Sassanian succession struggles : an analysis of the legitimisation practices of early seventh eentury Sassanian rulers in comparison with their predecessors

Vollgraaff, Carel Stephanus (2015-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: From 628 CE to 632 CE, in the late Sassanian period, there were possibly eleven royal successors to the Sassanian throne. This indicates instability and that the Sassanian dynasty was politically weakened. A succession crisis had developed. This study presents an attempt to understand one aspect of the political milieu of the succession crisis period, namely the legitimisation practices of the late Sassanian rulers. Therefore, the tools that were used for legitimisation by the Sassanian monarchs from the succession crisis period, and how they were used, are investigated. To better understand how the legitimisation tools available to Sassanian monarchs developed the political techniques used by the succession crisis monarchs will be compared with the early Sassanian monarchs of 224 CE to 302 CE (Ardashir 1, Shapur I, Hormizd I, Wahram I, Wahram II, Wahram III and Narseh). The comparison contributes to an improved understanding of the 7th century Sassanian succession struggles by tracking the changes in the techniques and practices Sassanian rulers utilised in the Empire to legitimise their rule. Such changes are rooted in the wider politico-historical contexts within which the Sassanian monarchs excercised their authority. The study will open with an investigation of the major political events of the 7th century CE that had an effect on the succession struggles and political events in the Sassanian Empire. One of the primary sources that are used is The History of Prophets and Kings by the 10th century CE Arabic historian Jarir al-Tabari. Physical evidence of the Sassanian monarchs like coinage, rock reliefs and silver bowls will also be used as primary sources and analysed to better understand the propaganda used by the Sassanian monarchs. The material propaganda techniques used by Sassanian monarchs from the early period and late period changed. The reasons behind the changes are highlighted and these reasons are furthermore explained. The study concludes that the Sassanian monarchs from the succession crisis period had a shrinking pool of legitimisation resources and that they had to legitimise their rule in a short period of time in view of internal opposition. As a result, the Sassanian monarchs from the period focused on legitimisation techniques that were not a drain on resources and could quickly influence the perception of people. The political legitimisation of the last Sassanian monarchs ultimately failed though as the Sassanian dynasty only continued to reign for another 23 years after 628 CE. The failure of the legitimisation of the Sassanian dynasty could be largely attributed to the internal opposition and the damaging war against the Byzantine Empire.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die tydperk tussen 628 tot 632 n.C was daar na bewering elf troonopvolgers in die Sassaniede Ryk. Dit illustreer die politieke onstabiliteit in die Sassaniede Ryk op daardie tydstip, n troonopvolgingskrisis het ontwikkel. In die studie word n poging van stapel gestuur om een aspek van die politieke milieu van die tydperk te verstaan, die legitimasiepraktyke van die laat Sassaniede heersers. Die hulpbronne tot die beskikking van die Sassaniede konings wat ingespan is om hulle regerings populariteit te gee word daarom ondersoek. Om die ontwikkeling van die legitimeringspraktyke beter te verstaan word die praktyke van die troonopvolgingskrisis konings vergelyk met die tegnieke van die vroeë Sassaniede konings van die tydperk 224 n.C. tot 302 n.C. (Ardashir I, Shapur I, Hormizd I, Wahram I, Wahram II, Wahram III and Narseh). Die vergelyking dien as n beginpunt om die Sassanied troonopvolgingskrisis beter te verstaan en om die veranderings van die legitimeringspraktyke te identifiseer. Sulke veranderings is gegrond in die wyer politieshistoriese konteks waarin die Sassanied konings hul mag uitgeoefen het. Die studie ondersoek eerstens die belangrike politieke gebeure van die 7de eeu n.C. wat n effek op die troonopvolgingskrisis en politieke aspekte van die Sassaniede Ryk gehad het. Een van die primêre bronne waarvan die studie gebruik maak, is The History of Prophets and Kings van die 10de eeuse n.C. Arabiese geskiedkundige Jarir al-Tabari. Ander primêre bronne wat gebruik word, sluit in muntstukke, rotsreliëfs en silwer bakke wat analiseer word om beter te verstaan hoe die produkte gebruik is as propaganda. Die legitimeringspraktyke en propaganda het n verandering ondergaan van die vroeë typerk tot die laat tydperk. Die redes vir die verandering word identifiseer en ‘n verduideliking vir die redes word aangebied. Die studie maak die gevolgtrekking dat die Sassaniede konings van die troonopvolgingskrisis tydperk minder hulpbronne tot hul beskikking gehad het en dat hulle hul blitsig moes regverdig vanweë interne teenkanting. As gevolg van hierdie faktore het die Sassaniede konings propaganda verkies wat nie te veel van hul hulpbronne gebruik het nie en ook mense baie vininig beïnvloed het. Die politieke programme van die laat Sassaniede het uiteindelik misluk. Die Sassanidiese dinastie het net vir nog 23 jaar na 628 n.C. geheers. Die uiteindelike mislukking van die politieke regverdigings programme van die laat Sassaniede kan grootliks verbind word aan die sterk interne teenstand en die effek wat die oorlog teen die Bisantynse Ryk gehad het.

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