Khosrau I, Sasanian King AD 531-579

Sunrise # 970, Gobl Type II/2, Extremely Fine

Mint: KR (Kirman or Kirmanshah).


Khosrau I (also written as Khosrow, Chosroe, Xusro, Husrav and Kisra) is one of the most revered kings of Persia and the Sasanid dynasty. He has the tilte “Anooshak Ravan (Anushiruwan)” meaning “immortal soul”. In addition, he was given the title “the Just” for his legal and financial reforms. His father Kavad I put him in charge of crushing the Mazdakite movement in which he was highly successful. His adherence to the Zorastrian religion put him in a favorable position with both the priesthood and the nobility. His financial reform, which started at the time of his father, based on a proper and accurate survey of agricultural lands, came to completion and created fair conditions for subjects. The reform was also instrumental in establishing better ways to collect taxes. He also was responsible for military reforms by dividing the empire in to 4 divisions, each responsible for its own defense. The military generals responsible for each division were given the title of “Ispahbod” meaning the “leader of the army”. Although an excellent reform in terms of logistics, it concentrated a great deal of power in the hands of these generals who at times began to challenge the crown, posing an existential threat to the monarchy. Khosrau was highly successful in war with Byzantine Empire. The emperor Justinian and his general Belisarius were engaged in large military operations against Khosrau in Persarmenia, Cacausia, Golchis and the eastern Black Sea as well as in Syria. The war over silk, one of the most sought-after commodities of the time, heated up as the Byzantines began an effort to end the Persian silk monopoly. Khosrau captured Yemen which became his base for monitoring the passage of the Byzantine ships into the red sea carrying silk from China. In the same theater of war, Khosrau crushed the Byzantine forces near Antioch (modern Antakiyeh at the border of Turkey and Syria) and captured Antioch itself, which had largest silk processing workshops. He ordered his engineers to survey the city and built a duplicate near the capital of Ctesiphon calling it Vah Andiyok Khosrau (“better Antioch built by Khosrau”). He then moved the population of merchants and silk workers to the new Antioch and directed all the commerce from old Antioch to the new. The foreign merchants who knew the old Antioch, were able to easily navigate the new Antioch, thus continuing their commercial ventures with ease. There is a story by the Persian poet Jami about the new city of Antioch that Khosrau built. The story says that when an old merchant was asked to compare the new city with the old, he said all is the same except the trees are young and not as old as the old city. Eventually Khosrau signed a major and lasting peace treaty with Justinian ending the hostilities between the two empires. Another major military achievement of Khosrau I was his full victory against the Hephtalites who had menaced the Sasanian realm for nearly a century. Khosrau’s alliance with the Turkic Khanate of Central Asia resulted in the complete defeat of the Hephthalites. Khosrau’s successes brought the Sasanian Persian Empire to its second Zenith after Shapur II “he Great”. Khosrau ruled for 48 years. He has been credited with introducing the game of chess to the world. The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi records a game of chess between Khosrau and his grand vizir Bozorgmehr.