Husayn Bayqarah

Husayn Bayqarah (1438 – May 4, 1506) (Persian حسین بایقرا) was a Timurid ruler of Herat from 1469 to 1506, with a brief interruption in 1470. His father was Mansur, a great-grandson of Timur. He is also referred to as Sultan-Husayn Mirza (Baburnama).

Mansur died when Husayn Bayqarah was around seven or eight years of age; the latter ended up in the service of Babur Ibn-Baysunkur, ruler of Herat, in 1452. Following Babur's death in 1457 and the subsequent invasion of Khurasan by the Timurid ruler of Samarkand, Abu Sa'id, Husayn adopted the life of a mercenary. After a while, he decided to fight for himself and wrested Gurgan (or Gorgan) from the Black Sheep Turkmen. Later on he would conquer Mazandaran. At first submissive to Abu Sa'id, he took advantage of the Samarkand ruler's attempts to put down a revolt in Transoxiana in 1460; by the following year he was laying siege to Herat, which had fallen into Abu Sa'id's hands in 1459. However, he was soon defeated and forced to take refuge in Khwarazm, from which 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 received the help of the Uzbeks.

Upon Abu Sa'ids death at the hands of the White Sheep Turkmen in 1469, his empire collapsed. One of his sons, Sultan Mahmud, attempted to gain control of Herat by entering it on March 16 with an army, but he did not find it preferable to stay, and Husayn gained control of the city. Sultan Mahmud's brother, Sultan Ahmad, marched from Samarkand to try to take Herat but decided against it after meeting up with Mahmud. Meanwhile, Uzun Hasan of the White Sheep sent his lieutenant, Yadgar Muhammad, to conquer Khurasan. Husayn defeated Yadgar at the Battle of Chinaran (September 15, 1469), but the latter was sent reinforcements. Uzun Hasan demanded that Husayn hand over various Black Sheep officials who had fled to Herat, a demand which Husayn refused. Yadgar therefore continued into Khurasan, 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, however, Husayn reoccupied the city, after raising a fresh force and defeating the sons of Abu Sa'id who were attempting to advance into Khurasan. He captured Yadgar and executed him.

Husayn's empire was now secure. The White Sheep made no further attempts against him, and the Timurid Empire in Samarkand was too weakened by internal conflicts to advance into his territory. His boundary with the White Sheep 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 the northern Timurids. 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 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 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.

In 1501 the Uzbeks conquered Transoxiana for good from the Timurid 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 Khurasan. Finally changing his mind, he began to march against them but died in 1506 before making a move. 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.NB Astarabad or Esterabad was renamed "Gorgan" (Jorjan in Arabic) in 1937.


*Peter Jackson (1986). "The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume Six: The Timurid and Safavid Periods". ISBN 0-521-20094-6

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