List of shahanshahs of the Sasanian Empire

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"King of Kings of Iranians and non-Iranians" of the Sasanian Empire
Šāhān šāh ī Ērān ud Anērān (Middle Persian)
Imperial
Derafsh Kaviani flag of the late Sassanid Empire.svg
Details
First monarch Ardashir I (224–242)
Last monarch Yazdegerd III (632–651)
Residence

The Shahanshahs of the Sasanian Empire (Middle Persian: Šāhān šāh ī Ērān ud Anērān, "King of Kings of Iranians and non-Iranians") ruled over a vast territory. At its height, the empire spanned from Turkey and Rhodes in the west to Pakistan in the east, and also included territory in contemporary Caucasus, Yemen, UAE, Oman, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Central Asia.

The Sasanian Empire was recognized as one of the main powers in the world alongside its neighboring arch rival, the Roman-Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years.[1][2][3][4] The Sasanian dynasty began with Ardashir I in 224, who was a Persian from Estakhr, and was descended from the Achaemenid Kings, and ended with Yazdegerd III in 651. The downfall of the Sasanian Empire proved of great significance and effects to Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the Sasanian Empire. The previous Zoroastrian shahanshahs were replaced with Muslim Caliphs who forced the Zoroastrians and their faith to endure harsh conditions, including the destruction of fire temples throughout the previous Sasanian Empire and marginalization of the faith.[5]

Title[edit]

Ardashir I (r. 224–242), the founder of the Sassanian Empire, introduced the title "Shahanshah of the Iranians" (Middle Persian: šāhān šāh ī ērān; Parthian: šāhān šāh ī aryān). Ardashir's immediate successor, Shapur I (r. 240/42–270/72) chooses the titles in a precise manner in the inscription at Ka'ba-ye Zartosht. In that Shapur names four of his Sasanian predecessors with different titles and in "an ascending order of importance" by giving the title (Xwaday) "the lord" to Sasan, "the king" to Papag, "King of Kings of Iranians" to Ardashir, and "king of kings of Iranians and non-Iranians" (Middle Persian: MLKAn MLKA 'yr'n W 'nyr'nšāhān šāh ī ērān ud anērān;; Ancient Greek: βασιλεύς βασιλέων Αριανών basileús basiléōn Arianṓn) to himself.[6] The title "King of Kings of Iranians and non-Iranians" has also seen on a single silver coin of Shapur I, which indicates that the title was introduced after his victory over Romans and incorporation of non-Iranian lands into the Sassanian realms. The title was later used in coins of all later Sassanian kings.[7]

The Shahanshah[edit]

The head of the Sasanian Empire was the shahanshah (king of kings), also simply known as the shah (king). His health and welfare was always important and the phrase “May you be immortal" was used to reply to him with. By looking on the Sasanian coins which appeared from the 6th-century and afterwards, a moon and sun is noticeable. The meaning of the moon and sun, in the words of the Iranian historian Touraj Daryaee, “suggest that the king was at the center of the world and the sun and moon revolved around him. In effect he was the “king of the four corners of the world," which was an old Mesopotamian idea."[8] The king saw all other rulers, such as the Romans, Turks, and Chinese, as being beneath him. The king wore colorful clothes, makeup, a heavy crown, while his beard was decorated with gold. The early Sasanian kings considered themselves of divine descent; they called themselves for “bay" (divine).[9]

When the king went to the publicity, he was hidden behind a curtain,[8] and had some of his men in front of him, whose duty was to keep the masses away from the king and to make his way clear.[10] When one came to the king, he/she had to prostrate before him, also known as proskynesis. The king was guarded by a group of royal guards, known as the pushtigban. On other occasions, the king was protected by a group of palace guards, known as the darigan. Both of these groups were enlisted from royal families of the Sasanian Empire,[10] and were under the command of the hazarbed, who was in charge of the king's safety, controlled the entrance of the kings palace, presented visitors to the king, and was allowed to be given military command or used in negotiations. The hazarbed was also allowed in some cases to serve as the royal executioner.[10] During Nowruz (Iranian new year) and Mihragan (Mihr's day), the king would hold a speech.[9]

Sasanian state organization[edit]

Sasanian Empire timeline including important events and territorial evolution.

Throughout its existence, the Sassanid Empire was an absolute monarchy. The Shahenshah was the height of authority, with satraps ruling over their satrapies underneath them. The shahanshah was the highest form of authority throughout the empire, but often faced rebellions from their satraps. In fact, the Sasanian Empire had been founded when a satrap rebelled against the Parthian Empire.[11]

The Sasanian Empire reached its greatest extent under Khosrau II, who reigned for 38 years; the longest reigning king was Shapur II, who reigned for 70 years.

The Sasanian kings regarded themselves as successors of the Achaemenid Empire, and many Sasanian kings' goal was to conquer all territory previously held by the Achaemenids.

List of shahanshahs[edit]

The table below lists Sasanian shahanshahs and titles used by them.

Titles used by the Sasanian shahanshahs was:

Padishah, i.e. Emperor,
Šāhān Šāh known as Shanhanshah in English, i.e. Kings of Kings,
Sāhān šāh ērān ud anērān, i.e. King of kings of Iran and Aniran,
Šāhan šāh sākān, i.e King of the Sakas.
Šāh hindestān, i.e King of Hindustan
# Shahanshah Coin or statue Reigned from Reigned until Relationship to Predecessor Notes
House of Sasan
1 Ardashir I ArdashirIGoldCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 224 February 242
  • Declared himself as Shahanshah after defeating Artabanus IV of Parthia at the Battle of Hormizdegan
  • Died of natural causes in 242
  • Also known as Artaxares and Artaxerxes
2 Shapur I ShapurICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 12 April 240 May 270 Son
  • Co-ruled with his father since 12 April 240
  • Died of natural causes in May 270
  • Also known as Sapores or Sapor
3 Hormizd I HormizdICoinHistoryofIran.jpg May 270 June 271 Son
  • Reigned only for 1 year
  • Also known as Oromastes
4 Bahram I BahramINoFireAltarCoinHistoryofIran.jpg June 271 September 274 Brother
  • Committed the persecution of Manichaeism, including the death of Mani
  • Died of disease/natural causes in September 274
5 Bahram II BahramIICroppedCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 274 293 Son
  • Died of natural causes in 293
6 Bahram III Bahram III.jpg 293 293 Son
  • Possibly executed during the uprising which had been led by his own grand uncle Narseh
7 Narseh NarsehCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 293 302 Grand-uncle
  • Enthroned after seizing power from Bahram III in a rebellion led against him
  • Also known as Narses or Narseus
8 Hormizd II HormozdIISasanianCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 302 309 Son
  • Enthroned after abdicating the throne from his father
9 Adhur Narseh Sin foto.svg 309 309 Son
  • Deposed by Sasanian nobles because of his cruelty
10 Shapur II Head of king Met 65.126.jpg 309 379 Brother
  • After the death of his brother, Adarnases, Shapur II was still in his mother's womb when he was crowned.
  • Also known as Sapor II
11 Ardashir II ArdashirIICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 379 383 Brother
  • Died of natural causes in 384
12 Shapur III ShapurIIICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 383 388 Brother
13 Bahram IV BahramIVOtherCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 388 399 Son
14 Yazdegerd I YazdegerdICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 399 420 Son
15 Shapur IV Sin foto.svg 420 420 Son
16 Khosrau Sin foto.svg 420 420 Cousin
17 Bahram V BahramVCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 420 438 Cousin
18 Yazdegerd II YazdegerdIICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 438 457 Son
19 Hormizd III Sin foto.svg 457 459 Son
20 Peroz I PerozICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 457 484 Brother
21 Balash Balash.jpg 484 488 Brother
  • Two rebellions rose from two of Peroz's sons (his nephews)
  • The first rebellion was from Zarir, but he was unsuccessful and executed
  • The second rebellion was from Kavadh, who at first unsuccessful requested help from Hephthalites
22 Kavadh I KavadhIGoldenCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 488 496 Nephew
  • Enthroned after leading a rebellion against his uncle Balash with assistance from Hephthalites
23 Djamasp Zamarzp.jpg 496 498 Brother
24 Kavadh I KavadhIGoldenCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 498 531 Brother
25 Khosrau I KhosrauICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 531 579 Son
26 Hormizd IV HormizdIV.jpg 579 590 Son
27 Khosrau II KhosrauIIGoldCoinCroppedHistoryofIran.jpg 590 590 Son
  • Rebelled against his father and proclaimed himself as king of Persia, however he was then overthrown by Bahram Chobin
House of Mihran
28 Bahrām Chobin BahramChobinCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 590 591 Rebel
  • Rebelled against Hormizd IV and Khosrau II and proclaimed himself to be king
House of Sasan
29 Khosrau II KhosrauIIGoldCoinCroppedHistoryofIran.jpg 591 628 Son of Hormizd IV
House of Ispahbudhan
30 Vistahm BistamCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 591 595 Uncle
  • Uncle of Khosrau II
  • Founded the city of Bastam
House of Sasan
31 Kavadh II KavadhIICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 628 628 Son
  • Enthroned after killing his father and eighteen brothers
  • Died after a few months of reign
32 Ardashir III ArdashirIIICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 628 629 Son
House of Mihran
33 Shahrbaraz ShahrbarazCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 27 April 629 17 June 629 General
House of Sasan
34 Khosrau III XusravIIICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 629 629 Nephew of Khosrau II Briefly ruled in Khorasan as rival king
35 Borandukht BorandukhtCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 17 June 629 16 June 630 Daughter of Khosrau II
  • Daughter of Khosrau II
  • One of two only women who attained the Sasanian throne
36 Shapur-i Shahrvaraz Sin foto.svg 630 630 Son of Shahrbaraz and a sister of Khosrau II
37 Peroz II Sin foto.svg 630 630 Descended from Khosrau I
38 Azarmidokht AzarmidokhtCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 630 631 Daughter of Khosrau II
  • Daughter of Khosrau II and sister of Borandukht
  • Second woman to attain the Sassanid throne
House of Ispahbudhan
39 Farrukh Hormizd FarrokhHormizdVCoin.jpg 630 631 General
House of Sasan
40 Hormizd VI HormizdVICoinHistoryofIran.jpg 630 631 Usurper
41 Khosrau IV KhosrauIVCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 631 631 Son of Khosrau II
42 Farrukhzad Khosrau V FarrukhzadKhosrauVCoin.jpg March 631 April 631 Son of Khosrau II
43 Borandukht BorandukhtCoinHistoryofIran.jpg 631 632 Daughter of Khosrau II
  • Was restored to the Sasanian throne
44 Yazdegerd III YazdegerdIIICoinCroppedHistoryofIran.jpg 632 651 Grandson of Khosrau II
  • Enthroned through a series of internal conflicts and murders
  • The Muslim conquest of Persia began in his first year of reign
Destruction of the Sassanid Empire
- Peroz III Sin foto.svg 651 (In exile) 679 (In exile) Son
  • Retreated to Chinese territory where he served as a Tang General
  • Served as the head of the Governorate of Persia, an exiled extension of the Sassanid court
- Narsieh Sin foto.svg 679 (In exile) Unknown Son
  • Served as a Tang general, like his father
- Bahram VII Sin foto.svg Unknown 710 (in exile) Son of Yazdegerd III
- Khosrau VI Sin foto.svg Unknown Unknown Unknown
  • Known to have fought against Islamic forces in Transoxiana alongside the Sogdians and Turks c. 728-729
  • Last known direct descendant of Yazdegerd III, it is unclear whether he was Peroz III or Bahram VII's son

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World" (PDF). Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  2. ^ (Shapur Shahbazi 2005)
  3. ^ Norman A. Stillman The Jews of Arab Lands pp 22 Jewish Publication Society, 1979 ISBN 0827611552
  4. ^ International Congress of Byzantine Studies Proceedings of the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London, 21–26 August 2006, Volumes 1-3 pp 29. Ashgate Pub Co, 30 sep. 2006 ISBN 075465740X
  5. ^ Molavi 2002, p. 52.
  6. ^ Frye, R. N. (1983), "The political history of Iran under the Sasanians", The Cambridge History of Iran, Cambridge University Press, 3 (1), ISBN 978-0-521-20092-9  |chapter= ignored (help), page 116.
  7. ^ "A Unique Drachm Coin of Shapur I". Iranian Studies. 50: 331–344. doi:10.1080/00210862.2017.1303329. 
  8. ^ a b Daryaee 2008, p. 41.
  9. ^ a b Daryaee 2008, p. 42.
  10. ^ a b c Morony 2005, p. 92.
  11. ^ Freedman 2000, p. 458.

Sources[edit]