Artabanus V, king of Parthia

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About Artabanus V, king of Parthia

Artabanus V of Parthia

Artabanus V of Parthia, also known as Ardavan V, ruled the Parthian Empire (c. 216-224). He was the younger son of Vologases V who died in 208.

Civil war and war with the Romans

In 208, Artabanus rebelled against his brother Vologases VI, and soon gained the upper hand, although Vologases VI maintained himself in a part of Babylonia until about 228.

The Roman emperor Caracalla, wishing to make use of this civil war for a conquest of the East in imitation of his hero, Alexander the Great, attacked the Parthians in 216. He crossed the Tigris, destroyed the towns and spoiled the tombs of Arbela, but when Artabanus advanced at the head of an army, he retired to Carrhae. There Caracalla was murdered by Martialis on April 8, 217. Caracalla's successor, the Praetorian Prefect of the Guard Macrinus, was defeated at Nisibis and concluded a peace with Artabanus, in which he gave up all the Roman conquests, restored the booty, and paid a heavy contribution to the Parthians.

In Susa was found a stela, showing the king and the satrap Khwasak. The stela dates to year 215 and demonstrated that the city was at that time part of the Parthian empire. There are indications that it was before independent.

Struggle for supremacy in Iran

At about this time, Ardashir had begun his conquests in Persis and Carmania. This expansion came to the attention of the Arsacid Great King, Artabanus V, who ordered his vassal, the ruler of Khuzestan, to confront Ardashir. It was Ardashir, however, who emerged victorious in that battle. In 224, Artabanus himself invaded Fars to confront the rebelling Ardashir. The latter won the first battle, but with heavy losses on both sides. In the second battle, the Parthians suffered a greater loss, and Ardashir was again deemed the victor. Their armies clashed once again in a final battle at Hormozgan, near the modern city of Bandar Abbas. At this encounter, the Parthian army was completely defeated, and Artabanus was killed. This ended the 400-year rule of the Arsacid Dynasty.

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