Khosrov I ARŠAKUNI, King of Armenia
Trdat II ARŠAKUNI, King of Armenia
Khosrov II ARŠAKUNI, King of Western Armenia


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Khosrov II ARŠAKUNI, King of Western Armenia

  • Married:
  • Died: 287

  Orthographic variations: Khosraw / Khusrau / Chosroes / Xosrov ARSHAKUNI / ARSACID

  Research Notes:

Ardašir, a Sasanian prince from the province of Istakhr, put an end to the Parthian kingdom when he murdered the Parthian ruler Artabanus. He had united the Persian forces, and now they rejected Parthian sovereignty and chose him as their leader.

Chosroes, king of the Armenians, was greatly distressed by this news and soon took up arms to avenge Artabanus' death. He gathered Albanian and Georgian forces, and called on the Huns to invade Persian territory. Chosroes and his armies ravaged the land, destroying towns and cities, trying to overthrow the Persian kingdom and wipe out its civilization. Even though the Parthians refused to help him, having attached themselves to Ardašir, Chosroes was able to inflict devastating losses on the Persians.

Then Chosroes returned victoriously to the Armenian city of Vagharshapat to celebrate his conquests and reward his soldiers, whom he showered with gifts and sent home. He also honored his family's ancestral worship sites, with white oxen, white rams, white horses and mules, and he gave a fifth of all his plundered booty to the priests. He similarly honored the temples of the idol-worshipping cults throughout the land.

The following year, still full of his intoxicating victory, Chosroes called his armies together again, and for the next ten years they freely plundered all the far-reaching lands under Persian rule. So completely did they scatter the enemy's forces that finally the Persian king could stand it no longer. He called together all the governors, princes, generals, and nobles of his kingdom, and said to them: "If a man can be found to take vengeance against this bloody Chosroes, I will elevate him to the second rank in the kingdom. Only I will be above him, no matter how humble or honorable his origin. I will bestow gifts and rewards without measure upon him ­ if only he will avenge me!"

Among the king's council was a leading Parthian chieftain named Anak. He stood up, strode forward, and offered to carry out the king's wish. And the king said to him: "If you can manage this, Anak, I shall honor you with a crown." Anak agreed to the plan, asking only that the king look after the rest of his family during his absence.

Then he and his brother, along with their wives and children, made their way to Armenia. Anak presented himself to king Chosroes at the winter quarters in Khalkhal, saying he was emigrating to Armenia in revolt against the Persian king. Chosroes received him gladly, honored him, and passed the long winter days with him in good cheer and happiness.

But when spring came, thoughts of the Persian king's promises stirred in Anak's mind. He began to yearn for his own country of Pahlav. So he made a plan with his brother, and together they got Chosroes alone as if they wanted to speak with him. Then they raised their swords and struck the king dead.

When the Armenian princes realized what had happened, they split into groups to scour the countryside and find the killers. This they did, and cast them from a bridge into the swollen waters of the Araxes river. An then, according to the king's deathbed decree, they slaughtered the murderers' families. But two infant sons were saved by their nurses, one of whom fled with her charge to Persian and the other to Greek territory.... 1


One of the most astonishing phenomena in the career of [the Persian king] Ardashir I is the fact that he enjoyed the support of the chief Parthian clans Suren, Karin and Andegan.... The Armenian author, Moses that the great Parthian clans supported the rebellion of Ardashir: "After Artashir, son of Sāsān, had killed Artavan and gained the throne, two branches of the Pahlav family called Aspahapet and Suren Pahlav were jealous that their own kinsman Artashes should rule, and willingly accepted the rule of Artashir, son of Sāsān." Moses also writes that the House of Karin Pahlav stood in opposition to "Artashir" (Ardashir), but this claim must have referred to one of the subsidiary branches of the clan, since we know that members of the clan called Peroz Karin and Gog Karin held prominent offices at Ardashir's court....

According to Moses Khorenatsi the Armenian king Khosrov was saddened because his relatives had submitted to Ardashir. Khosrov sent messengers asking his Parthian relatives "in the land of the Kushans", i.e. in eastern Iran, to come to his aid against the Persians. But the Suren and Aspahapet clans did not agree... Khosrov was informed that his "kinsmen Vehsachan with his branch of the Karen (Karin) Pahlav had not given obeisance to Artashir."... Ardashir is said to have slaughtered all the branch of the Karen Pahlav. One child was rescued — the ancestor of the Armenian family Kamsarakan. The Parthian clans, especially the Suren, had lent their support to Ardashir in return for far-reaching concessions. Moses Khorenatsi maintains that Ardashir promised to return to the Pahlavs [Parthians] "their original homeland called Pahlav, the royal city Bahl, and all the country of the Kushans. Similarly he promised the form and splendour of royalty, half of [the empire of] the Aryans, and second place under his own authority. Attracted by this, Anak, who was from the Suren Pahlav line, undertook to kill Khosrov."

The accounts of Moses and Agathangelos show that Ardashir I won over the great clans of Parthia to his side. In the struggles against the younger Arsacids the Suren represented to some extent the Indo-Parthian realm. On the whole we may speak of a coalition comprising Ardashir, the Suren and part of the Karin, along with the later Gondopharids, against the western Arsacids.... Khosrov's assassination by Anak, a Suren clansman, shows how committed the clan's support was... 2


The turmoil accompanying the rise and consolidation of the Sasanians reportedly provided the Caucasian kingdoms some breathing space and allowed them to seize the offensive. At the time, the three monarchies were ruled by acculturated/acculturising Parthian families. According to The Life of the Kings, the Armenian Arsacid Xosrov II... attacked the forces of the Sasanian "Xusrō"... who chronology dictates must be Bahrām II (r. 274-293). The K'art'velian Arsacid Asp'agur assisted the Armenians by securing reinforcements from northern Caucasia and Bahrām was put to flight. Xosrov's campaign against the Sasanian newcomers is also conveyed in the witness of Agat'angelos. It emphasises Xosrov's quest for vengeance, k'inut'iwn..., after the ejection of his Parthian relatives. His anger was interminable:

[Xosrov] attempted to eradicate, destroy completely, extirpate and overthrow the Persian dominion [tērut'iwn Parsic'] and aimed at abolishing its institutions.

The desperate šāhan šāh put his trust in the Armenian prince Anak, Xosrov's relative and a descendant of the Parthian Sūrēns,* who promised to win recompense for the Sasanians. During a royal hunt, Anak and his brother murdered Xosrov. In the ensuing chaos, Anak's two sons and his brother were taken away and sheltered by their foster fathers....

* Anak is described as a "leading nahapet of the Parthian dominion [Part' ewac' tērut' eann]. 3

  Marriage Information:

Khosrov married . . . . . . .


1, Articles on ancient history, Agathangelos, History 1, Book 1.

2 The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires: adaptation and expansion, Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Michael Alram, Touraj Daryaee, Elizabeth Pendleton, 2016.

3 The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature, Dr Stephen H Rapp Jr, 2014, pp. 242-3.

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