Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Baber

BABER. Zehir-ed-dín Mahomet, surnamed Baber, or the Tiger, the famous conqueror of India and founder of the so-called Moghul dynasty, was born on the 1 4th Feb ruary 1483. He was a descendant of Genghis Khan and Tiniur, and his father, Omar Sheikh, was king of Farghana, a district of Transoxiana, lying east of Samarcand. Omar died in 1495, and Baber, though only twelve years of age, succeeded to the throne. An attempt made by his uncles to dislodge him proved unsuccessful, and no sooner was the young sovereign firmly settled than he began to meditate an extension of his own dominions. In 1497 he attacked and gained possession of Samarcand, to which he always seems to have thought he had a natural and hereditary right. A rebellion among his nobles robbed him of his native kingdom, and while marching to recover it, his troops deserted him, and he lost Samarcand also. After some reverses he regained both these places, but in 1501 his most formidable enemy, Schaibani Khan, ruler of the Usbeks, defeated him in a great engagement, and drove him from Samarcand. For three years he wandered about trying in vain to recover his lost possessions ; at last, in 1504, he gathered some troops, and crossing the snowy Hundu Kush, besieged and captured the strong city of Cabul. By this dexterous stroke he gained a new and wealthy kingdom, and completely re-established his for tunes. In the following year he united with Hussaiu Mirza of Herat against Schaibani. The death of Hussain put a stop to this expedition, but Baber spent a year afc Herat, enjoying the pleasures of that capital. He returned to Cabul in time to quell a formidable rebellion, but two years later a revolt among some of the leading Moghuls drove him from his city. He was compelled to take to night, with very few companions, but his great personal courage and daring struck the army of his opponents with such dismay that they again returned to their allegiance, and Baber regained his kingdom. Once again, in 1510, after the death of Schaibani, he endeavoured to obtain pos session of his native country. He received considerable aid from Shah Ismael of Persia, and in 1511 made a tri umphal entry into Samarcand. But in 1514 he was utterly defeated by the L T sbeks, and with difficulty reached Cabul. He seems now to have resigned all hopes of recovering Farghana, and as he at the same time dreaded an invasion of the Usbeks from the west, his attention was more and more drawn towards India. Several preliminary incursions had been already made, when in 1521 an opportunity pre sented itself for a more extended expedition. Ibrahim, emperor of Delhi, had made himself detested, even by his Afghan nobles, several of whom called upon Baber for assistance. He at once assembled his forces, 12,000 strong, with some pieces of artillery, and marched into India. Ibrahim, with 100,000 soldiers and numerous elephants, advanced against him. The great battle was fought at Paniput, 21st April 1526, when Ibrahim was slain and his army routed. Baber at once took possession of Agra. A still more formidable enemy awaited him ; the Rana Sanga of Mewar collected the enormous force of 210,000men, with which he moved against the invaders. On all sides there was danger and revolt, even Baber s own soldiers,, worn out with the heat of this new climate, longed for Cabul. By vigorous measures and inspiriting speeches he restored their courage, though his own heart was nearly failing him, and in his distress he abjured the use of wine, to which he had been addicted. At Kanweh, on the 10th March 1527, he won a great victory, and made himself absolute master of India. The remaining years of his life he spent in arranging the affairs and revenues of his new- empire and in improving his capital, Agra. He died 2Gth December 1530, in his forty-eighth year. Baber was above the middle height, of great strength, and an admirable archer and swordsman. His mind was as well cultivated as his bodily powers ; he wrote well, and his observations are generally acute and accurate ; he was brave, kindly, and generous. Full materials for his life are found in his Memoirs, written by himself (translated into English by Leyden and Erskine, London, 1826 ; abridged in Caldecott, Life of Baber, London, 1844).