Peroz I

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Peroz I
"King of kings of Iran and Aniran"
Coin of Peroz I, showing the ruler, and a fire altar with two stylized attendants.
Reign 459–484
Born Unknown
Died 484
Predecessor Hormizd III
Successor Balash
Issue Kavadh I, Djamasp
Royal house House of Sasan
Father Yazdegerd II
Mother Dinak
Religious beliefs Zoroastrianism

Peroz I (Middle Persian: 𐭯𐭩𐭫𐭥𐭰, Persian: پیروز "the Victor"), was the eighteenth king of the Sasanian Empire, who ruled from 459 to 484. Peroz I was the eldest son of Yazdegerd II (438–457).

Disputed succession[edit]

On the death of Peroz I's father, Yazdegerd II, the younger son of the deceased Emperor, Hormizd, seized the throne in the absence of his elder brother Peroz who had been posted as the governor of distant Sistan forcing Peroz to seek the protection of the Hephthalites. The Hephthalite monarch, Khush-Newaz was only too glad to welcome him and aid him in his war against Hormizd. Peroz was also supported by Raham of the Mihran family.[1] So, with Hephthalite and Mihranid assistance, Peroz led an army against Hormizd, defeated him and held him captive. Sources differ as to what happened to Hormizd after his capture. Some say that he was put to death.[2] However, the Persian historian, Mirkhond says that Peroz pardoned his younger brother and amicably spared his life.


Peroz ruled from 459 to 484. He is said to have favored Nestorianism and persecuted Chalcedonians.


The civil war in Persia had affected the nation so much as to cost a province. Vache II, the king of Caucasian Albania, rebelled against Persian rule and declared himself independent while the brothers were busy fighting amongst each other. So once Peroz I ascended the throne in the year 459, he led an army into Albania and completely subjugated the nation. He then dismissed his allies the Hephthalites with costly presents and proceeded to rule the nation in moderation and justice.

Seven-year famine 464-471[edit]

Historians of the period record the occurrence of a seven-year famine which devastated the crops and ruined the country. Sources say that the wells became dry and that there was not a trickle of water either in the Tigris or the Euphrates. Eventually the crops failed and thousands perished.

Historians record that Peroz I showed an extreme rigidness of character in the face of such an adversity and great wisdom in dealing with the catastrophe. As a result of his wisdom and benevolence, Persia gradually recovered from the famine.

First campaign against the Huns[edit]

No sooner had Persia recovered from the famine, than war broke out with the Huns of the north. Provoked by an insult heaped upon him by Khush-Newaz, Peroz, along with his vassal Vakhtang I,[3][4][5] led an invasion of the Hephthalite country forcing them to retreat. But when Peroz pursued the Hephthalites to the hills, he suffered a crushing defeat, was captured and forced to surrender his son Kavadh I to Khush-Newaz as a hostage, until the ransom was paid.[6]

Trouble in Armenia[edit]

In 481, Peroz was defeated by the Kushans. Soon afterwards, Iberia broke into revolt and declared its independence. Peroz sent the Persian Governor of Armenia to Iberia to quell the rebellion. But no sooner had he left the province, that Armenia rose in rebellion and chose an Armenian Christian called Bargatide as its Emperor.

The Persian Governor, Adhur Gushnasp after restoring Persian rule in Iberia rushed to Armenia to quell the rebellion but was squarely defeated. Peroz responded by sending two large armies to the region, one under Adar-Narseh into Armenia and the other against Iberia.

Sahag, the Armenian king, was killed and Shapur Mihran was wreaking havoc in Persia, but just when success was within grasp, Peroz blundered by recalling Shapur Mihran and entrusting the command to one Zarmihr Karen. Zarmihr too did not remain long in Armenia and was recalled in a few months. This policy of rotating military commanders frequently ensured that Armenia was lost to the Persians for the time being.

Second campaign against the Huns and death[edit]

Towards the end of his reign, Peroz gathered an army of 50,000-100,000 men and, placing his brother Balash at the head of the government in Ctesiphon, he invaded the Hephthalites in order to avenge the insult heaped upon him during the first campaign. He set up his position at Balkh and rejected the terms of peace offered by Khush-Newaz. However, when a showdown with the Persians seemed imminent, Khush-Newaz sent a small body of troops in advance in order to trick Peroz into an ambuscade at the Battle of Herat of 484. The plan was successful, and the Persians were defeated with great slaughter, Peroz being one of the victims. Khush-Newaz, however, treated the body of his erstwhile friend with dignity and dispatched it to Persia to be buried with full honors. Balash was crowned the next Emperor of Persia.

Soon afterwards, the Hephthalites invaded and plundered Persia. Persia, however, was saved when a Sasanian noble from the Karen family, Sukhra, defeated the Hepthalites and elected Balash (484–488), one of Peroz I's brothers, to the throne.


  1. ^ Pourshariati (2008), pp. 71
  2. ^ Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire:The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran, (I.B.Tauris, 2011), 71
  3. ^ Toumanoff, Cyril (1963). Studies in Christian Caucasian History, pp. 368–9. Georgetown University Press.
  4. ^ Thomson, Robert W. (1996), Rewriting Caucasian History, pp. 153–251. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-826373-2
  5. ^ (Russian) М. Лордкипанидзе, Д. Мусхелишвили (Ред., 1988), Очерки истории Грузии. Т.2: Грузия в IV-X веках. АН ГССР, Ин-т ист., археол. и этнографии – Тб. : Мецниереба: Тип. АН ГССР.
  6. ^ The Cambridge history of Iran: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods, Vol.1, Ed. Harold Bailey, (Cambridge University Press, 1983), 148.


Peroz I
Preceded by
Hormizd III
Great King (Shah) of Persia
Succeeded by