Shahzadi Khanzada Begum-A Shahzadi with a Twisted Life


Shahzadi Khanzada Begum was dead.

Humayun, her nephew grieved for her sorely and felt guilty that he was unable to provide comfort to his well-wishing Phuphi (Aunt) as was on his flight after Sher Shah defeated him.


Khanzada Begum died at Qabal-chak in September of 1545. She was accompanying her nephew, Emperor Humayun, who was on his way from Qandahar to meet his younger step-brother, Kamran Mirza.

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.

Khanzada’s Lineage and Life

Khanzada Begum (1478–1545) a Timurid princess, was born in 1478 in Andizhan. She was as the eldest daughter of Umar Sheikh Mirza, the ruler of Ferghana and his first wife and chief consort Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, who was a princess of Moghulistan.

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’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.

Her Marriages

§ Shaybani Khan Uzbek

§ Sayyid Hada

§ Mahdi Khwaja


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

Shaybani Khan

Muhammad Shaybani Khan (Uzbek: Muhammad Shayboniy) also known as Abul-Fath Shaybani Khan orShayabak Khan or Shahi Beg Khan (c. 1451 – 2 December 1510), was an Uzbek leader who consolidated various Uzbek tribes and laid the foundations for their ascendance in Transoxiana and the establishment of the Khanate of Bukhara.

He was a descendant of Shiban (or Shayban), the fifth son of Jochi, Genghis Khan’s eldest son.

Khanzada Begum-as Shaybani Khan’s share of the war captives

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.

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.

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).

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.

Also 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.

After their marriage, Khanzada and Shaybani had one child together, a son, Khurram, who died in childhood.

Shaybani later divorced Khanzada because she leaned towards her brother’s side in disputed matters.

Sayyid Hada

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.


The battle between Shah Ismail I and Muhammad Shaybani in 1510.

Shah Ismail I was alarmed by Shaybani’s success and moved against the Uzbeks. In the Battle of Marv (1510), Muhammad Shaybani was defeated and killed when trying to escape. Ismail had Muhammad Shaybani’s body parts sent to various areas of the empire for display and had his skull coated in gold and made into a jewelled drinking goblet which was drunk from when entertaining.


Babur reunited with his sister Khanzada Begum after a ten year separation, 1493.

By Farrukh Chela

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.


Indian Mughal Miniature Art Painting – Mughal Style

This beautiful Indian painting “Babur meeting Khanzada Begum” of Mughal style.

This painting is by Mansur, who distinguished himself in painting birds and animals. Here he depicts the reunion of brother and sister at Qunduz in Afghanistan. Seated close to Babur is his companion Kukultash. Seated in front of Babur is Khanzada Begum attended by maidservants. Outside the qanat are soldiers armed with spears, bows and arrows guarding the Tent?

There is no display of emotions as the sister did not recognize her brother.

In this painting Khanzada Begam was the sister of Babur. When he was forced to evacuate Samarkand in 1500 A.D.

He was compelled to marry her to Shaibani khan, his enemy.

Babur thus describes his reunion with his sister: “Khanzada Begam was in Merv when Shah Ismail (safavi) defeated the Auzbegs near that town for my sake he treated her well giving her sufficient escort to Qunduz where she re-joined me”.

Babar says: “We had been apart for some ten years; when Muhammadi Kukultash and I went to see her, neither she nor those about her knew us, although I spoke. They recognized us after a time”.

After Shaybani’s death, Ismail I gave liberty to Khanzada Begum with her son and, at Babur’s request, sent them to his court. For this reason Shaybani was succeeded not by a son but by an uncle, a cousin and a brother whose descendants would rule Bukhara until 1598 and Khwarizm (later named Khiva) until 1687.

Mahdi Khwaja

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.


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.  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.


Hindal Mirza, sits before his elder brother, Emperor Humayun

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.

Janam – aka Khanzada Begum

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.

Source: Compiled article

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