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Name:  Khusrau I
Brief biography:  Sasanian Emperor (Shah-an-Shah) 531-579.
Nationality:  Sasanian
Occupation:  Ruler
Date of birth:  496
Place of birth:  Ardestan
Period of rule:  September 531-31 January 579
Date of death:  31 January 579
Place of death:  Ctesiphon

A younger, but favourite son of Kavad I, Khusrau had supported his father’s reforms, whilst at the same time earning himself the backing of the priesthood as a restorer of Zoroastrianism by the slaughter of the leaders of the heresy of Mazdakism. With his accession in 531, after the death of his father Kavad I, Khusrau instituted a number of significant reforms, reflecting the reign of his East Roman counterpart Justinian I. The taxation system was completely overhauled, with land surveys, poll tax and a fixed income tax. The system was so effective that it would later be adopted by the Islamic Caliphate. Military reforms during his reign saw the role of feudal lords, in raising their own armies, taken out of their hands, and four border armies, corresponding to the compass directions, were instituted. However, the leaders of these armies continued to be drawn from the nobility, and the Shahs continued to find themselves constrained politically. Khusrau’s reign also saw an expansion of building programs, with a number of roads updated, and cities and fortresses established along the border with both Rome and the Gökturks. There was also a great effort to codify the law during his reign.

Externally, Khusrau was responsible for an alliance with the Turkish nomads who had shattered Hephthalite power after 557, with the Oxus river forming the new boundary of Iran. Khusrau even felt strong enough to take Antioch from the Byzantines in 561. After much shifting of fortunes in the region, a general truce was agreed, whereby the Roman Emperor Justinian would receive territory in Georgia and guaranteed defence of the Caucasus passes, in return for annual tribute to the Sasanians. With Justinian’s closure of the Academy in Athens, and other centres of paganism, the Sasanians welcomed these people into their lands, and philosophers founded a new academy in Gondeshapur.

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