David Frendo, Byzantine-Iranian Relations before and after the Death of Khusrau II: A Critical Examination of the Evidence

The present article seeks to elucidate the respective parts played by the Persian general Shahrbarâz and the Roman emperor Heraclius in the tangled and poorly recorded course of events preceding and following the death of Khusrau II and culminating in the virtual extinction of the Sasanian dynasty.  The relatively abundant material of a legendary and fantastic nature that has come down to us concerning these events throws an interesting sidelight on the political tensions and divisions that had arisen within Iran itself, but it is unfit to serve as a basis on which to construct a coherent historical narrative.  The reconstruction offered draws upon much sketchier but historically far more reliable accounts also preserved in the extant literary tradition.  From this reconstruction certain important facts emerge: in particular, that up to the beginning of January 628 normal relations still obtained between Shahrbarâz and Khusrau and that when the decisive rupture did occur it came about in a manner that is capable of rational explanation and analysis.  A much clearer picture also emerges of the extent to which Heraclius was from the outset the conscious and deliberate architect of the destruction of the Sasanian monarchy and state.

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