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Hunting scene showing king Khosrau I.

Khosrau I (also called Khosnow I, Chusro I, Khusro I, Husraw I or Khosrow I, Chosroes I in classical sources, most commonly known in Persian as Anushirvan, Persian: انوشيروان meaning the immortal soul), also known as Anushiravan the Just (انوشیروان عادل , Anushiravān-e-ādel or انوشيروان دادگر, Anushiravān-e-dādgar) (Born c. 501, ruled 531–579), was the favourite son and successor of Kavadh I (488–531), twentieth Sassanid Emperor (Great King) of Persia, and the most famous and celebrated of the Sassanid Emperors.

He laid the foundations of many cities and opulent palaces, and oversaw the repair of trade roads as well as the building of numerous bridges and dams. During Khosrau I's ambitious reign, art and science flourished in Persia and the Sassanid Empire reached its peak of glory and prosperity. His rule was preceded by his father's and succeeded by Khosrau II's (590–628) whose reign came to be considered the dark age in the history of the Sassanid Empire.

Early life

According to early historical sources , Khosrau I was Kavadh I's third son through a hephthal princess Newandukht, granddaughter of Hephthal III, commonly called Turandot. His mother endeavored to ascend him to throne, then expatriated his half-brother, Kavoos, first son of Kavadh I, to Mazandaran. After proclaimed as heir apparent, 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.


At the beginning of his reign Khosrau I concluded an "Eternal Peace" with the Roman Emperor Justinian I (527565) in 532, 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 Syriamarker and sacked the great city of Antiochmarker, deporting its people to Mesopotamia, where he built for them a new city near Ctesiphonmarker under the name of "Khosrau-Antioch" (Veh Antiok Xusro) or "Chosro-Antioch": the account of Procopius in his De bello Persico ii reads as

During the following years he secured the defection of Lazica and fought inconclusively in Mesopotamia.

In 545, an armistice was concluded, but in 547 the Lazi returned to their Roman allegiance and the Lazic War resumed, continuing until a truce was agreed in 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 to pay annual subsidies to Persia.

Meanwhile in the east, the Hephthalites had been attacked by the Turks (Göktürks). 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 Oxusmarker to the Turks. Many other rebellious tribes were subjected. About 570 the Himyarite dynasts of Yemenmarker, who had been subdued by the Ethiopiansmarker of Axummarker, applied to Khosrau I for help. The Emperor Khosrau sent a fleet with a small army under Vahriz, who expelled the Ethiopians. From that time till the conquests by Islam, Yemen was dependent on Persia, and a Persian governor resided here. In 572, Armeniamarker and Iberia rebelled against Persia with Roman support, beginning a new war in which Khosrau I conquered the city of Daramarker on the Euphrates in 573, but after a largely unsuccessful incursion of Anatolia in 576 he was heavily defeated by the Romans in a battle near Melitenemarker. He sued for peace in 579, but while negotiations with the Emperor Tiberius II (578–582) were still going on, Khosrau I died and was succeeded by his son Hormizd IV (579–590).

Religious tolerance

Although Khosrau I had in the last years of his father extirpated the heretical and communistic Persian sect of the Mazdakites, Kavadh I,  he was an adherent of Zoroastrian orthodoxy  and even ordered that the religion's holy text, the Avesta be codified , but he was not 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 Athensmarker, 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 Platonism ideal, and Khosrau I, in his treaty with Justinian I, stipulated that they should return unmolested.


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 Indiamarker[citation needed] and 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 o Demneh. This Middle Persian version was a few centuries later translated by Iranian Muslims into Arabic and then found its way to Europe. The Arabic version was also used to render a New Persian version of the book.

See also


  1. Nizam Almulk Tusi, SiasatNameh, Ch 44, "Andar Kharuj Mazdak va Chegooneh Mazhab Ou, va Chegooneh Kosht Ou ra va Qom Ou ra Nushiravan Adel
  2. Nizam Almulk Tusi, SiasatNameh, Ch 44, "Andar Kharuj Mazdak va Chegooneh Mazhab Ou, va Chegooneh Kosht Ou ra va Qom Ou ra Nushiravan Adel
  3. p. 261


  • 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), p. 299-328.
  • 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 (ed.): The Byzantine and early Islamic Near East. Bd. 3, Princeton 1995, p. 227–298.
  • Klaus Schippmann: Grundzüge der Geschichte des sasanidischen Reiches. Darmstadt 1990.

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