Chosroes I (ca.500-579)Chosroes I (ca.500-579) - Also Khosrau I. Son of Kavadh I and Sāssānid emperor from 532-579. He ranks up there with Shapur I as one of the greatest of all Sāssānid monarchs. Unlike Shapur though, who reigned at the beginning of the empire, Chosroes' rule came at its height. By an interesting coincidence, his monarchy roughly coincided with Justinian's, who was the Byzantines' greatest emperor. Despite the inevitable conflicts with his Byzantine neighbor, Chosroes' reign was one of advancement in culture and knowledge. One of the most interesting events of his tenure was the introduction of Chess into Persia, which had recently been invented in India (see below). When his father died, he was not the next in line to be emperor, which is why he was eager to make peace with the Byzantines (see above). He had an elder brother named Kavoos. They met in battle and Chosroes was victorious. However, his grasp on the throne was not yet secure. Members of the Persian aristocracy tried to have him killed and install the son of his other brother, Djamasp. The boy's name was Kavadh, the same as his grandfather. When Chosroes learned of this plot, he responded by killing every member of his family (to insure no one else could take the throne from him) as well as members of the conspiracy. All except young Kavadh who reportedly escaped Chosroes' punishment and fled to the Byzantine Empire. It's kind of ironic that an emperor who could be so thoroughly ruthless is remembered as an enlightened ruler. But after his bloodbath had ended, he turned his attention to building projects and learning. He built walls and forts for defense, several cities, and an extensive road system to connect all corners of the empire.

 

On the learning front he searched out knowledge from other lands and brought them to his own. He had a special interest in works from India. He set up embassies in several Indian kingdoms and requested that they send philosophers to his court. It was at this time that he discovered the game of Chess and fell in love with it. He also was an admirer of Plato. All the information he collected from other kingdoms was translated into Persian. One of the results of this fusion of cross cultural knowledge was an advancement in medicine. Chosroes built hospitals and used them to treat soldiers injured in battle. And to insure the learning would continue for future generations, he expanded an academy in the city of Gondishapur (named for Shapur I who founded it). Despite his quest for knowledge, Chosroes could not escape the call of war. He broke the "eternal peace" with the Byzantines in 540 by crossing their eastern border. Part of the reason for this was at the instigation of the Ostrogoths, who appealed to Chosroes for assistance in the Gothic War (see above). Their argument was very persuasive. Envoys to Persia informed the emperor that Justinian was attempting to revive the old Roman Empire and if he succeeded, the Sāssānid kingdom would be the next to fall. His campaign was effective. The same year he broke the truce, he successfully sacked Antioch, the third largest city in the empire. A powerful earthquake destroyed the city's walls in 526, and they had not been rebuilt, making Antioch a pretty easy target. Chosroes took thousands of residents captive and deported them back to Persia. He even built a city for them and named it Weh Antiok Khusrau, which means "better than Antioch, built by Khosrau." The war between the two empires dragged on, sporadically, for more than a decade before another "lasting" peace (which would prove to be temporary) was declared. Chosroes outlived Justinian by 14 years and had to deal with his successors, Justin II and Tiberius. The battles between the empires continued much as they had (off and on) even through Chosroes' own death in 579. He was succeeded by his son, Hormizd IV, who continued much of his father's war policies toward Byzantine.