Hormizd IV, son of Khosrau I, reigned as the twenty-first King of Persia from 579 to 590.
He seems to have been imperious and violent, but not without some kindness of heart. Some very characteristic stories are told of him by Tabari (Theodor Nöldeke, Geschichte d. Perser und Araber unter den Sasaniden, 264 ff.). His father's sympathies had been with the nobles and the priests. Hormizd IV protected the common people and introduced a severe discipline in his army and court. When the priests demanded a persecution of the Christians, he declined on the ground that the throne and the government could only be safe if it gained the goodwill of both concurring religions. The consequence was that Hormizd IV raised a strong opposition in the ruling classes, which led to many executions and confiscations.
When Hormizd IV came to the throne in 579, he killed his brothers. From his father he had inherited a war against the Byzantine Empire and against the Turks in the east, and negotiations of peace had just begun with the Emperor Tiberius II, but Hormizd IV haughtily declined to cede anything of the conquests of his father. Therefore the accounts given of him by the Byzantine authors, Theophylact Simocatta (iii.16 ff), Menander Protector and John of Ephesus (vi.22), who give a full account of these negotiations, are far from favourable.
Determined to teach the haughty prince a lesson, the Roman General Maurice crossed the frontier and invaded Kurdistan. The next year, he even planned to penetrate into Media and Southern Mesopotamia but the Ghassanid sheikh al-Mundhir allegedly betrayed the Roman cause by informing Hormizd IV of the Roman Emperor's plans. Maurice was forced to retreat in a hurry but during the course his retreat to the Roman frontier, he drew the Persian general Adarman into an engagement and defeated him.
In 582, the Persian general Tamchosro crossed the Perso-Roman frontier and attacked Constantia but was defeated and killed. However, the deteriorating physical condition of the Roman Emperor Tiberius forced Maurice to return to Constantiople immediately. Meanwhile John Mystacon, who had replaced Maurice, attacked the Persians at the junction of the Nymphius and the Tigris but was defeated and forced to withdraw. Another defeat brought about his replacement by Philippicus.
Philippicus spent the years 584 and 585 making deep incursions into Persian territory. The Persians retaliated by attacking Monocartium and Martyropolis in 585. Philippicus defeated them at Solachon in 586 and besieged the fortress of Chlomoron. After an unsuccessful siege, Philippicus retreated and made a stand at Amida. Soon, however, he relinquished command to Heraclius in 587.
In the year 588, the Roman troops mutinied and taking advantage of this mutiny, Persian troops once again attacked Constantia but were repulsed. The Romans retaliated with an equally unsuccessful invasion of Arzanene, but defeated another Persian offensive at Martyropolis.
In 589, the Persians attacked Martyropolis and captured it after defeating Philippicus twice. Philippicus was recalled and was replaced by Comentiolus under whose command the Romans defeated the Persians at Sisauranon. The Romans now laid siege to Martyropolis but at the height of the siege news circulated in Persia about a Turkish invasion.
The Turks had occupied Balkh and Herat and were penetrating into the heart of Persia when Hormizd IV finally dispatched a contingent under the general Bahram Chobin to fight them back. Bahram marched upon Balkh and defeated the Turks killing their Khan and capturing his son.
Soon after the threat from the north was exterminated, Bahram was sent to fight the Romans on the western frontier. He was initially successful, raiding in Svaneti as well as warding off both Iberian and Roman offensives against Caucasian Albania, but was defeated by the Roman general Romanus in a subsequent battle on the river Araxes. Hormizd, jealous of the rising fame of Bahram, wished to humiliate him and sent him a complete set of women's garments to wear. Bahram responded by writing him an extremely offensive letter. Enraged, Hormizd sent Persian soldiers to arrest Bahram but they moved over to Bahram's side. Now Bahram moved to Persia with a large army to depose the haughty monarch and place himself on the throne.
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