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Khosrau II of Persia

Khosrau II, "the Victorious" (Parvez), king of Persia, son of Hormizd IV, grandson of Khosrau I, 590-628.

He was raised to the throne by the magnates who had rebelled against Hormizd IV till 590, and soon after his father was blinded and killed. But at the same time the general Bahram Chobin had proclaimed himself king, and Khosrau II was not able to maintain himself.

The war with the Romans, which had begun in 571, had not yet come to an end. Chosroes fled to Syria, and persuaded the emperor Maurice to send help. Many leading men and part of the troops acknowledged Khosrau, and in 591 he was brought back to Ctesiphon. Bahram Chobin was beaten and fled to the Turks, among whom he was murdered. Peace with Rome was then concluded.

Maurice made no use of his advantage; he merely restored the former frontier and abolished the subsidies which had formerly been paid to the Persians. Khosrau II was much inferior to his grandfather. He was haughty and cruel, rapacious and given to luxury; he was neither a general nor an administrator. At the beginning of his reign he favoured the Christians; but when in 602 Maurice had been murdered by Phocas, he began war with Rome to avenge his death. His armies plundered Syria and Asia Minor, and in 608 advanced to Chalcedon.

In 613 and 614 Damascus and Jerusalem were taken by the general Shahrbaraz, and the Holy cross was carried away in triumph. Soon after, even Egypt was conquered. The Romans could offer but little resistance, as they were torn by internal dissensions, and pressed by the Avars and Slavs. At last, in 622, the emperor Heraclius (who had succeeded Phocas in 610) was able to take the field. In 624 he advanced into northern Media, where he destroyed the great fire-temple of Gandzak (Gazaca); in 626 he fought in Lazistan (Colchis), while Shahrbaraz advanced to Chalcedon, and tried in vain, united with the Avars, to conquer Constantinople.

In 627 Heraclius defeated the Persian army at the Battle of Nineveh and advanced towards Ctesiphon. Chosroes fled from his favourite residence, Dastagei1 (near Bagdad), without offering resistance, and as his despotism and indolence had roused opposition everywhere, his eldest son, Kavadh II, whom he had imprisoned, was set free by some of the leading men and proclaimed king. Four days afterwards, Khosrau was murdered in his palace (February 628). Meanwhile, Heraclius returned in triumph to Constantinople, in 629 the Cross was given back to him and Egypt evacuated, while the Persian empire, from the apparent greatness which it had reached ten years ago, sank into hopeless anarchy.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.