Khosrau I

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A coin of Khosrau I.

Khosrau I, (Chosroes I in classical sources, most commonly known in Persian as Anooshiravan also spelled Anushirvan, Persian: انوشيروان meaning the immortal soul), also known as Anooshiravan the Just (انوشیروان عادل, Anooshiravan-e-ādel) (ruled 531579), was the favourite son and successor of Kavadh I (488–531), and the most famous and celebrated of the Sassanid Kings. He laid foundations of many new cities and magnificent palaces, trade roads were repaired and new bridges and dams were built. During Khosrau I's ambitious reign art and science flourished in Persia and the Sassanid empire was in its peak of glory and prosperity. His rule preceded by his father's and succeeded by Khosrau II's (590–628) reign altogether is considered the Second golden era in the history of the Sassanid empire.


[edit] Early life

According to one account, Khosrau I was Kavadh I's son through a peasant girl, and was originally considered unworthy of inheriting his father's throne. His brothers contested his claim, so Khosrau I had them killed (ca. 532). He appears to have had a major influence over his father Kavadh I of Persia and helped him in the worst situations during the later years of his rule. He was apparently also behind many of his father's decisions.

According to the Roman Historian Procopius of Caesarea, Kavadh I tried to have his third son Khosrau adopted by the Eastern Roman emperor Justin I. in the mid-520s. This is the first time that Khosrau is mentioned in the sources. After Romans and Persians had failed to reach an agreement about the adoption, a new war began in 526 which was to last until 532.

[edit] Conquests

Hunting scene showing king Khosrau I.

At the beginning of his reign Khosrau I concluded an "eternal" peace with the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527–565), who wanted to have his hands free for the conquest of Africa and Sicily. But (according to Procopius) his successes against the Vandals and Goths caused Khosrau I to begin the war again in 540.

He invaded Syria and carried the inhabitants of Antioch to his residence, where he built for them a new city near Ctesiphon under the name of "Khosrau-Antioch" or "Chosro-Antioch". During the next years he fought successfully in Lazica or Lazistan (Colchis) in the Lazic War, on the Black Sea, and in Mesopotamia.

The Romans, though led by Belisarius, could do little against him. In 545, an armistice was concluded, but the Lazic War went on till 557. At last, in 562, a peace was concluded for fifty years, in which the Persians left Lazica to the Romans, and promised not to persecute the Christians, if they did not attempt to make proselytes among the Zarathustrians; on the other hand, the Romans had again to pay subsidies to Persia.

Meanwhile in the east, the Hephthalites had been attacked by the Turks (Gokturks). About 560, Khosrau I united with them to destroy the Hephthalite Empire. In 567 he conquered Bactria, while he left the country north of the Oxus to the Turks. Many other rebellious tribes were subjected. About 570 the dynasts of Yemen, who had been subdued by the Ethiopians of Axum, applied to Khosrau I for help. The King sent a fleet with a small army under Vahriz, who expelled the Ethiopians. From that time till the conquests of Muhammad, Yemen was dependent on Persia, and a Persian governor resided here. In 572 a new war with Rome broke out about Armenia, in which Khosrau I conquered the fortress Dara on the Euphrates, invaded Syria and Cappadocia, and returned with large booty. He was defeated by the Romans in a battle near Melitene in 575 (or 576). During the peace negotiations with the Emperor Tiberius II (578–582), Khosrau I died in 579, and was succeeded by his son Hormizd IV (579–590).

[edit] Religious tolerance

Silver bowl showing Khosrau I Anushirvan "of the righteous soul" seated on his throne. This became a model representation of kingship for Byzantine art and from there, in Carolingian art.

Although Khosrau I had in the last years of his father extirpated the heretical and "communistic" Persian sect of the Mazdakites (see Kavadh I of Persia), he was a sincere adherent of Zoroastrian orthodoxy and even ordered that the religion's holy text, the Avesta be codified, but he was not fanatical or prone to persecution. He tolerated every Christian confession. When one of his sons had rebelled about 550 and was taken prisoner, he did not execute him; nor did he punish the Christians who had perhaps supported him.

After Justinian I had closed the Academy of Athens, one of the last seats of paganism in the Roman Empire, the last seven teachers of Neoplatonism emigrated to Persia in 531. But they soon found out that neither Khosrau I nor his state corresponded to the Platonic ideal, and Khosrau I, in his treaty with Justinian I, stipulated that they should return unmolested.

[edit] Reforms

Khosrau I introduced a rational system of taxation, based upon a survey of landed possessions, which his father had begun, and tried in every way to increase the welfare and the revenues of his empire. In Babylonia he built or restored the canals. His army was in discipline decidedly superior to the Romans, and apparently was well paid. He was also interested in literature and philosophical discussions. Under his reign, chess was introduced from India, and the famous book of Kalilah and Dimnah was translated. He thus became renowned as a wise prince.

Under Khosrau I's auspices, many books were brought from India and translated into Pahlavi. Some of these later found their way into the literature of the Islamic world. His famous minister Burzoe translated Indian Panchatantra from Sanskrit into middle persian language of Pahlavi and named it Kelileh va Demneh which later on from its Persian version it transmitted to Arabia and Europe.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • Abd al-Husayn Zarrin’kub: Ruzgaran : tarikh-i Iran az aghz ta saqut saltnat Pahlvi Sukhan, 1999. ISBN 964-6961-11-8
  • Henning Börm: Der Perserkönig im Imperium Romanum. Chosroes I. und der sasanidische Einfall in das Oströmische Reich 540 n. Chr. In: Chiron 36 (2006).
  • John Martindale: The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire IIIa. Cambridge 1992, p. 303–306.
  • Zeev Rubin: The Reforms of Khusro Anurshiwan. In: Averil Cameron (Hrsg.): The Byzantine and early Islamic Near East. Bd. 3, Princeton 1995, p. 227–298.
  • Klaus Schippmann: Grundzüge der Geschichte des sasanidischen Reiches. Darmstadt 1990.

[edit] External links

Preceded by:
Kavadh I
Sassanid Ruler
Succeeded by:
Hormizd IV
ar:كسرى الأول

cs:Husrav I. de:Chosrau I. fa:انوشیروان fr:Khosro Ier it:Cosroe I nl:Khusro I ja:ホスロー1世 no:Khosrau I av Persia pl:Chosrow I Anoszirwan sk:Husrav I. zh:库思老一世 (波斯)

Khosrau I

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