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Shirin is discovered by Chosrau while bathing (18th century drawing in the Brooklyn Museum )

Shirin ( Persian شیرین, DMG Šīrīn , [ ʃiːˈriːn ]; died 628 ) was the favorite wife of the Persian great king Chosrau II .


The Persian great king Chosrau II († 628) had to flee to Eastern Roman territory after the death of his father Hormizd IV in the spring of 590 , as General Bahram Chobin had usurped power after a coup. On the run, he is said to have been accompanied by Shirin, who probably came from Chusistan and is described as a fabulous beauty. Shirin herself was a Christian and belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East . Finally, with the support of the Eastern Roman emperor Maurikios , Chosrau managed to regain power, for which Eastern current was granted some territories.

A Christian concubine Maria mentioned in an East Syrian chronicle was stylized in romantic literature as the daughter of Emperor Maurikios and rival Schirin after the end of the Persian Empire. This alleged emperor's daughter plays a major role in the literary adaptations of the Shirin myth. However, it can be ruled out that the Eastern Roman emperor gave a daughter to the harem of the Persian great king, especially since this story is not confirmed in the western sources; Mary is therefore likely to have been a Christian, but hardly the daughter of the emperor.

Schirin and Chosrau met at a young age, although little is known about Schirin's origins. Chosrau was apparently impressed by Shirin's appearance and demeanor. The wedding went back to his express request and, although Shirin was and remained a Christian, was held by a Zoroastrian priest. The influential conservative Zoroastrian court circles resented the king, however, that he was very open to his love for Shirin and gave her a lot of freedom at court, whereby she openly practiced her Christian religion and promoted the church.

After the birth of his wife Schirin's first child, Chosrau donated consecration gifts to the Sergius shrine in Resafa . The Armenian historian Pseudo- Sebeos reports that she prevented the relics of the prophet Daniel from being delivered to the Eastern Roman emperor Maurikios. Shirin initially supported the East Syrian Christians, especially the Patriarch Sabrischo; after his death she succeeded her compatriot Gregory of Phrat. She later turned to the West Syrian ( Miaphysite ) Church. After the overthrow of Maurikios, the war between the Sassanid Empire and Byzantium (Ostrom) began again in 603 (see also Roman-Persian Wars ). In May 614 the Persians conquered Jerusalem under General Shahrbaraz ; the alleged Holy Cross came as victory booty to Ctesiphon , where it was kept in the palace of Shirin. The action of her personal physician Gabriel von Schiggar , who exerted great influence on her, against the "Church of the East" seems to have approved her. Yazdin , Chosraus “finance minister” and himself a member of the Church of the East, faced her as a competitor.

In 628 the Sassanid Empire collapsed after the victory of the Eastern Roman emperor Herakleios , who forced the Persians to peace after several campaigns. Chosrau II was murdered at the end of February 628 by his son Kavadh II , Shirin's son Merdanschah (Shirin also had a son named Saliar ) - whom the father wanted to appoint as his successor - and had his siblings murdered. The sources report how Shirin turned to court circles after the murder of Chosrau and bitterly lamented the king's death, whereby the romantic character of their relationship was apparently consciously emphasized. After Chosrau's murder, Shirin is said to have committed suicide at his grave after her stepson Siroe (Kavadh II) tried to win her over to his harem. Whether this account is correct cannot be determined with absolute certainty, as more precise details about her death are not known. It is possible that this depiction is only embellished like a legend, as it is not impossible that Schirin Siroe survived, who died at the end of 628.

The memory of Shirin was already taken up by the Persian poet Abu Ali Muhamed Balami († 974) and preserved in the Persian national epic Shāhnāme by Ferdousī (around 1020). Around 1200, the Persian poet Nezāmi wrote the epic Chosrau and Schirin , which served as a model for numerous Persian, Turkish and Indian poets, such as the Indian Amir Chosrau Dihlavi († 1325), who made the historically undetectable builder Ferhad the son of the emperor made by China. In the fairy tales from One Thousand and One Nights , Schehrezad tells the story of Chosrau, Schirin and the fisherman in the 390th night. The Chagatan poet Mir ʿAli Schir Nawāʾi († 1501) made Ferhad the main character in his work Ferhad and Schirin . After the rediscovery of the motif by the orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe dealt with the myth in the West-Eastern Divan .

Chosrau II founded the city of Qasr-e Shirin (Castle of the Shirin) in the province of Kermanshah , which he named after Shirin.


  • Keenan Baca-Winters: He Did Not Fear. Xusro Parviz, King of Kings of the Sasanian Empire. Gorgias Press, Piscataway, NJ 2018.
  • Wilhelm Baum : Shirin. Christin - Queen - love myth. A late antique female figure - historical reality and literary effect. Verlag Kitab, Klagenfurt 2003, ISBN 3-902005-14-9 ( review by H-Soz-u-Kult (academic) )
  • Wilhelm Baum: Sirin . In: Religion Past and Present . Vol. 7 (2004), p. 1351.
  • Manfred Hutter: Shirin, Nestorians and Monophysites. Royal church politics in the late Sassanid Empire . In: Symposion Syriacum VII. Rome 1998, pp. 373-386.

Web links


  1. Keenan Baca-Winters: He Did Not Fear. Xusro Parviz, King of Kings of the Sasanian Empire. Piscataway, NJ 2018, p. 207.
  2. See Keenan Baca-Winters: He Did Not Fear. Xusro Parviz, King of Kings of the Sasanian Empire. Piscataway, NJ 2018, pp. 208 ff.
  3. Keenan Baca-Winters: He Did Not Fear. Xusro Parviz, King of Kings of the Sasanian Empire. Piscataway, NJ 2018, pp. 218f.