Osroes I

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Osroes I
Coin of Osroes I (cropped), Ecbatana mint.jpg
Silver coin of Osroes I, Ecbatana mint
King of the Parthian Empire
1st Reign109–116
PredecessorPacorus II
2nd Reign117–129
SuccessorVologases III
HouseArsacid dynasty

Osroes I (also spelled Chosroes I or Khosrow I; Parthian: 𐭇𐭅𐭎𐭓𐭅 Husrōw) was a Parthian contender, who ruled the western portion of the Parthian Empire from 109 to 129, with a one-year interruption. For the whole of his reign he contended with the rival king Vologases III (r. 110–147) who was based in the eastern provinces. In 116, Osroes I was briefly ousted from his throne at Ctesiphon during an invasion by Roman emperor Trajan (r. 98–117), who installed Osroes' son, Parthamaspates. After Trajan's death the following year, Osroes I's rule was reinstated by the Parthian nobility. In 129, he was removed from power by Vologases III.


In 109, Osroes I revolted against Parthian king Pacorus II (r. 78–110) in order to claim the throne for himself.[1] During the reign of Pacorus II's son Vologases III (r. 110–147), Osroes I managed to seize the western part of the empire, including Mesopotamia, while Vologases III ruled in the east.[2][3] In 113, Osroes I violated the Treaty of Rhandeia with the Romans by deposing Vologases III's brother Axidares and appointing the latter's brother Parthamasiris as the king of Armenia.[2][4] This gave the Roman emperor Trajan (r. 98–117) the pretext to invade the Parthian domain and take advantage of the ongoing civil war between Vologases III and Osroes I.[2][3] In 114, Trajan conquered Armenia and turned it into a Roman province.[4] In 116, Trajan captured Seleucia and Ctesiphon, the capitals of the Parthians.[5] Trajan even reached as far as the Persian Gulf, where he forced the Parthian vassal ruler of Characene, Attambelos VII, to pay tribute.[6][7] Fearing a revolt by the Parthians, Trajan installed Osroes I's son Parthamaspates on the throne at Ctesiphon.[6][8] During his expedition, Trajan captured a daughter of Osroes I, who remained a Roman captive until the peace treaty concluded between the two powers in 129.[9]

The gains of Trajan were short-lived. Revolts occurred in all the conquered territories, with the Babylonians and Jews pushing the Romans out of Mesopotamia, and the Armenians under Sanatruk causing the Romans problems.[10] After Trajan's death in 117, the Parthians removed Parthamaspates from the throne and reinstated Osroes I.[6] Trajan's successor, Hadrian (r. 117–138) renounced the remnants of Trajan's conquests in the east, and acknowledged the Treaty of Rhandeia, with the Parthian prince Vologases becoming the new king of Armenia.[11] The weakened state of the western part of the Parthian Empire gave Vologases III (whose eastern domains were untouched) the opportunity to regain lost territory seized by Osroes I.[3] In 129, Vologases III finally managed to remove Osroes I from power.[1][12]


On the obverse of his silver coins, Osroes I is portrayed with his hair in bunches, whilst wearing a diadem.[13] On his bronze coins, however, he is portrayed with a tiara with hooks and a horn on the side.[13] The coins of Osroes I closely resembles that of his namesake, the Elymais ruler Osroes, which has led to scholars to suggest that they might have been the same person.[14][15] Another possibility is that the Elymais ruler Osroes copied the coinage of Osroes I of Parthia.[14][15]


  1. ^ a b Dąbrowa 2012, pp. 176, 391.
  2. ^ a b c Dąbrowa 2012, p. 176.
  3. ^ a b c Gregoratti 2017, p. 133.
  4. ^ a b Chaumont 1986, pp. 418–438.
  5. ^ Dąbrowa 2012, p. 176; Gregoratti 2017, p. 133; Kettenhofen 2004
  6. ^ a b c Kettenhofen 2004.
  7. ^ Hansman 1998, pp. 363–365.
  8. ^ Bivar 1983, p. 91.
  9. ^ Madreiter & Hartmann 2020, p. 9.
  10. ^ Gregoratti 2017, p. 133; Chaumont 1986, pp. 418–438; Dąbrowa 2012, p. 176
  11. ^ Badian 2002, p. 458; Chaumont 1986, pp. 418–438; Dąbrowa 2012, p. 176
  12. ^ Kia 2016, p. 203.
  13. ^ a b Olbrycht 1997, p. 33.
  14. ^ a b Hansman 1998, p. 373-376.
  15. ^ a b Rezakhani 2013, p. 775.


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  • Bivar, A.D.H. (1983). "The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3(1): The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 21–99. ISBN 0-521-20092-X.
  • Chaumont, M. L. (1986). "Armenia and Iran ii. The pre-Islamic period". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. II, Fasc. 4. pp. 418–438.
  • Chaumont, M. L.; Schippmann, K. (1988). "Balāš". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. III, Fasc. 6. pp. 574–580.
  • Dąbrowa, Edward (2012). "The Arsacid Empire". In Daryaee, Touraj (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press. pp. 1–432. ISBN 978-0-19-987575-7. Archived from the original on 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  • Gregoratti, Leonardo (2017). "The Arsacid Empire". In Daryaee, Touraj (ed.). King of the Seven Climes: A History of the Ancient Iranian World (3000 BCE - 651 CE). UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies. pp. 1–236. ISBN 9780692864401.
  • Hansman, John F. (1998). "Elymais". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. VIII, Fasc. 4. pp. 373–376.
  • Kettenhofen, Erich (2004). "Trajan". Encyclopaedia Iranica. pp. 418–438.
  • Kia, Mehrdad (2016). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1610693912. (2 volumes)
  • Madreiter, Irene; Hartmann, Udo (2020). "Women at the Arsacid court (draft)": 1–15. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Olbrycht, Marek Jan (1997). "Parthian King's tiara - Numismatic evidence and some aspects of Arsacid political ideology". 2: 27–61. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Olbrycht, Marek Jan (2016). "The Sacral Kingship of the early Arsacids. I. Fire Cult and Kingly Glory": 91–106. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Rezakhani, Khodadad (2013). "Arsacid, Elymaean, and Persid Coinage". In Potts, Daniel T. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199733309.
Osroes I
Preceded by
Pacorus II
King of the Parthian Empire
Succeeded by
Preceded by
King of the Parthian Empire
Succeeded by
Vologases III