Kavadh I

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Kavadh I, also spelled Kaveh and Kavad (born 449, ruled 488–531), was son of Peroz I (457–484) and the nineteenth Sassanid King of Persia from 488 to 531. He was crowned by the nobles in place of his deposed and blinded uncle Balash (484–488).


Early life and accession

The date of his birth is unclear; John Malalas claims that at his death he was 82 years old, hence born in 449, but Procopius mentions that he had barely entered puberty when his father Peroz was killed with his entire army during a campaign against the Hephthalites in 484. After this disaster, only few members of the royal line remained; according to Procopius, of the ca. 30 sons of Peroz, Kavadh was the only one to remain alive. At first, his uncle Balash assumed the throne, reigning until 488, when a coup deposed him and brought Kavadh to the throne.

Mazdaki sect

Kavadh I gave his support to the communistic sect founded by Mazdak, son of Bamdad, who demanded that the rich should divide their wives and their wealth with the poor. His intention evidently was, by adopting the doctrine of the Mazdakites, to break the influence of the magnates. But in 496 he was deposed and incarcerated in the "Castle of Oblivion (Lethe)" in Susiana, and his brother Djamasp (496–498) was raised to the throne.

Return from exile

Kavadh I, however, escaped and found refuge with the Ephthalites, whose King gave him his daughter in marriage and aided him to return to Persia. In 498 Kavadh I became King again and punished his opponents. He had to pay a tribute to the Ephthalites and applied for subsidies to Rome, which had before supported the Persians. But now the Emperor Anastasius I (491–518) refused subsidies, expecting that the two rival powers of the East would exhaust one another in war. At the same time he intervened in the affairs of the Persian part of Armenia and restored Iberia to Iran's effective control.

War and succession

Kavadh I joined the Ephthalites and began war against the Byzantine Empire. In 502 he took Theodosiopolis (Erzurum) in Armenia; in 503 Amida (Diarbekr) on the Tigris. In 505 an invasion of Armenia by the western Huns from the Caucasus led to an armistice, during which the Romans paid subsidies to the Persians for the maintenance of the fortifications on the Caucasus.

When Justin I (518–527) came to the throne in Constantinople, the conflict began anew. His Persian vassal, al-Mundhir IV ibn al-Mundhir, laid waste Mesopotamia and slaughtered the monks and nuns. In 531 Belisarius was defeated at the Battle of Callinicum. Shortly afterwards Kavadh I died, at the age of eighty-two, in September 531. During his last years his favourite son Khosrau I had had great influence over him and had been proclaimed successor over his older brothers, Kawus (Caoses) and Zames. He also induced Kavadh I to break with the Mazdakites, whose doctrine had spread widely and caused great social confusion throughout Persia.

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