Battle of Kabul, 1508

The battle of Kabul of 1508 saw Babur put down a revolt amongst his Mongol troops despite being outnumbered by around six-to-one. Babur had captured Kabul in 1504 with the help of a large number of Mongol or Mughal troops. These troops were never entirely under Babur's control, and caused him great problems over the next few years, the rebellion of 1508 being amongst the most serious.

In the spring of 1508 the Mughal leaders decided to revolt against Babur and put his cousin Abd-ur-razzak Mirza in his place as ruler of Kabul. This man had been the previous Timurid ruler of Kabul, although he had been deposed Muhammad Muqim Arghun, the ruler that Babur had replaced. Abd-ur-razzak Mirza had been well treated by Babur, and had even been put in charge of the city for a time during 1507, but the birth of Babur's son Humayun and Babur's decision to officially declare himself to be Padshah (Great King) may have convinced him that this was his last chance to regain the throne.

According to his own account Babur was warned of the planned rebellion just before it began, but didn't take these warnings seriously. Only when his pages began to disappear did he realise how dangerous the situation was. Sadly at this point Babur's account breaks off, but other sources give a consistent picture of what happened next.

Babur retained the loyalty of about 500 men while the rebels were 3,000 strong. Despite being badly outnumbered Babur decided to stand and fight. During the battle that followed Babur killed five enemy champions in hand-to-hand combat. The best contemporary source names the first two (the Tarikh-i-Rashidi), as Ali Shab-kur and Ali Sistani, while Firishta gives the other three as Nazar Bahadur Uzbeg, Yaqub Tez-Jang and Uzbeg Bahadur.

Firishta, writing early in the next century, records a slightly different sequence of events, in which the rebellion began while Babur was campaigning against the Meimundy or Mahmand Afghans. On hearing of the revolt most of Babur's army deserted him, leaving him with the same 500 men as in other sources. Babur marched back to Kabul, and the two sides met outside the city. After that the accounts match.

The death of the fifth champion broke the rebel's morale, and they were routed. Abd-ur-razzak Mirza was captured, but as was so often the case with Babur was treated well and released. Soon after this he rebelled yet again, and this time was captured and executed.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 April 2010), Battle of Kabul, 1508 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_kabul_1508.html

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