Last Coin

Ruler: Sassanian Persia: Kushru II
Reigned: 591 AD - 628 AD
Denomination: AR Dirhem 32mm
Obverse: King’s bust right with Tiara, bearing 2 layers of pearls and 3 turrets, and held in place at the back by 3 gemstones. Star at back and star and crescent in front. There are 3 gemstones in the Earrings and in the Pendant. A Star and Crescent motif top an enormous pair of wings. Star on left shoulder, crescent on right Surrounded by 2 dotted circles. “KHUSRUI AFZUN” (Khusru, the bestower of prosperity).
Reverse: Thin double-conical Zoroastrian Fire Altar with shaft with upturned and ribbons tied to the middle.. Fire attendants are priests facing forwards with hands resting on sword. Star to left and crescent to right of Fire. Surrounded by 3 dotted circles. Mint is (?). Regnal year is (?).
Weight: 4.1 gms
Diameter: 32 mm

KUSHRU II, called Parvez ("the victorious") (591-628)

  • Khushru was the grandson of Kushru I and son of Hormazd IV. After the death of the latter, Khushru was assisted in gaining the throne -which had been usurped by Bahram Chobin- by the Byzantine emperor Maurice Tiberius and, in gratitude, restored to the Byzantine Empire many of the territories conquered by his grandfather.
  • In 602 A.D. when Phocas (602-610) assassinated Maurice Tiberius and his sons and usurped the Byzantine throne, Khusru declared war against Rome. He ordered Narseh, the Iranian Commander in Edessa, to defy the orders of the Roman Commander, Germanus and hold on to his Fortress. Khusru then laid siege to Dara for nine months, at the end of which it surrendered, followed by the Roman Fortress of Amid. In 607 Khusru joined by Narseh, pressed forwards along the Euphrates and crossed into Syria, capturing Harran and Edessa. In 609 they advanced into Roman Cappadoccia, capturing Hierapolis, Aleppo and all towns till they reached Caesaria, the chief Roman stronghold. In 610, Heraclius (610-641), the Roman Commander in Africa, taking advantage of Phocas’ weakness, advanced to Constantinople and captured it unopposed. Phocas was then killed.
  • Under the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad, the backward Arab tribes were beginning to become organized in the semi-autonomous State of Hira (Herat, the region around modern Kuwait). The Arab Chief of the tribe of Noman had asked for the hand of one of Khusru’s daughters. The refusal infuriated the Noman, who gathered a huge Arab army from the tribes of Noman and Shaybani and completely routed Khusru’s organized army of 40,000, at the Battle of Dhu-Qar in 610.
  • Shahrbaraz, Khusru’s Commander further invaded Byzantine territory, taking Apamiea and Antioch. He then captured Damascus, advancing further south to Palestine. The Jews were induced to declare a holy war and they then occupied the regions around the Jordan River and the Sea of Gallilee. Jerusalem was sacked in 614 and the Holy Sepulchre destroyed. 17,000 Christian inhabitants were massacred and 35,000 made prisoners, including the aged Zacharias, who was taken captive to Ctesiphon. The ‘True Cross’ was transported to Ctesiphon, where it was duly cared for and venerated by Khusru’s Christian wife, Shireen.
  • In 616 Khusru captured Egypt, capturing the Roman garrison at Alexandria. Then, travelling along the Nile Valley he occupied the whole of Ethiopia. In 617, Khusru’s Commander Shahen, captured Calchedon, situated opposite Constantinople, reducing the Roman Empire to Constantinople, surrounding areas and fragments of Italy and Greece. Heraclius panicked and tried to flee to Carthage in Africa but was prevented from doing so.
  • Heraclius vowed to fight back and in 623, he sailed with a large fleet and landed at Issus on the Black Sea. In the battle that ensued he defeated the Commander, Shahrbarz. Having concluded an alliance with Khan Zeibel of the Khazars, Heraclius advanced by way of the Black Sea, crossed the Araxes River and conquered Armenia. He took Gurgan (Iberia) and Ardan (Albania), spending the winter there. By the summer of 625 Heraclius had recaptured all Roman territory lost in the north. Khusru, however, still held Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt.
  • In 627, with the help of 40,000 Khazars on horseback, Heraclius started from Lazica to conquer the Iranians. He passed through Syria and Azerbaijan unmolested, crossed the Zagros Mountains and entered Mesopotamia. In the Battle of Nineveh on 12th December 627, the Iranian army was routed and some of their best Commanders killed. Heraclius crossed the Zab River to enter Mesopotamia. Khusru recalled Shahrbaraz from Calchedon but Heraclius had almost reached Dastagard, which was Khusru’s capital.
  • To add to his problems, Khusru’s Christian wife, Shireen was plotting against him, intending to place her Christian son, Mardanshah on the throne. Khusru’s eldest son, Siruzeh, legitimate heir to the throne, and several of his brothers were seized and imprisoned. There was a great outcry and civil strife in Ctesiphon. The Council of Nobles, released Siruzeh from prison and proclaimed him King Qobad II on 25th Feburary 628. Khusru was seized and imprisoned. On 29th February 628, four days after his coronation, Qobad, at the behest of the feudal lords, signed documents for the assassination of his father.

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