David Frendo, Religious Minorities and Religious Dissent in the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires (590–641): Sources for the Historical Background



The present paper is concerned principally with the period which runs from the Usurpation of Bahram Chobin to the Death of Heraclius, at which point it becomes apparent, at least in retrospect, that the momentum behind the further eastward and westward extension of the Early Islamic conquests had, to a large extent, become unstoppable. Within this time-frame, discussion centres on the position of Jews in the Byzantine Empire, where, with the sole and limited exception of Judaism, all minority faiths were officially proscribed, and on that of both Christians and Jews in the relatively pluralistic and generally less intolerant Empire of Sasanian Iran. Apart from a fresh examination of some of the more important source material, an attempt is made to determine and assess, at certain key points in the historical narrative, the effect on those whose lot it was to live through such times of the interplay of age-old beliefs, prejudices, and antagonisms against a backdrop of rapidly unfolding, unpredictable and often catastrophic events.