Battle of Nineveh (627)

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The Battle of Nineveh was the climactic battle of the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602–628. The Byzantine victory broke the power of the Sassanid dynasty and for a period of time restored the empire to its ancient boundaries in the Middle East. This resurgence of power and prestige was not to last, however, as within a matter of decades an Islamic Caliphate emerged from the Arabian desert and once again brought the empire to the brink of destruction.

Contents

Prelude

When Emperor Maurice was murdered by the usurper Phocas, Khosrau II declared war, ostensibly to avenge his benefactor's death. While the Persians proved largely successful during the first stages of the war, conquering much of the Levant, Egypt, and even parts of Anatolia, the ascendancy of Heraclius eventually led to the Persians' demise. Heraclius' campaigns altered the balance, forcing the Persians on the defensive and allowing for the Byzantines to regain momentum. Allied with the Avars, the Persians attempted to take Constantinople, but were defeated there.

While the Siege of Constantinople was taking place, Heraclius allied with what Byzantine sources called the Khazars under Ziebel, who are identified with the Western Turkic Khaganate of the Göktürks led by Tong Yabghu.[3] plying him with wondrous gifts and a promise of the reward of the porphyrogenita Eudoxia Epiphania. The Caucasus-based Turks responded by sending 40,000 of their men to ravage the Persian empire in 626 to start the Third Perso-Turkic War.[4] Joint Byzantine and Göktürks operations were focused on besieging Tiflis[5]

Invasion of Mesopotamia

In mid-September 627, leaving Ziebel to continue the siege of Tiflis, Heraclius invaded the Persian heartland, this time with between 25,000 and 50,000 troops and 40,000 Göktürks. The Göktürks, however, quickly deserted him because of the strange winter conditions.[1] Heraclius was tailed by Rhahzadh's army of 12,000[2], but managed to evade Rhahzadh and invaded the heartland of Persia, in Iraq.[1] Heraclius acquired resources from the countryside, which meant the following Rhahzadh had trouble acquiring provisions. This resulted in harm to Rhahzadh's animals.[6][7]

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