Bahram III

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Bahram III
"King of the Sakas"[1]
(Middle Persian: Sākān Shāh)
Bahram III.jpg
Reign 293 CE
Predecessor Bahram II
Successor Narseh
Died 293 CE (assumed)
House House of Sasan
Father Bahram II
Mother Shapurdukhtak
Religion Zoroastrianism

Bahram III (Middle Persian: 𐭥𐭫𐭧𐭫𐭠𐭭, Wahrām, Persian: بهرام سوم‎‎, Bahrām), (died 293) was the sixth Sassanid King of Persia and son of Bahram II.[2] He was appointed viceroy to the region of Sakastan after Bahram II's re-conquest of it sometime in the 280's CE.

Bahram III ascended to the throne vacated by his father following his death in 293 CE. Following his father's loss of Armenia, Bahram III was considered too weak to rule the kingdom by much of the nobility and many nobles challenged his succession, instead pledging allegiance to his grand-uncle Narseh. After reigning for a period of only four months, Bahram III was either captured or more likely killed during a campaign by Narseh who then ascended to the throne in Bahram's place.


In Sassanid Persia, it was customary for kings after conquering a land or people, to give their sons titles showing domination over them. Bahram III gained his title of "sākān shāh" presumably after his father's victory over the Sakastan (present day Sistan) region. Also following early Sassanid practices of giving appanage of provinces to princes, Bahram III was appointed to Sakastan due to the regions importance as being a defence against influential peoples on the eastern extremes of the kingdom.[1]

Following the death of Bahram II in 293 CE, Bahram III was proclaimed king in Fārs by a group of nobles led by Wahnam and supported by Adurfarrobay, King of Mesan. By the time of his ascension, he was still a minor and considered a weak character by much of the nobility. Bahram II's loss of Armenia undermined the integrity of the kingdom giving the Romans an easy route to invade Media and many western parts of the kingdom. Many amongst the nobility considered him too weak to properly handle the threat posed by the Romans and the possibility of invasion. Many of the nobility decided to instead challenge his succession to the throne and instead pledged allegiance to Narseh, the last remaining son of Shapur I, and someone who was perceived as being a stronger leader and one who would be able to bring glory to Persia.[3][4]

Four months into Bahram III's reign, his grand-uncle Narseh was summoned to Ctesiphon by the request of many members of the Persian nobility. According to the Paikuli inscription these nobles swore their total allegiance to him there and asked that he would take the throne. In a brief revolt, Wahnam was captured and executed and Bahram was removed from the throne. It is assumed Bahram III was also killed in the uprising though there is no documentation of this so his fate remains uncertain.[5][6]


Dinar of Varahram III (?).

Many coins that could be attributed to him are small in number and due to uncertainty, many are often attributed to Narseh. Because many of the coins are attributed to him are smoother than usual the details of his crown are faint. It is believed that he is depicted wearing a gold crown with a crenelated lower rim and two large deer horns or at least replicas of them attached on each side. The Sasani sphere sits between the horns on the front of the crown.[7]

A low relief at the Bishapur archeological site depicts a figure being trampled by a horse. It is assumed that this scene is a representation of either the death of Bahram III or more likely his ally Wahnam.[8]


  1. ^ a b Bosworth p.47
  2. ^ Touraj Daryaee, Sasanian Persia, (I.B.Tauris Ltd, 2010), 11.
  3. ^ Henning p. 403
  4. ^ Neusner p. 3
  5. ^ Yarshater p. 129
  6. ^ Klíma, O. (1998). "BAHRĀM". Encyclopedia Iranica. 8. Costa Mesa: Mazda. 
  7. ^ Ayatollahi p. 156
  8. ^ Baker p. 181


  • Bosworth, Clifford (1999). The Sāsānids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen. Albany: SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-4355-8. 
  • Yarshater, Ehsan (1968). The Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-511-46774-5. ISBN 0-521-20092-X. 
  • Ayatollahi, Habibollah (2003). The Book of Iran: The History of Iranian Art. City: Center for International-Cultural Studies. ISBN 964-94491-4-0. 
  • Baker, Patricia L. (2005). Iran, 2nd: the Bradt Travel Guide. City: Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 1-84162-123-4. 
  • Henning, Walter Bruno (1974). Acta Iranica. Téhéran: Bibliothèque Pahlavi. ISBN 90-04-03902-3. 
  • Neusner, Jacob (1997). A History of the Jews in Babylonia: from Shapur I to Shapur II. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-02144-2. 

External links[edit]

Bahram III
Preceded by
Bahram II
Great King (Shah) of Persia
Succeeded by