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The Sassanid Dynasty

From 226 AD to 651 AD, the Sassanid Dynasty was in power, which is associated with the reign of the Second Persian Empire or the Sassanid Empire that thrived in Iran. In this article, you will encounter some of the early leaders of the empire, including the second king Shapur I and some of his accomplishments.

The founder of the dynasty was Ardashir I, who came into power after he beat the last Parthian king, Artabanus IV. His dynasty would progress for four centuries, ruling until Rashidun Caliphate overthrew it in 651.

Ardashir I was known for being a king that was full of energy and responsible for reestablishing Persia and accommodating Iranian-speaking peoples , bringing them all together in a unified nation. During his time, Zoroastrianism flourished , a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster. It would become one of the largest religions in the world. Ardashir I launched campaigns against Rome, but did not obtain the level of success that he hoped for. However, he accomplished more against the Romans than the Parthians had achieved so that when his son successor Shapur I came into power, he too, triumphed over his enemies.

Shapur I (also called Shapur I the Great) was the second Sassanid King after his father died, as he was viewed as the wisest, bravest, and most able out of all his children. When Ardashir was warring with the Parthians, it was Shapur that was by his side. At the time, the Parthians still controlled a great deal of the Iranian plateau with their vassal states throughout the Persian kingdom.

Some of the accomplishments of Shapur included the conquering of Armenia. He also invaded Syrua and plundered Antioch. Eventually, he was met with opposition when Emperor Valerian (253 to 260) marched against him. By 257, Valerian had taken back control of Antioch and returned the province of Syria back to the Romans. In 259, Valerian moved to Edessa, but an outbreak of plague took the lives of many and the Roman troops weakened in numbers. Since they were unable to effectively defend the city, the Persians were able to overcome the region.

A meeting took place between Valerian and Shapur in 260 in an effort to negotiate a peace settlement, but Shapur betrayed the ruler and captured him. He held him as a prisoner for the rest of his life. This would mark one of the greatest achievements of Shapur’s reign , defeating the Roman Emperor Valerian.

Hormizd I

The third Sassanid King of Persia was Hormizd I, who was the son of Shapur I. He would only reign for one year and 10 days.

In the article titled, “Sassanid Dynasty: The Bahram Kings,” you will learn about the father and son rulers who became the fourth and fifth kings of the Sassanid Empire. Bahram I was Hormizd’s brother, and he became the fourth king of the Second Persian Empire.