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Sultan Husayn Bayqara

Sultan Husayn Bayqara
A portrait of Sultan Husayn Bayqara, from an early illustrated manuscript.
Amir of the Timurid Empire
Reign24 March 1469  – 4 May 1506
PredecessorAbul-Qasim Babur Mirza
Abu Sa'id Mirza
SuccessorBadi' al-Zaman Mirza & Muzaffar Husayn Mirza
BornJune 1438
Herat, present-day Afghanistan
Died4 May 1506 (age 68)
Baba Ilahi, Khurasan
SpousesBega Sultan Begum
Chuli Begum
Shahr Banu Begum
Payanda Sultan Begum
Khadija Begi Agha
Zainab Sultan Begum
Afak Begum
Zobeida Sultan Aghacha
Baba Aghacha
Latifa Sultan Aghacha
Mangeli Bi Aghacha
Begi Sultan Aghacha
IssueBadi' al-Zaman Mirza
Muzaffar Husayn Mirza
Shah Gharīb Mirza
Abul Hassan Mirza
Muhammad Muhsin Mirza
Abu Tarab Mirza
Muhammad Husayn Mirza
Feridun Husayn Mirza
Haider Mirza
Muhammad Maasum Mirza
Farrukh Husayn Mirza
Ibrahim Husayn Mirza
Ibn Husayn Mirza
Muhammad Qasim Mirza
Sultanim Begum
Ak Begum
Kechek Begum
Bega Begum
Agha Begum
Fatima Sultan Begum
Nizhad Sultan Begum
Sa'adat Bakht Begum
Aisha Sultan Begum
Maryam Sultan Begum
Munawar Sultan Begum
Husayn Mirza bin Mansur bin Bayqarah bin Umar Shaikh bin Timur
DynastyTimurid dynasty
FatherMansur Mirza
MotherFiruza Sultan Begum
Coronation of Sultan Husayn Bayqara (attributed to Mansur). Kneeling on a throne inscribed with his name, the ruler is accompanied by his son Badi al-Zaman. To the right, an attendant carries a gold crown, while another shields it with a small, gold parasol. Both objects were the most important attributes of kingship in the Timurid era. Herat, c. 1469. Art and History Collection

Sultan Husayn Bayqara Mirza (Persian: سلطان حسین بایقرا Husayn Bāyqarā; June/July 1438 – 4 May 1506) was the Timurid ruler of Herat from 1469 until May 4, 1506, with a brief interruption in 1470.[1]

A skilled statesman, Sultan Husayn Bayqara was best known for his interest in the arts and was renowned as a benefactor and patron of learning in his kingdom,[2] with his reign being heralded as the second Timurid Renaissance.[3] He has been described as "the quintessential Timurid ruler of the later period in Transoxiana" and his sophisticated court and generous artistic patronage was a source of admiration, particularly from his cousin, the Mughal emperor Babur.[4] Sultan Husayn Bayqara was the last Timurid ruler of consequence in Khorasan.[2]

Early life and lineage

Born in Herat in June or July 1438, Husayn Bayqara's parents were Ghiyas ud-din Mansur Mirza of the Turco-Mongol Barlas tribe and his wife, Firuza Sultan Begum. His parents had four other children; a son, Bayqara Mirza II, as well as three daughters, Aka Biki, Badi al-Jamal and Urun Sultan Khanum.[5]

Husayn's father was a great-grandson of the Central Asian conqueror Timur. His mother was the daughter of Sultan Husayn of the powerful Tayichiud tribe, for whom he was named.[6] Firuza was also herself a great-granddaughter of Timur twice over. Both his parents were also descendants of the Mongol Emperor, Genghis Khan.[1] In addition to this, he claimed descent in the ninth generation from Khwaja Abdullah Ansari of Herat, also known as Pir-e-Herat (Sage of Herat).[7]

Husayn's father Ghiyas ud-din died when he was 7 or 8 years old. Given that the latter was not a noteworthy personality in the Timurid family, Husayn adopted the name Bayqara after his more illustrious grandfather, Bayqara Mirza I.[6] After consulting with his mother, Sultan Husayn (now Sultan Husayn Bayqara) entered the service of his older cousin, Abul-Qasim Babur Mirza, ruler of Herat in 1452.[6] Abul-Qasim Babur Mirza was considered an incompetent ruler.[by whom?] He mismanaged his territory and went into battle against Abu Sa'id Mirza, the Timurid ruler of Samarkand.[8] Husayn Bayqara, not happy with his employment, tried to go over to Abu Sa'id Mirza by meeting with him. Although Abu Sa'id was inclined to take him into his service, a rebellion on part of Husayn Bayqara's relative, Sultan Awais Mirza, son of Muhammad Mirza, son of Bayqara Mirza, induced Abu Sa'id to arrest Husayn Bayqara and other relatives as a precaution.[8] Eventually on the plea of his mother, Firuza Begum, he was freed and he rejoined Abul-Qasim Babur Mirza till the latter's death two years later.[8]

Period of Anarchy in Khurasan

Following Babur's death in 1457, a period of anarchy ensued in Khurasan. Economic instability and lack of central authority with frequent regime changes invited the invasion of the region by the ruler of Samarkand, Abu Sa'id Mirza who occupied Herat on July 19, 1457.[9] But Abu Sa'id Mirza immediately abandoned the city in order to deal with troubles at home. Next came the invasion of the Kara Koyunlu leader, Jahan Shah who took Mazandaran.[10] During this chaotic time Khurasan was divided into many territories;[11]

In Merv and Khwarazm

Husayn Bayqara, unable to compete with these rivals, adopted the life of a mercenary and joined Sultan Sanjar Mirza of Merv who married him to his daughter, Beqa Sultan Begum.[11] To them was born Badi' al-Zaman Mirza.[12]

Sultan Sanjar Mirza and Husayn Bayqara got along well, but in June/July 1457 when Sanjar appointed Husayn in charge of the city while he was absent, Husayn tried to take power. This was due to him suspecting that the chief dignitary, Hasan Arlat was plotting to kill him. Amirs loyal to Sanjar revolted and the attempt failed. Husayn Bayqara was forced to escape with just five horsemen. But outside the city he was joined by the head of security of trade caravans of Iranji sector, Hasan Charkas and his 200 men. This would become Husayn Bayqara's first mercenary force.[12] To solidify this new relationship, he married Hasan Charkas' daughter, Afāk Begum.[13]

He was chased by Sanjar Mirza to Karakum Desert. He was continuously pursued until he was forced to march towards Khwarazm, where he remained between the deserts of Marv and Khiva.[13]

Timurid-Kara Koyunlu Conflict

Recognizing the weakness of Timurid authority in Herat, Jahan Shah invaded and took the city on June 28, 1458, which was now occupied by Ibrahim Mirza's father, Ala al-Dawla Mirza.[14] But Abu Sa'id Mirza could not tolerate this and after negotiations, Jahan Shah decided to return territorial demarcation to Shah Rukh's times. Thus, Khurasan, Mazandaran and Jurjan were returned to the Timurids and Abu Sa'id Mirza returned and took Herat a second time on December 22, 1458.[15]

Conflict with Abu Sa'id Mirza

Husayn Bayqara had now mustered a force of 1,000 men and took Jurjan on October 19, 1458 from the Kara Koyunlu.[16] Abu Sa'id Mirza invaded Jurjan, which Husayn Bayqara hastily abandoned and fled towards Khwarazm again. Abu Sa'id Mirza appointed his son, Sultan Mahmud Mirza as Jurjan's governor. When Husayn Bayqara learned that Abu Sa'id Mirza had left Herat to crush the rebellion of his relative Muhammad Juki, he attacked Jurjan again and at the Battle of Jauzi Wali in May 1461, he defeated Sultan Mahmud Mirza and appointed Abdal-Rahman Arghun the territory's governor.

However, he could not follow up this victory when he besieged Herat from August–October 1461. Abu Sa'id Mirza returned and Husayn Bayqara again fled towards Khwarazm, from where he began making pillaging raids into Khurasan; these raids were conducted in earnest starting in 1464. Seeking to protect himself against Abu Sa'id, he requested the help of the Uzbeks. But that help never came since Abul-Khayr Khan, the Uzbek leader died in 1468. This period of 8 to 10 years was the worst in Husayn Bayqara's life. He wandered from one place to the next at times in dire straits.

Becoming ruler of Khurasan

When Abu Sa'id Mirza went to war against the Aq Qoyunlu, he was defeated at the Battle of Qarabagh and captured. The leader of the Aq Qoyunlu, Uzun Hasan handed him over to the 19-year-old Timurid Yadgar Muhammad Mirza, who had him executed. Upon Abu Sa'ids death, the Timurid Empire collapsed. Taking advantage of Abu Sa'id Mirza's absence, Husayn Bayqara had again entered Khurasan and besieged Herat which he finally captured on March 24, 1469. Thus he became the ruler of Khurasan. The sons of the late Abu Sa'id Mirza attempted to march against him, but turned back when they learned that not only had Husayn Bayqara consolidated his control over the city, but the defeated army of their father had joined him.

Conflict with Aq Qoyunlu and Yadgar Muhammad Mirza

Meanwhile, Uzun Hasan sent his protege, Yadgar Muhammad Mirza, to conquer Khurasan. Husayn defeated Yadgar at the Battle of Chenaran on September 15, 1469, but the latter was sent reinforcements. Uzun Hasan demanded that Husayn hand over various Kara Koyunlu officials who had fled to him, a demand which Husayn refused. Yadgar therefore continued his assault, and Husayn was unable to match his forces due to mass desertions. He ended up fleeing Herat, which was occupied on July 7, 1470. Six weeks later, Husayn reoccupied the city after raising a fresh force and defeating the sons of Abu Sa'id, who were attempting to advance into the region. He captured Yadgar and executed him.

Husayn's empire was now secure. The Aq Qoyunlu made no further attempts against him, and the Timurids in Transoxiana were too weakened by internal conflicts to advance into his territory. His boundary with the Aq Qoyunlu started on the southern edge of the Caspian Sea, running south, then east across the north of the Dasht-e Lut, ending at Lake Hamun. His border with the Timurids was the Oxus River. He more or less respected both borders, refusing to cross north in an attempt to capture Transoxiana from his former enemies. He was probably aware of the Uzbek threat to the region, and was wise enough not to pursue a border with this dangerous tribal people.


Husayn was viewed as "a good king, a lover of peace and justice", and he built numerous structures including a famous school; however, he was sick with a palsy for twenty years of his reign.[17] He was forced to deal with several revolts and incursions. In 1490 the brother of Husayn's son Ibrahim Husain's guardian, Darvish 'Ali, conspired with Sultan Mahmud, who by that time ruled in Hisar. Mahmud moved against Balkh, which Ibrahim resided in, forcing Husayn to mobilize against him. Some years later, Husayn transferred his eldest son, Badi' al-Zaman, from Astarabad (renamed Gorgan in 1937) to Balkh, but Badi' revolted when his son Muhammed Mu'min was denied rule in Astarabad. Husayn defeated both Muhammed, whom he executed, and Badi', whom he reconciled with. The truce fell apart afterwards, however, and in 1499 Badi' besieged Herat.

Husayn Bayqara introduced a ban on the drinking of wine [18] and the shaving of beards.[19] [20] He said that “Although in the days of some [other rulers], the principles of the Sharia and the community of Islam were at the mercy of heretics ... (in his time) the arms of the Holy Law and the laws of the Prophet are so strong that...." going on to boast about how his police maintained morality. [20]

Uzbek threat

In 1501 the Uzbeks conquered Transoxiana from the Abu Sa'id's grandson, Babur. Under Muhammad Shaybani, the Uzbeks could now threaten Khurasan. Suffering from the effects of advanced age, Husayn made no move against them, even after Babur advised him to act. The Uzbeks began conducting raids into his kingdom. Finally changing his mind, he began to march against them but died in 1506 just after beginning his advance. The inheritance of his empire was disputed between his sons Badi' and Muzaffar Husain. Babur, who had begun an expedition in support of Husayn, noted the infighting between the brothers, decided the area was impossible to defend and retreated. The next year, Muhammad Shaybani conquered Herat and caused Husayn's successors to flee, putting an end to Timurid rule in Khurasan.

The battle of Husayn Bayqara against Sultan Masʿud Mirza at Hissar


Husayn Bayqara was notably a patron of arts and literature, particularly of poets, which led to the blossom of literal culture in Herat. The leading poets of the court were Jami (died 1492) and Ali-Shir Nava'i (died 1501). The former is acknowledged as the last of the great classical Persian poets, while the latter is renowned for being the founder of Chagatai Turkic literature. Under Husayn Bayqara, the amalgation of the cultural sphere of the Turks and Persians reached its zenith, as demonstrated by his support and involvement in the literary culture of both languages. Regardless, Persian remained the dominant language of realm.[2]



Husayn had twelve consorts:

  • Bega Sultan Begum (m. 1457 - div., died 1488), daughter of Sanjar Mirza of Merv, son of Mirak Ahmad Mirza, son of Umar Shaikh Mirza, son of Timur;
  • Tulak Begum known as Chuli Begum (div.), daughter of Husayn Sufi, a chief of the Azaks, and sister of Amir Yusuf Sufi Jandar;
  • Shahr Banu Begum (m. 1469 - div.), daughter of Sultan Abu Sa'id Mirza;
  • Payanda Sultan Begum, another daughter of Sultan Abu Sa'id Mirza;
  • Khadija Begi Agha, daughter of Amir Muhammad Sarik bin Amir Muhammad Khawaja, and widow of Abu Sa'id Mirza;
  • Zainab Sultan Begum, daughter of Amir Taj-al-din Hasan bin Nizam-al-din Charkas;
  • Afak Begum, another daughter of Amir Taj-al-din Hasan bin Nizam-al-din Charkas;
  • Zobayda Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Hasan bin Hussain Sheikh Taimur, of the race of the Shaban Sultans;
  • Latifa Sultan Aghacha, daughter of Amir Sultan Husayn Chaharshanba and a relative of Jahan Shah;
  • Mangeli Bi Aghacha, an Uzbek concubine, and former slave girl of Shahar Banu Begum;
  • Baba Aghacha, daughter of Khawaja Muhammad Ataka, and foster sister of Afak Begum;
  • Begi Sultan Aghacha, a concubine, and mother of Afrasiyab Mirza;

Husayn had eighteen sons:

  • Badi' al-Zaman Mirza — with Bega Sultan Begum;
  • Shah Gharib Mirza — with Khadija Begi Agha;
  • Muzaffer Hussain Mirza — with Khadija Begi Agha;
  • Abul Hassan Mirza — with Latifa Sultan Aghacha;
  • Muhammad Muhsin Mirza — with Latifa Sultan Aghacha;
  • Abu Tarab Mirza — with Mangeli Bi Aghacha;
  • Muhammad Hussain Mirza — with Mangeli Bi Aghacha;
  • Feridun Hussain Mirza — with Mangeli Bi Aghacha;
  • Haidar Muhammad Mirza — with Payanda Sultan Begum;
  • Muhammad Ma'asum Mirza — with Baba Aghacha;
  • Farrukh Hussain Mirza — with Baba Aghacha;
  • Ibrahim Hussain Mirza — with Baba Aghacha;
  • Ibn Hussain Mirza - with Baba Aghacha;
  • Muhammad Qasim Mirza — with Baba Aghacha;
  • Afrasiyab Mirza — with Begi Sultan Aghacha;
  • Masum Ali Mirza - Latifa Sultan Aghacha;
  • Sultan Jahangir Mirza — with Khadija Begi Agha;
  • Jahangir Husain Mirza — with Khadija Begi Agha;

Husayn had eighteen daughters:

  • Zainab Sultan Begum known as Sultanim Begum - with Tulak Begum, married firstly to Sultan Wayis Mirza, son of Bayqara Mirza and Sa'adat Bakht Begum, married secondly to Abdul Baqi Mirza, son of Usman Mirza, son of Sidi Ahmad Mirza, son of Miran Shah;
  • Ak Begum - with Payanda Sultan Begum, married to Muhammad Qasim Mirza, son of Abu'l-Qasim Arlat and Bega Begum;
  • Kechek Begum - with Payanda Sultan Begum, married to Mullah Khwajah;
  • Bega Begum - with Payanda Sultan Begum, married to Babar Mirza, son of Muhammad Qasim Mirza and Rabia Sultan Begum;
  • Agha Begum - with Payanda Sultan Begum, married to Sultan Murad Mirza, son of Muhammad Qasim Mirza and Rabia Sultan Begum;
  • Fatima Sultan Begum - with Mengli Bi Aghach, married to Yadgar Farrukh Mirza, son of Farrukhzad Mirza, son of Sidi Ahmad Mirza, son of Miran Shah;
  • Maryam Sultan Begum - with Mengli Bi Aghacha, married to Sayyid Abdullah Mirza;
  • Sultan Nizhad Begum - with Baba Aghacha, married to Iskandar Mirza, son of Bayqara Mirza and Sa'adat Bakht Begum;
  • Sa'adat Bakht Begum known as Begum Sultan - with Baba Aghacha, married to Sultan Masud Mirza, son of Sultan Mahmud Mirza and Khanzada Begum;
  • Munawar Sultan Begum - with Baba Aghacha, married to Sayyid Mirza of Andekhud, descendant of Ulugh Beg;
  • Aisha Sultan Begum - with Zobayda Sultan Aghacha, married firstly to Qasim Sultan, a Shaibani Sultan, married secondly to Buran Sultan, a relative of Qasim;
  • Khanum Sultan Begum - with Khadija Begi Agha;
  • Sa'adat Nizhad Begum - with Baba Aghacha;
  • Salima Sultan Begum - with Baba Aghacha;
  • Badi-al-Mulk Begum - with Latifa Sultan Aghacha;
  • Umm Salima Begum - with Latifa Sultan Aghacha;
  • Munisa Sultan Begum - with Zubayda Sultan Aghacha;
  • Khurshid Bakht Begum - with Baba Aghacha;



  1. ^ a b c Subtelny 2007, pp. 43–44
  2. ^ a b c Roemer 2004, pp. 508–511.
  3. ^ The Archaeology of Afghanistan from Earliest Times to the Timurid Period by Frank Raymond Allchin, Norman Hammond, Nicholas G. Hammond, page 379
  4. ^ Lisa Balabanlilar The Begims of the Mystic Feast: Turco-Mongol Tradition in the Mughal Harem, The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 69, No. 1 (2010), p. 128
  5. ^ Woods 1990, pp. 24–25, 27
  6. ^ a b c Subtelny 2007, p. 47
  7. ^ Subtelny 2007, pp. 44–45
  8. ^ a b c Subtelny 2007, p. 48
  9. ^ Subtelny 2007, p. 50
  10. ^ Subtelny 2007, p. 51
  11. ^ a b Subtelny 2007, p. 52
  12. ^ a b Subtelny 2007, p. 53
  13. ^ a b Subtelny 2007, p. 54
  14. ^ Subtelny 2007, p. 55-6
  15. ^ Subtelny 2007, p. 56
  16. ^ Subtelny 2007, p. 57
  17. ^ Stevens, John. The history of Persia. Containing, the lives and memorable actions of its kings from the first erecting of that monarchy to this time; an exact Description of all its Dominions; a curious Account of India, China, Tartary, Kermon, Arabia, Nixabur, and the Islands of Ceylon and Timor; as also of all Cities occasionally mention'd, as Schiras, Samarkand, Bokara, &c. Manners and Customs of those People, Persian Worshippers of Fire; Plants, Beasts, Product, and Trade. With many instructive and pleasant digressions, being remarkable Stories or Passages, occasionally occurring, as Strange Burials; Burning of the Dead; Liquors of several Countries; Hunting; Fishing; Practice of Physick; famous Physicians in the East; Actions of Tamerlan, &c. To which is added, an abridgment of the lives of the kings of Harmuz, or Ormuz. The Persian history written in Arabick, by Mirkond, a famous Eastern Author that of Ormuz, by Torunxa, King of that Island, both of them translated into Spanish, by Antony Teixeira, who liv'd several Years in Persia and India; and now render'd into English.
  18. ^ احمد الخوافی, ابوالقاسم شهاب الدین (1357). منشأ الانشاء (اثر رکن الدین همایونفرخ) (in Persian). p. 164.
  19. ^ احمد الخوافی, ابوالقاسم شهاب الدین (1357). منشأ الانشاء (اثر رکن الدین همایونفرخ) (in Persian). p. 159.
  20. ^ a b Subtelny, Maria (2007). Timurids in Transition: Turko-Persian Politics and Acculturation in Medieval Iran. Brill. pp. 78–79.
  21. ^ Woods 1990, pp. 18, 20–25, 42


Sultan Husayn Bayqara Timurid dynasty Preceded byYadigar Muhammad Timurid Empire (in Herat) 1469–1506 Succeeded byBadi' al-Zaman
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Sultan Husayn Bayqara
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