The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The last days of Yazdegird I

Yazdegird III the Last gets most of the press in the Sasanians' tragic history, but the first of that name could bear some interest too. Yazdegird I may well have been the inventor of Zoroastrianism. He also benevolently oversaw a Christian synod. Upon his death, around 420 AD, affairs changed swiftly around the Iranshahr.

Warahrân V (or Bahram) who won the power-struggle was quite the little Stalin. In 428 AD he deposed the last Parthian Arsacids, up to then ruling Armenia in exile. He also unleashed a vicious persecution of Christians, in Armenia and outside it. Sometimes the vizier Narses, a Zurvanist, gets the blame. But when did Narses take office?

Some say that prince Shapur had already evangelised Armenia on behalf of Zoroastrianism, which if so would hint at his father's policy; but I'm not sure how forceful this was.

Geoffrey Herman has just now posted an article "The Last Years of Yazdgird I and The Christians". He proposes that Yazdegird did little to limit Christians, and that such evidence as exists otherwise is tendentious. He pins all the blame on Bahram.

Before I can fully endorse Herman's article, though, I have some problems to raise.

First, Herman doesn't mention Narses nor the future Shapur IV. I think that whatever they did during Yazdgird's reign has some bearing on the problem.

Also Herman cites the "pseudo-Dionysian chronicle", which means the (second part of the) Zuqnin Chronicle - some of us are more familiar with the latter name, which is really the better name for it. Anyway when Herman cites Zuqnin he doesn't mention whatever sources it might have used for the early 400s in Iran. My understanding of this part is that it cites Socrates of Constantinople, which Herman knows about and quotes. That would mean Zuqnin cannot be taken as an independent witness.

posted by Zimri on 18:09 | link | 0 comments

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