Chosroes II (570-628)Chosroes II (570-628) - Also Khosrau II. The last noteworthy emperor before the Sāssānid empire was conquered by the Arab Muslims. He was the grandson of Chosroes I and his reign lasted 38 years. However, it was briefly interrupted in 590, the same year he ascended to the throne. That year his father, Hormizd IV, was assassinated by a general named Bahrām Chōbīn. After suffering a string of defeats in the war against the Byzantine Empire, Homizd had become extremely unpopular and the military revolted. Chōbīn seized upon the unrest and marched the army on the capital, overthrowing Hormizd. He wanted to become emperor himself, but since he was not the legitimate heir, was unable to seize the crown immediately. Chosroes succeeded his father, but Chōbīn still had the bulk of the military on his side. After defeating a small force loyal to Chosroes, Chōbīn drove him out of the empire and he fled to Constantinople. There he gained a powerful ally in Emperor Maurice who agreed to restore him to the Sāssānid throne; which he did in 591 after winning the Battle of Blarathon. With the Sāssānid Empire on the brink of total defeat, a majority of the aristocracy, satraps and military recognized Chosroes as their monarch. Bahrām Chōbīn fled the capital, and was eventually assassinated by Chosroes. He now had absolute control of empire. The first thing he did was make peace with the Byzantine Empire, which lasted until Maurice himself was overthrown by Phocas (see Maurice above).


In the eleven year interval between his restoration as emperor and the death of Maurice, Chosroes focused on the arts, particularly music. The Sāssānid Empire was said to have experienced a musical renaissance during his reign. He also displayed an tremendous amount a toleration of towards Christianity due to the fact that he was married to a Chrisitan woman named Shirin, and had a finance minister, Yazdin, who was also a Chrisitan. This, however, hurt his relationship with the Zoroastrian priest class. But the event which dominated his reign for a full quarter century (all the way up to his own death) was the Byzantine-Sāssānid War (see Byzantine-Sāssānid War above). This was the big one. While Maurice was alive, the two empires had been on good terms. After Phocas removed Maurice and executed him, Chosroes, sought to punish Phocas for killing his friend and ally. No doubt he also saw it as an opportunity to recapture old Sāssānid land that had been acquired by the Byzantines. What Chosroes could not have known at the start of the war is that it would drag on for 26 years, and severely deplete both empires. Even more dire was the fact that it would upset the balance of power, opening the door for a new kingdom to the south to rise up and conquer his own. And it would all happen in little more than a decade after his death in 628.