Научная статья на тему 'The pahlav-mehrān family faithful allies of xusrō i anōšīrvān'

The pahlav-mehrān family faithful allies of xusrō i anōšīrvān Текст научной статьи по специальности «История. Исторические науки»

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THE SASANIAN DYNASTY / IRAN / THE PARTHIAN NOBILITY / THE MEHRāN FAMILY / САСАНИДЫ / ИРАН / ПАРФЯНСКАЯ ЗНАТЬ / РОД МЕХРАН

Аннотация научной статьи по истории и историческим наукам, автор научной работы — Maksymiuk Katarzyna Iwona

The article describes the role of the members of the Parthian Mehrān played from the second half of the 5th century on Sasanian courts. It must be assumed that the Sasanian kings ruled their country with the help of Parthian aristocracy. The reforms of the 6th century could not be directed against the status of the Parthian noblemen in Iran, because neither Kawād nor Xusrō could carry them without the assistance of Parthian wuzurgān.

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Текст научной работы на тему «The pahlav-mehrān family faithful allies of xusrō i anōšīrvān»

UDC 94(357)

Maksymiuk K. I.

THE pahlav-mehrAn family faithful

ALLIES OF XUSRO I ANOSiRVAN

The article describes the role of the members of the Parthian Mehran played from the second half of the 5th century on Sasanian courts. It must be assumed that the Sasanian kings ruled their country with the help of Parthian aristocracy. The reforms of the 6th century could not be directed against the status of the Parthian noblemen in Iran, because neither Kawad nor Xusro could carry them without the assistance of Parthian wuzurgan.

Key words: the Sasanian dynasty, Iran, the Parthian nobility, the Mehran family.

"People commented at that time: "Shkhra's wind has died away, and a wind belonging to Mihran has now started to blow," and this became proverbial" (Tabari. 885) (transl. by C. E. Bosworth).

After defeating the Parthian Great King Ardavan IV (r. 216224) in 224, the Sasanian King of Kings Ardasir (r. 224-242) rose to power in Iran1. Unsurprisingly, Sasanian historiography marginalizes the role of the Parthians (Pahlav) in Iranian history. In the Xwaday Namag, the putative official history of the Sasanians, the duration of the Arsacid Dynasty rule was deliberately reduced by half1 2. Worse, the Nama-ye Tansar degrades Arsacid rule as decentralized and corrupt: "These men saw corruption and heard uttered the insolence of fools and churls; they witnessed the loss and lessening of regard and reverence for the learned by the ignorant, and the vanishing of all sense of values and of discrimination" (The Letter of Tansar. P. 32) (transl. by M. Boyce).

1 Daryaee T. Sasanian Persia, The Rise and Fall of an Empire. L.; N. Y., 2009; Gariboldi A. La monarchia sasanide tra storia e mito. Milano, 2011; Колесников А. И. Сасанидский Иран. История и культура. СПб., 2012.

2 Shahbazi A. Sh. On the Xwaday-namag // Acta Iranica. 1990. № 30. P. 208-229; Olbrycht M. Iran starozytny / / Historia Iranu / Pod red. A. Krasnowolskiej. Wroclaw, 2010. P. 216. For another, more controversial, view on the Xwaday Namag, see: Jackson Bonner M. R. Three Neglected Sources of Sasanian History in the Reign of Khusraw Anushirvan (Cahiers de Studia Iranica). P., 2011.

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According to Sasanian ideology, it was Ardasir who imposed strong, centralized power, and thereby restored the glory of Iran: "(He was) able to bring all of the Empire of Iran again under control" (Kar-namag i Ardasir. XVIII.21) (transl. by F. Grenet).

But is this picture true? Should we believe that late Sasanian sources are really describing what the Iranian state was really like from the 3rd century to the 7th? Are they right in diminishing the importance of the old Parthian aristocracy3? There are good reasons to suspect that this is merely Sasanian propaganda. The Armenian historian Moses of Khorene, for instance, seems to suggest that most Pahlav families supported Ardasir's rise to power with the notable exception of Armenian Arsacids and part of Karin family: "After Artashir, son of Sasan, had killed Artavan and gained the throne, two branches of the Pahlav family called Aspahapet and Suren Pahlav were jealous at the rule of the branch of their own kin, that is, of Artashes, and willingly accepted the rule of Artashir, son of Sasan. But the house of Karen Pahlav, remaining friendly toward their brother and kin, opposed in war Artashir, son of Sasan" (Movses Xorenac'i. II.71) (transl. by R. W. Thomson).

The monumental inscription of Sapur I (242-272) at Naqs-e Rostam (SKZ) and the inscription of Narseh (293-302) at Paikhli (NPi), seem to confirm this assertion. Those two inscriptions place Parthian dynastic families named Waraz, Shren, Andegan and Karin within the early Sasanian court, and give them the rank of wuzurgan. Only kings (sahrdaran) and the blood-princes (waspuhragan) stood higher in the hierarchy4.

The considerations below aim to show the important role of the Pahlav-Mehran family 5 in the structure of Sasanian power from

3 Maksymiuk K. The Parthian Nobility in Xusro I Anosirvan Court (in press).

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4 SKZ. 29/24/57, 31/25/62, 32/2б/б2; NPi. 16, 23, 32, 46.

5 According to Patkanian, the Mehran family was a branch of the

Ispahbudhan family (Patkanian M. K. D'une histoire de la dynastie des Sassanides // Journal Asiatique. 1866. № 6. 7. P. 129); Although A. Perikhanian (Perikhanian A. Iranian Society and Law / / CHI. 3 (2). P. 704) stated that the Parthian origin of Mehran clan is not confirmed, the research of R. Gyselen confirms Parthian roots of the family (Gyselen R. The Four Generals of the Sasanian Empire. Some Sigillographic Evidence. R., 2001. P. 44-45; Gyselen R. Nouveaux materiaux pour la geographie historique de l'empire sassanide : sceaux administratifs de la collection Ahmad Saeedi. P.,

2002. P. 110-111, 120-121, 131-132; Gyselen R. The Great Families in the Sasanian Empire: some sigillographic Evidence / / Current Research in

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the beginning of Sasanian rule until the time of Xusro I Anosirvan (531—579). The latter date was chosen deliberately because the later periods of history of the Mehran family, with its climax at the insurrection of Bahram Cobin (591) the member of the family, have been thoroughly studied elsewhere6.

In Sasanian sources the Mehran family is mentioned for the first time in the inscription of Sapur I. In the list of persons at the court Astad of Ray was named on the 56th position (rank): "Parsig: Astad i dibir i mihran i az Ray; pahlav: Arstad mihran ^pad frawardag dibir; greek: 'Асттат Mccpav cm етсттоАыг" (SKZ. 34/28/67).

It should be pointed out here that in the 3rd century the Mehran family could not have played a leading role at the court of the first Sasanins. The clan was not mentioned among wuzurgan or the most important houses7. Furthermore, the Mehrans are not mentioned among the notables of the empire who were summoned to the court in the inscription of Narseh. A member of the Mehran family appears for the first time in written sources only during the reign of Sapur II (309-379). In his description of the expedition led by Julian the Apostate (361-363) in 363 Ammianus Marcellinus mentions a certain Merena, whom he calls commander of Iranian cavalry operating Xdzestan: "Leaving this place as well, the whole army had come to a district called Maranga, when near daybreak a huge force of Persians appeared with Merena, general of their cavalry, two sons of the

Sasanian Archaeology, Art and History. Proceedings of a Conference held at Durham University, November 3rd and 4th, 2001 organized by the Centre for Iranian Studies, IMEIS and the Department of Archaeology of Durham University / Ed. by D. Kennet, P. Luft. Oxford, 2008. P. 107-113); Pourshariati P. The Mihrans and the Articulation of Islamic Dogma: a Preliminary Prosopographical Analysis // Cahiers de Studia Iranica. 2009. № 42. P. 286-287.

6 Pourshariati P. Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. L.; N. Y., 2008. P. 118146; Nafisi N. The Parthian Mehran Family, Key to the Collapse of Sassanid Empire // Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific Research. 2013. № 3.3. P. 944-951.

7 The court of the Sasanid kings was a hierarchically organized; Daryaee T. The Middle Persian Text Sur i Saxwan and the Late Sasanian Court / / Des Indo-Grecs aux Sassanides: Donnees pour l'historie et la geographie historique. Res Orientales. 2007. № 17. P. 65-72.

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king, and many other magnates..." (Amm. Marc. XXV.1.11) (transl. by J. C. Rolfe).

Some more detailed remarks on the house of Mehran Pahlav appear in sources with reference to the events after the death of Yazdgerd II (459). According to Armenian sources Raham (Bahram) of the Mehran family of nobles, the commander of the Iranian army, killed the elder son of Hormozd III (457-459) and placed his younger brother Peroz (459-484) upon the throne8: "The tutor [dayeak < Mid. Pers. dayag] of Yazkert's younger son [Peroz], Roham [Raham] by name from the family of Mihran [Mehran] . . . with one half of [the Iranian army] ferociously attacked the King's elder son. He defeated and massacred his army, and capturing the King's son ordered him to be put to death on the spot. Then he crowned his protege, who was named Peroz" (Ekse. P. 242) (transl. by R. W. Thomson).

It seems that the main point here is that Peroz remained under custody of the house of Mehran. Peroz is described as the foster son9 of Raham, and the "care-taker" of the king was also the father of Izad Gusnasp — Astad from the house of Mehran: "Peroz dispatched Yazatvshnasp, the son of his dayeak.Yazatvshnasp's father, Ashtat" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.60) (transl. by R. Bedrosian).

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Furthermore, the position of the House of Mehran at the royal court was strengthened by the marriage of Peroz with Astad's daughter mentioned by ibn Isfandiyar.

"When the actual greatness of Mihr-Firuz became apparent to Ashtad and Yazdan, they were overwhelmed with confusion, especially when he related to them the dream and declared to them that it was not to himself, but to his master the king [Peroz. — K. M.] that the girl was to be given in marriage" (Ebn Esfandiar. P. 24) (transl. by E. G. Browne).

The members of the House of Mehran continued to hold positions of high command over the frontline operations in northwestern Iran. When an uprising arose in Armenia in 482 under the leadership

8 A different version of the events is presented in Tabari's work (sic!): "Fayruz...marched against his brother Hurmuz, son of Yazdajird [II], who was at al-Rayy" (Tabari. 872) (transl. by C. E. Bosworth).

9 Bedrosian R. Dayeakut'iwn in Ancient Armenia // Armenian Review. 1984. № 37. P. 23-47: "Although fifth century Armenian authors use the term dayeak to mean "wet-nurse", the picture they present of the institution of dayeakut'iwn includes only men: the "adopting" lord is called the dayeak and his ward is a boy from another noble clan".

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of Vahan Mamikonean10 11, a certain member of Mehran clan, unfortunately not mentioned by name, was sent at the command of interventional forces: "When Mihran heard about your arrival, out of fear he fled from the borders of Iberia to Aghbania / Aghuania" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.73) (transl. by R. Bedrosian).

However, all military actions against insurgents were marshalled by a man bearing the rank of hazaruft11 by the name of Zarmihr of the house of Karin: "The military commander of them all was Zarmihr Hazarawuzt" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.66) (transl. by

R. Bedrosian).

It was Mehran who led the negotiations with Vahan Mamikonean, during which he was suddenly summoned to the royal court: "While Mihran and Armenia's general, Vahan

Mamikonean, were communicating with each other in this fashion, suddenly an emissary arrived from court, urgently summoning Mihran to return" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.76) (transl. by R. Bedrosian).

If we can trust the testimony of Ghazar P'arpec'i, the mysterious Mehran was closely related to Peroz and the king held his opinion in high esteem and found him a trusted advisor: "Come to the king in obedience and I will be the intermediary, since (because of his benevolence) he likes me and listens to what I say. I will beseech the king and reconcile him with you, and will try to give you what is fitting" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.75) (transl. by R. Bedrosian).

Peroz when setting against the Hephthalites (Hayatela) in 48412 nominated Mehran family member — Sapur a marzpan13 of Armenia14: "[Peroz] ordered [Hazarawuxt] to go to Iberia and either to seize and kill the Iberian king, Vaxt'ang, or to chase him from the

10 Kurkjian V. M. A History of Armenia. N.Y., 2014. P. 126-133.

11 Rahim Shayegan M. Hazarbed or Hazaruft; title of a high state official in Sasanian Iran // Encyclopaedia Iranica. 2003. № 17.1. P. 93-95.

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12 Gobi R. Dokumente zur Geschichte der iranischen Hunnen in Baktrien und Indien. Wiesbaden, 1967. P. 2: 90.

13 Garsoian N. G. The Marzpanate (428 — 652) / / Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times / Ed. by R. G. Hovannisian. N. Y., 1997. P. 95-115.

14 Pourshariati errorously writes that he was the marzpan of Iberia (Pourshariati P. Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire. P. 74); There is no foundation to state that Mehran participating in the events of 482 and Sapur Mehran are the same person. The idea that Sapur Mehran was a son of mentioned Mehran (as Poushariati believes: Pourshariati P. Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire. P. 75) is a mere assumption without any actual confirmation in sources.

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land; and to leave Shapuh of the Mihran tohm with a brigade there in the land of Armenia, as marzipan" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.79) (transl. by R. Bedrosian).

As far the presence of the members of the House of Mehran in the expedition against the Hephthalites seems natural: "...Written to Shapuh by the Iranian noble folk, and each of his relatives and friends who had escaped countless severe defeats from the Hepthalites" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.85) (transl. by R. Bedrosian).

We should notice that the influence of the House of Mehran was not limited to the North-Western provinces of Iran. In this connection, the author of the biography of Mar Sabha (zm. 487) notes that during the reign of Peroz, one Sahren of the Mehrans was marzpan of Beth Daraje15, a district located southeast of the lower Nahrawan canal16.

Sapur Mehran held his office during the reign of Balas (484488) who succeeded Peroz to the throne: "...But Shapuh-Mihran whom you [Balas. — K. M.] appointed [marzpan]" (Lazar P'arpec'i. III.88 ) (transl. by R. Bedrosian).

The rivalry between the Parthian great families for gaining the influences at the court became particularly clear during the change of the throne of Iran in 488. Balas was deprived of power by a group of noblemen17, led by the hazaruft Sukhra, of the Karin family. Sukhra is said to have placed Kawad's young maternal uncle on the throne18: "After Fayraz, Balas son of Fayraz was made king, and he ruled for four years. Then he died, and after him Shhar gave the

15 Auszuge aus syrischen Akten persischer Martyrer. Vol. 7 / Transl. G. Hoffmann. Leipzig, 1980. S. 68: „...Sein Vater hiess Sahren, aus dem Sa-men und Geschlechte des Grossem Hausses Mih[r]an..."; S. 69: „.Sein Vater Sahren als Gouverneur im fernen Lande Beth Daraje [und ??] im Lande der Kussaje angestellt wurde...".

16 Morony M. Beth Daraye // Encyclopaedia Iranica 1989. № 4.2. P. 186—187.

17 According to Yeshu the Stylite the Zoroastrian priests "and when they saw that he was not counted aught in the eyes of his troops, they took him and blinded him, and set up in his stead Kawad , the son of his brother Peroz" (transl. by W. Wright).

18 Abu 'Ali Meskawayh, Tajareb al-omam I / Ed. Abu'l-Qasem Emami. Tehran, 1987. P. 89.

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kingdom to his brother Qubad son of Fayruz" (Dinavari. P. 62) (transl. by M. R. Jackson Bonner19).

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The hazaruft made any direct contact with the king difficult: "While Sufarai took order for the world. Kubad ruled in the palace; all affairs were managed wholly by the paladin. He suffered no one to approach the Shah, who had no archmage and gave no command or counsel. Sufarai ruled all the land" (Firdawsi. 40.1) (transl. by

A. G. Warner, E. Warner), and, in common opinion, it was believed that the only thing possessed by Kawad was the crown as the army and the treasure belonged to Sukhra.

"The Shah hath but the crown. And not the troops and treasure in Iran, hath no authority, is not consulted; the world is all the slave of Sufarai" (Firdawsi. 40.2) (transl. by A. G. Warner, E. Warner).

Oriental sources agree that the key role in removing Sukhra belonged to the spahbed Sapur of Ray, from the Mehran family: "Shapur, who was descended from Mihrak, smiled when he read the letter of Kubad, For Sufarai had not a foe like him in public and in private... From Pars he carried Sufarai before Kubad, who thought not of past services, but bade men bear him to the prison-house. the Shah .gave his command that Sufarai be slain" (Firdawsi. 40.2) (transl. by A. G. Warner, E. Warner).

"Qubadh. wrote to Sabur of al-Rayy, [a man] from the house called Mihran, who was supreme Commander of the Land (isbahbadh al-bilad), to come to him with the troops under his command. Sabur came to him with these, and Qubadh sketched out for him the position regarding Sukhra and gave him the necessary orders concerning this last. The next morning, Sabur went into Qubadh's presence and found Sukhra seated there with the king. He walked towards Qubadh, passing befor Sukhra and paying no attention to him. Sukhra [for his part] gave no heed to this part of SabUr's cunning plan, until Sabur threw round his neck a noose he had with him and then dragged him off. He was taken away, loaded with fetters, and consigned to gaol. . After that, Qubadh ordered Sukhra to be executed, and this was done" (Tabari. 885) (transl. by

C. E. Bosworth).

19 Jackson Bonner's translation can be found on his personal website: http://www.mrjb.ca/ current-projects/abu-hanifah-ahmad-ibn-dawud-al-dinawari.

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"Qubad... wrote to Sabhr Razi, who is from the sons of the most excellent Mihran family, his governor in Babiland Hutarniya, that he come before him and bear him aid from his forces. When he came before him, he disclosed what was within himself, and enjoined upon him the murder of Shhar. Sabhr went unto Qubad and found Shhar sitting with him, and he walked towards Qubad passing by Shhar and taking no heed of Shhar until Sabhr threw a lasso round him, and the lasso alighted on his neck. Then he dragged him, until he brought him out of the hall, and this vexed him keenly. He consigned him to gaol, and then Qubad commanded that he be killed" (Dinavari. P. 67) (transl. by M. R. Jackson Bonner).

Although Poushariati believes that Sapur of Ray was the son of the commander of the Armenian campaign20, there is no reason to believe it. There is not any mentioning of great Mehran but about "the most excellent Mihran family". There are also reasons to doubt the testimony of Ferdowsi who suggests that the House of Mehran originated from Mihrak, the king of Ardasir-Korra (Fars)21, the opponent of Ardasir and the grandfather of Hormozd I (272-273)22, however, it seems that the mention of Ray in accounts of Tabari and Dinavari in relation with the text of SKZ is of utmost importance and it confirms the origin of the clan from North-Western parts of the empire, most probably Ghrgan.

20 Pourshariati P. Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire. P. 80: "One of the sons of the great Mihran".

21 le Khorasan (Abarsahr = Nisapur) ; Gignoux P. Problemes d'interpretation historique et philologique de titres et noms propres sasanides // AAASH. 1976. № 24. P. 105.

22 "Then he wrote to Mihrak, King of Abarsas (?) in the district round Ardashir-Churra, and some of his peers, and told them to submit to him; when they did not do that he marched out against them and killed Mihrak" (Tabari. 817) (transl. by C. E. Bosworth); "Shapur, son of Ardashir, grandson of Pabak, was succeeded by his son Hormizd, known also as 'the Bold'. In his whole appearance he was similar to Ardashir, but did not equal him in insight and skill; yet he is supposed to have excelled himself in boldness, courage and physical size. It is said that his mother was one of the daughters of king Mihrak, whom Ardashir had killed in Ardashir-Churra. For the astrologers had foretold to Ardashir that one of Mihrak's descendants would come to reign, so Ardashir had all the family sought out and executed" (Tabari. 832) (transl. by C. E. Bosworth).

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M. R. Jackson Bonner presents an interesting hypothesis when he suggests that Sukhra is one and the same man as Siavos (or Seoses as Procopius calls him). Following Jackson Bonner's considerations one can assume that Sukhra was at the head of an anti-Roman faction on the Iranian court and blocked a Persian and Roman alliance against the Hephthalites23. The second faction at the court of Kawad aimed at cooperating with the Roman Empire, and was led by Mahbod Suren. So we may well ask in this connection, what was the role of the Mehran clan in the royal milieu at the same time?

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According to Tabari at the time of Sukhra's fall, Sapur of Ray was supreme Commander of the land (isbahbadh al-bilad). If we agree with Jackson Bonner and allow the identification of Sukhra and Siavos, the last commander of Iranian army with the title of Artestaran salar, then we must state that, after removing Sukhra, Sapur of Ray also held a high military rank until the military reforms of Xusro I Anosirvan. The high position of the members of the House of Mehran in the military structures of Iran in VI century is attested by the Western sources talking about the Anastasian War (502—506) and the Battle of Dara (530), where Peroz, another Iranian commander of the Mehran clan is mentioned24: "But one general held command over them all, a Persian, whose title was "mirranes" (for thus the Persians designate this office), Perozes by name" (Procop. Pers. I.13.16) (transl. by H. B. Dewing).

It should be pointed out here that both Procopius and Zacha-riah mistakenly believe that the name of the Parthian clan Mehran was a military title: "The mihran and the marzbans assembled an army and came against Dara and encamped at Ammodius..." (Zach. HE. IX.3:94.1-95.2) (transl. by M. Greatrex).

The identification of the name of the clan with the military title made by Western historians proves that high commanding roles were given to the members of the House of Mehran not incidentally.

The power struggle between great noblemen intensified after Kawad's death. Mahbod Shren demanded to be involved in the elec-

23 Jackson Bonner M. R. Six Problemes d'interpretation dans les regnes de Peroz, Balas, Jamasp et Kavad // Historia i Swiat. 2015. № 4. S. 103-121.

24 "Indeed Mirrhanes, the Persian general during the reign of Cabades, came there to lay a siege, but was compelled by all these difficulties to retire after no long time without having accomplished anything" (Procop. Aed. II.2.19) (transl. by H. B. Dewing).

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tion of the new king election. On the basis of Kawad's testament presented by Mahbod Suren his older son Kavus was ousted, and the Council enthroned Kawad's youngest son Xusro I Anosirvan: "Mebodes read the document and stated the purpose of Cabades regarding Chosroes, and all, calling to mind the virtue of Cabades, straightway declared Chosroes" (Procop. Pers. I.21.22) (transl. by

H. B. Dewing).

The new king was related to a lateral branch of the Suren clan (in some sources Ispahbudhan)25. The King's enthronement was met with lukewarm acceptance. As a result of unsuccessful nobility's plot against Xusro and bringing to power his young nephew Kawad (in about 532) both King's brothers Kavus and Zamasp lost their lives. Sapur, the maternal uncle of Xusro I, was also condemned among the others (Procop. Pers. I.23.4).

There is no evidence for direct participation of the Mehran family of nobles in removing Mahbod Suren a few years later, an event which is ascribed to Zauran, one of the military commanders of Xusro: "Later on Chosroes destroyed also Mebodes for the following reason. While the king was arranging a certain important matter, he directed Zaberganes who was present to call Mebodes" (Procop. Pers. I.23.25) (transl. by H. B. Dewing).

"The nobles were wont to weep for envy of Mahbud at court. There was a magnate, one Zuran, whose aspirations all were centred there" (Firdawsi. 41.3.1) (transl. by A. G. Warner, E. Warner).

It should be noted also that the clan of Mehran took over leadership of Iran's foreign policy at the court of Xusro. The negotiations of the so-called "fifty years of peace" with Byzantium were carried by Izad Gusnasp26, and according to Firdawsi the diplomatic mission to

25 Ispahbudhan was the Title of two dynasties of Tabaristan (Ebn Esfandiar. P. 91); In my opinion Ispahbudhan clan is Suren one in fact. There was no Ispahbudhan / Aspahbed family. Ispahbudhan / Aspahbed is not the family name but rather mistaken form of the spahbed title. On the basis of text, Sebeos (14) Hormozd (IV) killed the great asparapet, Parthian and Pahlaw, who was descended from the criminal Anak's offsprings. He was the father of Xusro II's mother and two sons, Bestam and Bendoy. Armenian tradition generally names the murderer as Anak, a member of the Parthian Suren family (Agathang. 13; Movses Xorenac'i. II.67, especially II.74).

26 A detailed account of a mission of Izad Gusnasp is likely included in a work compiled by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus: Const. Porph. 89-90; Men. Prot. 11; Procop. Pers. II.28.16-17, 31-44; VIII 15.1-7, 19-21.

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the Khaqan of Turks was led by another Mehran with the given name of Sitad: "Mihran Sitad to see and fetch the Daughter of the Khan Chin27" (Firdawsi. 41.3.9-10) (transl. by A. G. Warner, E. Warner).

Another trusted man on the court of Xusro was brother of Izad Gusnasp — Fariburz whom the king entrusted delicate matters on the Western area: "Accordingly, since Chosroes had formed the purpose of capturing the city of Daras by a sudden stroke, and to move all the Colchians out of Lazica and establish in their place Persian settlers, he selected these two men [Phabrizus and Isdigousnas. —

K. M.] to assist him in both undertakings" (Procop. Pers. II.28.17-18) (transl. by H. B. Dewing).

The nobility's failed plot against Xusro did not influence the position of Sapur of Ray,28 the military commander in 530-531 (Procop. Pers. I.15.2-15; I.21.1-10), who commanded the armies in Upper Mesopotamia in 542 (Coripp. Ioh. I.68-98), and who from 548 onwards commanded the military operations in Lazica (Procop. Pers.

II.29.10-14; II.30; VIII.13-14, 16-17, 19; Agath. II.18.1-22.6).

It is commonly believed that the Mazdakite movement29 weakened the Sasanian aristocracy and in turn enabled Xusro I to finish the reforms begun by his father. It is also usually accepted that those reforms aimed at centralizing power by diminishing the prestige and authority of the major Parthian families. We should consider these points here30.

If we consider the most important aspect of the military reform in VI century, namely the quadripartition of the empire, we see that these assumptions about Mazdakism must be false.

The aim of the military reform of the 6th century was to abolish one-person command of Eranspahbed (Isbahbadh al.-bilad,

27 The text means in fact the Khaqan of Turks not the Khan of China. Hormozd is referred to as „Torkzad" (Firdawsi. 42.3).

28 Identified by Poushariati with Mermeroes (Pourshariati P. Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire. P. 103).

29 Crone P. Kavad's Heresy and Mazdak's Revolt // Iran. 1991. № 29. P. 21-40; Wiesehofer J. Kawad, Khusro I and the Mazdakites. A new proposal / / Tresors d'Orient. Melanges offerts a Rika Gyselen / Ed. par P. Gignoux. P., 2009. P. 391-409.

30 Rubin Z. The Reforms of Khusro Anurshiwan / / The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East 3 / Ed. by A. Cameron. P., 1995. P. 229; Nafisi N. The Parthian Mehran Family. P. 948.

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Artestaran salat)31 and replacing it with four spahbeds, reporting directly to the king. The geographical division was also set: kust i xwarasan spahbed (the eastern quarter), kust l nemroz spahbed (the southern quarter), kust i xwarbaran spahbed (the western quarter) and kust i Adurbadagan spahbed (the quarter of Adurbadagan)32.

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"Before Kisra became king, the office of Isbahbadh —that is, the supreme commander of the armed forces — was held by one man, who was responsible for this supreme command over all the land. Kisra now divided this office and rank between four Isbahbadhs, namely, the Isbahbadh of the East, comprising Khurasan and its adjoining regions, the Isbahbadh of the West; the Isbahbadh of Nimrdz, that is, the land of Yemen; and the Isbahbadh of Azerbaijan and its adjoining regions, that is, the Khazar lands" (Tabari. 894) (transl. by C. E. Bosworth).

"Then Kisra Andsarwan split the kingdom into four quarters, and set over each quarter a trustworthy man. The first quarter was Hurasan and Sijistan and Kirman; the second was Isbahan, Qumm, Jabal, Adarbayjan and Arminiyya; the third was Fars and Ahwaz down to Bahrayn; the fourth was clraq unto the border with the Kingdom of Rdm. And among these four he extended to each man the utmost dignity and esteem" (Dinavari. P. 70) (transl. by M. R. Jackson Bonner).

Was the reform meant to weaken the influence of the Parthian great houses? There is no doubt that the function of spahbed xwarasan was transferred to the House of Karin, xwarvaran to the Surens /Ispahbudhans, spahbed Adurbadagan to the clan of Mehran. If the reform was meant to undermine Parthian families it would be highly illogical to transmit power over three of four governorships to the Parthians. Sigillographic material examined by R. Gyselen, shows two seals dated to the reign Xusro I, which can be ascribed to the spahbeds from the family of Mehran.

31 In the playing chess manual vizarisn l catrang ud nihisn l nevardaser appears artestaran salar (now known as the queen) as the chief of the warriors and aswaran-salar (nowadays called the knight) as the chief of horsemen; Daryaee T. Mind, Body, and the Cosmos: Chess and Backgammon in Ancient Persia / / Iranian Studies. 2002. № 35.4. P. 300.

32 The term abaxtar ("north") was generally avoided because of its negative religious connotation.

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Gorgon i Mehran ... ud hujadag Xusro wuzurg eran — kust 1 Adurbadagan spahbed33

Sed-hos 1 Mehran sahr aspbed ud hujadag Xusro wuzurg eran — kust 1 Adurbadagan spahbed34

The members of the Mehran family are clearly shown on both seals. The Gorgon mentioned on one of the seals is likely to be identified as the Golon Mehran mentioned by Sebeos when describing Armenian war in 573-575 (Sebeos. 68, 70). Sed-hos is not mentioned in any extant literary sources.

So, the reform could not possibly have been directed against Parthian clans and one should rather say that in the light of the considerations mentioned above there was a tight co-operation between the crown and the House of Mehran. 33 34

33 Gyselen R. Sasanian Seals and Sealings in the A. Saeedi Collection. L., 2007. P. 272.

34 Gyselen R. Sasanian Seals. P. 274.

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The clan members held high offices in military structures35, and shaped the Sasanian state's foreign policy. Izad Gusnasp was responsible for contacts with Byzantium, while the negotiations with Central Asian powers were led by Sitad Mehran. It should be pointed out here that most of the House of Mehran were faithful to the crown even during the rebellion of Bahram Cobin. Nastuh, son of Sitad (Firdawsi. 43.27) led Sasanian forces against the usurper, even though all they belonged to the same clan.

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Maksymiuk Katarzyna Iwona, Dr. habil., Professor of the Institute of History and International Relations (University of Natural Sciences and Humanities, Siedlce, Poland); e-mail: szapur2@poczta.onet.pl.

Род Пахлав-Мехран — верные союзники Хосрова I Ануширвана

В статье характеризуется роль, которую, начиная со второй половины V в., при сасанидском царском дворе играли представители парфянского рода Мехран. Следует отметить, что Сасаниды управляли своей страной при помощи парфянской знати. В связи с этим реформы VI в. не могли быть направлены против парфянской аристократии Ирана, ибо ни Кавад, ни Хосров не могли удержаться у власти без поддержки парфянских вузургов.

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Ключевые слова: Сасаниды, Иран, парфянская знать, род Мехран.

Максимюк Катажина Ивона, хабилитированный доктор, профессор Института истории и международных отношений (Университет естественных и гуманитарных наук, г. Седльце, Польша); e-mail: szapur2@poczta. onet.pl

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