List of monarchs of the Sasanian Empire

The Sasanian monarchs were the rulers of Iran after their victory against their former suzerain, the Parthian Empire, at the Battle of Hormozdgan in 224. At its height, the Sasanian empire spanned from Turkey and Rhodes in the west to Pakistan in the east, and also included territory in contemporary Caucasus, Yemen, UAE, Oman, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Central Asia.

King of Kings of Iran
Imperial
Derafsh Kaviani flag of the late Sassanid Empire.svg
The Derafsh Kaviani, the legendary royal standard of the Sasanian monarchs
Sasanid Plate, Azerbaijan Museum, Tabriz, Iran.jpg
Plate of a Sasanian king, located in the Azerbaijan Museum in Iran
Details
First monarchArdashir I (224–242)
Last monarchYazdegerd III (632–651)
Residence
AppointerDivine right, hereditary

The Sasanian Empire was recognized as one of the main powers in the world alongside its neighboring arch rival, the Roman-Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years.[1][2][3][4] The Sasanian dynasty began with Ardashir I in 224, who was a Persian from Istakhr, and ended with Yazdegerd III in 651.[5]

The period from 631 (when Boran died) to 632 (when Yazdgerd III takes the throne) is confusing in determining proper succession because a number of rulers who took the throne were later removed or challenged by other members of the House of Sasan. The period was one of factionalism and division within the Sasanian Empire.[6]

TitlesEdit

Ardashir I (r. 224–242), the founder of the Sasanian Empire, introduced the title "Shahanshah of the Iranians" (Middle Persian: šāhān šāh ī ērān; Parthian: šāhān šāh ī aryān). Ardashir's immediate successor, Shapur I (r. 240/42–270/72) chooses the titles in a precise manner in the inscription at Ka'ba-ye Zartosht. In that Shapur names four of his Sasanian predecessors with different titles and in "an ascending order of importance" by giving the title (Xwaday) "the lord" to Sasan, "the king" to Papag, "King of Kings of Iranians" to Ardashir, and "king of kings of Iranians and non-Iranians" (Middle Persian: MLKAn MLKA 'yr'n W 'nyr'nšāhān šāh ī ērān ud anērān;; Ancient Greek: βασιλεύς βασιλέων Αριανών basileús basiléōn Arianṓn) to himself.[7] The title "King of Kings of Iranians and non-Iranians" has also seen on a single silver coin of Shapur I, which indicates that the title was introduced after his victory over Romans and incorporation of non-Iranian lands into the Sasanian realms. The title was later used in coins of all later Sasanian kings.[8]

Yazdegerd I's reign (r. 399–420), marks a shift in the political perspective of the Sasanian Empire, which (originally disposed towards the West) moved to the East.[9] The shift may have been triggered by hostile tribes in eastern Iran.[9] The war with the Iranian Huns may have reawakened the mythical rivalry between the mythological Iranian Kayanian rulers and their Turanian enemies, which is illustrated by Younger Avestan texts.[9] The title of Ramshahr (peacekeeper in [his] dominion) was added to the traditional "King of Kings of the Iranians and non-Iranians" on Yazdegerd I's coins.[10][11][a] In the Middle Persian heroic poem Ayadgar-i Zariran (The Testament of Zarer), the title was used by the last Kayanian monarch (Vishtaspa) and occurs in the 10th-century Zoroastrian Denkard.[13] Sasanian interest in Kayanian ideology and history would continue until the end of the empire.[14] Bahram V (r. 420–438), on some rare coins minted in Pars, used the title of kirbakkar ("beneficent").[15]

The reign of Yazdegerd II (r. 438–457) marks the start of a new inscription on the Sasanian coins; mazdēsn bay kay ("The Mazda-worshipping majesty, the king"), which displays his fondness of the Kayanians, who also used the title of kay.[16][17][b] Under Peroz I (r. 459–484), the traditional titulature of šāhānšāh ("King of Kings") is omitted on his coins, and only the two aspects of kay Pērōz ("King Peroz") are displayed.[15] However, a seal demonstrates that the traditional titulature was still used, which indicates that coins do not with certainty display the full formal titulature of the Sasanian monarchs.[15] His brother and successor, Balash (r. 484–488), used the title of hukay ("the good king").[15][19]

Kavad I (r. 488–496, 498–531) was the last Sasanian monarch to have kay inscribed on his coins—the last one issued in 513.[20] The regular obverse inscription on his coins simply has his name; in 504, however, the slogan abzōn ("may he prosper/increase") was added.[20][15] Khosrow II (r. 590–590, 591–628), during his second reign, added the ideogram GDH, meaning xwarrah ("royal splendor") on his coins. He combined this together with the word abzōt ("he has increased"), making the full inscription thus read as: "Khosrow, he has increased the royal splendor" (Khūsrōkhwarrah abzōt).[15] The title of King of Kings was also restored on his coins.[15] His two successors, Kavad II (r. 628–628) and Ardashir III (r. 628–630), refrained from using the title, seemingly in order distance themselves from Khosrow II.[15]

The kingEdit

The head of the Sasanian Empire was the [shahanshah] (king of kings), also simply known as the shah (king). His health and welfare were always important and the phrase “May you be immortal" was used to reply to him with. By looking on the Sasanian coins which appeared from the 6th-century and afterward, a moon and sun are noticeable. The meaning of the moon and sun, in the words of the Iranian historian [Touraj Daryaee], “suggest that the king was at the center of the world and the sun and moon revolved around him. In effect, he was the “king of the four corners of the world," which was an old Mesopotamian idea."[21] The king saw all other rulers, such as the Romans, Turks, and Chinese, as being beneath him. The king wore colorful clothes, makeup, a heavy crown, while his beard was decorated with gold. The early Sasanian kings considered themselves of divine descent; they called themselves for “bay" (divine).[22]

When the king went to the publicity, he was hidden behind a curtain,[21] and had some of his men in front of him, whose duty was to keep the masses away from the king and to make his way clear.[23] When one came to the king, he/she had to prostrate before him, also known as proskynesis. The king was guarded by a group of royal guards, known as the pushtigban. On other occasions, the king was protected by a group of palace guards, known as the darigan. Both of these groups were enlisted from royal families of the Sasanian Empire,[23] and were under the command of the hazarbed, who was in charge of the king's safety, controlled the entrance of the kings palace, presented visitors to the king, and was allowed to be given military command or used in negotiations. The hazarbed was also allowed in some cases to serve as the royal executioner.[23] During Nowruz (Iranian new year) and Mihragan (Mihr's day), the king would hold a speech.[22]

List of rulersEdit

The table below lists the rulers of the Sasanian Empire.

Portrait Name Title(s)/Slogans Reign Relationship to Predecessor Notes
House of Sasan
  Ardashir I
𐭠𐭥𐭲𐭧𐭱𐭲𐭥 (Ardašīr)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) 224 –
242
  Shapur I
𐭱𐭧𐭯𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭩 (Šābuhr)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 240 –
May 270
Son
  • Co-ruled with his father since 12 April 240
  • Died of natural causes in May 270
  Hormizd I
𐭠𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭬𐭦𐭣 (Ōhrmazd)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) May 270 –
June 271
Son
  • Reigned only for 1 year
  Bahram I
𐭥𐭫𐭧𐭫𐭠𐭭 (Warahrān)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) June 271 –
September 274
Brother
  • Committed the persecution of Manichaeism, including the death of Mani
  • Died of disease/natural causes in September 274
  Bahram II
𐭥𐭫𐭧𐭫𐭠𐭭 (Warahrān)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 274 –
293
Son
  • Died of natural causes in 293
  Bahram III
𐭥𐭫𐭧𐭫𐭠𐭭 (Warahrān)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 293 –
293
Son
  • Possibly executed during the uprising which had been led by his own grand uncle Narseh
  Narseh
𐭭𐭥𐭮𐭧𐭩 (Narsē)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 293 –
302
Grand-uncle
  • Enthroned after seizing power from Bahram III in a rebellion led against him
  Hormizd II
𐭠𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭬𐭦𐭣 (Ōhrmazd)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 302 –
309
Son
  • Enthroned after abdicating the throne from his father
  Adur Narseh King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 309 –
309
Son
  • Also known as Narseh II
  • Deposed by Sasanian nobles because of his cruelty
  Shapur II
𐭱𐭧𐭯𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭩 (Šābuhr)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 309 –
379
Brother
  • After the death of his brother, Adarnases, Shapur II was still in his mother's womb when he was crowned.
  Ardashir II
𐭠𐭥𐭲𐭧𐭱𐭲𐭥 (Ardašīr)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 379 –
383
Brother
  • Died of natural causes in 384
  Shapur III
𐭱𐭧𐭯𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭩 (Šābuhr)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 383 –
388
Nephew
  Bahram IV
𐭥𐭫𐭧𐭫𐭠𐭭 (Warahrān)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 388 –
399
Son
  Yazdegerd I
𐭩𐭦𐭣𐭪𐭥𐭲𐭩 (Yazdekert)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Ramshahr ("peacekeeper in [his] dominion")
399 –
420
Brother
  Shapur IV
𐭱𐭧𐭯𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭩 (Šābuhr)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 420 –
420
Son
  Khosrow King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 420 –
420
Cousin
  Bahram V
𐭥𐭫𐭧𐭫𐭠𐭭 (Warahrān)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Kirbakkar ("beneficent")
420 –
438
Cousin
  Yazdegerd II
𐭩𐭦𐭣𐭪𐭥𐭲𐭩 (Yazdekert)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Kay ("king")
438 –
457
Son
  Hormizd III
𐭠𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭬𐭦𐭣 (Ōhrmazd)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 457 –
459
Son
  Peroz I King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Kay (king)
457 –
484
Brother
  Balash King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Hukay ("the good king")
484 –
488
Brother
  • Two rebellions rose from two of Peroz's sons (his nephews)
  • The first rebellion was from Zarir, but he was unsuccessful and executed
  • The second rebellion was from Kavad, who at first unsuccessful requested help from Hephthalites
  Kavad I
𐭪𐭥𐭠𐭲 (Kawād)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Kay ("king")
488 –
496
Nephew
  • Enthroned after leading a rebellion against his uncle Balash with assistance from Hephthalites
  Jamasp King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 496 –
498
Brother
  Kavad I
𐭪𐭥𐭠𐭲 (Kawād)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Kay ("king")
Abzōn ("may he prosper/increase")
498 –
531
Brother
  Khosrow I King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Ērān abē-bēm kard ("Iranians has become fearless")
Ērān abzonhēnēd ("Iranians became strong")
531 –
579
Son
  Hormizd IV
𐭠𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭬𐭦𐭣 (Ōhrmazd)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 579 –
590
Son
  Khosrow II King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians)
Khūsrōkhwarrah abzōt ("Khosrow, he has increased the royal splendor")
590 –
590
Son
  • Rebelled against his father and proclaimed himself as king of Persia, however he was then overthrown by Bahram Chobin
House of Mihran
  Bahram VI Chobin King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 590 –
591
Rebel
  • Rebelled against Hormizd IV and Khosrow II and proclaimed himself to be king
House of Sasan
  Khosrow II King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 591 –
628
Son of Hormizd IV
House of Ispahbudhan
  Vistahm King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 591 –
595
Uncle
  • Uncle of Khosrow II
  • Founded the city of Bastam
House of Sasan
  Kavad II
𐭪𐭥𐭠𐭲 (Kawād)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 628 –
628
Son of Khosrow II
  • Enthroned after killing his father and eighteen brothers
  • Died after a few months of reign
  Ardashir III
𐭠𐭥𐭲𐭧𐭱𐭲𐭥 (Ardašīr)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 628 –
630
Son
House of Mihran
  Shahrbaraz King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 27 April 630 –
17 June 630
General
House of Sasan
  Khosrow III King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
630
Nephew of Khosrow II Briefly ruled in Khorasan as rival king
  Boran Queen of Queen of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
630
Daughter of Khosrow II
  • Daughter of Khosrow II
  • One of two only women who attained the Sasanian throne
  Shapur V King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
630
Son of Shahrbaraz and a sister of Khosrow II
  Peroz II King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
630
Descended from Khosrow I
  Azarmidokht Queen of Queen of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
631
Daughter of Khosrow II
  • Daughter of Khosrow II and sister of Boran
  • Second woman to attain the Sassanid throne
House of Ispahbudhan
  Hormizd V King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
631
Claimed the throne after Azarmidokht rejected his hand in marriage
  • Overthrew Shahrbaraz in favor of Azarmidokht. Murdered on Azarmidokht's orders after usurping the throne from her as well
House of Sasan
  Hormizd VI
𐭠𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭬𐭦𐭣 (Ōhrmazd)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
632
Grandson of Khosrow II
  Khosrow IV King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) 630 –
636
Brother of Peroz II
  Farrukhzad Khosrow V King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) March 631 –
April 631
Son of Khosrow II
  Boran Queen of Queen of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) June 631 –
June 632
Daughter of Khosrow II
  Yazdegerd III
𐭩𐭦𐭣𐭪𐭥𐭲𐭩 (Yazdekert)
King of Kings of Iran(ians) and non-Iran(ians) June 632 –
651
Grandson of Khosrau II
Destruction of the Sassanid Empire
  Peroz III 651 (In exile) 679 (In exile) Son
  • Retreated to Chinese territory where he served as a Tang General
  • Served as the head of the Governorate of Persia, an exiled extension of the Sassanid court
  Narsieh 679 (In exile) Unknown Son
  • Served as a Tang general, like his father
  • Also known as Narseh III
  Bahram VII Unknown 710 (in exile) Son of Yazdegerd III
  Khosrau VI Unknown Unknown Grandson of Yazdegerd III
  • Known to have fought against Islamic forces in Transoxiana alongside the Sogdians and Turks c. 728-729
  • Last known direct descendant of Yazdegerd III and member of the House of Sasan. It is unclear whether he was Peroz III or Bahram VII's son

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The word ram may be translated as "peace", "ease", "pleasure", "joy" or "satisfaction"; it is most likely "peace" in Yazdegerd I's case.[12]
  2. ^ The title of kay ("king") had already been in use at least 100 years earlier by the Kushano-Sasanians, a cadet branch of the imperial Sasanian family that ruled in the East before being supplanted by the Kidarites and the imperial Sasanians in the mid 4th-century.[18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  2. ^ Shapur Shahbazi, A. (2005), "Sasanian Dynasty", Encyclopedia Iranica, 1, Columbia University Press
  3. ^ Norman A. Stillman The Jews of Arab Lands pp 22 Jewish Publication Society, 1979 ISBN 0827611552
  4. ^ International Congress of Byzantine Studies Proceedings of the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London, 21–26 August 2006, Volumes 1-3 pp 29. Ashgate Pub Co, 30 sep. 2006 ISBN 075465740X
  5. ^ Daryaee 2012, p. 392.
  6. ^ Daryaee 2012, p. 201.
  7. ^ Frye, R. N. (1983). "Chapter 4: The political history of Iran under the Sasanians". The Cambridge History of Iran. 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-521-20092-9.
  8. ^ Yücel, Muhammet (2017). "A Unique Drachm Coin of Shapur I". Iranian Studies. 50 (3): 331–344. doi:10.1080/00210862.2017.1303329. S2CID 164631548.
  9. ^ a b c Shayegan 2013, p. 807.
  10. ^ Schindel 2013c, pp. 836-837.
  11. ^ Daryaee 2002, p. 91.
  12. ^ Daryaee 2002, p. 90.
  13. ^ Daryaee 2014, p. 22.
  14. ^ Daryaee 2002, p. 94.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Schindel 2013c, p. 837.
  16. ^ Daryaee.
  17. ^ Schindel 2013c, pp. 836–837.
  18. ^ Rezakhani 2017, pp. 79, 83.
  19. ^ Rezakhani 2017, pp. 130–131.
  20. ^ a b Schindel 2013b, pp. 141–143.
  21. ^ a b Daryaee 2012, p. 41.
  22. ^ a b Daryaee 2012, p. 42.
  23. ^ a b c Morony 2005, p. 92.

SourcesEdit