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Ardashir III (Middle Persian 𐭠𐭥𐭲𐭧𐭱𐭲𐭥, New Persian: اردشیر نیکوکار, Ardashir; 621 – 27 April 630) was Sasanian king (shah) of Iran from 6 September 628 to 27 April 630.

Ardashir III
King of kings of Iran and Aniran
Coin of Ardashir III, Arrajan mint (2).jpg
Coin of Ardashir III, minted at Arrajan in 629.
Shahanshah of the Sasanian Empire
Reign6 September 628 – 27 April 630
PredecessorKavad II
Died27 April 630 (aged 9)
HouseHouse of Sasan
FatherKavad II


Ardashir is the New Persian form of the Middle Persian name Ardašīr/Ardašēr (𐭠𐭥𐭲𐭧𐭱𐭲𐭥), which is ultimately from Old Iranian *Artaxšaθra- (𐎠𐎼𐎫𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎠), equivalent to Greek Artaxérxēs (Αρταξέρξης), and Armenian Artašēs (Արտաշէս). The name means "whose rule is through truth."


Ardashir was the son of king Kavad II (r. 628) and Anzoy, who was a princess from the Byzantine Empire,[1][2] which made Ardashir less popular among the Iranians, who had recently been in a long and devastating war against the Byzantines.[1] In 628, a devastating plague spread through western Iran, which claimed the lives of half of the population, including Kavad II himself.[3]


After the death of Kavad II, the Wuzurgan elected Ardashir as his successor, who was only a 7-year-old boy. In reality, however, he exercised little power and his empire was controlled by his vizier Mah-Adhur Gushnasp, whose duty was to protect the empire until Ardashir became old enough to rule. The Iranian historian al-Tabari says the following thing about Mah-Adhur Gushnasp's administration of the Empire; "Mah-Adhur Gushnasp carried on the administration of the kingdom in [such] an excellent fashion, [and with such] firm conduct, [that] no one would have been aware of Ardashir III's youthfulness."[4]

During the same period, a brother of Mah-Adhur Gushnasp named Narsi, was granted with Kashkar as a part of his domains,[5] However, even under a strong vizier, things were still looking grim in Iran; Factionalism had greatly increased among the Iranians, and several powerful factions which had emerged during the reign of Ardashir's grandfather Khosrau II, had gained firm control of important parts of Iran, while the Sasanian state was less-centralized than it had been under Ardashir's predecessors. Ardashir's ascension was supported by both the Pahlav (Parthian) and Parsig (Persian) faction, and a third major faction named the Nimruzi.[6] However, sometime in 629, the Nimruzi withdrew their support for the shah, and started to conspire with the distinguished Iranian general Shahrbaraz to overthrow him.[7] The Pahlav, under their leader Farrukh Hormizd of the Ispahbudhan clan, responded by supporting Ardashir's aunt Boran as the new ruler of Iran, who subsequently started minting coins in the Pahlav areas of Amol, Nishapur, Gurgan and Ray.[7]

One year later, Shahrbaraz with a force of 6,000 men marched towards Ctesiphon and besieged the city.[1] Shahrbaraz, however, was unable to capture the city, and then made an alliance with Piruz Khosrow, the leader of the Parsig, and the previous minister of the Empire during the reign of Ardashir's father.[8] With the support of both the Parsig and Nimruzi, Shahrbaraz captured Ctesiphon and executed Ardashir, Mah-Adhur Gushnasp himself, and many other prominent nobles.[1] Shahrbaraz then ascended the Iranian throne. According to late folklore, Ardashir was buried at an unknown place in Meshan.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Shahbazi 1986, p. 381-382.
  2. ^ Martindale, Jones & Morris 1992, p. 94.
  3. ^ Shahbazi 2005.
  4. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 179.
  5. ^ Morony 2005, p. 157.
  6. ^ Pourshariati 2008, pp. 178, 209.
  7. ^ a b Pourshariati 2008, p. 209.
  8. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 180.


  • Morony, Michael G. (2005) [1984]. Iraq After The Muslim Conquest. Gorgias Press LLC. ISBN 978-1-59333-315-7.
  • Martindale, John R.; Jones, A.H.M.; Morris, John (1992), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Volume III: AD 527–641, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-20160-8
  • Pourshariati, Parvaneh (2008). Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-645-3.
  • Shahbazi, A. Shapur (2005). "Sasanian Dynasty". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  • Shahbazi, A. Shapur (1986). "ARDAŠĪR III". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. II, Fasc. 4. pp. 381–382.
Ardashir III
Preceded by
Kavad II
King of kings of Iran and Aniran
6 September 628 – 27 April 630
Succeeded by