Sasanian Iberia

Sasanian Iberia
Direct Sassanid Persian rule (523–580 AD), abolishment of the monarchy in 580 and subsequent control through Sassanid-appointed Marzpans until 626/627.
Capital Armazi
Languages Georgian
Middle Persian
Government Fully subordinate monarchy (up to 580), governorate
Historical era Antiquity
   Dachi of Iberia's reign (direct subject of Kavadh I) 523
  Abolishment of the Iberian monarchy. Sasanian Marzpanate period through the Principality of Iberia 580
   Disestablishment. Largely annexed by the Byzantines. 626/627
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Caucasian Iberia
Byzantine Empire
Principality of Iberia
Today part of  Georgia

Sasanian Iberia (known in Middle Persian sources as Wirōzān/Wiručān) refers to the period the Kingdom of Iberia (Kartli, eastern Georgia) became a province of the Sasanian Empire, as well as when it was ruled by Marzpans (governors) appointed by the Sasanid Iranian king, including later through the Principality of Iberia. It furthermore covers up the period up to including the loss of major parts of it during the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 to the neighboring Byzantine Empire, just shortly prior to the Muslim conquest of Persia.


The Georgian kingdoms were contested between the Sasanids and the neighboring rivalling Roman-Byzantine Empire ever since the 3rd century.[1] Over the span of the next hundreds of years, both the Byzantines and the Sasanids managed to establish protectorates and vassalships over these regions, although sometimes assuming direct control as well, through the creation of a province. At the remaining times, the Georgian kings managed to retain their autonomy. From 252-272 AD, the Georgian kingdom of Caucasian Iberia was a Sasanian tributary state, while between 363-482 and 502-523, it was a vassal state. In 284, the Sasanians secured the Iberian throne for an Iranian prince from the House of Mihran, subsequently known by his dynastic name Mirian III.[2][3][4][5] Mirian III became thus the first head of this branch of the Mihranid family in the Kingdom of Iberia, known as the Chosroid dynasty (otherwise known as the Iberian Mihranids, or Mihranids of Iberia), whose members would rule Iberia into the sixth century.[6]

The continuing rivalry between Byzantium and Sasanian Persia for supremacy in the Caucasus, and the next unsuccessful insurrection (523) of the Georgians under Gurgen had severe consequences for the country. Thereafter, the king of Iberia had only nominal power, while the country was effectively ruled by the Persians. By the time of Vezhan Buzmihr's tenure as marzban of Iberia, the hagiographies of the period implied that the "kings" in Tbilisi had only the status of mamasakhlisi, which means "head of the (royal) house".[7] When Bakur III died in 580, the Sassanid government of Persia under Hormizd IV (578-590) seized on the opportunity to abolish the Iberian monarchy.[8] Iberia became a Persian province, administrated through its direct rule by self-appointed marzbans,[9][10] which in fact was, as Prof. Donald Rayfield states; "a de jure continuation of de facto abolition of Iberian kingship since the 520s".[7]

The Iberian nobles acquiesced to this change without resistance,[8] while the heirs of the royal house withdrew to their highland fortresses – the main Chosroid line in Kakheti, and the younger Guaramid branch in Klarjeti and Javakheti. However, the direct Persian control brought about heavy taxation and an energetic promotion of Zoroastrianism in a largely Christian country. Therefore, when the Eastern Roman emperor Maurice embarked upon a military campaign against Persia in 582, the Iberian nobles requested that he helped restore the monarchy. Maurice did respond, and, in 588, sent his protégé, Guaram I of the Guaramids, as a new ruler to Iberia. However, Guaram was not crowned as king, but recognized as a presiding prince and bestowed with the Eastern Roman title of curopalates. The Byzantine-Sassanid treaty of 591 confirmed this new rearrangement, but left Iberia divided into Roman- and Sassanid-dominated parts at the town of Tbilisi.[8] Mtskheta came to be under Byzantine control.

Guaram's successor, the second presiding prince Stephen I (Stephanoz I), reoriented his politics towards Persia in a quest to reunite a divided Iberia, a goal he seems to have accomplished, but this cost him his life when the Byzantine emperor Heraclius attacked Tbilisi in 626,[11] during the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628, marking the definite Byzantine predominance in most of Georgia by 627-628 at the expense of the Sasanids until the Muslim conquest of Persia.[12]

Sasanian governors of Iberia

See also


  1. Rapp 2003, p. 12.
  2. Toumanoff, Cyril (1963). Studies in Christian Caucasian history. Georgetown University Press. p. 149. (...) Sasanian diplomacy was successful in securing, at that very time, the throne of Iberia for a branch of the Iranian house of Mihran (...)
  3. Rapp, Stephen H. (2003). Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium: Subsidia. Peeters Publishers. p. 154. ISBN 978-9042913189. Mirian III, the first Christian king of the K'art'velians. He was a Mihranid Iranian prince who became king through his marriage to a K'art'velian princess.
  4. Bowman, Alan; Peter, Garnsey; Cameron, Averill (2005). The Cambridge Ancient History: Volume 12, The Crisis of Empire, AD 193-337. Cambridge University Press. p. 489. ISBN 978-0521301992. In 284 the Iberian throne passed to Meribanes III, a member of the Iranian Mihranid family.
  5. Lenski, Noel. (2003) Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520928534 "(...) they successfully asserted their claim by crowning a Persian dynast named Mirian III. Mirian, founder of the Mihranid dynasty, which ruled Iberia into the sixth century (...)"
  6. Lenski, Noel. (2003) Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520928534 "(...) they successfully asserted their claim by crowning a Persian dynast named Mirian III. Mirian, founder of the Mihranid dynasty, which ruled Iberia into the sixth century (...)"
  7. 1 2 Rayfield 2013, p. 51.
  8. 1 2 3 Suny 1994, p. 25.
  9. Yarshater 2001, p. 465.
  10. Mikaberidze 2015, p. 529.
  11. Suny 1994, p. 26.
  12. Mikaberidze 2015, p. 28.


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/25/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.