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Nasir-ud-Din Muḥammad (Persian: نصیرالدین محمد, translit. Nasīr-ad-Dīn Muhammad; 6 March 1508 – 27 January 1556), better known by his regnal name, Humayun (Persian: همایون, translit. Humāyūn), was the second emperor of the Mughal Empire, who ruled over territory in what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India and Bangladesh from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Like his father, Babur, he lost his kingdom early but regained it with the aid of the Safavid dynasty of Persia, with additional territory. At the time of his death in 1556, the Mughal Empire spanned almost one million square kilometres.
نصیرالدین محمد همایون
|Badshah of the Mughal Empire|
|2nd Mughal Emperor|
|1st Reign||26 December 1530 – 17 May 1540|
|Coronation||29 December 1530, Agra|
|Successor||Sher Shah Suri (as Sur Emperor)|
|2nd Reign||22 February 1555 – 27 January 1556|
|Predecessor||Sikandar Shah Suri (as Sur Emperor)|
6 March 1508
Kabul (present-day Afghanistan)
|Died||27 January 1556 (aged 47)|
Delhi, Mughal Empire (present-day India)
Hamida Banu Begum
Mah Chuchak Begum
Mirza Muhammad Hakim
Ibrahim Sultan Mirza
Aqiqa Sultan Begum
Bakshi Banu Begum
Jahan Sultan Begum
Sakina Banu Begum
Amina Banu Begum
In December 1530, Humayun succeeded his father to the throne of Delhi as ruler of the Mughal territories in the Indian subcontinent. At the age of 22, Humayun was an inexperienced ruler when he came to power. His half-brother Kamran Mirza inherited Kabul and Kandahar, the northernmost parts of their father's empire. Mirza was to become a bitter rival of Humayun.
Humayun lost Mughal territories to Sher Shah Suri, but regained them 15 years later with Safavid aid. Humayun's return from Persia was accompanied by a large retinue of Persian noblemen and signalled an important change in Mughal court culture. The Central Asian origins of the dynasty were largely overshadowed by the influences of Persian art, architecture, language and literature. There are many stone carvings and thousands of Persian manuscripts in India dating from the time of Humayun.
Subsequently, Humayun further expanded the Empire in a very short time, leaving a substantial legacy for his son, Akbar.
The decision of Babur to divide the territories of his empire between two of his sons was unusual in India, although it had been a common Central Asian practice since the time of Genghis Khan. Unlike most monarchies, which practised primogeniture, the Timurids followed the example of Genghis and did not leave an entire kingdom to the eldest son. Although under that system only a could claim sovereignty and khanal authority, any male Chinggisid within a given sub-branch had an equal right to the throne (though the Timurids were not Chinggisid in their paternal ancestry). While Genghis Khan's Empire had been peacefully divided between his sons upon his death, almost every Chinggisid succession since had resulted in fratricide.[page needed]
Timur himself had divided his territories among Pir Muhammad, Miran Shah, Khalil Sultan and Shah Rukh, which resulted in inter-family warfare.[full citation needed][non-primary source needed] Upon Babur's death, Humayun's territories were the least secure. He had ruled only four years, and not all umarah (nobles) viewed Humayun as the rightful ruler. Indeed, earlier, when Babur had become ill, some of the nobles had tried to install his Brother-in-law, Mahdi Khwaja, as ruler. Although this attempt failed, it was a sign of problems to come.[full citation needed][non-primary source needed]
When Humayun came to the throne of the Mughal Empire, several of his brothers revolted against him. Another brother Khalil Mirza (1509–30) supported Humayun but was assassinated. The Emperor commenced construction of a tomb for his brother in 1538, but this was not yet finished when Humayun was forced to flee to Persia. Sher Shah destroyed the structure and no further work was done on it after Humayun's restoration.
Humayun had two major rivals for his lands: Sultan Bahadur of Gujarat to the southwest and Sher Shah Suri (Sher Khan) settled along the river Ganges in Bihar to the east. Humayun's first campaign was to confront Sher Shah Suri. Halfway through this offensive Humayun had to abandon it and concentrate on Gujarat, where a threat from Ahmed Shah had to be met. Humayun was victorious annexing Gujarat, Malwa, Champaner and the great fort of Mandu.
During the first five years of Humayun's reign, Bahadur and Sher Khan extended their rule, although Sultan Bahadur faced pressure in the east from sporadic conflicts with the Portuguese. While the Mughals had obtained firearms via the Ottoman Empire, Bahadur's Gujarat had acquired them through a series of contracts drawn up with the Portuguese, allowing the Portuguese to establish a strategic foothold in north western India.
In 1535 Humayun was made aware that the Sultan of Gujarat was planning an assault on the Mughal territories with Portuguese aid. Humayun gathered an army and marched on Bahadur. Within a month he had captured the forts of Mandu and Champaner. However, instead of pressing his attack, Humayun ceased the campaign and consolidated his newly conquered territory. Sultan Bahadur, meanwhile escaped and took up refuge with the Portuguese.
Sher Shah SuriEdit
Shortly after Humayun had marched on Gujarat, Sher Shah Suri saw an opportunity to wrest control of Agra from the Mughals. He began to gather his army together hoping for a rapid and decisive siege of the Mughal capital. Upon hearing this alarming news, Humayun quickly marched his troops back to Agra allowing Bahadur to easily regain control of the territories Humayun had recently taken. In February 1537, however, Bahadur was killed when a botched plan to kidnap the Portuguese viceroy ended in a fire-fight that the Sultan lost.
Whilst Humayun succeeded in protecting Agra from Sher Shah, the second city of the Empire, Gaur the capital of the vilayat of Bengal, was sacked. Humayun's troops had been delayed while trying to take Chunar, a fort occupied by Sher Shah's son, in order to protect his troops from an attack from the rear. The stores of grain at Gauri, the largest in the empire, were emptied, and Humayun arrived to see corpses littering the roads. The vast wealth of Bengal was depleted and brought East, giving Sher Shah a substantial war chest.
Sher Shah withdrew to the east, but Humayun did not follow: instead he "shut himself up for a considerable time in his Harem, and indulged himself in every kind of luxury."[full citation needed][non-primary source needed] Hindal, Humayun's 19-year-old brother, had agreed to aid him in this battle and protect the rear from attack, but he abandoned his position and withdrew to Agra, where he decreed himself acting emperor. When Humayun sent the grand Mufti, Sheikh Buhlul, to reason with him; the Sheikh was killed. Further provoking the rebellion, Hindal ordered that the Khutba, or sermon, in the main mosque surrounded.
Humayun's other brother, Kamran Mirza, marched from his territories in the Punjab, ostensibly to aid Humayun. However, his return home had treacherous motives as he intended to stake a claim for Humayun's apparently collapsing empire. He brokered a deal with Hindal providing that his brother would cease all acts of disloyalty in return for a share in the new empire, which Kamran would create once Humayun was deposed.
In June 1539 Sher Shah met Humayun in the Battle of Chausa on the banks of the Ganges, near Buxar. This was to become an entrenched battle in which both sides spent a lot of time digging themselves into positions. The major part of the Mughal army, the artillery, was now immobile, and Humayun decided to engage in some diplomacy using Muhammad Aziz as ambassador. Humayun agreed to allow Sher Shah to rule over Bengal and Bihar, but only as provinces granted to him by his Emperor, Humayun, falling short of outright sovereignty. The two rulers also struck a bargain in order to save face: Humayun's troops would charge those of Sher Shah whose forces then retreat in feigned fear. Thus honour would, supposedly, be satisfied.[non-primary source needed]
Once the Army of Humayun had made its charge and Sher Shah's troops made their agreed-upon retreat, the Mughal troops relaxed their defensive preparations and returned to their entrenchments without posting a proper guard. Observing the Mughals' vulnerability, Sher Shah reneged on his earlier agreement. That very night, his army approached the Mughal camp and finding the Mughal troops unprepared with a majority asleep, they advanced and killed most of them. The Emperor survived by swimming across the Ganges using an air filled "water skin," and quietly returned to Agra. Humayun was assisted across the Ganges by Shams al-Din Muhammad.
When Humayun returned to Agra, he found that all three of his brothers were present. Humayun once again not only pardoned his brothers for plotting against him, but even forgave Hindal for his outright betrayal. With his armies travelling at a leisurely pace, Sher Shah was gradually drawing closer and closer to Agra. This was a serious threat to the entire family, but Humayun and Kamran squabbled over how to proceed. Kamran withdrew after Humayun refused to make a quick attack on the approaching enemy, instead opting to build a larger army under his own name.
When Kamran returned to Lahore, Humayun, with his other brothers Askari and Hindal, marched to meet Sher Shah 200 kilometres (120 mi) east of Agra at the battle of Kannauj on 17 May 1540. Humayun was soundly defeated. He retreated to Agra, pursued by Sher Shah, and thence through Delhi to Lahore. Sher Shah's founding of the short-lived Sur Empire, with its capital at Delhi, resulted in Humayun's exile for 15 years in the court of Shah Tahmasp I.
The four brothers were united in Lahore, but every day they were informed that Sher Shah was getting closer and closer. When he reached Sirhind, Humayun sent an ambassador carrying the message "I have left you the whole of Hindustan (i.e. the lands to the East of Punjab, comprising most of the Ganges Valley). Leave Lahore alone, and let Sirhind be a boundary between you and me." Sher Shah, however, replied "I have left you Kabul. You should go there." Kabul was the capital of the empire of Humayun's brother Kamran, who was far from willing to hand over any of his territories to his brother. Instead, Kamran approached Sher Shah and proposed that he actually revolt against his brother and side with Sher Shah in return for most of the Punjab. Sher Shah dismissed his help, believing it not to be required, though word soon spread to Lahore about the treacherous proposal, and Humayun was urged to make an example of Kamran and kill him. Humayun refused, citing the last words of his father, Babur, "Do nothing against your brothers, even though they may deserve it."[non-primary source needed]
Humayun decided it would be wise to withdraw still further. He and his army rode out through and across the Thar Desert, when the Hindu ruler Rao Maldeo Rathore allied with Sher Shah Suri against the Mughal Empire. In many accounts Humayun mentions how he and his pregnant wife had to trace their steps through the desert at the hottest time of year. Their rations were low, and they had little to eat; even drinking water was a major problem in the desert. When Hamida Bano's horse died, no one would lend the Queen (who was now eight months pregnant) a horse, so Humayun did so himself, resulting in him riding a camel for six kilometres (four miles), although Khaled Beg then offered him his mount. Humayun was later to describe this incident as the lowest point in his life. Humayun asked that his brothers join him as he fell back into Sindh. While the previously rebellious Hindal Mirza remained loyal and was ordered to join his brothers in Kandahar. Kamran Mirza and Askari Mirza instead decided to head to the relative peace of Kabul. This was to be a definitive schism in the family. Humayun headed for Sindh because he expected aid from the Emir of Sindh, Hussein Umrani, whom he had appointed and who owed him his allegiance. Also, his wife Hamida hailed from Sindh; she was the daughter of a prestigious pir family (a pir is a Shia or Sufi religious mystic) of Persian heritage long settled in Sindh. En route to the Emir's court, Humayun had to break journey because his pregnant wife Hamida was unable to travel further. Humayun sought refuge with the Hindu ruler of the oasis town of Amarkot (now part of Sindh province).
Rana Prasad Rao of Amarkot duly welcomed Humayun into his home and sheltered the refugees for several months. Here, in the household of a Hindu Rajput nobleman, Humayun's wife Hamida Bano, daughter of a Sindhi family, gave birth to the future Emperor Akbar on 15 October 1542. The date of birth is well established because Humayun consulted his astronomer to utilise the astrolabe and check the location of the planets. The infant was the long-awaited heir-apparent to the 34-year-old Humayun and the answer of many prayers. Shortly after the birth, Humayun and his party left Amarkot for Sindh, leaving Akbar behind, who was not ready for the grueling journey ahead in his infancy. He was later adopted by Askari Mirza.
For a change, Humayun was not deceived in the character of the man on whom he has pinned his hopes. Emir Hussein Umrani, ruler of Sindh, welcomed Humayun's presence and was loyal to Humayun just as he had been loyal to Babur against the renegade Arghuns. While in Sindh, Humayun alongside Emir Hussein Umrani, gathered horses and weapons and formed new alliances that helped regain lost territories. Until finally Humayun had gathered hundreds of Sindhi and Baloch tribesmen alongside his Mughals and then marched towards Kandahar and later Kabul, thousands more gathered by his side as Humayun continually declared himself the rightful Timurid heir of the first Mughal Emperor, Babur.
Retreat to KabulEdit
After Humayun set out from his expedition in Sindh, along with 300 camels (mostly wild) and 2000 loads of grain, he set off to join his brothers in Kandahar after crossing the Indus River on 11 July 1543 along with the ambition to regain the Mughal Empire and overthrow the Suri dynasty. Among the tribes that had sworn allegiance to Humayun were the Magsi, Rind and many others.
In Kamran Mirza's territory, Hindal Mirza had been placed under house arrest in Kabul after refusing to have the Khutba recited in Kamran Mirza's name. His other brother Askari Mirza was now ordered to gather an army and march on Humayun. When Humayun received word of the approaching hostile army he decided against facing them, and instead sought refuge elsewhere. Akbar was left behind in camp close to Kandahar for, as it was December it would have been too cold and dangerous to include the 14-month-old toddler in the forthcoming march through the dangerous and snowy mountains of the Hindu Kush. Askari Mirza found Akbar in the camp, and embraced him, and allowed his own wife to parent him, she apparently started treating him as her own.
Refuge in PersiaEdit
Humayun fled to the refuge of the Safavid Empire in Persia, marching with 40 men, his wife Bega Begum, and her companion through mountains and valleys. Amongst other trials the Imperial party were forced to live on horse meat boiled in the soldiers' helmets. These indignities continued during the month it took them to reach Herat, however after their arrival they were reintroduced to the finer things in life. Upon entering the city his army was greeted with an armed escort, and they were treated to lavish food and clothing. They were given fine accommodations and the roads were cleared and cleaned before them. Shah Tahmasp, unlike Humayun's own family, actually welcomed the Mughal, and treated him as a royal visitor. Here Humayun went sightseeing and was amazed at the Persian artwork and architecture he saw: much of this was the work of the Timurid Sultan Husayn Bayqarah and his ancestor, princess Gauhar Shad, thus he was able to admire the work of his relatives and ancestors at first hand.
He was introduced to the work of the Persian miniaturists, and Kamaleddin Behzad had two of his pupils join Humayun in his court. Humayun was amazed at their work and asked if they would work for him if he were to regain the sovereignty of Hindustan: they agreed. With so much going on Humayun did not even meet the Shah until July, some six months after his arrival in Persia. After a lengthy journey from Herat the two met in Qazvin where a large feast and parties were held for the event. The meeting of the two monarchs is depicted in a famous wall-painting in the Chehel Sotoun (Forty Columns) palace in Esfahan.
The Shah urged that Humayun convert from Sunni to Shia Islam, and Humayun eventually accepted, in order to keep himself and several hundred followers alive. Although the Mughals initially disagreed to their conversion they knew that with this outward acceptance of Shi'ism, Shah Tahmasp was eventually prepared to offer Humayun more substantial support. When Humayun's brother, Kamran Mirza, offered to cede Kandahar to the Persians in exchange for Humayun, dead or alive, Shah Tahmasp refused. Instead the Shah staged a celebration for Humayun, with 300 tents, an imperial Persian carpet, 12 musical bands and "meat of all kinds". Here the Shah announced that all this, and 12,000 elite cavalry were his to lead an attack on his brother Kamran. All that Shah Tahmasp asked for was that, if Humayun's forces were victorious, Kandahar would be his.
Kandahar and onwardsEdit
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With this Persian Safavid aid Humayun took Kandahar from Askari Mirza after a two-week siege. He noted how the nobles who had served Askari Mirza quickly flocked to serve him, "in very truth the greater part of the inhabitants of the world are like a flock of sheep, wherever one goes the others immediately follow". Kandahar was, as agreed, given to the Shah of Persia who sent his infant son, Murad, as the Viceroy. However, the baby soon died and Humayun thought himself strong enough to assume power.
Humayun now prepared to take Kabul, ruled by his brother Kamran Mirza. In the end, there was no actual siege. Kamran Mirza was detested as a leader and as Humayun's Persian army approached the city hundreds of Kamran Mirza's troops changed sides, flocking to join Humayun and swelling his ranks. Kamran Mirza absconded and began building an army outside the city. In November 1545, Hamida and Humayun were reunited with their son Akbar, and held a huge feast. They also held another, larger, feast in the child's honour when he was circumcised.
However, while Humayun had a larger army than his brother and had the upper hand, on two occasions his poor military judgement allowed Kamran Mirza to retake Kabul and Kandahar, forcing Humayun to mount further campaigns for their recapture. He may have been aided in this by his reputation for leniency towards the troops who had defended the cities against him, as opposed to Kamran Mirza, whose brief periods of possession were marked by atrocities against the inhabitants who, he supposed, had helped his brother.
His youngest brother, Hindal Mirza, formerly the most disloyal of his siblings, died fighting on his behalf. His brother Askari Mirza was shackled in chains at the behest of his nobles and aides. He was allowed go on Hajj, and died en route in the desert outside Damascus.
Humayun's other brother, Kamran Mirza, had repeatedly sought to have Humayun killed. In 1552 Kamran Mirza attempted to make a pact with Islam Shah, Sher Shah's successor, but was apprehended by a Gakhar. The Gakhars were one of the minority of tribal groups who had consistently remained loyal to their oath to the Mughals. Sultan Adam of the Gakhars handed Kamran Mirza over to Humayun. Humayun was inclined to forgive his brother. However he was warned that allowing Kamran Mirza's repeated acts of treachery to go unpunished could foment rebellion amongst his own supporters. So, instead of killing his brother, Humayun had Kamran Mirza blinded which would end any claim by the latter to the throne. Humayun sent Kamran Mirza on Hajj, as he hoped to see his brother thereby absolved of his offences. However Kamran Mirza died close to Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula in 1557.
Restoration of the Mughal EmpireEdit
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Sher Shah Suri had died in 1545; his son and successor Islam Shah died in 1554. These two deaths left the dynasty reeling and disintegrating. Three rivals for the throne all marched on Delhi, while in many cities leaders tried to stake a claim for independence. This was a perfect opportunity for the Mughals to march back to India.
The Mughal Emperor Humayun gathered a vast army and attempted the challenging task of retaking the throne in Delhi. Humayun placed the army under the leadership of Bairam Khan, a wise move given Humayun's own record of military ineptitude, and it turned out to be prescient as Bairam proved himself a great tactician. At the Battle of Sirhind on 22 June 1555, the armies of Sikandar Shah Suri were decisively defeated and the Mughal Empire was re-established in India.
Marriage relations with the KhanzadasEdit
The Gazetteer of Ulwur states:
Soon after Babur's death, his successor, Humayun, was in AD 1540 supplanted by the Pathan Sher Shah, who, in AD 1545, was followed by Islam Shah. During the reign of the latter a battle was fought and lost by the Emperor's troops at Firozpur Jhirka, in Mewat, on which, however, Islam Shah did not loose his hold. Adil Shah, the third of the Pathan interlopers, who succeeded in AD 1552, had to contend for the Empire with the returned Humayun.
In these struggles for the restoration of Babar's dynasty Khanzadas apparently do not figure at all. Humayun seems to have conciliated them by marrying the elder daughter of Jamal Khan, nephew of Babar's opponent, Hasan Khan, and by causing his great minister, Bairam Khan, to marry a younger daughter of the same Mewatti.
Bairam Khan led the army through the Punjab virtually unopposed. The fort of Rohtas, which was built in 1541–43 by Sher Shah Suri to crush the Gakhars who were loyal to Humayun, was surrendered without a shot by a treacherous commander. The walls of the Rohtas Fort measure up to 12.5 meters in thickness and up to 18.28 meters in height. They extend for 4 km and feature 68 semi-circular bastions. Its sandstone gates, both massive and ornate, are thought to have exerted a profound influence on Mughal military architecture.
The only major battle faced by Humayun's armies was against Sikander Suri in Sirhind, where Bairam Khan employed a tactic whereby he engaged his enemy in open battle, but then retreated quickly in apparent fear. When the enemy followed after them they were surprised by entrenched defensive positions and were easily annihilated.
After Sirhind, most towns and villages chose to welcome the invading army as it made its way to the capital. On 23 July 1555, Humayun once again sat on Babur's throne in Delhi.
With all of Humayun's brothers now dead, there was no fear of another usurping his throne during his military campaigns. He was also now an established leader and could trust his generals. With this new-found strength Humayun embarked on a series of military campaigns aimed at extending his reign over areas in eastern and western India. His sojourn in exile seems to have reduced his reliance on astrology, and his military leadership came to imitate the more effective methods that he had observed in Persia.
Edward S. Holden writes; "He was uniformly kind and considerate to his dependents, devotedly attached to his son Akbar, to his friends, and to his turbulent brothers. The misfortunes of his reign arose in great, from his failure to treat them with rigor." He further writes; "The very defects of his character, which render him less admirable as a successful ruler of nations, make us more fond of him as a man. His renown has suffered in that his reign came between the brilliant conquests of Babur and the beneficent statesmanship of Akbar; but he was not unworthy to be the son of the one and the father of the other." Stanley Lane-Poole writes in his book "Medieval India"; "His name meant the winner (Lucky/Conqueror), there is no kind in the history to be named as wrong as Humayun", he was of a forgiving nature. He further writes, "He was in fact unfortunate..........Scarcely had he enjoyed his throne for six months in Delhi when he slipped down from the polished steps of his palace and died in his forty-ninth year (Jan. 24, 1556). If there was a possibility of falling, Humayun was not the man to miss it. He tumbled through his life and tumbled out of it".
Death and legacyEdit
On 24 January 1556, Humayun, with his arms full of books, was descending the staircase from his library when the muezzin announced the Azaan (the call to prayer). It was his habit, wherever and whenever he heard the summons, to bow his knee in holy reverence. Trying to kneel, he caught his foot in his robe, tumbled down several steps and hit his temple on a rugged stone edge. He died three days later. His body was laid to rest in Purana Quila initially, but, because of an attack by Hemu on Delhi and the capture of Purana Qila, Humayun's body was exhumed by the fleeing army and transferred to Kalanaur in Punjab where Akbar was crowned. His tomb, which was commissioned by his favourite and devoted chief wife, Bega Begum, stands in Delhi, where he was later buried in a grand way.
Some believe that before falling from the staircase once Humayun was very ill and to save him his father (Babur) performed a practice known as Sadkah by which he gave his life to Humayun who was about to die.
His full title as Emperor of the Mughal Empire was Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Jam-i-Sultanat-i-haqiqi wa Majazi, Sayyid al-Salatin, Abu'l Muzaffar Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun Padshah Ghazi, Zillu'llah.
|Ancestors of Humayun|
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- The Life and Times of Humāyūn by Ishwari Prasad, Published by Orient Longmans, 1956, p. 36
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Kamran withdrew from Agra to Lahore. ... In the Battle of Kanauj (17 May 1540) ... Humayun was defeated. His two younger brothers, Askari and Hindal, also ... Humayun fled to Agra but was pursued by the Afghans, who drove him first to Delhi and then to Lahore. ... Finally ... he took shelter at the court of the Iranian king, Shah Tahmasp. Thus began a weary exile which lasted for nearly 15 years.
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He ... turned toward Qandahar where his brother Kamran was in power, but he received no help and had to seek refuge with the Shah of Persia.
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The tomb was built by Humayun's widow, Haji Begum, who shared his long exile at the court of the Safavids.
- Richards 1993, p. 11: "At the Safavid court, Humayun, under extreme duress, accepted the Shia faith in order to keep himself and several hundred followers alive. After this initial test, Shah Tahmasp grew more friendly and eventually agreed to underwrite Humayun's attempt to regain power."
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- "Mausoleum that Humayun never built". The Hindu. April 28, 2003. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
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- Woods (1990, p. 38-9)
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HumayunBorn: 17 March 1508 Died: 27 January 1556
| Mughal Emperor
Sher Shah Suri
(as Shah of Delhi)
Muhammad Adil Shah
(as Shah of Delhi)
| Mughal Emperor