Zainab Sultan Begum – Second wife of the Mughal Emperor Babur

Zainab Sultan Begum was the second wife of the founder of the Mughal Empire, Babur.

Quick Facts

  • Full Name: Zainab Sultan Begum
  • Born: 14th century
  • Died: Between 1506 to 1507
  • Religion: Islam
  • Dynasty: Timurid (by birth)
  • Spouse: Babur
  • Father: Sultan Mahmud Mirza
  • Mother: Khanzada Begum
  • Famous as: Queen consort of Ferghana Valley and Kabul

Introduction

Zainab Sultan Begum was the second wife of the founder of the Mughal Empire, Babur and the queen consort of Ferghana Valley and Kabul. She was a direct cousin of the Babur like two of his other wives Aisha Sultan Begum and Masuma Sultan Begum.

Zainab was one of the first Mughal cousins to marry among the own family. Later it became a common practice, which was especially followed by Humayun, who was the second Mughal emperor, succeeded Babur after his death in 1530.


Family

Zainab Sultan Begum was a Timurid princess and was the fifth daughter of Sultan Mahmud Mirza who was Babur’s paternal uncle. Her mother was the granddaughter of Mir Buzurg, and the daughter of a brother of Khanzada Begum who was her father’s first wife. Her father was a son of Abu Sa’id Mirza, the Emperor of the Timurid Empire.

Zainab’s paternal uncles included Umar Sheikh Mirza, who was the ruler of Ferghana Valley. He later became her father-in-law as well while her first cousins included her future husband, Babur and his elder sister Khanzada Begum. Her sister Ak Begum, who married to Babur’s brother Jahangir Mirza, became her sister-in-law.


Marriage

Zainab married to Babur after his annexure to Kabul in 1504. However she was not a favourite wife of the emperor because she was too proud of her parentage and failed to win Babur’s affection. 

Babur has mentioned about the marriage of Sultan Mahmud Mirza to Khanzada Begum who was the daughter of Mir of Tirmiz. After her death, he married her late wife’s niece Khanzada Begum.He had five daughters and a son through her. This created Babur’s hatred for his uncle, and subsequently he was reluctant to marry Zainab. It was due to the insistence of Babur’s mother that he married her. Babur did not want to marry her because she was not very congenial according to him.

Though it is claimed that Zainab Sultan Begum was the most influential lady in Babur’s harem. she had authority in controlling its activity though she was not his favourite wife.


Death

Zainab Sultan Begum died in 1506 or 1507 two or three years after her marriage. She was childless. It is said she died of smallpox.


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