|King of the Neo-Babylonian Empire|
|Reign||April – June 556 BC|
|Died||June 556 BC|
Labashi-Marduk (Akkadian: Labaši-Marduk, meaning "May I not come to shame, O Marduk") was the fifth king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling in 556 BC. He was the son and successor of Neriglissar. Though classical authors such as Berossus wrote that Labashi-Marduk was just a child when he became king, Babylonian documents indicate that he had been in charge of his own affairs before his rise to the throne, suggesting he was an adult.
Labashi-Marduk's reign was very short, lasting only two to three months, with the latest evidence of Neriglissar being alive being from April 556 BC and documents dated to his successor, Nabonidus, appearing by the end of June that same year. Nabonidus led a coup against the king, deposing and killing Labashi-Marduk. The reason for Nabonidus's usurpation of the throne is unknown, Berossus simply describes the justification as Labashi-Marduk having indulged in "evil ways". One possible explanation is that whereas Neriglissar derived his claim to the throne from having married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II, Labashi-Marduk could have been a son of Neriglissar by another wife and thus entirely unconnected to the Babylonian ruling dynasty.
Labashi-Marduk was the son and heir of Neriglissar (r. 560–556 BC), the fourth king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Labashi-Marduk's mother was a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 605–562 BC), the empire's second and greatest king. Three daughters of Nebuchadnezzar are known; Kashshaya, Innin-etirat and Ba'u-asitu, but no cuneiform text explicitly mentions which daughter Neriglissar married. Historian David B. Weisberg proposed in 1974 that Neriglissar's wife was Kashshaya, since her name appears together with the name of Nebuchadnezzar and Neriglissar in economic documents. Though no concrete evidence exists, this identification has generally been accepted by subsequent historians, such as Donald Wiseman and Jona Lendering.
Neriglissar was the son of a man by the name Bel-shum-ishkun and might originally have been from the Aramean clan of the Puqudu, since Bel-shum-ishkun is recorded as originating in the Babylonian province of the same name. According to the later Hellenistic-era Babylonian writer and astronomer Berossus, Naboukhodonosoros (Nebuchadnezzar) died of sickness after a reign of 43 years and was succeeded by his son Euilmaradokhos (Amel-Marduk), who "ruled capriciously and had no regard for the laws". After ruling two years, Neriglassaros (Neriglissar) plotted against Amel-Marduk and had him deposed and killed. If Berossus is to be believed, Neriglissar was the leader of this conspiracy. It is likely that the conflict between Amel-Marduk and Neriglissar was a case of inter-family discord rather than some other form of rivalry. Neriglissar's claim to the throne likely came through his marriage to Nebuchadnezzar's daughter, who might have been significantly older than either of Nebuchadnezzar's sons (as she is attested significantly earlier in her father's reign).
Neriglissar likely died in April 556 BC. The last known documents dated to Neriglissar's reign are a contract from 12 April 556 BC at Babylon and a contract from 16 April that same year at Uruk. The Uruk King List (IM 65066, also known as King List 5), a record of rulers of Babylon from Shamash-shum-ukin (r. 668–648 BC) to the Seleucid king Seleucus II Callinicus (r. 246–225 BC), accords Neriglissar a reign of three years and eight months, consistent with the possibility that Neriglissar died in April.
Labashi-Marduk thus became king of Babylon, but his reign proved to be brief. Berossus erroneously gives Labashi-Marduk's reign as nine months (though it is possible that this is a scribal error) and states that Labashi-Marduk's "evil ways" led to his friends plotting against him, eventually resulting in the child king being beaten to death. The plotters then agreed that Nabonnedos (Nabonidus), one of the plotters, should rule. The Uruk King List only gives Labashi-Marduk a reign of three months and contract tablets from Babylonia suggest that he might have ruled as briefly as just two months. By the end of June 556 BC, tablets dated to Nabonidus are known from across Babylonia. Although Berossus refers to Labashi-Marduk as a child, it possible that he became king as an adult since commercial texts from two years earlier indicate that Labashi-Marduk was in charge of his own affairs at that time.
The reason for the coup against Labashi-Marduk is unknown. It is possible that despite Labashi-Marduk and his father being well-connected and wealthy, they were ultimately seen as commoners, lacking noble blood. Though Labashi-Marduk being the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar through his mother would have made him connected to the royal dynasty, it is also possible that he was the son of Neriglissar and another of his wives. Thus, Labashi-Marduk's rise to the throne might have signified a true break in the dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar and might as such have aroused opposition from the Babylonian populace.
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Clan of the PuquduDied: 556 BC
| King of Babylon