اردشیر یکم ، اردشیر اول،اردشیر بابکان
Ardeshir 1 (died 242 AD) was the founder of the
Sassanid Empire, was ruler of
Estakhr (since 206?), subsequently
Fars Province (since 208?), and finally "King of Kings of
Sassanid Empire" (after 226) with the overthrow of the
Parthian Empire. The dynasty founded by
Ardeshir would rule for four centuries, until it was overthrown by the Caliphates in 651.
Ardeshir 1s also known as Ardeshir Papagan "Ardeshir, son of Papag (Babak)", and other variants of his name include Latinized Artaxares and
Ardeshir was born in the late 2nd century in Estakhr, what is present-day
Iran, He was the son of Babak (Papak or Pabag) and Princess Rodak Ardeshir 1s said to have ruled the town of
Darabgerd and received the title of "argbadh". Upon Babak's death, Ardeshir's elder brother
Shapour ascended to the throne. However, Ardeshir rebelled against his brother and took the kingship for himself in 208.
Most scholars have assumed that Ardeshir's father was Papak, a vassal king, and his grandfather was Sassan. However, there is another theory of his lineage, which is found in the Middle
Persian text Book of Deeds of Ardeshir Son of Papak. This story is later confirmed by
Shahnameh. This theory suggests that Sassan married the daughter of Papak after the latter discovers that Sassan is of royal
Achaemenid descent. Hence Ardeshir was born. From here onwards Sassan disappears from the story and Papak is considered the father. Ardeshir helped Papak conquer some parts of Fars. It is possible that after Papak's death, his son Shapour had a short reign which was probably ended by an accidental death. Around 211/12 Ardeshir became ruler of Papak's kingdom, which was confined to central Fars. Soon he extended his realm into
Kerman to the east and
Elam to the west, and demanding tribute from the local princes of Fars and gaining control over the neighboring provinces of Kerman,
This expansion came to the attention of the
Arsacid Great King,
Artabanus 4, who ordered his vassal, the ruler of
Khuzestan, to confront Ardeshir. It was Ardeshir, however, who emerged victorious in that battle. In 226, Artabanus 4 himself invaded Fars to defeat the rebelling Ardeshir. The latter won the first battle, but with heavy losses on both sides. In the second battle, the
Parthians suffered a greater loss, and Ardeshir was again deemed the victor. Their armies clashed once again in a final battle at
Hormozgan, near the modern city of
Bandar Abbas. At this encounter, the Parthian army was completely defeated, and Artabanus 4 was killed. According to one account, Ardeshir and Artabanus fought in close combat on horseback. Ardeshir pretended to flee, turned around in the saddle and shot Artabanus through the heart.
According to the hagiographic Book of the Deeds of Ardeshir son of Babak, Ardeshir 1 then went on to capture the western vassal states of the now-defunct Arsacid Empire.
Crowned in 226 as the
Shahanshah-e-Iran "king of kings of Iran" (his consort Adhur-
Anahid took the title "Queen of Queens"), Ardeshir finally brought the over 400 year-old Parthian Empire to an end and began four centuries of Sassanid rule.
Over the next few years, Ardeshir 1 further expanded his new empire to the east and northwest, conquering the provinces of
Margiana (in modern
Balkh, and Chorasmia.
Mosul were also added to Sassanid possessions. Furthermore, the Kings of Kushan,
Turan, and Mekran recognized Ardeshir as their overlord. In the West, assaults against
Armenia and Adiabene met with less success.
The Sassanid state as established by Ardeshir 1 was characterized by two general trends which differentiated it from its Parthian predecessor: a strong political centralization and organized state sponsorship of Zoroastrianism.
The Parthian Empire had consisted of a loose federation of vassal kingdoms under the suzerainty of the Arsacid monarchs. In contrast, Ardeshir 1 established a relatively strong central government by which to rule his dominions. The empire was divided into cantons, the dimensions of which were based on military considerations. These cantons were designed to resist the influence of hereditary interests and feudal rivalries. Local governors who descended from the ruling family bore the title of shah. In an attempt to protect royal authority from regional challenges, the personal domains of the Sassanids and branch families were scattered across the empire. While the old feudal princes (vāspuhragan) remained, they were required to render military service with their local troops (for the most part peasant levies). The lesser nobility was cultivated as a source of military strength, forming the elite cavalry of the army, and the royal household found a useful (and presumably reliable) military force through the hiring of mercenaries.
Zoroastrianism had existed in the Parthian Empire and— according to tradition—its sacred literature had been collated during that era. Similarly, the Sassanids traced their heritage to the
Temple of Anahita at Estakhr, where Ardeshir 1's grandfather had been a dignitary. Under Ardeshir however, Zoroastrianism was promoted and regulated by the state, one based on the ideological principle of divinely granted and indisputable authority. The Sassanids built fire temples and, under royal direction, an (apparently) "orthodox" version of the
Avesta was compiled by a cleric named Tansār, and it was during the early period that the texts as they exist today were written down (until then these were orally transmitted). In the western provinces, a Zurvanite doctrine of the religion with Time as the First Principle appears to have competed with the
Mazdak form (as it is known from the Sassanid prototype of the Avesta.
In other domestic affairs, Ardeshir 1 maintained his familial base in Fars, erecting such structures as the Ghaleh Dokhtar and the Palace of Ardeshir. Despite these impressive structures, he established his government at the old Arsacid capital of
Ctesiphon on the
Tigris River. He also rebuilt the city of
Seleucia, located just across the river, which had been destroyed by the
Romans in 165, renaming it Veh-Ardeshir. Trade was promoted and important ports at Mesene and Charax were repaired or constructed. In the latter years of his reign, Ardeshir 1 engaged in a series of armed conflicts with
Persia's great rival to the west – the Roman Empire.
Ardeshir 1's expansionist tendencies had been frustrated by his failed invasions of Armenia, where a branch of the Arsacids still occupied the throne. Given Armenia's traditional position as an ally of the Romans, Ardeshir 1 may have seen his primary opponent not in the
Caucasian troops he had faced, but in
Rome and her legions.
In 230 Ardeshir 1 led his army into the Roman province of
Mesopotamia, unsuccessfully besieging the fortress town of
Nisibis. At the same time, his cavalry ranged far enough past the Roman border to threaten
Cappadocia. It seems that the Romans saw fit to attempt a diplomatic solution to the crisis, reminding the Persians of the superiority of Roman arms, but to no avail. Ardeshir 1 campaigned unsuccessfully against Roman border outposts again the following year (231). As a result, the Roman emperor Alexander
Severus (222–235) moved to the east, establishing his headquarters at Antioch, but experienced difficulties in bringing his troops together and thus made another attempt at diplomacy, which Ardeshir 1 rebuffed.
Finally, in 232, Severus led his legions in a three-pronged assault on the Persians. However, the separate army groups did not advance in a coordinated fashion, and Ardeshir was able to take advantage of the disorder and concentrate his forces against the enemy advancing through Armenia, where he was able to halt the Roman advance. Hearing of the Roman plans to march on his capital at Ctesiphon, Ardeshir left only a token screening force in the north and met the enemy force that was advancing to the south, apparently defeating it in a decisive manner. However, one can discern that the Persians must have suffered considerable losses as well, as no attempt was made to pursue the fleeing Romans. Both leaders must have had reason to avoid further campaigning, as Severus returned to Europe in the following year (233) and Ardeshir did not renew his attacks for several years, probably focusing his energies in the east.
In 237, Ardeshir — along with his son and successor Shapour 1 (240/42–270/72), who was his co-ruler since 239/40 — again invaded Mesopotamia. The successful assaults on Nisibis and
Carrhae and the shock this caused in Rome led the emperor to revive the Roman client-state of
Osroene. In 240/41, Ardeshir 1 and Shapur finally overcame the stubborn fortress of Hatra. Ardeshir 1 died in the year 242, but Shapour was already crowned as "king of kings" in 240..
Ardeshir 1 was an energetic king, responsible for the resurgence not just of Persia but of
Iranian-speaking peoples as a unified nation (ethnous as it appears in the
Greek version of his successor's inscription on the Kabeye Zartosht), the strengthening of Zoroastrianism, and the establishment of a dynasty that would endure for four centuries. While his campaigns against Rome met with only limited success, he achieved more against them than the Parthians had done in many decades and prepared the way for the substantial successes his son and successor Shapour 1 would enjoy against the same enemy.