Ardashir II

For the 13th-century Bavandid ruler in Mazandaran, see Ardashir II (Bavandid ruler).
Ardashir II
King of kings of Iran and Aniran[1]
Reign 379–383
Predecessor Shapur II
Successor Shapur III
Born Unknown
Died 383
Issue Princess Aspas
House House of Sasan
Religion Zoroastrianism

Ardashir II (Middle Persian:, Persian: اردشیر دوم), was the eleventh Sassanid King of Persia from 379 to 383. He was the brother of his predecessor, Shapur II (309379).[2] During the reign of Shapur II, Ardashir had served as governor-King of Adiabene, where he had reportedly persecuted Christians.

However, the acts of brutality against Christians attributed to him severely contradict the unanimous view that he was the most kind and virtuous of the Sassanian rulers. Ardashir II was given the epithet "Nihoukar" or "Beneficent" by the Persians. The Arabs called him "Al Djemil" or "the Virtuous". According to the "Modjmel-al-Tewarikh," he took no taxes from his subjects during the four years of his reign, and thereby secured to himself their affection and gratitude.


Rock relief at Taq-e Bostan of the investiture of Ardashir II, flanked by Mithra and Ahura Mazda

Before becoming king of Persia, he was governor-King of Adiabene from 344 to 376. [3] In 379 Shapur II, the older brother of Ardashir appointed him as his successor, making some Armenian writers to confuse Ardashir as son of Shapur II.[2] It is believed that Ardashir took part in the defense of the Sasanian Empire with Shapur II when it was invaded by Emperor Julian.[2] When Ardashir became king he ordered a rock relief to be made at Taq-e Bostan showing him flanked by Mithra and Ahura Mazda.

Relations With Armenia

During his reign as Shah of Persia, events in Armenia seemed to occupy Ardashir's attention. The son of Arsaces II (Arshak II), Papas (Pap) had been murdered during Shapur's reign and the Romans had replaced him with a certain Varasdates (Varazdat) who was a member of the Arsacid family. However, real power was in the hands of Mushegh I Mamikonian, a noble in the Armenian court. Mushegh was suspected of having conspired with the Emperor of Rome and was murdered by Varasdates. This act roused the indignation of Mushegh's brother Manuel who rebelled against Varasdates and with the support of Persia deposed him and placed upon the Armenian throne Zarmandukht, the widow of Papas who was the mother of Arsaces III (Arshak III) and Papas' son, who made Manuel the sparapet or commander-in-chief. In return for their services, Manuel allowed the Persians to maintain a garrison in Armenia.

But this arrangement did not work for long. A nobleman named Merujan wrongly informed Manuel that the commandant of the Persian garrison desired to capture him. Enraged, Manuel fell upon the ten thousand Persian soldiers stationed in Armenia and murdered them. But Manuel died soon afterwards and confusion followed. Desirous of maintaining peace in the borderlands, the Roman Emperor Theodosius I and Ardashir decided upon a treaty. But Ardashir died in 383 before the treaty could be signed. The treaty was eventually signed and ratified by his nephew Shapur III in the year 384. His daughter Zruanduxt married the King Khosrov IV of Armenia.[4]


  1. MacKenzie, David Niel (1998), "SHAPUR II", Encyclopedia Iranica, 8, Costa Mesa: Mazda
  2. 1 2 3 A. Sh. Shahbazi (ed.). "ARDAŠĪR II". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  3. Chisholm 1911.
  4. Faustus of Byzantium, History of the Armenians (5th century), Book VI, Chapter 1


Ardashir II
Preceded by
Shapur II
Great King (Shah) of Persia
Succeeded by
Shapur III
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