Emperor Mother of the Mughal Empire
Hijri 933-1013 (AH); Common Era 1527-1604 (CE)
Born to a Persian Shia family, Hamida Banu Begum became a junior wife of Emperor Humayun at the age of 14, and was the mother of the most famous emperor of the Mughal dynasty, Emperor Akbar. When Humayun himself was 33, he fell in love with her beauty. Although she had initially contested the match, she was convinced of his sincerity. During the 14 year course of their marriage she became his close companion and support. While Humayun was warring for the throne, his was a mobile court, and Hamida followed him on his tough travels across rough terrain, even leaving her son, Akbar, behind to continue to support her husband. Humayun died in 1555 after finally returning to Delhi and Hamida’s son Akbar became emperor, and here, Hamida showed her political acumen becoming an active emperor mother. When Akbar’s prime minister, Bairam Khan, began trying to increase his control, Hamida kept Akbar abreast of every turn in the situation to prevent the isolation the Bairam was trying to place Akbar in. Against the wishes of Bairam, Hamida orchestrated a political alliance to the granddaughter of a trusted emir of Humayun and with a group of like-minded emirs, she forged a political alliance. Once Akbar established his dominance, Hamida retained her preeminent position. She also left an architectural legacy with the Tomb of Humayun, which she commissioned in 1562.