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Sassanid Dynasty: The Bahram Kings

After the short reign of Hormizd I ended, his brother Bahram took over the throne. The father is known to have persecuted the followers of a specific religion, while his son had to learn the hard way about the actions of a king that would be accepted by the people. In this article, you will learn more about the king, as well as his successor and son, Bahram II.

Bahram I

One of the acts that Bahram I is known for is the death of the prophet Mani, who was the founder of Manichaeism. He sentenced the man to death by execution, but he died in his cell because he was put to death. It is said that Mani was flayed alive with his skin being stuffed with straw and suspended over one of the gates of the city of Shahpur. The body is believed to have been left there for quite some time.

After the prophet died, Bahram I sent orders to kill his disciples and put an end to the followers of Manichaeism , a well established group of people. The religion was known as one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions of its time. Many priests associated with a group of religious leaders that included 12 apostles and 72 bishops were connected to the belief system. Manichaeism was deemed a heresy. Followers were turned over to the Zoroastrian clergy, who were then executed or punished.

When Bahram died in 276, he was succeeded by his son who had the same name, Bahram II.

Bahram II

At the start of his reign, Bahram II developed a reputation for ruling like a tyrant. He held contempt for his leading nobles. A conspiracy formed amongst the men and they wished to put the ruler to death. However, the chief of the Magi stepped in and alerted the king to the growing revolt. He made him acknowledge his wrongdoings and to make a promise to change the way he reigned. With this promise, the nobles returned their support.

Over the course of his rule, Bahram II showed great wisdom and moderation. In time, he was quite popular amongst every class of people. An event that took place during his reign was a campaign in Sakasthan and Afghanistan. The conflict ended in 283 and Bahram was praised for his victory in Sakasthan, which is now known as modern-day Sistan. However, years of fighting and battles with the Romans had taken its toll and when Bahram II died, he had left behind a seriously dejected empire.

The Last Sassanid King

After losing a struggle to drive out the early Arab Caliphate that lasted 14 years, the last Sassanid king, Yazdegerd III was unable to best what would become the first of the Islamic empires. Before him, there had been 29 kings that had ruled over the Second Persian Empire. Yazdegerd III took to the throne at a time where a string of internal conflicts had taken place. He was also quite young when he came into power and was not able to effectively exercise an authority.

During the first year of his reign, he was faced with the Muslim conquest of Persia that ended with the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah. Yazdegerd desperately sought an alliance with Emperor Heraclius, who was an old rival of the Persian Empire. After the battle of al-Qadisiyyah, the Arabs occupied Ctesiphon, and the king was forced to flee. He west eastward into Media where he continued to move from one district to another. However, a local miller killed him for his purse at Merv in 651.