Khanzada Begum

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Khanzada Begum
Timurid princess
Padshah Begum
Reunion of Khanzada Begum and Babur.jpg
This painting depicts the reunion of Khanzada Begum and Babur in Qunduz, Afghanistan, c. 1511 AD, Baburnama
Empress consort of the Shaybanid Empire
Tenure1501 – ?
Bornc. 1478
Andizhan, Ferghana, Uzbekistan
DiedSeptember 1545 (aged 66–67)
Qandahar, Afghanistan
SpouseShaybani Khan
Sayyid Hada
Mahdi Khwaja
IssueKhurram Shah
HouseHouse of Timur (by birth)
FatherUmar Sheikh Mirza
MotherQutlugh Nigar Khanum

Khanzada Begum (c. 1478 – 1545) was a Timurid princess and the eldest daughter of Umar Shaikh Mirza II, the amir of Ferghana. She was also the elder sister of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire. She and her brother remained deeply attached to each other all their lives, a period during which the family progressed from ruling a tiny and obscure principality in Central Asia to ruling a large portion of the Indian subcontinent. Babur conferred on his sister, the honorable title of Padshah Begum and she was really the first lady of his Empire after his death.

Khanzada Begum is frequently mentioned in the Baburnama, her brother's memoirs, and always with affection and respect. She is also frequently mentioned in the Humayun-nama by her niece Gulbadan Begum, who calls her aunt 'Dearest Lady' (aka janam). Many occasions are described where she intervened during political difficulties between her relatives and more specifically her nephews.[1]

Family and lineage[edit]

Khanzada Begum was born c. 1478 in Andizhan, Ferghana, as the eldest daughter of Umar Sheikh Mirza and his first wife and chief consort Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, 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.[3]

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


Shaybani Khan Uzbek[edit]

Shaybani Khan Uzbek, the 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 uncle, Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqara, the ruler of Greater Khorasan, sent Babur help.[4] 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."[4]

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).[5] 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."[4]

In July 1500, Khanzada's maternal aunt, 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.[6]

After their marriage, Khanzada and Shaybani had one child together, a son, Khurram, who died in his childhood.[2] Shaybani later divorced Khanzada because she leaned towards her brother's side in disputed matters.[7]

Sayyid Hada[edit]

After divorcing Khanzada, Shaybani gave her in marriage to a follower, Sayyid Hada, a man of lower rank, who died in the Battle of Marv along with Shaybani himself in 1510.[8]

Mahdi Khwaja[edit]

In 1511, at the age of thirty-three, Khanzada was returned to Babur at Qunduz by Shah Ismail I (who had defeated Shaybani in the Battle of Marv), 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.[9]

Khanzada's third marriage took place with Muhammad Mahdi Khwaja at an unknown date. Annette Beveridge states that it is 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.[10]


Khanzada apparently did not have any children after her son with Shaybani. She took charge of Mahdi's younger sister, Sultanam Begum, when she was two years old. Khanzada loved Sultanam immensely as though she were her own daughter.[11] She reared her sister-in-law to become the wife of her nephew, Prince Hindal Mirza, who was the youngest son of Babur from his wife Dildar Begum.[12]

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 court amirs. Gulbadan Begum states that such a wedding feast had not been organized previously for any other children of Babur. Mahdi Khwaja presented his brother-in-law, Hindal, with a large amount of dowry and Khanzada Begum also gave extravagant gifts.[13]


Khanzada Begum died at Qabal-chak in September 1545 while she was accompanying her nephew, Humayun, who was on his way from Qandahar to meet his younger half-brother, Kamran Mirza.[14] 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.[14]



  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.). Modern Library. p. 11. ISBN 9780375761379.
  3. ^ Qassem, Dr Ahmad Shayeq (2013). Afghanistan's Political Stability: A Dream Unrealised. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 21. ISBN 9781409499428.
  4. ^ a b c Lal, Ruby (2005). Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World. Cambridge University Press. p. 130. ISBN 0521850223.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Balabanlilar, Lisa (2012). 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Balabanlilar, Lisa (2015). Imperial Identity in the Mughal Empire: Memory and Dynastic Politics in Early Modern South and Central Asia. I.B.Tauris. p. 164. ISBN 9780857732460.
  9. ^ Emperor Babur (2006). Babur Nama: Journal of Emperor Babur. Penguin Books. p. 198. ISBN 9780144001491.
  10. ^ Gulbadan, p. 251
  11. ^ Gulbadan, p. 126
  12. ^ Gulbadan, p. 127
  13. ^ Gulbadan, p. 128
  14. ^ a b Gulbadan, p. 175
  15. ^ Edward James Rapson, Sir Wolseley Haig, Sir Richard Burn, The Cambridge History of India Vol.IV (1937), p. 3
  16. ^ a b c Rapson et al. (1937, p. 3)
  17. ^ B. S. Chandrababu, L. Thilagavathi, Woman, Her History and Her Struggle for Emancipation (2009), p. 201
  18. ^ Rama Shanker Avasthy, The Mughal Emperor Humayun (1967), p. 25
  19. ^ John E Woods, The Timurid Dynasty (1990), p. 35
  20. ^ Woods (1990, p. 35)
  21. ^ Morris Rossabi (28 November 2014). From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi. BRILL. p. 48. ISBN 978-90-04-28529-3.
  22. ^ Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, Sir E. Denison Ross, N. Elilias, A History of the Moghuls of Central Asia: The Tarikh-i-Rashidi (2008), p. 65
  23. ^ Ruby Lal, Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World (2005), p. 107
  24. ^ Dughlat, Ross (1990, p. 86)