Yunus Khan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Yunus Khan
Central Asia around 1450 A.D.
Mogul Khan of Moghulistan
Reign c. 1462 – 1487
Predecessor Esen Buqa II
Successor Mahmud Khan (Western Moghulistan)
Ahmad Alaq (Eastern Moghulistan)
Born c. 1416
Died c. 1487
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Spouse Aisan Daulat Begum
Shah Begum
Issue Mihr Nigar Khanum
Qutlugh Nigar Khanum
Khub Nigar Khanum
Mahmud Khan
Ahmad Alaq
Sultan Nigar Khanum
Daulat Sultan Khanum
House Borjigin
Father Uwais Khan
Mother Daulat Sultan Sakanj
Religion Islam

Yunus Khan (c. 1416 – 1487) (Uyghur: يونس خان‎), was Khan of Moghulistan from 1462 until his death in 1487. He is identified by many historians with Ḥājjī `Ali (Chinese: 哈只阿力, Pinyin: Hazhi Ali) (Uyghur: ھاجى علي‎), of the contemporary Chinese records.[1][2] He was the maternal grandfather of Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire.

Background and family[edit]

Yunus Ali was the eldest son of Uwais Khan (or Vais Khan) of Moghulistan. When Vais Khan was killed in 1428 AD, the Moghuls were split as to who should succeed him. Although Yunus Khan was his eldest son, the majority favored Yunus' younger brother, Esen Buqa.[1] As a result, Yunus and his supporters fled to Ulugh Beg, the Timurid ruler of Transoxiana, who however imprisoned the group. Ulugh Beg's father, Shah Rukh, took charge of the young Yunus and treated him well. He sent Yunus to Yazd in Iran to study under Maulana Sharaf ad-Din Ali Yazdi. Yunus Khan spent several years studying under the Maulana in Yazd, in the process becoming one of the most educated Moghuls of his time. After the Maulana died, Yunus wandered around for some time before settling on Shiraz (also in Iran) as a home.

The following observation was made by a religious dignitary to Muhammad-Haydar Mirza Dughlat:

I had heard that Yunus Khan was a Moghul, and I concluded that he was a beardless man, with the ways and manners of any other Turk of the desert. But when I saw him, I found he was a person of elegant deportment, with a full beard and a Tajik face, and such refined speech and manner, as is seldom to be found even in a Tajik.[3]

Early career[edit]

In 1456, Abu Sa'id, the Timurid ruler of Transoxiana, sent for Yunus Khan. Abu Sa'id had become annoyed with the frequent raids that the Moghuls under Esen Buqa made into his territory and wanted to put an end to the menace. He knew that Esen Buqa and his brother Yunus were sworn enemies, and reckoned that it would be advantageous to set Yunus against his brother, because Yunus had both a claim on his brother's throne and kinship ties within the community; he also had the required motivation to make the most of this opportunity. Abu Sa'id therefore raised Yunus to khanship by placing him at the head of an army and sent him to Moghulistan to reduce his brother.

As expected, Yunus Khan's ties of kinship and claim to leadership proved an advantage. Yunus quickly gained the support of several amirs and married the daughter one of those amirs, Mir Pir Haji Kunji. Her name was Isan Daulat Begum, and she is believed to have been his first wife, although he was already about 40 years old by this time. She would bear Yunus three daughters:

  1. Mihr Nigar Khanim (b. 1457), wife of Sultan Ahmed Mirza, eldest son of Yunus Khan's mentor Abu Sa'id
  2. Qutlugh Nigar Khanum (b. 1459), wife of Umar Shaikh Mirza II, fourth son of Abu Sa'id and younger brother of Sultan Ahmed. Their only son, Babur, would become the founder of the Mughal empire
  3. Khub Nigar Khanim (b. 1463). After her father died, her half-brother (see below) gave her in marriage to Muhammad Hussain Mirza Kurkan. She became the mother of Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, famous historian and future ruler of Kashmir.

Despite his success in making allies, Yunus did not succeed in his project, perhaps because he had no experience of war. When he moved to take the town of Kashgar, he was met by the joined army of Amir Sayyid Ali of Kashgar and Esen Buqa, and in the ensuing battle, he was defeated. Soon afterwards, he retreated from Moghulistan and returned to the court of Abu Sa'id, who gave him territory around Lake Issyk-Kul as a fiefdom. After a while, Yunus Khan again entered Moghulistan and again gained the support of the amirs, but was unable to make any substantial gains in the country against Esen Buqa.

In 1457, dughlat Amir Sayyid Ali of Kashgar (Esen Buqa's ally the previous year) died and his son Saniz Mirza sought Yunus Khan's assistance to gain power in Kashgar. Yunus Khan came into Kashgar after receiving this invitation. Shortly afterwards, he sent one of the most respectable Sayyids of Kashgar, Amir Zia-ud-Din, to Badakhshan to meet Shah Sultan Muhammad Badakhshi and seek one of his six daughters in marriage. Shah Sultan Muhammad Badakhshi (also known as "Prince Lali") was believed to be a direct descendant of Iskandar Zulkarnain (Alexander the Great), son of Filikus Rumi (Phillip II of Macedon), who according to (dubious) legend left one of his sons in the isolated mountain country out of reach of rivals in hope that his progeny would continue his dynasty in the East. Prince Lali agreed to gave a daughter to Yunus Khan in marriage. He entrusted his fourth daughter Shah Begum to Sayyid Zia-ud-Din, who brought her back with him to Kashgar and delivered her over to Yunus Khan, and the marriage was celebrated with due ceremony. Note that Yunus Khan entered into his second marriage just around one year after his first marriage, and he was already around 40 years old by this time. This would indicate that because of his poverty and lack of prospects, he had been unable to secure wives of respectable rank until this time. Anyway, he was blessed with progeny by both wives and was soon the father of a numerous family. Yunus Khan begat two sons and two daughters by Shah Begum:

  1. Sultan Mahmud Khan, eldest child by Shah Begum, born in 1462.
  2. Sultan Ahmad Khan, second son, known later as Alacha (Slayer) Khan for his brutal attempts to usurp absolute power in the Steppe by slaughtering the Kalmaks.
  3. Sultan Nigar Khanim, wife of Sultan Mahmud Mirza, third son of Yunus Khan's mentor Abu Sa'id
  4. Daulat Sultan Khanim, daughter


In 1462, Yunus's brother Esen Buqa died, and the Moghuls were divided over whether to support Yunus or Esen Buqa's son, Dost Muhammad as his successor. Dost Mohammad took up residence in Aksu, abandoning thus the nomad style of life and becoming the ruler of all settled lands in Eastern Moghulistan, known at the time as Uyghurstan. The dughlat amir of Kashgar Muhammad Haidar Mirza supported Dost Muhammad, but his brother Saniz Mirza, the amir of Yarkand (who, it will be recollected, had invited Yunus into Kashgar in 1457) supported Yunus Khan, and expelled the former from Kashgar, but he died after only a few years, in 1464, and Dost Muhammad plundered Kashgar. In 1468 or 1469, however, Dost Muhammad died and Yunus Khan seized Aksu. Dost Muhammad's son, Kebek Sultan, was whisked away to Turpan (Uyghurstan), where he ruled for a few years.

As Khan, Yunus Khan maintained good relations with the Khazak Horde founders (in 1465-1466), Janybek Khan and Karai Khan, and the Timurids. As a consequence of his alliance with the Khazaks, he made an enemy out of the rival Uzbeks. In 1468 the Uzbeks under Shaikh Haidar came into conflict with the Moghuls; they were defeated and Shaikh Haidar was killed, breaking Uzbek power until the rise of Muhammad Shaibani.

Yunus' dealings with the Timurids were far more complex. The Timurid ruler Abu Sa'id had been Yunus Khan's great mentor in life, who had called him from obscurity and exile and bestowed lands and an army upon him. After Abu Sa'id Mirza was killed by the White Sheep Turkmen in 1468, his realm was split between his sons. The eldest son, Sultan Ahmad Mirza, ruled over Samarkand & Bukhara, the third son, Sultan Mahmud Mirza took Balkh & Badakhshan, and the fourth son, Umar Shaikh Mirza II, became the ruler of Ferghana. All three of these princes were to eventually marry three daughters of Yunus Khan, but his relationship with them began on a discordant note.

By the time Abu Sa'id Mirza was killed in 1468, Yunus Khan had been overlord of the Mughals for about six years. During this time, his support among his principal amirs (noblemen) had eroded. The amirs were apparently upset over Yunus Khan's desire to reside in the towns and abandon the traditional nomad style. Since he had spent much of his early life in the towns of Yazd and Shiraz as a student, Yunus Khan ahd developed a taste for settled life in towns and a certain discomfort with the nomadic lifestyle of his community, the Mughals. This was a major issue in that milieu, and the amirs invited Sultan Ahmad's governor of Tashkent, Shaikh Jamal Khan, to displace Yunus Khan and usurp power. This duly happened; the Moghuls submitted to Shaikh Jamal Khan, who took over power and also imprisoned Yunus Khan for a year. However, the amirs soon had cause to regret the choice they had made, for Shaikh Jamal Khan was not a wise and moderate man and he was given to over-reach. He demonstrated these qualities strikingly when he gave Yunus Khan's first wife, Isan Daulat Begum, (maternal grandmother of Babur) as a present (or booty of war) to his officer Khoja Kalan. However, when Khoja Kalan entered Isan Daulat Begum's apartments to claim her for himself, he was trapped inside and killed there by female attendants of Isan Daulat Begum, and thus the lady managed to preserve her honour. It was Shaikh Jamal Khan who lost his honour in the eyes of the amirs. Shortly after this event, Shaikh Jamal himself was killed by Moghul amirs, in 1472, and Yunus Khan was restored, after promising not to live in the towns. Shortly afterwards, he learned that Kebek Sultan had been killed by his followers, allowing him to take control of Eastern Moghulistan (Uyghurstan) in the same year 1472.

After Shaikh Jamal was killed, Yunus Khan actively participated in the affairs of the Timurids. He made most prominent of Timurid sultans his sons-in-law, having married off his daughters to Sultan Ahmad Mirza ( Mihr Nigar Khanim ), Umar Shaikh Mirza II in 1475 (Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, their son was Babur, founder of the Great Moghul Empire in India) and Sultan Mahmud Mirza (Sultan Nigar Khanim, their son was Sultan Vais Mirza better known as Mirza Khan, future King of Badakhshan ), and kept on friendly terms with Umar Shaikh Mirza II, who frequently relied on him for assistance against Sultan Ahmad and gave him territory to reside in during the winters. In 1484 Yunus Khan took advantage of the conflict between Sultan Ahmad and Umar Shaikh Mirza II and took Tashkent. His decision to live in the city upset the Moghuls, and many of them left for Moghulistan under Yunus' son Ahmad Alaq. Yunus Khan was also unable to prevent the rise of the Dughlat Mirza Abu Bakr, who had earlier taken Yarkand, Khotan and Kashgar from other members of his family, and defeated Yunus Khan's attempts to quell him.

During the Ming Turpan Border Wars he had taken Hami in 1473, but the Chinese evicted him into Turfan.

Yunus Khan died in Taskhent in 1487 after a long illness. He was succeeded in Tashkent by his eldest son, Sultan Mahmud Khan, while the Moghuls in the east followed Ahmad Alaq.


Genealogy of Chughatai Khanates

In Babr Nama written by Babur, Page 19, Chapter 1; described genealogy of his maternal grandfather Yunas Khan as:

"Yunas Khan descended from Chaghatai Khan, the second son of Chingiz Khan (as follows,) Yunas Khan, son of Wais Khan, son of Sher-'ali Aughlon, son of Muhammad Khan, son of Khizr Khwaja Khan, son of Tughluq-timur Khan, son of Aisan-bugha Khan, son of Dawa Khan, son of Baraq Khan, son of Yesuntawa Khan, son of Muatukan, son of Chaghatai Khan, son of Chingiz Khan"


Genealogy of Younas Khan/Haji Ali according to Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat
  1. Chingiz Khan (known in the west as Genghis Khan)
  2. Chaghatai Khan
  3. Mutukan
  4. Yesü Nto'a
  5. Ghiyas-ud-din Baraq
  6. Duwa
  7. Esen Buqa I
  1. Tughlugh Timur
  2. Khizr Khoja
  3. Muhammad Khan (Khan of Moghulistan)
  4. Shir Ali Oglan
  5. Uwais Khan(Vaise Khan)
  6. Yunus Khan, the subject of this page
  7. Ahmad Alaq
  1. Sultan Said Khan
  2. Abdurashid Khan
  3. Abdul Karim Khan (Yarkand)



  1. ^ a b Rossabi 1976
  2. ^ Morris Rossabi (28 November 2014). From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi. BRILL. pp. 48–. ISBN 978-90-04-28529-3. 
  3. ^ W.M. Thackston, Jr. (2002). The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor.
  4. ^ The Babur Nama in English, Zahiru'd-din Mubammad Babur Padshah Ghdzt, ANNETTE SUSANNAH BEVERIDGE
  5. ^ The Tarikh-i-Rashidi: a history of the Moghuls of central Asia by Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat; Editor: N. Elias,Translated by Sir Edward Denison Ross,Publisher:S. Low, Marston and co., 1895


Preceded by
Esen Buqa II
Moghul Khan
Succeeded by
Sultan Mahmud and Ahmad Alaq