|Great King (Shah) of Persia|
Coin of Hormizd IV, found at Karakhodja, Chinese Central Asia.
|Place of death||Ctesiphon, Iraq|
|Royal House||House of Sasan|
Hormizd IV seems to have been imperious and violent, but not without some kindness of heart. Some very characteristic stories are told of him by Al-Tabari. His father's sympathies had been with the nobles and the priests. Hormizd IV protected the common people and introduced a severe discipline in his army and court.
When the priests demanded a persecution of the Christians, he declined on the ground that the throne and the government could only be safe if it gained the goodwill of both concurring religions. The consequence was that Hormizd IV raised a strong opposition in the ruling classes, which led to many executions and confiscations.
Khosrau I had appointed Hormizd IV as his heir after having observed in him the qualifications of a worthy prince. Hormizd IV came to the throne in 579. From his father he had inherited an ongoing war against the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire and against the Turks in the east. Negotiations of peace had just begun with the Emperor Tiberius II, but Hormizd IV haughtily declined to cede anything of the conquests of his father. Therefore the accounts given of him by the Byzantine authors, Theophylact Simocatta (iii.16 ff), Menander Protector and John of Ephesus (vi.22), who give a full account of these negotiations, are far from favourable.
Wars and opponents
Determined to teach the Sasanian king a lesson, the Roman General Maurice crossed the frontier and invaded Kurdistan. The next year, he even planned to penetrate into Media and Southern Mesopotamia but the Ghassanid king al-Mundhir allegedly betrayed the Roman cause by informing Hormizd IV of the Roman Emperor's plans. Maurice was forced to retreat in a hurry, but during the course of his retreat to the Roman frontier, he drew the Persian general Adarmahan into an engagement and defeated him.
In 582, the Persian general Tamkhosrau crossed the Perso-Roman frontier and attacked Constantina, but was defeated and killed. However, the deteriorating physical condition of the Roman Emperor Tiberius forced Maurice to return to Constantinople immediately. Meanwhile John Mystacon, who had replaced Maurice, attacked the Persians at the junction of the Nymphius and the Tigris but was defeated and forced to withdraw. Another defeat brought about his replacement by Philippicus.
Philippicus spent the years 584 and 585 making deep incursions into Persian territory. The Persians retaliated by attacking Monocartium and Martyropolis in 585. Philippicus inflicted a heavy defeat on them at Solachon in 586 and besieged the fortress of Chlomaron. After an unsuccessful siege, Philippicus retreated and made a stand at Amida. Soon, however, he relinquished command to Heraclius in 587.
In the year 588, the Roman troops mutinied and taking advantage of this mutiny, Persian troops once again attacked Constantina but were repulsed. The Romans retaliated with an equally unsuccessful invasion of Arzanene, but defeated another Persian offensive at Martyropolis.
In 589, the Persians attacked Martyropolis and captured it after defeating Philippicus twice. Philippicus was recalled and was replaced by Comentiolus under whose command the Romans defeated the Persians at Sisauranon. The Romans now laid siege to Martyropolis but at the height of the siege news circulated in Persia about a Turkish invasion.
- Bahram Chobin
The Turks had occupied Balkh and were penetrating into the heart of Persia when Hormizd IV finally dispatched a contingent under the general Bahram Chobin to fight them back. Bahram marched upon Balkh and defeated the Turks killing their Khan and capturing his son.
Soon after the threat from the north was exterminated, Bahram was sent to fight the Romans on the western frontier. He was initially successful, raiding in Svaneti as well as warding off both Caucasian Iberian and Roman offensives against Caucasian Albania, but was defeated by the Roman general Romanus in a subsequent battle on the river Araxes.
Hormizd, jealous of the rising fame of Bahram, wished to humiliate him and sent him a complete set of women's garments to wear. Bahram responded by writing him an extremely offensive letter. Enraged, Hormizd sent Persian soldiers to arrest Bahram but they moved over to Bahram's side. Now Bahram moved to Persia with a large army to depose the Sasanian monarch and place himself on the throne.
Overthrow and death
Besides, Hormizd's behavior had now turned so unbearable that Vistahm and Vinduyih, the uncles of Khosrau II, broke into open revolt. With a civil war brewing in Persia, Hormizd IV did not survive on the Sasanian throne for long. The magnates deposed and blinded Hormizd IV and proclaimed his son Khosrau II as King.
The sources do not agree on how Hormizd was killed: Theophylact Simocatta states (iv.7) that Khosrau killed him a few days after his father was blinded; the Armenian historian Sebeos (History, Ch.10.75) states that Hormizd's own courtiers killed him.
- Beate Dignas, Engelbert Winter, Rome and Persia in late antiquity: neighbours and rivals, (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 42.
- Theodor Nöldeke, Geschichte d. Perser und Araber unter den Sasaniden, 264 ff.
- Edwards, Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen (1970). The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-521-32591-9.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
|Great King (Shah) of Persia