Anushirwan (r. 531-579)

A 6th-century Coin

Bust of Khosrow I Anushirwan, wearing cap, crenelated crown with crescent and diadem tie below elevated globe, crescent at front, star left and right. Short beard, small ball of hair, mustache; diadem behind each shoulder, crescent on each shoulder. 1 ring, crescent symbols. Inscription in Middle Persian: “Increase, Khosrow”

On the other side: Fire altar with upturned diadem ties. Two facing attendants wearing crowns with globe, holding staff resting on the ground in front. Star left, crescent right of flames. 1 ring. 

A 7th-century Description

A 7th-century Armenian historian named Sebeos rewrote the death of Anushirwan to claim him as Christian.

He held the throne for 48 years. At the time of his death the light of the divine Word shone splendidly around him; for he believed in Christ, saying as follows: ‘I believe in one God, who created heaven and earth, whom the Christians profess to worship: Father and Son and holy Spirit. For he only is God, and there is none save him whom the Christians worship.

He commanded his servants to send the royal mobed to distant places on duty, and to remove the others form the royal residence. He summoned the archbishop, who was called Eran Catholicos, and was baptized by him. He ordered the liturgy to be celebrated in his room and the precepts of the Lord’s Gospel to be read, and he communicated in the life-giving body and blood of the Lord. Then he took leave of the Catholicos and of the Lord’s Gospel, and sent him to his own place.

Then after a few days he fell asleep in his good old age. The Christians took his body and placed it in the sepulchre of the kings. His son Ormizd reigned after him.

Source, p. 10.

A 9th-century Description

Most of our written sources about Anushirwan were written down after the rise of Islam, in Arabic. This is a passage from Ya’qubi, a Muslim historian who preserved history of Iran and the Islamic world in the 9th century. Historians debate whether he had access to a Sasanian Book of Kings, now lost.

There arose (enmity) between him and Justinian and so Anushirwan raided the lands of the Romans, killing, enslaving, and seizing many cities of northern Mesopotamia and Syria, such as Edessa, Qinnasrin, the frontier towns, Aleppo, Antioch, Apamea, Homs, and others. Antioch pleased him and he built a city like it (in his own realm), not omitting anything from it; he enslaved many in Antioch and sent them to it (his copy of Antioch) and they recognized everything there (so similar was it to their own Antioch).

Anushirwan conducted a survey of the country, imposed a land tax and on every hectare of agricultural produce he exacted (taxes) proportional to what could be borne. This remained the established practice while the land flourished. He appointed a man in charge of the military bureau whose prudence and resolution he approved of, and he had his soldiers take whatever weapons they needed. He also established a bureau of military stipends with registers of names, equipment, and distinguishing features of riding animals, and a bureau of military review according to the same format. Anushirwan was magnanimous, generous, and openly fair; nobody asked him for anything without receiving a proper answer.

Source, pp. 116-7.

A 10th-century Description

This passage is from the Denkard, which is a Zoroastrian book written in Middle Persian. The author claims to be writing during the reign of Anushirwan, but it is more likely to be a 10th-century text.

His present Majesty, Kisra [Anushirwan], the king of kings… declared: ‘We have recognized the truth of the Mazdean Religion; and the wise can with confidence establish it in the world by discussion… The realm of Iran took to the course indicated by the teachings of the Mazdean Religion, that is, a synthesis of the accumulated wisdom of our forerunners… We decree that all mobeds [clergy] should zealously and ever afresh examine the Avesta and Zand, and thereby worthily enrich the wisdom of the people of the realm with the results of their attainments… And since the root of all knowledge is the teaching of the Religion… should he who speaks wisely present [his knowledge] to men all over the world…his utterance, then, ought to be considered an exposition of the Avesta, even though he has not had it from any revelation of the Avesta.”

Source, pp. 36-7.

A 10th-century Description

This passage is from the Denkard, a Zoroastrian text written in Middle Persian in the 10th century.

Source, pp. 36-7.