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Spahbod or Spahbed ( , in Modern Persian: Sepahbod), is derived from the words Spah (سپه army) and bod (بد master); or "Aspah'Paeity" (in new Persian "Asb" and "Payeh"), and means commander of cavaliers/ knights; alternatively Spah Salar (سپهسالار) was a rank used in the Parthian empire and more widely in the Sassanid Empire of Persia marker. The title continued in usage after the Islamic conquest of Persia, among both native Iranian dynasties and also those who were under Persian influence, such as the Armenian (see Sparapet) and Georgian (see Spaspet) kingdoms.

Used alone, it refers to the senior military officer, but when it is used with Eran -- Eran Spahbod ايران سپهبد or Iran Spahbod -- it is equivalent to field marshal or generalissimo of the Empire, and was the highest military rank after the emperor Shahanshah (King of Kings) himself. The Iran Spahbod acted as Commander-in Chief, Minister of War, and chief peace negotiator. Lesser spahbods could command a field army, while the regional Marzbans could be regarded as field marshals.

During the Pahlavi dynasty in the 20th century, the Pahlavi army reinforced the usage of many ancient Sassanid military ranks, including Spahbod. The rank Spahbod in the Pahlavi army was equivalent to the modern 3 stars Lieutenant general in United States Army, ranking below Arteshbod (full General).

Famous Eran spahbods

Parthian dynasty

Sassanid dynasty

Pahlavi dynasty


  • D. N. MacKenzie. A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. Routledge Curzon, 2005.

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