Babur (Persian: بابر, translit. Bābur, lit. 'Tiger'; 14 February 1483 – 26 December 1530), born Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn Muḥammad (Persian: ظهیرالدین محمد, translit. Ẓahīr ad-Dīn Muḥammad), was a conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty in the Indian subcontinent and became the first Mughal emperor. He was a direct descendant of Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamurlane) from the Barlas clan, through his father, and also a descendant of Genghis Khan through his mother. He was also influenced by the Persian culture and this affected both his own actions and those of his successors, giving rise to a significant expansion of the Persianate ethos in the Indian subcontinent.
Babur was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza. He ascended the throne of Fergana in 1495 at the age of twelve and faced rebellion from his own relatives. He conquered Samarkand two years later, only to lose the city of Fergana soon after. In his attempt to reconquer Fergana, he lost control of Samarkand. In 1501, his attempt to recapture both cities went in vain as he was defeated by Muhammad Shaybani Khan. In 1504, he conquered Kabul, which was under the rule of the infant heir of Ulugh Begh. Babur formed a partnership with Safavid ruler Ismail I and reconquered parts of central Asia, including Samarkand, only to again lose it and the other newly conquered lands to the Uzbeks.
After losing Samarkand for the third time, Babur turned his attention to creating his empire in north India. At that time, the Indo-Gangetic Plain of the northern Indian Subcontinent was ruled by Ibrahim Lodi of the Afghan Lodi dynasty, whereas Rajputana was ruled by a Hindu Rajput Confederacy, led by Rana Sanga of Mewar. In 1524, Daulat Khan Lodi, a rebel of the Lodhi dynasty, invited Babur to overthrow Ibrahim and become ruler. Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 and founded the Mughal empire. However, he again faced opposition, this time from Rana Sanga of Mewar who considered Babur a foreigner. The Rana was defeated at the Battle of Khanwa.
Babur married several times. Notable among his sons are Humayun, Kamran Mirza and Hindal Mirza. Babur died in 1530 and was succeeded by Humayun. According to Babur's wishes, he was buried in Bagh-e-Babur in Kabul, Afghanistan. Being a patrilineal descendant of Timur, Babur considered himself a Timurid and Turk, though Uzbek sources claim him as an ethnic Uzbek. He is considered a national hero in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Many of his poems also have become popular folk songs. He wrote his autobiography, Baburnama, in Chaghatai Turkic and this was translated into Persian during Akbar's reign.
The difficulty of pronouncing the name for his Central Asian Turco-Mongol army may have been responsible for the greater popularity of his nickname Babur, also variously spelled Baber, Babar, and Bābor. The name is generally taken in reference to the Persian babr, meaning "tiger". The word repeatedly appears in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh and was borrowed into the Turkic languages of Central Asia. Timur's name had undergone a similar evolution, with the Sanskrit cimara ("iron") becoming pronounced first *čimr and then a Turkicized timür, owing to the need to provide vocalic support between the m and r in Turkic languages. The choice of vowel would nominally be restricted to one of the four front vowels (e, i, ö, ü per the Ottoman vowel harmony rule), hence babr → babür, although the rule is routinely violated for words of Persian or Arabic derivation. Thackston argues for an alternate derivation from the PIE word "beaver", pointing to similarities between the pronunciation Bābor and the Russian bobr (бобр, "beaver").
Babur bore the royal titles Badshah and al-ṣultānu 'l-ʿazam wa 'l-ḫāqān al-mukkarram pādshāh-e ġāzī. He and later Mughal emperors used the title of mirza when they were princes (see imperial and royal titles of the Mughal emperors).
Babur's memoirs form the main source for details of his life. They are known as the Baburnama and were written in Chaghatai Turkic, his mother-tongue, though, according to Dale, "his Turkic prose is highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology or word formation and vocabulary." Baburnama was translated into Persian during the rule of Babur's grandson Akbar.
Babur was born on 14 February 1483 in the city of Andijan, Andijan Province, Fergana Valley, contemporary Uzbekistan. He was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza, ruler of the Fergana Valley, the son of Abū Saʿīd Mirza (and grandson of Miran Shah, who was himself son of Timur) and his wife Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, daughter of Yunus Khan, the ruler of Moghulistan (and great-great grandson of Tughlugh Timur, the son of Esen Buqa I, who was the great-great-great grandson of Chaghatai Khan, the second-born son of Genghis Khan).
Babur hailed from the Barlas tribe, which was of Mongol origin and had embraced Turkic and Persian culture. They had also converted to Islam centuries earlier and resided in Turkestan and Khorasan. Aside from the Chaghatai language, Babur was equally fluent in Persian, the lingua franca of the Timurid elite.
Hence, Babur, though nominally a Mongol (or Moghul in Persian language), drew much of his support from the local Turkic and Iranian people of Central Asia, and his army was diverse in its ethnic makeup. It included Persians (known to Babur as "Sarts" and "Tajiks"), ethnic Afghans, Arabs, as well as Barlas and Chaghatayid Turko-Mongols from Central Asia.