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Queen of Queens of Iran
Coin of Azarmidokht with the bust of her father Khosrow II to the left.
Queen of the Sasanian Empire
PredecessorShapur-i Shahrvaraz
HouseHouse of Sasan
FatherKhosrow II

Azarmidokht (Middle Persian: Āzarmīgdukht; New Persian: آزرمی‌دخت, Āzarmīdokht) was Sasanian queen (banbishn) of Iran from 630 to 631. She was the daughter of king (shah) Khosrow II (r. 590–628). She was the second Sasanian queen; her sister Boran ruled before and after Azarmidokht. Azarmidokht ruled Iran after her cousin Shapur-i Shahrvaraz was deposed.


Azarmidokht is the New Persian variant of her original name in Middle Persian, Āzarmīgdukht, meaning "daughter of the respected one", referring to her father Khosrow II (r. 590–628).[1]

Background and early life[edit]

Coin of Khosrow II.

Azarmidokht was the daughter of the last prominent shah of Iran, Khosrow II, who was overthrown and executed in 628 by his own son Kavad II, who proceeded to have all his brothers and half-brothers executed, including the heir Mardanshah.[2][3] This dealt a heavy blow to the empire, which it would never recover from. Azarmidokht and her sister Boran reportedly criticized and scolded Kavad II for his barbaric actions, which made him filled with remorse.[4]

The fall of Khosrow II culminated in a civil war lasting four years, with the most powerful members of the nobility gaining full autonomy and starting to create their own government. The hostilities between the Persian (Parsig) and Parthian (Pahlav) noble-families were also resumed, which split up the wealth of the nation.[5] A few months later, a devastating plague swept through the western Sasanian provinces, killing half of its population including Kavad II.[5] He was succeeded by his eight-year-old son Ardashir III, who was killed two years later by the distinguished Iranian general Shahrbaraz, who was in turn murdered forty days later in a coup by leader of the Pahlav, Farrukh Hormizd, who helped Boran ascend the throne.[6] She was, however, the following year deposed and replaced with her cousin Shapur-i Shahrvaraz (who was also Shahrbaraz's son).[7] His rule proved even more brief than that of his predecessor−being deposed after less than a year by the Parsig faction led by Piruz Khosrow, who helped Azarmidokht ascend the throne.[7]


Farrukh Hormizd, in order to strengthen his authority and create a modus vivendi between the Pahlav and Parsig, asked Azarmidokht (who was a Parsig nominee) to marry him.[8] Azarmidokht, however, declined.[9] After having his proposal declined, Farrukh Hormizd "no longer shied away from the throne itself", declaring "Today I am the leader of the people and the pillar of the country of Iran."[9] He started minting coins in the same fashion as a monarch, notably in Istakhr in Pars and Nahavand in Media.[9] In order to deal with Farrukh Hormizd, Azarmidokht supposedly allied herself with Mihranid dynast Siyavakhsh, who was the grandson of Bahram Chobin, the famous military commander (spahbed) and briefly shah of Iran.[10] With Siyavakhsh's aid, Azarmidokht had Farrukh Hormizd killed.[11]

Farrukh Hormizd's son Rostam Farrokhzad, who was at that time stationed in Khorasan, succeeded him as the leader of the Pahlav. In order to avenge his father, he left for Ctesiphon, "defeating every army of Azarmidokht that he met".[12] He then defeated Siyavakhsh's forces at Ctesiphon and captured the city.[12] Azarmidokht was shortly afterwards blinded and killed by Rostam, who restored Boran to the throne.[12][1]

Personality, appearance and accomplishments[edit]

Islamic sources describe Azarmidokht as an intelligent and very captivating woman.[1] According to the 10th-century historian Hamza al-Isfahani, the now lost book of Ketāb ṣowar molūk Banī Sāsān ("The Sasanian picture book") portrayed her as "seated, wearing a red embroidered gown and sky-blue studded trousers, grasping a battle-axe in her right hand and leaning on a sword held in her left hand."[1] The construction of a castle at Asadabad is attributed to her.[1] Her title was "the Just."[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gignoux 1987, p. 190.
  2. ^ Kia 2016, p. 284.
  3. ^ Howard-Johnston 2010.
  4. ^ Al-Tabari 1985–2007, v. 5: p. 399.
  5. ^ a b Shahbazi 2005.
  6. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 185.
  7. ^ a b Pourshariati 2008, p. 204.
  8. ^ Pourshariati 2008, pp. 205-206.
  9. ^ a b c Pourshariati 2008, p. 205.
  10. ^ Pourshariati 2008, pp. 206, 210.
  11. ^ Pourshariati 2008, pp. 206.
  12. ^ a b c Pourshariati 2008, p. 210.


  • Schmitt, Rüdiger (2005a). "Personal Names, Iranian iv. Sasanian Period". Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  • Schmitt, Rüdiger (2005b). "Personal Names, Iranian iv. Parthian Period". Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  • 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.
  • Daryaee, Touraj (2014). Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–240. ISBN 0857716662.
  • Daryaee, Touraj (2009). "Shapur II". Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  • Kia, Mehrdad (2016). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1610693912.
  • Chaumont, Marie Louise (1989). "Bōrān". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 4. p. 366.
  • Sundermann, W. (1988). "Bānbišn". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. III, Fasc. 7. London et al. pp. 678–679.
  • Brosius, Maria. "WOMEN i. In Pre-Islamic Persia". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. London et al.
  • Al-Tabari, Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir (1985–2007). Ehsan Yar-Shater (ed.). The History of Al-Ṭabarī. 40 vols. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • Shahbazi, A. Shapur (2005). "Sasanian dynasty". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition.
  • Howard-Johnston, James (2010). "Ḵosrow II". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition.
  • Gignoux, Ph. (1987). "Āzarmīgduxt". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. III, Fasc. 2. p. 190.

Further reading[edit]

  • John Martindale:The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire IIIa. Cambridge, 1992, p. 160
  • Antonio Panaino:Women and Kingship. Some remarks about the enthronisation Boran of Queen and her sister Azarmigduxt. In: Josef Wiesehöfer, Philip Huyse (eds):Eran ud Aneran. Studien zu den Beziehungen zwischen dem Sasanidenreich und der Mittelmeerwelt. Stuttgart 2006, p. 221-240.
Preceded by
Shapur-i Shahrvaraz
Queen of Queens of Iran
630 –631
Succeeded by