If you have played Europa Universalis IV you would definitely have noticed that you can play as hundreds of Kingdoms in that time period. Not only that, the rulers of those Kingdoms (Depending on the date you choose to play) are almost completely historically accurate. They are particularly accurate for those rulers that ruled larger Kingdoms even though there is a little ambiguity for leaders of smaller Nations at that time.
Today I am going to talk about one of these rulers who made an indelible mark on history. This ruler is none other than Babur. He is most well-known for being the founder of the Mughal Empire of India.
Babur was born in Andijan in the year 1483. It lies in the modern Nation of Uzbekistan where tales of his deeds and his struggle to make a mark on history have been well-recorded.
He claims descent both from the Mongols and the Timurids. From his father’s side he was a Timurid and from his mothers, he was a Mongol. In fact the word Mughal used to be the South Asian pronunciation of Mongol, which Babur gladly adopted.
Babur’s father was Umar Shaikh Mirza and he ruled over Fergana while his cousins ruled the rest of Timur the Lame’s remnant territories. When Umar died in an accident, Babur, eleven at the time, took control of Fergana. But Babur wasn’t as successful in his younger years as he was in his future endeavors.
Babur briefly held the city of Samarkand but this was a brief victory, even if a great one for a fifteen year old. Soon Babur had lost Fergana. But if there was anything that shined about Babur it was his refusal to give up. He besieged Samarkand again in 1501 but was beaten by Shaybani Khan.
Shaybani Khan was Babur’s most dangerous enemy. An ethnic Uzbek, he laid claim to the remaining lands of the ill-fated Timurids. The Timurid princes (Babur was one of them) at this stage were divided and bickering amongst themselves. Shaybani wasn’t only merciless against his foes, but also had a vendetta against the Timurids (The Timurids presided over a great number of massacres in Central Asia), which made him a truly terrible foe to face.
Babur felt the failure to win Samarkand was his greatest failure, a view he also expressed in his memoir, the Baburnama. For ten years after becoming ruler, Babur lived a difficult life during which he lost more than he gained. He took refuge among the hill tribes, but did not stop recruiting Tajiks for his army.
Babur’s luck began to change in the year 1504 when he managed to conquer the Kingdom of Kabul which was at the time held by the Arghunids (He was invited to rule Kabul by the nobles who were tired of usurpers to the throne). Babur continued to adhere to the historical tradition of Afghan invasions and raiding of India. In 1505 he led his first expedition into India. It was only a brief raid but it was inspiration for his dreams to lord over Hindustan.
In the meantime Shaybani Khan was killed by the Safavids, bringing an end to the most fearsome foe Babur would be forced to face. This was lucky because if Babur had a formidable foe in the north, his campaigns in the south would definitely suffer.
He ruled the Kingdom of Kabul till 1526. This was the same year where the famous battle of Panipat took place where Babur defeated the Pashtun Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate, Ibrahim Lodhi. The factor that played a role in this victory was the use of gunpowder and gunpowder artillery by Babur.
Babur’s way to India was now open and the Mughal Empire was soon born. He now ruled over north India. But the next challenge came from Rana Sanga, the Rajput ruler who wanted to rid India of what he perceived as a foreign invading force. Here the battle of Khanwa was fought where Rana’s army was wracked with betrayal and failed to adopt to Babur’s modern tactics and cannons.
But Babur lived only till 1530, six years after the battle of Panipat. He was first buried in Agra but according to his wishes his remains were moved to Kabul. It proves that Babur, even in death, respected and admired his Central Asian heritage. He was succeeded by his son Humayun who was at best a weak ruler. Humayun also suffered because of adverse circumstances which were out of his control. For example the refusal of his power-hungry brothers to recognize him as King of the Mughals. That is a story for another day.
Now Babur, like most rulers at the time, did take part in a number of brutal massacres, particularly when crushing rebellions from the independent-minded Afghans or when fighting Hindus, who themselves were merely defending their land. There are even books written about him, analyzing his role in a new light. Some authors have been generous to Babur, calling him a hero. Others have not been so kind.
Babur’s memoirs have been recorded in his journal, the Baburnama. His feats have turned him into a celebrated hero in Central Asian states, and he is also well revered in Muslim nations today in the region, most particularly Pakistan. He is however seen negatively among the Pashtuns, particularly because he transplanted the Lodhis (also pashtun) as the dominant power of North India. Babur was also a fan of poetry and was descended from Chagatai, a son of Genghis Khan. He took four wives, one of whom was Maham Begum. She was by far his favorite wife.
Babur is also known for not giving up and tales of his valor are often told widely in the regions where he fought his battles. You can play as Babur in Europa Universalis IV in 1508 as the last Timurid and in 1527 as the founder of the Mughal Empire. If you are interested in the history of the subcontinent I am sure you would love to play as Babur. Being Desis we recommend playing as the Mughals under Babur.
This is the advantage of playing Europa Universalis IV and no matter where you are from, you can play as your historical heroes. Thank you Europa Universalis for letting us play as a Mughal King like Babur and providing so much learning about the historical world!