Silver drachma of Boran. Image Credit: Classical Numismatic Group.

By Gabby Storey

Boran was a Sasanian queen of Iran from 630-2. Born to Khosrow II, king of Iran, and the Byzantine princess Maria, Boran’s accession to the throne took place amidst civil war.

Boran’s brother, Shērōē, overthrew and executed Khosrow in 628. Known as Kavad II, he proceeded to execute their brothers and half-brothers, leaving Boran and their sister Azarmidokht alive. Kavad’s reign was brief, as he died from plague shortly after. He was succeeded by his 8 year-old son Ardashir III. However factionalism at court saw the Parthian nobility turn to support Boran’s claim to the throne.

Ardashir was killed by the Iranian general Shahrbaraz in 630, who was then murdered 40 days later. Boran then acceded to the throne with the assistance of the Parthian leader Farrukh Hormizd, who was involved in the coup against Shahrbaraz. She was the first queen regnant of the Sasanian Empire.

Boran’s attempts to instil justice and conduct administration, including the minting of coins, were short-lived. She was deposed later in 630 and succeeded by Shahrbaraz’s son, Shapur-i Shahrvaraz, who in turn was deposed and succeeded by Azarmidokht.

Farrukh requested Azarmidokht marry him, looking to increase his authority and create peace between the factions. Azarmidokht had Farrukh murdered. This saw an increase in hostilities as Farrukh’s son Rostam avenged his father’s death, and murdered Azarmidokht.

Rostam restored Boran to the throne, however shortly thereafter she reached a settlement which saw Rostam rule the country for ten years, whereafter the throne would return to Boran’s family. The Parthians and Persians agreed to work together, with the Persian leader Piruz Khosrow to work with Rostam. During this period of co-operation, Boran is known to have sent an embassy to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, desiring harmony between the empires.

The two factions were soon at war, with revolt breaking out at the dissatisfaction of Rostam’s regency. Boran was overthrown and either murdered, presumably by the Persian faction, or died after a short illness. Her brief reigns, totalling 16 months, do not give us an indication of extensive power and authority.

Recommended Reading

Hodge Mehdi Malek and Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis “History and Coinage of the Sasanian Queen Bōrān (AD 629-631),” The Numismatic Chronicle 158 (1998): 113–129

Parvaneh Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran (London: I. B. Tauris, 2008)

Touraj Daryaee, “Boran,” in The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity, ed. Oliver Nicholson, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

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