Khanzada Begum

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Khanzada Begum
Empress consort of the Shaybanid Empire
Timurid princess
Tenure 1500 - 1510
Spouse Shaybani Khan
Mahdi Khwaja
Issue Khurram Shah
House House of Timur (by birth)
House of Shaybanids (by marriage)
Father Umar Sheikh Mirza
Mother Qutlugh Nigar Khanum
Born 1478
Andizhan, Ferghana, Uzbekistan
Died September, 1545 (aged 66-67)
Qandahar, Afghanistan
Burial Gardens of Babur
Religion Islam

Khanzada Begum (1478–1545) was a Timurid princess as the eldest daughter of Umar Sheikh Mirza, the ruler of Ferghana and his first wife and chief consort Qutlugh Nigar Khanum. She was also the elder sister of Emperor Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire and the first Mughal Emperor. Later, her nephew, Humayun, succeeded her brother as the second Mughal Emperor.

Khanzada Begum is frequently mentioned in the Humayun Nama by her niece Gulbadan Begum, who calls her aunt 'Dearest Lady' (aka janam). During her lifetime, Khanzada Begum also bore the honorific and exclusive title of Padshah Begum which was conferred upon her by her brother, Emperor Babur. Therefore, Khanzada was really the first lady of the Mughal Empire after Babur's death. On many occasions she intervened during political difficulties between her relatives and more specifically her nephews.[1]

Early life[edit]

Khanzada Begum was born in 1478 in Andizhan, Ferghana as the eldest daughter of Umar Sheikh Mirza and his first wife and chief consort Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, who was a princess of Moghulistan.[2] Her younger brother, Babur, was born five years after her birth in 1483, and went on to become the founder of the Mughal Empire of India as well as its first Emperor.

Khanzada's paternal grandfather was Abu Sa'id Mirza, the Emperor of the Timurid Empire while her maternal grandfather was Yunus Khan, the Khan of Moghulistan. Khanzada was thus, a descendant of Genghis Khan from her mother's side and a direct descendant of Timur from her father's side.


Shaybani Khan Uzbek[edit]

Shaybani Khan Uzbek, the ruler of Persia and Khan of the Uzbeks

In 1500-01, the conflict between Khanzada's brother, Babur, and the Uzbeks was at its most intense. For six months, Shaybani Khan Uzbek besieged Babur in Samarkand. None of Khanzada and Babur's powerful relatives, such as their paternal uncles, Sultan Husain Mirza Bayqura, the ruler of Greater Khorasan, sent Babur help.[3] At this time, Shaybani Khan sent a message to Babur, proposing that if Babur would marry his sister Khanzada Begum to him, there would be a lasting alliance between them. According to Khanzada's niece, Gulbadan Begum, "at length it had to be done, he gave the Begum to the Khan, and came out himself (from Samarkand) ... in this plight, unarmed, and relying on God, he went towards the land of Badakshan... and Kabul."[3]

According to the Baburnama, in 1500, Khanzada's brother Babur had to abandon Samarkand, after a five month siege by Muhammad Shaybani Khan, at this time Khanzada fell to Shaybani Khan (as his share of the war captives).[4] According to the Akbarnama, Henry Beveridge, writes that according to the Shaybani-nama, Khanzada's marriage with Shaybani Khan was a love-match. He also suggests the probability that "Babur has not mentioned the whole of the circumstances and that her [Khanzada] being left behind was a part of Babur's agreement with Shaybani.[3] In July of 1500, Khanzada's maternal aunt, Princess Mihr Nigar Khanum, had been captured by Shaybani Khan and forcibly married to him, 'as part of the spoils'. She was divorced when Shaybani resolved to marry her Timurid niece, Khanzada Begum, as it is unlawful in Islam for both aunt and niece to be wedded to the same man.[5]

After their marriage, Khanzada and Shaybani had one child together, a son, Khurram, who died in childhood.[2] Shaybani later divorced Khanzada because she leaned towards her brother's side in disputed matters.[6]

Mahdi Khwaja[edit]

After divorcing Khanzada, Shaybani gave her in marriage to a certain Sayyid Hada, a man of lower rank, who died in the Battle of Marv along with Shaybani himself in 1510. In 1511, at the age of thirty three she was returned to Babur at Qunduz by Shah Ismail with an escort of soldiers. Along with Khanzada, came an envoy of Shah Ismail offering friendship and a promise to consider military help under certain conditions. In return, Babur sent Wais Khan Mirza with gifts to the Court of Shah Ismail.[7]

Khanzada's third marriage took place with Muhammad Mahdi Khwaja at an unknown date. Annette Beveridge says that it possible that the marriage took place within no long time after her return. It is probable that Mahdi's joining of Babur and his marriage with Khanzada took place in the decade 1509−1519, of which no record is known to survive. Mahdi was with Babur in 1519 and is frequently mentioned subsequently.[8]


Khanzada apparently did not have any children after her son with Shaybani. She had taken charge of Mahdi's younger sister, Sultanam Begum, since she was two years old. Khanzada had loved Sultanam immensely as though she were her own brother's daughter.[9] She reared her sister-in-law to become the wife of her nephew, the Mughal prince Hindal Mirza, who was the youngest son of Emperor Babur from his wife Dildar Begum.[10] Sultanam and Hindal married in 1537, and their wedding feast was arranged by Khanzada Begum; the feast, known as the 'Mystic Feast' was a grand affair being attended by innumerable imperial and royal guests as well as high ranking nobles and amirs. Gulbadan Begum states that such a wedding feast had not been organized previously for any other children of Babur. Mahdi Khwaja had presented his brother-in-law, Hindal, with a large amount of dowry and Khanzada Begum also gave extravagant gifts.[11]


Khanzada Begum died at Qabal-chak in September of 1545 while she was accompanying her nephew, Emperor Humayun, who was on his way from Qandahar to meet his younger step-brother, Kamran Mirza.[12] She had been suffering from fever for three days which resulted in her death on the fourth day. The doctor's remedies were of no avail. At first, her body was buried at Qabal-chak, but three months later her body was brought to Kabul and laid in the Gardens of Babur, at her brother's place of burial.[12]


  1. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (2004). The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. Reaktion Books. p. 145. ISBN 1861891857. 
  2. ^ a b Babur; edited,,; Rushdie, annotated by Wheeler M. Thackston (2002). The Baburnama : Memoirs of Babur, prince and emperor (Modern Library pbk. ed. ed.). Modern Library. p. 11. ISBN 9780375761379. 
  3. ^ a b c Lal, Ruby (2005). Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World. Cambridge University Press. p. 130. ISBN 0521850223. 
  4. ^ Zahir Uddin Muhammad Babur (2006). Babur Nama : Journal of Emperor Babur. translated from the Turkish by Annette Susannah Beveridge; abridged, edited and introduced by Dilip Hiro (1.publ. ed.). Penguin Books. p. 12. ISBN 9780144001491. 
  5. ^ Balabanlilar, Lisa. Imperial Identity in the Mughal Empire : Memory and Dynastic Politics in Early Modern South and Central Asia. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 22. ISBN 9781848857261. 
  6. ^ Abul Fazl (1977). Volume 1 of The Akbar Nāma of Abu-l-Fazl: History of the Reign of Akbar Including an Account of His Predecessors, Abū al-Faz̤l ibn Mubārak. Ess Ess Publications. p. 222. 
  7. ^ Emperor Babur. Babur Nama: Journal of Emperor Babur. Penguin Books. p. 198. ISBN 9780144001491. 
  8. ^ Gulbadan, p. 251
  9. ^ Gulbadan, p. 126
  10. ^ Gulbadan, p. 127
  11. ^ Gulbadan, p. 128
  12. ^ a b Gulbadan, p. 175