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Bahrām Chōbin

Bahrām Chōbin

The basics
Quick Facts
Gender male
Birth (Rey, Rey County, Tehran Province, Iran)
Death (Fergana, Fergana Region, Uzbekistan)
Father: Bahram Gushnasp
The details

Bahrām Chōbīn (Middle Persian: ; Persian: بهرام چوبین‎‎), also known by his epithet Mihrevandak ("servant of Mihr (Mithra)", was a famous spahbed (senior army commander) during late sixth-century Iran. He usurped the Sasanian throne from Khosrow II, ruling for a year as Bahram VI (590-591). However, he was later defeated by Khosrow II and was forced to flee.


Bahram Chobin was son of Bahram Gushnasp, of the House of Mihran, one of the seven Parthian clans of the Sasanian Empire. Bahram Chobin had three siblings whom were named: Gordiya, Gorduya and Mardansina.


Bahram Chobin originally started his career as marzban of Rey, but in 572 he commanded a cavalry force which captured a Byzantine fortress and was promoted to army chief (spahbed) of Adurbadagan and Media. After being promoted he fought a long, indecisive campaign against the Byzantines in northern Mesopotamia.

In late 588, the massive army of the Göktürks invaded the eastern provinces of the Sasanian Empire, reaching as far as Badghis and Herat. Bahram Chobin was elected as the spahbed of Khorasan and commander-in-chief to lead 12,000 Sasanian forces against the Turks. After reaching Central Asia his army ambushed a large army of Turks and conquered Balkh. He then crossed the Amu Darya and trapped and defeated the Turks near Bukhara, killing the Göktürk Bagha Qaghan with an arrow.

After his great victory against the Turks he was sent to Caucasus to repel an invasion of nomads, possibly the Khazars. Bahram was once again victorious. Bahram Chobin was then made commander of the Sasanian forces against the Byzantines once again, and successfully defeated a Byzantine force in Georgia. However, he later suffered a minor defeat by a Byzantine army on the banks of the Aras. Hormizd IV, who was jealous of Bahram Chobin, used this defeat as an excuse to dismiss Bahram Chobin from his office, and had him humiliated.

Bahram, infuriated by Hormizd's actions, responded by rebelling, and due to his noble status and great military knowledge, was joined by his soldiers and many others. He then appointed a new governor for Khorasan, and afterwards set for Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sasanian Empire. Meanwhile, Hormizd tried to come to terms with his brothers-in-law Vistahm and Vinduyih, "who equally hated Hormozd". Hormizd shortly had Vinduyih imprisoned, while Vistahm managed to flee from the court. After a short period of time, a palace coup under the two brothers occurred in Ctesiphon, which resulted in the blinding of Hormizd and the accession of the latter's son Khosrow II (who was their nephew through his mother's side). The two brothers shortly had Hormizd killed. Nevertheless, Bahram continued his march to Ctesiphon.

Bahram Chobin fighting Sasanian loyalists near Ctesiphon.

Khosrow then took a carrot and stick attitude, and wrote the following to Bahram: "Khosrow, kings of kings, ruler over the ruling, lord of the peoples, prince of peace, salvation of men, among gods the good and eternally living man, among men the most esteemed god, the highly illustrious, the victor, the one who rises with the sun and who lends the night his eyesight, the one famed through his ancestors, the king who hates, the benefactor who engaged the Sasanians and saved the Iranians their kingship—to Bahram, the general of the Iranians, our friend.... We have also taken over the royal throne in a lawful manner and have no upset Iranian customs.... We have so firmly decided not to take off the diadem that we even expected to rule over other worlds, if this were possible.... If you wish your welfare, think about what is to be done."

Bahram, however, ignored his warning—a few days later, he reached the Nahrawan Canal near Ctesiphon, where he fought Khosrow's men, who were heavily outnumbered, but managed to hold Bahram's men back in several clashes. However, Khosrow's men eventually began losing their morale, and were in the end defeated by Bahram Chobin's forces. Khosrow, together with his two uncles, his wives, and a retinue of 30 nobles, thereafter fled to Byzantine territory, while Ctesiphon fell to Bahram Chobin.


Vinduyih was sent with a large army granted by Byzantine emperor Maurice. They went to Armenia to outflank Bahram, who was defeated in the lowlands and lost Ctesiphon. He retreated to Azerbaijan and then wrote a letter to Mushegh II Mamikonian, an Armenian spahbed who was helping Khosrow II, the letter said: "As for you Armenians who demonstrate an unseasonable loyalty, did not the house of Sasan destroy your land and sovereignty? Why otherwise did your fathers rebel and extricate themselves from their service, fighting up until today for your country?" Bahram Chobin in his letter promised that the Armenians would become partners of the new Iranian empire ruled by a Parthian dynastic family if he accepted his proposal to betray Khosrow II. Musel, however, rejected the offer.

Khosrow II's army then marched towards Azerbaijan and defeated Bahram Chobin at the Battle of Blarathon, forcing him to flee to the eastern parts of Persia. While Bahram Chobin was fleeing to the east he defeated the army of the House of Karen of Hyrcania and later arrived in Fergana where he was received honorably by the khagan of the Göktürks. Khosrow II, however, could not feel secure as long as Bahram Chobin lived, and succeeded in having him assassinated. The remainder of Bahram's troops returned to northern Iran and joined the rebellion of Vistahm which took place in 590/1–596 or 594/5–600.

The fate of his family

After Bahram's death, his sister Gordiya traveled to Khorasan, where she married Vistahm, who during that time was also rebelling against Khosrow II.

Bahram had three sons named Shapur, Mihran Bahram-i Chobin, and Noshrad. Shapur continued to oppose the Sasanians and later joined the rebellion of Vistahm. After the end of the rebellion, Shapur was executed. Mihran is mentioned in 633 as a general in the Sasanian army and fought against the Arabs during the Muslim conquest of Persia.


There are many fables attributed to Bahram VI, as is the normal for many heroes in Persian literature. The chapters in Volume VIII of Ferdowsi's 11th-century Shahnameh on the reigns of "Hormizd, Son of Khosrow I," and "Khosrow Parviz," both of which are almost as much about Bahram Chobin as about Hormizd or his son.

Following the collapse of the Sasanian Empire, the Samanid dynasty formed of descendants of Bahram Chobin, became one of the first independent Iranian dynasties.

Family tree

Bahram Gushnasp
Bahram Chobin
Mihran Bahram-i Chobin
Saman Khuda
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