Later medieval dynasties

After his death in 1227, Genghis Khan's vast empire fell to pieces. In Afghanistan some local chiefs succeeded in establishing independent principalities, and others acknowledged Mongol princes as suzerains. This state of affairs continued until the end of the 14th century, when Timur (Tamerlane) conquered a large part of the country.

Timur's successors, the Timurids, were great patrons of learning and the arts who enriched their capital city of Herat with fine buildings. Under their rule (1404-1507) Afghanistan enjoyed peace and prosperity.

Early in the 16th century the Turkic Uzbeks rose to power in Central Asia under Muhammad Shaybani, who took Herat in 1507. In late 1510 the Safavid shah Esma'il besieged Shaybani in Merv and killed him. Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, had made Kabul the capital of an independent principality in 1504. He captured Qandahar in 1522, and in 1526 he marched on Delhi. He defeated Ibrahim, the last of the Lodi Afghan kings of India, and established the Mughal Empire, which lasted until the middle of the 19th century and included all of eastern Afghanistan south of the Hindu Kush. The capital was at Agra. Nine years after his death in 1530, the body of Babur was taken to Kabul for burial.

During the next 200 years Afghanistan was parceled between the Mughals of India and the Safavids of Persia--the former holding Kabul north to the southern foothills of the Hindu Kush and the latter Herat and Farah. Qandahar was for many years in dispute.


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