Chosroes I (Kasra) of Persia

Chosroes (Kasra) I, Anushirvan  meaning the immortal soul, also known as Anushirvan the just (ruled 531-579) was the favorite son and successor of Kavadh I, and the most famous and celebrated of the Sassanid kings. He laid foundations of many new cities and magnificent palaces, trade roads were repaired and new bridges and dams were built. During his ambitious reign art and science flourished in Persia and the Sassanid empire was in its peak of glory and prosperity. His rule preceded by his father's and succeeded by Chosroes II's reign altogether is considered the Second golden era in the history of the Sassanid empire.

Early life

Kasra was King Kavadh I's son and inherited his father's throne. He had a major influence over his father Kavadh and helped him in worst situations during his rule. He was also behind many of his father's decisions. Kasra had in the last years of his father extirpated the heretical and communistic Persian sect of the Mazdakites. Because Kasra was a very wise and intellectual person, nobles gave him the appellation of Anushirvan meaning the immortal soul.

Silver bowl showing Chosroes (Kasra) I Anushirvan, of the righteous soul seated on his throne. This became a model representation of kingship for Byzantine art and from there, in Carolingian art.

 

Conquests

At the beginning of his reign he concluded an "eternal" peace with the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, who wanted to have his hands free for the conquest of Africa and Sicily. But breaching the peace agreement by Romans caused Kasra to begin the war again in 540.

He invaded Syria, conquered Antioch which was the third important Roman city after Constantinople and Alexandria and carried the inhabitants of Antioch to his residence, where he built for them a new city near Ctesiphon under the name of Khosrau-Antioch or Chosro-Antioch. During the next years he fought successfully in Lazica or Lazistan (the ancient Colchis and modern Georgia), on the Black Sea, and in Mesopotamia.

The Romans, though led by Belisarius one of the greatest Roman warriors of all the times, could do little against him. In 545, an armistice was concluded, but in Lazica the war went on till 556. At last, in 562, a peace was concluded for fifty years, in which the Persians left Lazistan to the Romans, on the other hand, the Romans had again to pay heavy tributes every year to Persia.

Meanwhile in the east, the Hephthalites had been attacked by the Turks (Gokturks). Kasra united with them and conquered Bactria, while he left the country north of the Oxus to the Turks. Many other rebellious tribes were subjected. About 570 the dynasts of Yemen, who had been subdued by the Ethiopians of Axum, applied to Kasra for help. He sent a fleet with a small army under Vahriz, who expelled the Ethiopians. From that time till the conquests of Muhammad, Yemen was dependent on Persia, and a Persian governor resided here. In 571 a new war with Rome broke out about Armenia, in which Kasra conquered the fortress Dara on the Euphrates, invaded Syria and Cappadocia, and returned with large booty.

Iran's map during the reign of Kasra Anushirvan the just

Religious tolerance and his justice

He was a sincere adherent of Zoroastrian orthodoxy and even ordered that the religion's holy text, the Avesta be codified, but he was not fanatical or prone to persecution. He tolerated every Christian confession. When one of his sons had rebelled about 550 and was taken prisoner, he did not execute him; nor did he punish the Christians who had supported him.

When Justinian in 529 closed the Academy of Athens, the last seat of paganism in the Roman Empire, the last seven teachers of Neoplatonism emigrated to Persia and Kasra warmly welcomed them.

He was a righteous person and was and still is the symbol of justice. Because of this, he had the appellative of Anushirvan the just.

The statue of Kasra Anushirvan the just on the judiciary palace (Tehran - Iran)

Reforms

He introduced a rational system of taxation, based upon a survey of landed possessions, which his father had begun, and tried in every way to increase the welfare and the revenues of his empire. In Babylonia he built or restored the canals. His army was in discipline decidedly superior to the Romans, and apparently was well paid. He was also interested in literature and philosophical discussions. Under his reign, chess was introduced from India, and the famous book of Kalilah and Dimnah was translated. He thus became renowned as a wise prince.

Under Chosroes I's auspices, many books were brought from India and translated into Pahlavi. Some of these later found their way into the literature of the Islamic world. His famous minister Burzoe translated Indian Panchatantra from Sanscrit into middle Persian language of Pahlavi and named it Kelileh va Demneh which later on from its Persian version it transmitted to Arabia and Europe.

Gondi Shapur university of medicine which is the first medical university of the world was established at his time. Gondi Shapur's library was also the biggest library in the world until the Arab invasion (Arab Muslims burnt all the books).

Sassanid Iran, specially in the time of Chosroes I was the world's center of business and a military and commercial superpower with sophisticated systems of banking and standard money usage. The word, cheque (check) has introduced to Europe and western languages from Persian.    

Kasra also ordered to build so many glorious palaces and Taq-e-Kasra (Kasra's Arch) in Ctesiphon (near Baghdad in modern Iraq) was one of them.

Darband castle, a Sassanid fortress in modern Russia which was built at the time of Kasra Anushirvan the just