiefs within the empire were not subdued. Mahmud Lodi, brother of Ibrahim Lodi, the last Sultan of Delhi was still a claimant to the Delhi throne. Sher Khan was trying to weld the Afghans into a powerful community in order to set up an independent kingdom with their help. Bibban and Bayazid were looking for the opportunity to recover the territories from which they had been expelled. Nusrat Shah, Sultan of Bengal was trying hard to organize an Afghan confederacy to contain the Mughals. Alam Khan who along with Daulat Khan had invited Babur to invade India, collected an army with the help of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, sent his son Tarta Khan to invade Agra. Humayun’s near relations, the Mirzas were his rivals. Besides, his brothers Kamran, Askari and Hindal were all ambitious to occupy the throne. Kamran who was in charge of Kabul and Qandahar turned his covetous eye on the Delhi throne.
The situation demanded a ruler of much political wisdom, military skill and diplomatic ability. But Humayun lacked all these qualities. His lack of these qualities proved to be the major cause of his undoing. He was no doubt a man endowed with intellectual taste and love of culture, but he hopelessly lacked the determination, perseverance, practical wisdom and above all, discretion which were the need of the hour.
Humayun, immediately on accession to the throne, took a step which showed some brotherly feeling and liberality of mind, but no political wisdom. He divided his empire between his brothers, thinking that it would be possible for him to disarm his brothers by making them partners of his empire. Kamran was not only confirmed in his possession of Kabul and Kandahar but was allowed to keep in his possession the Punjab and Hisar Firuza which had been forcibly seized by him. Askari was given Sambhal in assignment. Hindal was given jagir in Mewat instead of Badakhshan. Mewat comprised the extensive territories of Gurgaon, Mathura and part of Agra and Alwar which was his capital. Humayun’s cousin Sulaiman Mirza was given Badakshan.
Possession of Kabul and Qandahar by Kamran, who was openly hostile to Humayun, deprived the latter of excellent recruiting grounds for his army. Further, by confirming Kamran’s forceful occupation of the Punjab and Hisar Firuza Humayun not only revealed his weakness but also struck at the root of the integrity of the empire. Possession of Hisar gave Humayun command of the road connecting Delhi and the Punjab. Apart from dividing the empire between his brothers, Humayun also increased the jagir of every Amir.
Conflict with Sher Shah Suri
3. Death of Humayun.