Siege of Kandahar, c.September 1507

The siege of Kandahar of 1507 saw the Uzbek conqueror Shaibani Khan make an unsuccessful attack on the city with days of its capture by Babur. The fighting around Kandahar had been triggered by Shaibani's defeat of the Timurid Sultan of Herat earlier in 1507. Zu'n-nun Arghun, the governor of Kandahar, had been killed while attempting to defend Herat, and had been succeeded by his sons, Shah Beg Arghun and Muqim Beg Arghun. They immediately asked for help from Babur, who at this date was the ruler of Kabul, but as Babur's army approached the city they changed their minds and attempted to make peace with Shaibani.

This came too late to prevent them from being defeated by Babur in battle outside Kandahar. After this battle the Arghuns were unable to return to the city which thus fell to Babur. He placed his brother Nasir Mirza in charge of the city and then returned to Kabul, partly to avoid being caught by Shaibani.

A few days after Babur reached Kabul, Shaibani arrived outside Kandahar. The garrison were surprised by his sudden arrival, and were unable to defend the outer fortifications, but managed to secure the citadel. Nasir was not amongst the defenders of the citadel, having left for Ghazni either just before or soon after the start of the siege.

Shaibani conducted a vigorous siege, building a number of mines and making several assaults on the citadel. Although none of these attacks succeeded, it was clear that Kandahar would soon fall, and the remaining defenders of the city prepared to surrender. Only bad luck prevented Shaibani from capturing the city. His harem, which he had left at Nirah-tu, was now threatened by a revolt in that place, and so after a siege that lasted for forty days Shaibani made peace with the defenders of Kandahar (in return for a large payment), lifted the siege, and returned to Narah-tu to rescue his harem.

Although the city had not fallen to Shaibani, it was clearly not retained by Babur's men. Instead Shah Beg Arghun regained control and kept it until 1522, when he was finally forced to surrender the place to Babur after two sieges and under the threat of a third.

The most remarkable result of Shaibani's attack on Kandahar came in Kabul. The presence of his most powerful enemy so close at hand caused something of a panic in Babur's court, and after a counsel of war Babur decided to abandon the city and move into Hindustan (northern India). In September 1507 he and most of his men left Kabul (giving a rough date for Shaibani's 40 day siege of Kandahar), but their journey ended in failure. The Afghan tribes sensed Babur's weakness, and repeated attacked his army. Eventually, as Babur put it 'it was not found desirable to go into Hindustan'. An advance part was sent back to Kabul, while Babur remained at a camp somewhere to the north of the city. While in this camp he learnt of Shaibani's retreat, and was able to return to Kabul, which would remain his capital city for the next two decades.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 April 2010), Siege of Kandahar, c.September 1507 ,

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