Hormizd IV.

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Coin of Hormizd IV.

Hormizd IV. (Also Hormisdas ; Persian هرمز Hormoz [ horˈmoz ], English Hormozd ; * before 579; † after February 6, 590 ) was a Persian great king of the Sassanid family . He ruled late ancient Persia from 579 to 590.


Hormizd, whose mother is said to have been a daughter of Kök-Türkenkhagan Sizabulos (although there are chronological problems), was chosen and enforced by his father, Chosrau I. Apparently there was strong tension with the high nobility soon after his coronation. Both in the western ( Theophylaktos Simokates ) and in the oriental ( Tabari ) sources he is presented mostly negatively, although this may not do justice to his reign, especially since the sources are largely biased. In addition, even Tabari has also preserved a tradition that Hormizd did not portray as a tyrannical enemy of the nobility, but as just, well-educated, clever and militarily successful. The king, who according to Tabari forbade the Zoroastrian priests to take action against the Christians in the empire, is portrayed very positively in some Christian reports. He apparently tried to secure or expand his position by cracking down on the powerful nobility of the empire, while he sought support from the people in particular. The late Arab sources, which are likely to preserve late Assanid traditions, accuse him of executing and banishing countless nobles and attempting to disempower the Zoroastrian priests. For several years, Hormizd, whose actual role is ultimately difficult to assess, was probably able to keep himself on the throne by playing off various aristocratic parties against each other.

In terms of foreign policy, Persia had to fight both in the west and on the northeast border, which is always endangered: in the northeast, various tribes (which were probably under Turkish sovereignty) had to be fought off. Hormizd also continued the war with the Eastern Roman Empire , which was to last throughout his reign (see Roman-Persian Wars ). Chosrau I had started peace negotiations shortly before his death, but Hormizd seems to have found himself unable to accommodate the Romans immediately after his accession to the throne. He had also expressed himself extremely arrogantly towards the Eastern Roman ambassadors, so that no further negotiations took place. However, the war was not particularly favorable for either side. Persian and Eastern Roman troops advanced several times, only to be repulsed again. Even a great Eastern Roman victory at Solachon 586 brought no decision; the Persians meanwhile gained control of large parts of Armenia , but the war went anything but good for them too.

In 588 the military leader Bahram Tschobin , who came from a respected noble family (the Mihran , who traced back to the Arsacids ), succeeded in defeating Turkish invaders in the northeast (see Tardu ). In 589 he fought the Romans in the Caucasus, but the details are not entirely clear. In the year 589 Bahram rose against Hormizd, who apparently tended to be angry and probably grudged his general's successes; conversely, as the following events show, Hormizd may well have rightly felt threatened by Bahram. The fact that Bahram had now suffered a minor defeat against a Roman army under General Romanus may also play a role. While Bahram's army was moving towards Ctesiphon , the main residence of the Sassanids, the king was overthrown by another aristocratic party on February 6, 590 (according to new investigations perhaps a little later). This noble group was apparently dissatisfied with Hormizd and his politics, but was loyal to the Sassanids and therefore replaced him with his son Chosrau II , who was apparently now also intriguing against Hormizd. A little later, Hormizd was murdered in dungeon - it is unclear whether this was done on the orders of his son, who at the time was perhaps already on the run from Bahram Chobin. Bahram ascended the throne for a short time, but was then overthrown by Chosrau, who secured Eastern Roman help.


Several late ancient Eastern Roman (Greek-speaking) authors report on Hormizd's reign, the most important being Menander Protektor , Euagrios Scholastikos and Theophylactos Simokates , as well as several later historians from the Middle Byzantine period ( Theophanes , Johannes Zonaras ). However, apart from a few fragments, the histories of Theophanes of Byzantium and the contemporary John of Epiphaneia have been lost . Also worth mentioning is an anonymous Syrian chronicle ( Anonymus Guidi ) and the Armenian chronicler (pseudo-) Sebeos . Of the (personal) Arab authors, Tabari , who was able to rely on lost sources, is particularly important; Other Arab authors such as Ad-Dīnawarī also report supplementary and different details in some cases .


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  1. See A. Shapur Shahbazi: Hormozd IV. In: Encyclopædia Iranica .
  2. Tabari, translation in Nöldeke (1879), p. 252 and p. 264.
  3. See Nöldeke (1879), pp. 264f., Note 5.
  4. Tabari, translation in Nöldeke (1879), p. 267f.
  5. ^ Tabari, translation in Nöldeke (1879), p. 269ff .; see. also Theophylactus, Historien 3,6. Both speak of Turks, but it is not entirely clear, see the comments in Nöldeke.
  6. See Menander Protektor, Historien , Fragment 55.
  7. See Greatrex / Lieu (2002), pp. 162ff.
  8. Greatrex / Lieu (2002), pp. 171ff. After Theophylactus, Bahram had suffered the said defeat and feared punishment. On the other hand, see Tabari, translation in Nöldeke (1879), p. 272ff. Tabari does not report battles against the Romans (which does not mean much), but does report that Bahram rebelled out of fear of Hormizd.
predecessor Office successor
Chosrau I. King of the New Persian Empire
Bahram Chobin