Hormizd IV the Son of a Turkish Princess

  February 20, 2022   Read time 2 min
Hormizd IV the Son of a Turkish Princess
The son of Khusrau succeeded him without trouble. Hormizd IV was the son of a Turkish princess who had been given in marriage to cement good relations between the two states.

Some Islamic sources follow one tradition and praise Hormizd as being more just than his father, especially with the common folk. Others condemn him as tyrannical and cruel. The Christians of the Sasanian empire considered him friendly and praised his reign. At news of the accession of Hormizd, Tiberius attempted to bring the conflict between the two empires to a close more or less on terms of the status quo ante helium. Hormizd, however, refused to surrender Dara, even in exchange for several forts in Armenia conquered by the Byzantines. The Persians also wanted a large annual subsidy, but no agreement was reached and the war continued.

Maurice proved a capable general and ravaged the northwestern provinces of the Sasanian empire at the end of 579, but in 580 his plans to march to the enemy's capital Ctesiphon failed. In 581 a large Persian army was defeated by Maurice near the city of Constantina in Mesopotamia. The sickness and subsequent death of Tiberius in 582 caused Maurice to leave the east for Constantinople, and his successor in the field was wholly incompetent. He was defeated in two battles with the Sasanians, and Maurice, the new Byzantine emperor, replaced him with his brother-in-law Philippicus. It would be too tedious to follow the attacks and counter-attacks of the Persian and Byzantine armies in the Mesopotamian theatre of war until 589. Suffice it to say that both sides suffered from the constant warfare with no decisive advantage to either. The war remained as a festering wound for both empires.

It was unlucky for Hormizd that other foes of his took advantage of the exhausting wars with Byzantium. Some Arab tribes raided lower Iraq, but the greatest danger came from the east. The Turks, either at the instigation of the Byzantines, or desirous of plunder, invaded the north-eastern provinces of the Sasanian empire. The sources regarding the battles of the Persians against the Turks and their Hephthalite subjects are confused, primarily because of the legends and tales which developed about the leader of the Sasanian army, Bahram Chobin. There exist in later Arabic and Persian versions many stories about Bahram, some of them identical to the stories concerning Bahram Gor, a confusion common in Sasanian history when two kings or heroes have the same name.
It seems that Bahram Chobin, a member of the Mihran family from Ray and related to the Arsacids, was the commander of the troops of the east, and he decisively defeated the invaders. According to Islamic sources, Bahram conquered Balkh and crossed the Oxus, where he defeated the enemy army and killed the enemy king in 588 or 589. It is doubtful if the king was the ruler of the western Turks; more likely he was a chief of the Hephthalites, vassals of the Turks, or perhaps only a representative of the great ruler of the Turks. In any case, after his victories in the east Bahram was sent to the Caucasus to repel an invasion of nomads, quite possibly the Khazars. Here too he seems to have been successful although details are lacking.

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