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Vistahm or Bistam (also transliterated Wistaxm, Middle Persian:𐭥𐭮𐭲𐭧𐭬 wsthm), was a Parthian dynast of the Ispahbudhan house, and maternal uncle of the Sasanian king of kings of Iran, Khosrow II (r. 590–628). Vistahm helped Khosrow regain his throne after the rebellion of another Parthian noble Bahram Chobin, of House of Mihran, but later led a revolt himself, and ruled independently over a region which encompassed the entire Iranian East until he was defeated by Khosrow and his allies.

Vistahm
Coin of Vistahm, minted at Ray in 595/6.
Rival King of Kings of Iran and Aniran
Reign590/1–596 or 594/5–600
PredecessorKhosrow II
SuccessorKhosrow II
Died596 or 600
SpouseGordiya
HouseIspahbudhan
FatherShapur
ReligionZoroastrianism

Contents

Vistahm and his brother Vinduyih were sons of Shapur and grandsons of Bawi. They belonged to the Ispahbudhan, one of the seven Parthian clans that formed the elite aristocracy of the Sasanian Empire. The Ispahbudhan in particular enjoyed such a high status that they were acknowledged as "kin and partners of the Sasanians". The family also held the important position of spahbed of the West, i.e. the Sasanian Empire's southwestern regions (the Sawad). A sister of Vistahm had even married the Sasanian shah Hormizd IV (r. 579–590), and was the mother of Hormizd's heir, Khosrow II.

Nevertheless, the family suffered, along with the other aristocratic clans, during the persecutions launched by Hormizd IV in his later years: Shapur was murdered, and Vistahm succeeded his father as spahbed of the West. Finally, Hormizd's persecutions led to the revolt of the general Bahram Chobin in 590. Bahram, whose revolt quickly attracted widespread support, marched on the capital, Ctesiphon. There Hormizd tried to sideline the two Ispahbudhan, but was dissuaded, according to Sebeos, by his son, Khosrow II. Vinduyih was imprisoned, but Vistahm apparently fled the court; soon after, however, the two brothers appear as the leaders of a palace coup that deposed, blinded and killed Hormizd, raising his son Khosrow to the throne. Unable to oppose Bahram's march on Ctesiphon, however, Khosrow and the two brothers fled to Azerbaijan. Vistahm remained behind to rally troops, while Vinduyih escorted Khosrow to seek aid from the East Romans. On their way, they were overtaken by Bahram's troops, but Vinduyih, pretending to his nephew, allowed himself to be captured to ensure Khosrow's escape. In early 591 Khosrow returned with military aid from the East Romans, and was joined by 12,000 Armenian cavalry and 8,000 troops from Azerbaijan raised by Vistahm. In the Battle of Blarathon, Bahram's army suffered a crushing defeat, and Khosrow II reclaimed Ctesiphon and his throne.

The modern historian Stephen H. Rapp notes that Vistahm is possibly identical to the Ustam mentioned in the Georgian sources, the Sasanian commandant (c‛ixist‛avi in Georgian) of Mtskheta in Sasanian Iberia. Rapp adds that if the two indeed happen to be the same person, it shows that the marzban and c‛ixist‛avi of Iberia were Sasanian agents representing different and rival Parthian houses. This, in turn, may have been a manoeuvre devised on purpose by the Sasanian rulers to "exploit intra-Parthian tensions so as to thwart the possibility of a united front in Caucasia against the empire".

Coin of Khosrow II.

After his victory, Khosrow rewarded his uncles with high positions: Vinduyih became treasurer and first minister and Vistahm received the post of spahbed of the East, encompassing Tabaristan and Khorasan, which according to Sebeos was also the traditional homeland of the Ispahbudhan. Soon, however, Khosrow changed his intentions: trying to disassociate himself from his father's murder, the shah decided to execute his uncles. The Sasanian monarchs' traditional mistrust of over-powerful magnates and Khosrow's personal resentment of Vinduyih's patronising manner certainly contributed to this decision. Vinduyih was soon put to death, according to a Syriac source captured while trying to flee to his brother in the East.

At the news of his brother's murder, Vistahm rose in open revolt. According to Dinawari, Vistahm sent a letter to Khosrow announcing his claim to the throne through his Parthian (Arsacid) heritage: "You are not worthier to rule than I am. Indeed, I am more deserving on account of my descent from Darius, son of Darius, who fought Alexander. You Sasanians deceitfully gained superiority over us [the Arsacids] and usurped our right, and treated us with injustice. Your ancestor Sasan was no more than a shepherd." Vistahm's revolt, like Bahrams's shortly before, found support and spread quickly. Local magnates as well as the remnants of Bahram Chobin's armies flocked to him, especially after he married Bahram's sister Gordiya. Vistahm repelled several loyalist efforts to subdue him, and he soon held sway in the entire eastern and northern quadrants of the Iranian realm, a domain stretching from the Oxus river to the region of Ardabil in the west. He even campaigned in the east, where he subdued two Hephthalite princes of Transoxiana, Shaug and Pariowk. The date of Vistahm's uprising is uncertain. From his coinage, it is known that his rebellion lasted for seven years. The commonly accepted dates are ca. 590–596, but some scholars like J.D. Howard–Johnston and P. Pourshariati push its outbreak later, in 594/5, to coincide with the Armenian Vahewuni rebellion.

As Vistahm began to threaten Media, Khosrow sent several armies against his uncle, but failed to achieve a decisive result: Vistahm and his followers retreated to the mountainous region of Gilan, while several Armenian contingents of the royal army rebelled and defected to Vistahm. Finally, Khosrow called upon the services of the Armenian Smbat Bagratuni, who engaged Vistahm near Qumis. During the battle, Vistahm was murdered by Pariowk at Khosrow's urging (or, according to an alternative account, by his wife Gordiya). Nevertheless, Vistahm's troops managed to repel the royal army at Qumis, and it required another expedition by Smbat in the next year to finally end the rebellion.

Despite Vistahm's rebellion and death, the power of the Ispahbudhan family was too great to be broken. Indeed, one of Vinduyih's sons was instrumental in the trial of Khosrow II after his deposition in 628, and two of the sons of Vistahm, Vinduyih and Tiruyih, along with their cousin Narsi, were commanders in the Iranian army that confronted the Muslim Arabs in 634.

The town of Bastam in Iran as well as the monumental site of Taq-e Bostan may have been named after Vistahm.

Legend
Orange
King of Kings
Yellow
King
Bawi
Shapur
VinduyihVistahm
Farrukh HormizdTiruyihVinduyih
Rostam FarrokhzadFarrukhzad
ShahramSurkhab IIsfandyadhBahramFarrukhan
  1. Gyselen, Rika (2001). "Lorsque l'archéologie rencontre la tradition littéraire. Les titres des chefs d'armée de l'Iran sassanide". Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. 145 (1): 447–459. doi:10.3406/crai.2001.16274.
  2. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 106–108.
  3. Shapur Shahbazi 1989, pp. 180–182.
  4. Pourshariati 2008, p. 122.
  5. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 127–128, 131–132.
  6. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 127–128.
  7. Martindale, Jones & Morris 1992, p. 232.
  8. Rapp, Stephen H., Jr (2014). The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature. Routledge. pp. 53, 79. ISBN 978-1472425522.
  9. Rapp, Stephen H., Jr (2014). The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature. Routledge. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-1472425522.
  10. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 131–132.
  11. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 132–134.
  12. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 132–133, 135.
  13. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 133–134.
  14. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 136–137.
  15. Pourshariati 2008, pp. 163, 189, 212.
Vistahm
Ispahbudhan
Preceded by King of Kings of Iran and non-Iran
590/1–596 or 594/5–600
Succeeded by

Vistahm Article Talk Language Watch Edit Vistahm or Bistam also transliterated Wistaxm Middle Persian 𐭥𐭮𐭲𐭧𐭬 wsthm 1 was a Parthian dynast of the Ispahbudhan house and maternal uncle of the Sasanian king of kings of Iran Khosrow II r 590 628 Vistahm helped Khosrow regain his throne after the rebellion of another Parthian noble Bahram Chobin of House of Mihran but later led a revolt himself and ruled independently over a region which encompassed the entire Iranian East until he was defeated by Khosrow and his allies VistahmCoin of Vistahm minted at Ray in 595 6 Rival King of Kings of Iran and AniranReign590 1 596 or 594 5 600PredecessorKhosrow IISuccessorKhosrow IIDied596 or 600SpouseGordiyaHouseIspahbudhanFatherShapurReligionZoroastrianism Contents 1 Early life 2 Later life and rebellion 3 Legacy 4 Family tree 5 References 6 SourcesEarly life EditVistahm and his brother Vinduyih were sons of Shapur and grandsons of Bawi They belonged to the Ispahbudhan one of the seven Parthian clans that formed the elite aristocracy of the Sasanian Empire The Ispahbudhan in particular enjoyed such a high status that they were acknowledged as kin and partners of the Sasanians The family also held the important position of spahbed of the West i e the Sasanian Empire s southwestern regions the Sawad A sister of Vistahm had even married the Sasanian shah Hormizd IV r 579 590 and was the mother of Hormizd s heir Khosrow II 2 3 Nevertheless the family suffered along with the other aristocratic clans during the persecutions launched by Hormizd IV in his later years Shapur was murdered and Vistahm succeeded his father as spahbed of the West Finally Hormizd s persecutions led to the revolt of the general Bahram Chobin in 590 Bahram whose revolt quickly attracted widespread support marched on the capital Ctesiphon 3 4 There Hormizd tried to sideline the two Ispahbudhan but was dissuaded according to Sebeos by his son Khosrow II Vinduyih was imprisoned but Vistahm apparently fled the court soon after however the two brothers appear as the leaders of a palace coup that deposed blinded and killed Hormizd raising his son Khosrow to the throne 3 5 Unable to oppose Bahram s march on Ctesiphon however Khosrow and the two brothers fled to Azerbaijan Vistahm remained behind to rally troops while Vinduyih escorted Khosrow to seek aid from the East Romans On their way they were overtaken by Bahram s troops but Vinduyih pretending to his nephew allowed himself to be captured to ensure Khosrow s escape In early 591 Khosrow returned with military aid from the East Romans and was joined by 12 000 Armenian cavalry and 8 000 troops from Azerbaijan raised by Vistahm In the Battle of Blarathon Bahram s army suffered a crushing defeat and Khosrow II reclaimed Ctesiphon and his throne 3 6 7 The modern historian Stephen H Rapp notes that Vistahm is possibly identical to the Ustam mentioned in the Georgian sources the Sasanian commandant c ixist avi in Georgian of Mtskheta in Sasanian Iberia 8 Rapp adds that if the two indeed happen to be the same person it shows that the marzban and c ixist avi of Iberia were Sasanian agents representing different and rival Parthian houses This in turn may have been a manoeuvre devised on purpose by the Sasanian rulers to exploit intra Parthian tensions so as to thwart the possibility of a united front in Caucasia against the empire 9 Later life and rebellion Edit Coin of Khosrow II After his victory Khosrow rewarded his uncles with high positions Vinduyih became treasurer and first minister and Vistahm received the post of spahbed of the East encompassing Tabaristan and Khorasan which according to Sebeos was also the traditional homeland of the Ispahbudhan 3 10 Soon however Khosrow changed his intentions trying to disassociate himself from his father s murder the shah decided to execute his uncles The Sasanian monarchs traditional mistrust of over powerful magnates and Khosrow s personal resentment of Vinduyih s patronising manner certainly contributed to this decision Vinduyih was soon put to death according to a Syriac source captured while trying to flee to his brother in the East 3 11 At the news of his brother s murder Vistahm rose in open revolt According to Dinawari Vistahm sent a letter to Khosrow announcing his claim to the throne through his Parthian Arsacid heritage You are not worthier to rule than I am Indeed I am more deserving on account of my descent from Darius son of Darius who fought Alexander You Sasanians deceitfully gained superiority over us the Arsacids and usurped our right and treated us with injustice Your ancestor Sasan was no more than a shepherd Vistahm s revolt like Bahrams s shortly before found support and spread quickly Local magnates as well as the remnants of Bahram Chobin s armies flocked to him especially after he married Bahram s sister Gordiya Vistahm repelled several loyalist efforts to subdue him and he soon held sway in the entire eastern and northern quadrants of the Iranian realm a domain stretching from the Oxus river to the region of Ardabil in the west He even campaigned in the east where he subdued two Hephthalite princes of Transoxiana Shaug and Pariowk 3 12 The date of Vistahm s uprising is uncertain From his coinage it is known that his rebellion lasted for seven years The commonly accepted dates are ca 590 596 but some scholars like J D Howard Johnston and P Pourshariati push its outbreak later in 594 5 to coincide with the Armenian Vahewuni rebellion 13 As Vistahm began to threaten Media Khosrow sent several armies against his uncle but failed to achieve a decisive result Vistahm and his followers retreated to the mountainous region of Gilan while several Armenian contingents of the royal army rebelled and defected to Vistahm Finally Khosrow called upon the services of the Armenian Smbat Bagratuni who engaged Vistahm near Qumis During the battle Vistahm was murdered by Pariowk at Khosrow s urging or according to an alternative account by his wife Gordiya Nevertheless Vistahm s troops managed to repel the royal army at Qumis and it required another expedition by Smbat in the next year to finally end the rebellion 3 14 Legacy EditDespite Vistahm s rebellion and death the power of the Ispahbudhan family was too great to be broken Indeed one of Vinduyih s sons was instrumental in the trial of Khosrow II after his deposition in 628 and two of the sons of Vistahm Vinduyih and Tiruyih along with their cousin Narsi were commanders in the Iranian army that confronted the Muslim Arabs in 634 3 15 The town of Bastam in Iran as well as the monumental site of Taq e Bostan may have been named after Vistahm 3 Family tree EditLegend Orange King of Kings Yellow KingBawiShapurVinduyihVistahmFarrukh HormizdTiruyihVinduyihRostam FarrokhzadFarrukhzadShahramSurkhab IIsfandyadhBahramFarrukhanReferences Edit Gyselen Rika 2001 Lorsque l archeologie rencontre la tradition litteraire Les titres des chefs d armee de l Iran sassanide Comptes rendus des seances de l Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres 145 1 447 459 doi 10 3406 crai 2001 16274 Pourshariati 2008 pp 106 108 a b c d e f g h i j Shapur Shahbazi 1989 pp 180 182 Pourshariati 2008 p 122 Pourshariati 2008 pp 127 128 131 132 Pourshariati 2008 pp 127 128 Martindale Jones amp Morris 1992 p 232 Rapp Stephen H Jr 2014 The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature Routledge pp 53 79 ISBN 978 1472425522 Rapp Stephen H Jr 2014 The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature Routledge pp 53 54 ISBN 978 1472425522 Pourshariati 2008 pp 131 132 Pourshariati 2008 pp 132 134 Pourshariati 2008 pp 132 133 135 Pourshariati 2008 pp 133 134 Pourshariati 2008 pp 136 137 Pourshariati 2008 pp 163 189 212 Sources EditHoward Johnston James 2010 ḴOSROW II Encyclopaedia Iranica Online Edition Retrieved 9 November 2013 Martindale John Robert Jones Arnold Hugh Martin Morris J eds 1992 The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire Volume III A D 527 641 Cambridge Cambridge University Press ISBN 978 0 521 20160 5 Pourshariati Parvaneh 2008 Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire The Sasanian Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran London and New York I B Tauris ISBN 978 1 84511 645 3 Shapur Shahbazi A 1989 BESṬAM O BENDŌY Encyclopaedia Iranica Vol IV Fasc 2 pp 180 182 Retrieved 13 August 2013 VistahmIspahbudhanPreceded byKhosrow II King of Kings of Iran and non Iran 590 1 596 or 594 5 600 Succeeded byKhosrow II Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Vistahm amp oldid 1091138046, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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