The King of the Kings Varahran I

Scientific Proceedings of  Vanadzor State University Humanitarian and Social Sciences (ISSN 2738-2915)        

2023 vol 2

The King of the Kings Varahran I

         Artur Melikyan


Key words: Hormizd I, Shapur I, Nerseh, Sasanian Empire, succession to the throne, Gilan, Sakastan, Qaaba-e Zardusht, Emperor Probus


In the years of 273-274, the first Sasanian heir to the throne and the “great king of Armenia” Hormizdak, then the king of the kings Hormizd I passed away under suspicious circumstances. By analyzing the religious and political landscape of the early Sasanian Empire in 60-70s of the III century, we can be certain that their deaths and, more importantly, the chronological order, were not the result of an unfortunate coincidence, but rather of a palace revolution attempt by the Iranian nobility and Zoroastrian piety, who were dissatisfied with the Sasanian principality’s foreign and internal policies. The aforementioned forces interpreted the right of succession to the Sasanian Empire throne by using the self-created scenario of “the reign crisis” conclusively. Shapur I’s eldest son Varahran was given the throne in accordance with the “order of seniority,” circumventing Shapur I’s youngest son Nerseh, who had a clear advantage over his brother in terms of traditional principle, and breaking the “honor and hierarchy” mechanism implemented under the first three Sasanian kings. His mother’s lineage remains unclear. But the place he had in the Sasanian principality and in the political and administrative life of the Empire during the reigns of Shapur I and Hormizd I indicates that he was either a prince born of a non-prime queen or a concubine.