Bahrām Chobin

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Wahrām Chōbēn
Bahrām Chōbīn
Great King (Shah) of Ērānshahr (usurper)
Coin of Bahram Chobin
Reign 590–591
Predecessor Khosrau II
Successor Khosrau II (restored)
House House of Mihran
Dynasty Sasanian Empire
Father Bahram Gushnasp
Born Unknown
Died 591
Religion Zoroastrianism

Bahrām Chōbīn (Middle Persian: BChobinPahlavi.png; New Persian: بهرام چوبین), also known by his epithet Mehrbandak (Middle Persian: Mihrewandak),[1] was a famous spahbed (senior army commander) during the late 6th century in Persia. He usurped the Sasanian throne from Khosrau II, ruling for a year as Bahram VI (590-591).[2] However, he was later defeated by Khosrau II and was forced to flee.


Bahram Chobin was son of Bahram Gushnasp,[1] of the House of Mihran, one of the seven Parthian clans of the Sasanian Empire. Bahram Chobin had three siblings whom were named: Gordiya, Gorduya and Mardansina.


For more details on this topic, see First Perso-Turkic War.

Bahram Chobin originally started his career as marzban of Ray, but in 572 he commanded a cavalry force which captured a Byzantine fortress and was promoted to army chief (spahbed) of Atropatene and Media.[1] After being promoted he fought a long, indecisive campaign against the Byzantines in northern Mesopotamia.

In late 588, a massive army of Turks invaded the eastern provinces of the Sasanian empire, reaching as far as Badghis and Herat.[1] Bahram Chobin was elected as the spahbed of Khorasan and commander-in-chief to lead 12,000[1] Sasanian forces against the Turks. After reaching Central Asia his army ambushed a large army of Turks and conquered Balkh. He then crossed the Oxus river and trapped and defeated the Turks near Bukhara,[3] killing the Göktürk Bagha/Yabghu Qaghan with an arrow. The Turkic forces is said to have outnumbered his troops five to one.

After his great victory against the Turks he was sent to Caucasus to repel an invasion of nomads, possibly the Khazars. Bahram was once again victorious. Bahram Chobin was then made commander of the Sasanian forces against the Byzantines once again, and successfully defeated a Byzantine force in Georgia. However, he later suffered a minor defeat by an Byzantine army on the banks of the Araxes river.

After his defeat Hormizd IV disgraced him, he removed Bahram Chobin from the Sasanian office. Thus, he along with the main Persian army, rebelled against the Shah and marched toward Ctesiphon. Hormizd was killed and his son, Khosrau II, unable to fight such an army, fled to Byzantine territory and Bahram sat on the throne as Great King (Shah) of Persia.

Hormizd IV tried to organize an effective resistance against Bahram Chobin. The Sasanian aristocracy, however, did not support him. Not even the religious leaders did. Hormizd IV responded by imprisoning many Sasanian nobles, however, it did not make the situation better, because the Sasanian aristocracy revolted against him and freed the imprisoned nobles. Hormizd IV was blinded and Khosrau II became king, however, Bahram Chobin wanted the throne for himself, he defeated the army of Khosrau II around the Zagros mountains, capturing his uncle Vinduyih. However, Khosrau II and his uncle Vistahm managed to escape. Vinduyih later managed to escape from his prison and fled over to Khosrau II.


Vinduyih was sent with a large army granted by the Byzantine Emperor Maurice. They went to Armenia to outflank Bahram, who was defeated in the lowlands and lost Ctesiphon. He retreated to Azerbaijan and then wrote a letter to Musel II Mamikonian, an Armenian spahbed who was helping Khosrau II, the letter said: "As for you Armenians who demonstrate an unseasonable loyalty, did not the house of Sasan destroy your land and sovereignty? Why otherwise did your fathers rebel and extricate themselves from their service, fighting up until today for your country?"[4] Bahram Chobin in his letter promised that the Armenians would become partners of the Sasanian Empire ruled by a Parthian dynastic family if he accepted his proposal to betray Khosrau II.[5] Musel, however, rejected the offer.[5]

Khosrau II's army then marched towards Azerbaijan and defeated Bahram Chobin at the Battle of Blarathon, forcing him to flee to the eastern parts of Persia. While Bahram Chobin was fleeing to the east he defeated a Karen army and later arrived in Ferghana[6] where he was received honorably by the Khaqan of the Turks. Khosrau II, however, could not feel secure as long as Bahram Chobin lived, and succeeded in having him assassinated.[7] The remainder of Bahram's troops returned to northern Iran and joined the rebellion of Vistahm which took place in 590/1–596 or 594/5–600.[8]

The fate of his family[edit]

After Bahram's death, his sister Gordiya traveled to Khorasan where she married Vistahm, who during that time was like Bahram, also rebelling against Khosrau II. She later killed the latter and joined Khosrau II who took her as his wife. Bahram had three sons named Shapur, Mihran Bahram-i Chubin, and Noshrad. Shapur continued to oppose the Sasanians, and later joined the rebellion of Vistahm. After the end of the rebellion, Shapur was executed. Mihran is mentioned in 633 as the head of a Sasanian army, and fought against the Arabs during the Arab invasion of Persia. Not much is known about Noshrad, except that he had a son named Togmath, whose descendants would later form the Samanid dynasty.


There are many fables attributed to Bahram VI, as is the normal for many heroes in Persian literature. The chapters in Volume VIII of Ferdowsi's 11th-century Shahnameh[9] on the reigns of "Hormizd, Son of Khosrow I," and "Khosrow Parviz," both of which are almost as much about Bahram Chobin as about Hormizd or his son.

Following the collapse of the Sasanian Empire, the Samanid dynasty formed of descendants of Bahram Chobin, became one of the first independent Persian dynasties.[10]

Family tree[edit]

Bahram Gushnasp
Bahram Chobin
Mihran Bahram-i Chubin
Saman Khuda


  1. ^ a b c d e BAHRĀM (2), A. Sh. Shahbazi, Encyclopaedia Iranica
  2. ^ Tabari, The History of al-Tabari:The Sāsānids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen, Vol.V, trans. Clifford Edmund Bosworth, (State University of New York Press, 1999), 311.
  3. ^ Pourshariati (2008), p. 126
  4. ^ Pourshariati (2008), p. 129, 128
  5. ^ a b Pourshariati (2008), p. 129
  6. ^ Gumilev L.N. Bahram Chubin, pp. 229 - 230
  7. ^ Usanova M. Ismoil Somonii waqfnomasi, p. 29.
  8. ^ Pourshariati (2008), pp. 133–134
  9. ^ online at
  10. ^ Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Jaʻfar Narshakhī, History of Bukhara, Transl. Richard Nelson Fyre, (Markus Weiner Publishers, 2007), 77-78.


External links[edit]

Bahrām Chobin
Preceded by
Khosrau II
Great King (Shah) of Ērānshahr
Succeeded by
Khosrau II (restored)