Siege of Qalat or Khilat, 1505

The siege of Qalat or Khilat (1505) was a short-lived success for Babur early in his time as ruler of Kabul. Babur's main rivals in what is now Afghanistan were the Arghun dynasty. The head of the family in 1505 was Zu'n-nun Arghun. In theory he was the governor of Kandahar for the Sultan of Herat, but for the last twenty years he had ruled as virtually an independent ruler. His son Muhammad Muqim Beg Arghun had seized control of Kabul 1502, but in 1504 had lost the city to Babur, who had allowed him to retreat back to Kandahar.

After a series of misfortunes during the first part of 1505, which included the death of his mother, a prolonged illness, and an earthquake that badly damaged Kabul, Babur was finally free to launch a long-planned attack on Kandahar. At this stage in his career Babur was not an entirely free agent. At a council of war his brother Jahangir Mirza and one of his chief advisors Baqi Chaghaniani insisted that the army attack the lesser fortress of Qalat (east of Kandahar). This position was held by Muhammad Muqim, and was defended by two of his retainers, Farrukh Arghun and Qara Bilut.

Qalat can't have been a particularly strong fort, for on the day that they arrived Babur's troops began to assault the walls from all sides. The fighting went on until the time for the Afternoon Prayer, when just as Babur's men were becoming exhausted the defenders of the fort surrendered. As was so often the case Babur was magnanimous in victory and didn't punish the defeated garrison.

In the aftermath of this victory Babur was disappointed to discover that neither Jahangir nor Baqi Changhaniani were willing to garrison the place. Babur was either unwilling or unable to do so himself, and so after a brief raid into the areas to the south he returned to Kabul, abandoning Qalat.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 April 2010), Siege of Qalat or Khilat, 1505 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_qalat.html

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