|Great King (Shah) of Ērānshahr|
|Reign||27 April 629 – 17 June 629|
|Died||17 June 629|
|Place of death||Ctesiphon|
|Royal House||House of Mihran|
Shahrwarāz or Shahrbarāz (Persian: شهربراز, died 17 June 629) was king of the Sasanian Empire from 27 April 629 to 17 June 629. He usurped the throne from Ardashir III, and was killed by Sasanian nobles after forty days. Before usurping the Sasanian throne he was a general (spahbed) under Khosrau II (590–628). His name Shahrbaraz is actually an honorific title, and means "the Boar of the Empire", attesting to his dexterity in military command and his warlike person, as the boar was the animal associated with the Zoroastrian Izad Vahram, the epitome of victory.
Shahrbaraz belonged to the House of Mihran, one of the Seven Parthian clans, he was the son of a certain Ardashir. During Shahrbaraz's later life, he joined the Sasanian army where he became Spahbed of Persia, a very important rank in the Sasanian Empire. He was married to Mirhran, the sister of the Sasanian king Khosrau II, whom Shahrbaraz had two boys with; Niketas the Persian and Shapur-i Shahrvaraz.
War against the Byzantine Empire
In 602, Phocas, a middle-ranking army officer, successfully revolted against Maurice and crowned himself as the emperor of the Byzantine Empire. On 23 November Maurice was executed and then five of his six sons on the 27th were executed. One of Maurice's sons, Theodosius, managed to flee into Sasanian territory. He made his way eventually to Khosrau II’s court where he was warmly received, and was promised help by Khosrau II.
Khosrau II started a new Byzantine-Sasanian war that was going to last 26 years. Khosrau II, along with Shahrbaraz and his other best generals, conquered Dara and Edessa in 604, and in the north, the Byzantines were driven back to the old, pre-591 frontier before Khosrau II gave them most of Persian Armenia, parts of Mesopotamia and western half of Iberia. After reconquering lost territory, Khosrau II withdrew from the battlefield and handed military operations to his best generals. Shahrbaraz was one of them. In 610, Heraclius, an Armenian of probable Arsacid descent, revolted against Phocas and killed him, crowning himself as Emperor of the Byzantine Empire. After becoming Byzantine Emperor, he prepared a major counter-attack against the Sasanians outside Antioch in 613, but was decisively defeated by Shahrbaraz, who inflicted heavy losses on the Byzantine army and then captured the city. Giving the Sasanians naval access to the Mediterranean sea.
After the Byzantine defeat outside Antioch, Heraclius and his brother Theodore, along with General Nicetas, had combined their armies in Syria, but were defeated by Shahrbaraz and his forces who besieged Damascus and captured it along with a large number of Byzantine troops as prisoners.
One of most important events during his career was when he lead the Sasanian army towards Palaestina, and after a bloody siege captured Jerusalem, a city sacred to the Christians. After his conquest of Jerusalem the Holy Cross was carried away in triumph. In 618, Shahrbaraz was ordered by Khosrau II to invade Egypt, and by 619, Alexandria, the capital of Byzantine Egypt, was in Sasanian hands. This was the second time in history that Egypt had fallen under Iranian control.
After the fall of Alexandria, Shahrbaraz and his forces extended Sasanian rule southwards along the Nile. By 621, the province was securely in Sasanian hands. In 622, Heraclius made a counter-attack against the Sasanian Empire in Anatolia, Shahrbaraz was sent over there to deal with him, but was eventually defeated by him.
After Heraclius's victory, he marched towards Caucasian Albania and wintered there. Shahrbaraz, along with Shahin and Shahraplakan were later sent by the orders of Khosrau II to trap the forces of Heraclius. Shahin managed to rout the Byzantine army. Due to jealousy between the Sasanian commanders, Shahrbaraz hurried with his army to take part in the glory of the victory. Heraclius met them at Tigranakert and routed the forces of Shahraplakan and Shahin one after the other. After this victory, Heraclius crossed the Araxes and camped in the plains on the other side. Shahin, with the remnants of both his and Shahraplakan's armies joined Shahrbaraz in the pursuit of Heraclius, but marshes slowed them down. At Aliovit, Shahrbaraz split his forces, sending some 6,000 troops to ambush Heraclius while the remainder of the troops stayed at Aliovit. Heraclius instead launched a surprise night attack on the Persian main camp in February 625, destroying it. Shahrbaraz only barely escaped, naked and alone, having lost his harem, baggage, and men.
Heraclius spent the rest of winter to the north of Lake Van. In 625, his forces attempted to push back towards the Euphrates. In a mere seven days, he bypassed Mount Ararat and the 200 miles along the Arsanias River to capture Amida and Martyropolis, important fortresses on the upper Tigris. Heraclius then carried on towards the Euphrates, pursued by Shahrbaraz. According to Arab sources, he was stopped at the Satidama or Batman Su River and defeated; Byzantine sources, however, do not mention this incident. There was then another minor skirmish between Heraclius and Shahrbaraz at the Sarus river near Adana. Shahrbaraz stationed his forces across the river from the Byzantines. A bridge spanned the river, and the Byzantines immediately charged across. Shahrbaraz feigned retreat to lead the Byzantines into an ambush, and the vanguard of Heraclius' army was destroyed within minutes. The Persians, however, had neglected to cover the bridge, and Heraclius charged across with the rearguard, unafraid of the arrows that the Persians fired, turning the tide of battle against the Persians. Shahrbaraz expressed his admiration at Heraclius to a renegade Greek: "See your Emperor! He fears these arrows and spears no more than would an anvil!" The Battle of Sarus was a successful retreat for the Byzantines that panegyrists magnified. In the aftermath of the battle, the Byzantine army wintered at Trebizond.
Siege of Constantinople
Shahrbaraz, along with a smaller army later managed to slip through Heraclius' flanks and bee-lined for Chalcedon, the Sasanian base across the Bosphorus from Constantinople. Khosrau II coordinated with the Khagan of the Avars so as to launch a coordinated attack on Constantinople from both European and Asiatic sides. The army of Shahrbaraz stationed themselves at Chalcedon, while the Avars placed themselves on the European side of Constantinople and destroyed the Aqueduct of Valens. Because of the Byzantine navy's control of the Bosphorus strait, however, the Sasanians could not send troops to the European side to aid their ally. This reduced the effectiveness of the siege, because the Sasanians were experts in siege warfare. Furthermore, the Sasanians and Avars had difficulties communicating across the guarded Bosphorus—though undoubtedly, there was some communication between the two forces.
On 7 August, a fleet of Sasanian rafts ferrying troops across the Bosphorus were surrounded and destroyed by Byzantine ships. The Slavs under the Avars attempted to attack the sea walls from across the Golden Horn, while the main Avar host attacked the land walls. Patrician Bonus' galleys rammed and destroyed the Slavic boats; the Avar land assault from 6 to 7 August also failed. With the news that Theodore had decisively triumphed over Shahin (supposedly leading Shahin to die from depression), the Avars retreated to the Balkan hinterland within two days, never to seriously threaten Constantinople again. Even though the army of Shahrbaraz was still encamped at Chalcedon, the threat to Constantinople was over.
Khosrau II, disappointed by Shahrbaraz's failure, sent a messager bearing a letter to Kardarigan. In the letter it said that Kardarigan should kill Shahrbaraz and return his army back to Ctesiphon, but the bearers of the letter were intercepted in Galatia by Byzantine soldiers, who gave the letter to Constantine III who in turn gave the letter to Heraclius. After reading the letter, he offered to show the letter to Shahrbaraz in a meeting at Constantinople. Shahrbaraz accepted his proposal and met him at Constantinople where he read the letter and switched over to Heraclius' side. Shahrbaraz then changed the contents of the letter, making it state that Khosrau II wanted 400 officers killed, ensuring that Kardarigan and the rest of the army remaining loyal to him. Shahrbaraz then moved his army to northern Syria, where he could easily decide to support either Khosrau or Heraclius at a moment's notice. Still, with the neutralization of Khosrau's most skilled general, Heraclius deprived his enemy of some of his best and most experienced troops, while securing his flanks prior to his invasion of Persia. However, Heraclius may have altered the letter for his own purposes before showing it to Shahrbaraz.
Usurping the throne
In 628, the feudal families of Persia secretly mutinied against Khosrau and joined Shahrbaraz. Kavadh was then released by the feudal families of the Sasanian Empire, which included: Shahrbaraz himself, who represented the Mihran family. The House of Ispahbudhan represented by spahbed Farrukh Hormizd and his two sons Rostam Farrokhzad, and Khurrazad. The Armenian faction represented by Varaztirots II Bagratuni and finally the Kanarang. On February, Kavadh, along with Aspad Gushnasp, captured Ctesiphon and imprisoned Khosrau II. Kavadh II then proclaimed himself as king of the Sasanian Empire on 25 February, and with the aid of Piruz Khosrow, executed of all his brother and half-brothers, which included Mardanshah, the favorite son of Khosrau II. Three days later, he ordered Mihr Hormozd to execute his father. With the agreement of the Persian nobles, Kavadh then made peace with the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, which made the Byzantines regain all their lost territories, their captured soldiers, a war indemnity, along with the True Cross and other relics that were lost in Jerusalem in 614.
Following the loss of territory required for the peace treaty, the embittered aristocracy started forming independent states within the Sasanian Empire. This divided the resources of the country which resulted in a devastating plague in the western provinces of Persia, killing half of the population along with Kavadh II who was succeeded by Ardashir III.
|“||Now that the Iranian king is dead, “the throne and the kingdom has come to you. I bestow it on you, and on your offspring after you. If an army is necessary, I shall send to your assistance as many [troops] as you may need.||”|
On 27 April, Shahrbaraz, besieged Ctesiphon with a force of 6,000 men, He was, however, unable to capture the city, and then made an alliance with Piruz Khosrow, the leader of the Parsig faction, and the previous minister of the Empire during the reign of Ardashir's father, Kavadh II. He also made an alliance with Namdar Jushnas, the spahbed of Nimruz. Shahrbaraz, with the aid of these two powerful figures, captured Ctesiphon, and executed Ardashir III along with many Sasanian nobles, including Ardashir's minister, Mah-Adhur Gushnasp. Shahrbaraz then became the new king of the Sasanian Empire, and killed Kardarigan, who opposed Shahrbaraz after his usurpation of the Sasanian throne. After forty days, Shahrbaraz was murdered by Farrukh Hormizd, who then helped Borandukht, the daughter of Khosrau II, ascend the throne.
- Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire, (I.B.Tauris, 2008), 181.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 287.
- SASANIAN DYNASTY, A. Shapur Shahbazi, Encyclopaedia Iranica, (20 July 2005).
- Oman 1893, p. 210
- Kaegi 2003, p. 131
- Kaegi 2003, p. 132
- Norwich 1997, p. 92
- Treadgold 1997, p. 297
- Kaegi 2003, p. 133
- Kaegi 2003, p. 140
- Dodgeon, Greatrex & Lieu 2002, pp. 179–181
- Kaegi 2003, p. 134
- Kaegi 2003, p. 137
- Kaegi 2003, p. 148
- Kaegi 2003, p. 151
- Pourshariati (2008), p. 173
- Oman 1893, p. 212
- Kaegi 2003, pp. 178, 189–190
- SASANIAN DYNASTY, A. Shapur Shahbazi, Encyclopaedia Iranica, (20 July 2005).
- Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire, 177.
- ARDAŠĪR III, A. Sh. Shahbazi, Encyclopaedia Iranica,(11 August 2011).
- Pourshariati (2008), p. 180
- Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire, 181, 183.
- Martindale, Jones & Morris 1992, p. 271.
- 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.
|Great King (Shah) of Ērānshahr
27 April 629 – 17 June 629