The Kings of Persis are a series of Persian kings, who ruled the region of Persis in southwestern Iran, from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE (c. 230 BCE – c. 210 CE). They ruled as sub-kings of the Parthian Empire, until they toppled the Parthians and established the Sassanid Empire.They effectively form some Persian dynastic continuity between the Achaemenid Empire (6th century BCE-4th century BCE) and the Sasanian Empire (3rd century CE-7th century CE).
Persis, better known as Persia, or "Persia proper", was originally a name of a region near the Zagros mountains at Lake Urmia. The country name Persia was derived directly from the Old Persian Parsa. Over time, the area of settlement shifted to the southwest of modern Iran.
Iran, also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.
The Parthian Empire, also known as the Arsacid Empire, was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran. Its latter name comes from Arsaces I of Parthia who, as leader of the Parni tribe, founded it in the mid-3rd century BC when he conquered the region of Parthia in Iran's northeast, then a satrapy (province) under Andragoras, in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire. Mithridates I of Parthia (r. c. 171–138 BC) greatly expanded the empire by seizing Media and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. At its height, the Parthian Empire stretched from the northern reaches of the Euphrates, in what is now central-eastern Turkey, to eastern Iran. The empire, located on the Silk Road trade route between the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han Empire of China, became a center of trade and commerce.
From the end of the 3rd century to the beginning of the 2nd century BCE onwards, Persian dynasts are known to have ruled Persis as local governor for the Seleucid Empire, with the title frataraka (Persian: "Governor").They issued their own coinage.
The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty, which existed from 312 BC to 63 BC; Seleucus I Nicator founded it following the division of the Macedonian Empire vastly expanded by Alexander the Great. Seleucus received Babylonia, and from there, expanded his dominions to include much of Alexander's near-eastern territories. At the height of its power, the Empire included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and what is now Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
Frataraka is an ancient Persian title, interpreted variously as “leader, governor, forerunner”. It is an epithet or title of a series of rulers in Persis from 3rd to mid 2nd century BC at the time of the Seleucid Empire, prior to the Parthian conquest of West Asia and Iran. Studies of frataraka coins are important to historians of this period.
They seem to have become independent a short time before the establishment of the Parthian Empire, as for a time ca. 140 BCE, the rulers named Wādfradād II and an "Unknown King I" did not use the word "Frataraka" on their coinage, neither did they use the word mlk for "King" that would become prevalent later.
The Parthian Empire then took control of Persis under Arsacid king Mithridates I (ca. 171-138 BC), but visibly allowed local rulers to remain, and permitted the emission of coinage bearing the title of Mlk ("King").From then on, the coinage of the Kings of Persis would become quite Parthian in character and style.
Mithridates or Mithradates I, was king of the Parthian Empire from 171 BC to 132 BC, succeeding his brother Phraates I. His father was King Phriapatius of Parthia, who died ca. 176 BC. Mithridates I made Parthia into a major political power by expanding the empire to the east, south, and west. During his reign the Parthians took Herat, Babylonia, Media and Persia. Because of his many conquests and religious tolerance, he has been compared to other Iranian kings such Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire.
Under the Parthians, these dynasts were called kings and their title appeared on their coins: for example “dʾryw MLKʾ BRH wtprdt MLKʾ” (Dārāyān the King, son of Wādfradād the King).The Arsacid incluence is very clear in the coinage, and Strabo also reports (15. 3.3) that during the time of Augustus (27 BCE–14 CE), the kings of the Persians were as subservient to the Parthians as they had been earlier to the Macedonians:
Strabo was a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.
"But afterwards different princes occupied different palaces; some, as was natural, less sumptuous, after the power of Persis had been reduced first by the Macedonians, and secondly still more by the Parthians. For although the Persians have still a kingly government, and a king of their own, yet their power is very much diminished, and they are subject to the king of Parthia."— Strabo, 15.3.
With the reign of Šābuhr, the son of Pāpag, the kingdom of Persis started the process of becoming the Sasanian Empire.
Šābuhr's brother and successor, Ardaxšir (Artaxerxes) V, defeated the last legitimate Parthian king, Artabanos V in 224 CE, and was crowned at Ctesiphon as Ardaxšir I (Ardashir I), šāhanšāh ī Ērān, becoming the first king of the new Sasanian Empire.
The Sasanid dynasty would rule down to 7th century CE until the Muslim conquest of Persia.
The list of the King of Persis is mainly known though the coin sequence, and only a few kings are mentioned in ancient literary sources.
The Fratarakas appear to have been Governor of the Seleucid Empire.
|1||Bagadates/ Baydād (bgdt)||3rd century BCE||Fratarakā dynasty - son of Baykard||Governor of the Seleucid Empire. Coin legend bgdt prtrk’ zy ’lhy’ (“Baydād, fratarakā of the gods”) in Aramaic.|
|2||Ardaxšīr I (rtḥštry)||mid-3nd century BCE||Fratarakā dynasty||Governor of the Seleucid Empire|
|3||Vahbarz (whwbrz - called Oborzos in Polyenus 7.40)||mid-3nd century BCE||Fratarakā dynasty||Governor of the Seleucid Empire|
|4||Vādfradād I (wtprdt)||3nd century BCE||Fratarakā dynasty - son of Vahbarz||Governor of the Seleucid Empire|
|5||Vadfradad II||c. 140 BCE||Fratarakā dynasty||Governor of the Seleucid Empire. Transition period. Eagle emblem on top of stylized kyrbasia. Aramaic coin legend wtprdt [p]rtrk’ zy ’ly’ (“Vādfradād, frataraka of the gods”).|
|6||‘Unknown king I’ (Syknlt?)||2nd half of 2nd century BCE||?||Transition period. No inscription on coinage.|
|7||Darev I||2nd century BCE (end)||?||Darev I and his successors were sub-kings of the Parthian Empire. Crescent emblem on top of stylized kyrbasia. Aramaic coin legend d’ryw mlk (𐡃𐡀𐡓𐡉𐡅 𐡌𐡋𐡊, "King Darius").|
|8||Vadfradad III||1st century BCE (1st half)||?||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire. Coin legend wtprdt mlk (𐡅𐡕𐡐𐡓𐡃𐡕 𐡌𐡋𐡊, "King Vadfradad") in Aramaic script.|
|9||Darev II||1st century BCE||son of Vadfradad III||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire. Aramaic coin legend d’ryw mlk brh wtprdt mlk’ ("King Darius, son of King Vadfradad").|
|10||Ardashir II||1st century BCE (2nd half)||son of Darev II||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire. Killed by his brother Vahshir I|
|11||Vahšīr/ Vahshir I (Oxathres)||1st century BCE (2nd half)||son of Darev II||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|12||Pakor I||1st century CE (1st half)||son of Vahshir I||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|13||Pakor II||1st century CE (1st half)||?||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|14||Nambed||1st century CE (mid)||son of Ardashir II||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|15||Napad||1st century CE (2nd half)||son of Nambed||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|16||‘Unknown king II’||1st century CE (end)||?||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|17||Vadfradad IV||2nd century CE (1st half)||?||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|18||Manchihr I||2nd century CE (1st half)||?||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|19||Ardashir III||2nd century CE (1st half)||son of Manchihr I||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|20||Manchihr II||2nd century CE (mid)||son of Ardashir III||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|21||Uncertain King III/|
tentatively Pakor III
|2nd century CE (2nd half)||?||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|22||Manchihr III||2nd century CE (2nd half)||son of Manchihr II||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|23||Ardashir IV||2nd century CE (end)||son of Manchihr III||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|24||Vahshir II (Oxathres)||c. 206-210 CE||?||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire. The last of Bazarangids.|
|25||Shapur||3rd century CE (beg.)||Brother of the first Sasanian, Ardashir I||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
|26|| Ardashir V |
(Sasanian Dynasty Ardashir I)
|3rd century CE (beg.)||First Sasanian ruler, under the name of Ardashir I||Sub-king of the Parthian Empire|
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Vādfradād I, was a ruler of Persis, and a member of the Frataraka dynasty. He was the son of Vahbarz and grandson of Bagadates. Other rulers of the Fratarakā dynasty were: bgdt (Baydād), rtḥštry, whwbrz.
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