Bahrám V "Wild Ass" of Persia (Sassanid) (c.400 - 439) MP

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Nicknames: "Bahramgur", "Bahram Gur"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Babylon,,,Iraq
Death: Died in (Persia), Iran
Managed by: LevShalem
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About Bahrám V "Wild Ass" of Persia (Sassanid)

Occupation: Shah of Persia -------------------- Bahram V (Persian: بهرام گور) was the fourteenth Sassanid King of Persia (421–438). He was also called Bahramgur.

After the sudden death (or assassination) of his father, Bahramgur gained the crown against the opposition of the grandees by the help of Mundhir, the Arabic dynast of al-Hirah.

Bahram V began his reign with a systematic persecution of the Christians, (one of these Christians being Saint James Intercisus).

The persecution of James Intercisus led to a war with the Roman Empire in the year 420. The Romans sent their general Ardaburius with an extensive contingent into Armenia. Ardaburius defeated the Persian commander Narsehi and proceeded to plunder the province of Arzanene and lay siege to Nisibis. Ardaburius abandoned the siege in the face of an advancing army under Bahram, who then besieged Theodosiopolis. After an abortive round of negotiations, the Persians were again defeated by Ardaburius and Procopius. Peace was then concluded between the Persians and Romans.

The situation in Armenia occupied Bahram immediately after the conclusion of peace with Rome. Armenia had been without a king since Bahramgur's brother Shapur had vacated the country in 418. Bahramgur now desired that a descendant of the royal line of kings, a scion of the Arshakunis should be on the throne of Armenia. With this intention in mind, he selected an Arshakuni named Artaxias IV, a son of Vram-Shapuh and made him King of Armenia.

But the newly appointed king did not have a favorable personal character. The frustrated nobles petitioned Bahramgur to remove Artaxias and admit Armenia into the Persian Empire so that the province would be under the direct control of the Sassanian Emperor. However, the annexation of Armenia by Persia was strongly opposed by the Armenian patriarch Isaac of Armenia who felt the rule of a Christian better than that of a non-Christian regardless of his character or ability. Despite his strong protests, however, Armenia was still annexed by Bahramgur who placed it under the charge of a Persian Governor in 428.

Numerous legends have been associated with Bahramgur. One account says that he aided an Indian king in his war against China and that, in return for his help, the Indian King made over the provinces of Makran and Sindh to Persia. The Lurs of Persia, it is argued, are the descendants of musicians sent to Persia by the grateful Indian monarch. However there does not exist any historical proof in support of this story. Other accounts suggest that he married an Indian princess. (Does this mean that we might have ancestors from India?) However, the conclusion of such a marriage alliance is regarded as highly dubious once again due to lack of evidence. His name is also associated with a legendary Indian prince of the Punjab.

Bahram V has left behind a rich and colorful legacy which has survived to the present day. He is especially a favorite of the writers who have woven numerous legends and fantastical tales around him. His fame has survived the annihilation of Zorostrianism and the Anti-Iranian measures of the Umayyads and the Mongols and many of the stories have been incorporated in contemporary Islamic lore.

His legacy even survives outside Iran. He is the King who receives The Three Princes of Serendip in the tale that gave rise to the word Serendipity. He is believed to be the inspiration for the legend of Bahramgur prevalent in the Punjab.

He is a great favourite in Persian tradition, which relates many stories of his valour and beauty, of his victories over the Romans, Turks, Indians and Africans, and of his adventures in hunting and in love; he is called Bahram Gur, "Onager," on account of his love for hunting, and in particular, hunting onagers.

For example, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, by Edward Fitzgerald, quatrain 17:

"They say the Lion and the Lizard keep

The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:

And Bahram, that great Hunter - the Wild Ass

Stamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep."

To which Fitzgerald adds the following footnote (1st edition, 1859): "Bahram Gur - Bahram of the Wild Ass from his fame in hunting it - a Sassanian sovereign, had also his seven castles, each of a different color; each with a Royal mistress within; each of whom recounts to Bahram a romance. The ruins of three of these towers are yet shown by the peasantry; as also the swamp in which Bahram sunk while pursuing his Gur.

Some have judged Bahram V to have been rather a weak monarch, after the heart of the grandees and the priests. He is said to have built many great fire-temples, with large gardens and villages (Tabari).

The coins of Bahram V are chiefly remarkable for their rude and coarse workmanship and for the number of the mints from which they were issued. The mint-marks include Ctesiphon, Ecbatana, Ispahan, Arbela, Ledan, Nehavend, Assyria, Chuzistan, Media, and Kerman, or Carmania. The head-dress has the mural crown in front and behind, but interposes between these two detached fragments a crescent and a circle, emblems, no doubt, of the sun and moon gods. The reverse shows the usual fire-altar, with guards, or attendants, watching it. The king's head appears in the flame upon the altar.

During the later part of Bahram V's reign, Persia was invaded from the north-east by Hephthalite hordes who ravaged northern Iran under the command of their Great Khan. They crossed the Elburz into Khorasan and proceeded as far as the ancient town of Rei. Unprepared, Bahram initially made an offer or peace and submission which was well-received by the Khan of the Hephthalites. But crossing Tabaristan, Hyrcania and Nishapur by night, he took the Huns unawares and massacred them along with their Khan and taking the Khan's wife hostage. The retreating Huns were pursued and slaughtered up to the Oxus. One of Bahram's generals followed the Huns deep into Hun territory and destroyed their power. His portrait which survived for centuries on the coinage of Bukhara (in contemporary Uzbekistan) is considered to be an evidence of his victory over the Huns.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahram_V for more information.

-------------------- Bahram V[1] (Persian: بهرام گور) was the fourteenth Sassanid King of Persia (421–438). Also called Bahramgur, he was a son of Yazdegerd I (399–421), after whose sudden death (or assassination) he gained the crown against the opposition of the grandees by the help of Mundhir, the Arabic dynast of al-Hirah.

Contents [hide]

1 Reign

1.1 War with Rome

1.2 Relations with Armenia

1.3 Invasion of the Huns

2 Legends associated with Bahramgur

3 Legacy

4 Coins of Bahram V

5 Notes

6 References

[edit]Reign

Bahram V began his reign with a systematic persecution of the Christians, among whom James Intercisus.

[edit]War with Rome

The persecution of James Intercisus led to a war with the Eastern Romans.

In the year 421, the Romans sent their general Ardaburius with an extensive contingent into Armenia. Ardaburius defeated the Persian commander Narseh and proceeded to plunder the province of Arzanene and lay siege to Nisibis. Ardaburius abandoned the siege in the face of an advancing army under Bahram, who in turn besieged Theodosiopolis (probably Theodosiopolis in Osroene).

Peace was then concluded between the Persians and Romans (422) with a return to status quo ante bellum.

[edit]Relations with Armenia

The situation in Armenia occupied Bahram immediately after the conclusion of peace with Rome. Armenia had been without a king since Bahramgur's brother Shapur had vacated the country in 418. Bahramgur now desired that a descendant of the royal line of kings, a scion of the Arshakunis should be on the throne of Armenia. With this intention in mind, he selected an Arshakuni named Artaxias IV, a son of Vram-Shapuh and made him King of Armenia.

But the newly appointed king did not have a favorable personal character. The frustrated nobles petitioned Bahramgur to remove Artaxias and admit Armenia into the Persian Empire so that the province would be under the direct control of the Sassanian Emperor[citation needed]. However, the annexation of Armenia by Persia was strongly opposed by the Armenian patriarch Isaac of Armenia who felt the rule of a Christian better than that of a non-Christian regardless of his character or ability. Despite his strong protests, however, Armenia was still annexed by Bahramgur who placed it under the charge of a Persian Governor in 428.

[edit]Invasion of the Huns

During the later part of Bahram V's reign, Persia was invaded from the north-east by Hephthalite hordes who ravaged northern Iran under the command of their Great Khan. They crossed the Elburz into Khorasan and proceeded as far as the ancient town of Rei. Unprepared, Bahram initially made an offer or peace and submission which was well-received by the Khan of the Hephthalites. But crossing Tabaristan, Hyrcania and Nishapur by night, he took the Huns unawares and massacred them along with their Khan, taking the Khan's wife hostage. The retreating Huns were pursued and slaughtered up to the Oxus. One of Bahram's generals followed the Huns deep into Hun territory and destroyed their power. His portrait which survived for centuries on the coinage of Bukhara (in contemporary Uzbekistan) is considered to be an evidence of his victory over the Huns.

Bahram Gur is a great favorite in Persian literature and poetry. "Bahram and the Indian princess in the black pavilion." Depiction of a Khamsa (Quintet) by the great Persian poet Nizami, mid-16th-century Safavid era.

[edit]Legends associated with Bahramgur

Numerous legends have been associated with Bahram. One account says that he aided an Indian king in his war against China and that, in return for his help, the Indian king made over the provinces of Makran and Sindh to Persia. The Lurs of Persia, it is argued, are the descendants of musicians sent to Persia by the grateful Indian monarch. However there does not exist any historical proof in support of this story. Other accounts suggest that he married an Indian princess. However, the conclusion of such a marriage alliance is regarded as highly dubious once again due to lack of evidence. His name is also associated with a legendary Indian prince of the Punjab.

Another legend , as it has been written in Shahnameh , is about Bahram-e-gur slaying two lions and gaining the crown between them.

[edit]Legacy

Bahram V has left behind a rich and colorful legacy which has survived to the present day. He is especially a favorite of the writers who have woven numerous legends and fantastical tales around him. His fame has survived the annihilation of Zorostrianism and the Anti-Iranian measures of the Umayyads and the Mongols and many of the stories have been incorporated in contemporary Islamic lore.

His legacy even survives outside Iran. He is the King who receives The Three Princes of Serendip in the tale that gave rise to the word Serendipity. He is believed to be the inspiration for the legend of Bahramgur prevalent in the Punjab.

He is a great favourite in Persian tradition, which relates many stories of his valour and beauty, of his victories over the Romans, Turks, Indians and Africans, and of his adventures in hunting and in love; he is called Bahram Gur, "Onager," on account of his love for hunting, and in particular, hunting onagers.

For example, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, by Edward Fitzgerald, quatrain 17:

"They say the Lion and the Lizard keep

The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:

And Bahram, that great Hunter - the Wild Ass

Stamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep."

To which Fitzgerald adds the following footnote (1st edition, 1859): "Bahram Gur - Bahram of the Wild Ass from his fame in hunting it - a Sassanian sovereign, had also his seven palaces, each of a different colour; each with a Royal mistress within; each of whom recounts to Bahram a romance. The ruins of three of these towers are yet shown by the peasantry; as also the swamp in which Bahram sunk while pursuing his Gur.

Some have judged Bahram V to have been rather a weak monarch, after the heart of the grandees and the priests. He is said to have built many great fire-temples, with large gardens and villages (Tabari).

[edit]Coins of Bahram V

The coins of Bahram V are chiefly remarkable for their rude and coarse workmanship and for the number of the mints from which they were issued. The mint-marks include Ctesiphon, Ecbatana, Ispahan, Arbela, Ledan, Nehavend, Assyria, Chuzistan, Media, and Kerman, or Carmania. The head-dress has the mural crown in front and behind, but interposes between these two detached fragments a crescent and a circle, emblems, no doubt, of the sun and moon gods. The reverse shows the usual fire-altar, with guards, or attendants, watching it. The king's head appears in the flame upon the altar.

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