• After the sudden demise of Babur, he was succeeded by his oldest son Humayun. Humayun is probably the only king in the history of India whose rule included two spells, one from 1530-1540 and the other from 1555 to 1556 after his fifteen years’ of exile from India.
  • Humayun, literally means ‘fortunate’ but through most part of his life, he remained ‘unfortunate’. He inherited a rich-legacy of difficulties but he made it richer by his own blunders. As a ruler he lacked foresight and was incapable of taking a long term view of political and military problems. He faced many challenges in firmly establishing the Mughal empire.
  • Due to untimely death of Babur, the administration had not yet been consolidated. Babur spent almost his time in wars and could not take suitable steps to organize the administration of the territories he conquered.
  • The Mughal army was a heterogeneous body of several races – Chaghatais, Uzbeks, Mughals, Persian, Afghans and Hindustanis, etc. Such an army could be kept under control and disciplined only under the leadership of a capable, dashing and inspiring commander like Babur. Humayun was too weak for this purpose.
  • The finances were precarious. After getting enormous wealth from the royal treasuries of Delhi and Ajmer, Babur distributed it so lavishly among his soldiers and nobles that very little were left for Humayun to conduct the affairs of his administration. In due course, these nobles became very powerful and they posed a great threat to the stability of the Mughal Empire.
  • Babur did not urge Humayun to follow the Timurid tradition of dividing the empire among all the brothers as the Empire itself was in infancy. However, on his deathbed, he had counselled him to be kind and forgiving towards his three brothers. Humayun made Kamran the ruler of Kabul and Kandhar, Askari, the ruler of Rohilkhand and Hindal, the ruler of Mewat (comprising the modern territories of Alwar, Mathura and Gurgaon).
  • Thus, his sphere of influence and power was reduced. Moreover, there was ungratefulness and incompetency of Humayun’s brothers.

Retreat and Rise of the Afghans

  • Even after the Battle of Ghaghra, the Afghans had not been subdued, and were nursing the hope of expelling the Mughals. The Afghans who were ruling Delhi a few years back still had ambition to capture power again.
  • Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat, was also an Afghan. He was also ambitious of the throne of Delhi. But the most important and powerful Afghan, who later drove away Humayun, was Sher Shah in the East. Hence it was Bahadur Shah in the West and Sher Shah in the East which hemmed in Humayun and he fought many battles with them.
  • Humayun failed to estimate the growing power of Sher Shah Suri. He should not have accepted the half-hearted submission of Sher Shah when Humayun besieged the Chunar fort. In fact he should have nipped him in the bud.
  • But Humayun lacked resolution and sustained energy, foresight and quick grasp of situation. In the Battle of Kannauj, he made blunders in choosing a low land for encampment and for remaining inactive before the enemy for two months.
  • Thus, many of the troubles of Humayun were of his own making. He did not understand the nature of Afghan power. Due to existence of large numbers of Afghan tribes scattered over north India, the Afghans could always unite under a capable leader and pose a challenge. Without winning over the local ruler and zamindars to his side, the Mughals were bound to remain numerically inferior.
  • Sher Khan was superior to Humayan in preparing and planning battles and in fighting the enemy. Sher Shah had more experience, more knowledge of strategies, and more organizing capacity. He never missed an opportunity and could use wily tricks and crafty means to conquer the enemy.
  • Even in the case of Bahadur Shah, Humayun lacked military strategy and quick decision making thus kept losing opportunities. Rajputs requested him for assistance and entreated him to attack Bahadur Shah at Chittor. However, Humayun wasted time, thus allowing his opponents to make adequate preparations and to consolidate their positions.
  • But, still the Gujarat Campaign was not a complete failure. While it did not add to the Mughal territories, it destroyed forever the threat posed to the Mughals by Bahadur Shah. Soon after, Bahadur Shah drowned in a scuffle with the Portuguese on board one of their ships.
  • During Humayun’s Malwa Campaign, Sher Shah had further strengthened his position and became unquestioned master of Bihar with widespread support of the Afghans. Soon after, he acquired Bengal also. But Humayun was not prepared to leave Bengal to Sher Khan as it was the land of gold, rich in manufactures, and a centre for foreign trade. Humayun’s march to Bengal, was the prelude to the disaster which overtook his army at Chausa almost a year later. His brother Hindal rebelled against him and Humayun was cut off from all news, supplies and reinforcements.
  • Then Humayun showed bad generalship and political sense by crossing the Karmnasa river and being very weakly positioned against Sher Khan’s onslaught. Humayun barely escaped with his life from the battlefield, swimming across the river with the help of a water carrier. This defeat in battle of Chausa greatly weakened his position. Moreover, again in the Battle of Kannauj, Humayun was defeated.
    This battle decided the issue between Sher Shah and the Mughals. Sher Shah became the new ruler of North India and ordered Humayun to leave India.
Mughal Empire Humayun

Humayun’s Later Life

  • After ruling for ten years, Humayun was forced to spend 15 years out of India. Humayun became a prince without a kingdom. He wandered in Sindh and its neighbouring regions for the next two and a half years, hatching various schemes to regain his kingdom. But neither the ruler of Sindh or Marwar nor his brothers were willing to help him.
    Worse, his own brothers turned against him, and tried to have him killed or imprisoned. Ultimately, Humayun took shelter at the court of Iranian King of Safavid Dynasty, and with his help recaputured Qandhar and Kabul from Kamran in 1545.
  • Although not as vigorous as Babur, Humayun showed himself to be a competent general and politician till his ill-conceived Bengal campaign. In 1555, following the breakup of the Sur empire, he was able to recover Delhi.
  • Humayun’s life was a romantic one. He went from riches to rags, and again from rags to riches. It is not doing justice to Humayun when it is said that he was a failure.
  • True, he failed against Sher Shah but after Sher Shah’s death, he seized every opportunity to come to power. But his spirit was not subdued. Even after 15 years of exile, he could recapture his throne of Delhi and restore the power and prestige of the Mughals. However, he did not live long to enjoy the fruits of victory and died from a fall from the first floor of the library building in his fort in Delhi within six months of coming to power.

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