What Really Happend at last Iran-Roman War?

Jan 2016
6
nowhere
for days i am thinking about what really happend at that time!
i do not have any access to roman sources but reading some articles on net and reading some sassanid based sources i am confused what is the real story here!


i have a lot to ask and a lot to say but lets start with the last battle.

1- how on earth Heraclius manage to kill 4 iranians in combat?

2-why Heraclius did not try to attack Ctesiphon?
wiki says:"Heraclius could not attack Ctesiphon itself because the Nahrawan Canal was blocked by the collapse of a bridge"
however i dont think finding another way to attack the city was a impossible task for Heraclius to do,so why he retreated?
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,959
Blachernai
1- how on earth Heraclius manage to kill 4 iranians in combat?
Probably embellished. Even if Herakleios personally engaged in combat, he would have had a crack bodyguard. In Nikephoros' history (§14) Herakleios personally slays the Persian general Razates. This seems unlikely, but more to the point is that Nikephoros mentions that Herakleios was being covered by bodyguard.

2-why Heraclius did not try to attack Ctesiphon?
Because that was never the plan. Herakleios' army seems to have been moving too fast to carry siege weapons, and was probably too small to mount a large siege. Rather, Herakleios had positioned himself in the Caucasus to engage in diplomacy with the Turgesh to the north and with dissatisfied elements in the Persian aristocracy. The goal was regime change, not widespread destruction. On this, see
Howard-Johnston, James. “Pride and Fall: Khusro II and His Regime, 626-628.” In La Persia E Bisanzio: Convegno Internazionale (Roma, 14 - 18 Ottobre 2002), 93–113. Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2004.
 
Jul 2015
679
Near East
Probably embellished. Even if Herakleios personally engaged in combat, he would have had a crack bodyguard. In Nikephoros' history (§14) Herakleios personally slays the Persian general Razates. This seems unlikely, but more to the point is that Nikephoros mentions that Herakleios was being covered by bodyguard.
Reminds me of Procopius' claim that a Roman bath attendant managed to kill two Iranian champions in duels (I.13.19–39). This is hard to believe for the obvious reasons. That kind of embellishment is also found in Arab sources with their tendency to make stuff up regarding Arab warriors single-handedly slaying multiple high-ranking Iranian knights. Not a single duel won by an Iranian is mentioned in these sources as far as I know, which isn't surprising at all.

Because that was never the plan. Herakleios' army seems to have been moving too fast to carry siege weapons, and was probably too small to mount a large siege. Rather, Herakleios had positioned himself in the Caucasus to engage in diplomacy with the Turgesh to the north and with dissatisfied elements in the Persian aristocracy. The goal was regime change, not widespread destruction. On this, see
Howard-Johnston, James. “Pride and Fall: Khusro II and His Regime, 626-628.” In La Persia E Bisanzio: Convegno Internazionale (Roma, 14 - 18 Ottobre 2002), 93–113. Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2004.
Indeed, attacking Ctesiphon would have been pointless, since it seems like Heraclius was already in contact with Iranian conspirators in the capital who were planning on deposing Khosrow II.
 
Last edited:

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,959
Blachernai
Reminds me of Procopius' claim that a Roman bath attendant managed to kill two Iranian champions in duels (I.13.19–39). This is hard to believe for the obvious reasons. That kind of embellishment is also found in Arab sources with their tendency to make stuff up regarding Arab warriors single-handedly slaying multiple high-ranking Iranian knights. Not a single duel won by an Iranian is mentioned in these sources as far as I know, which isn't surprising at all.
Yeah, exactly. I've always been under the impression that the Arab embellishment is because many of the sources are from the 9-10th c. when it was socially prestigious to have had relatives fighting during the early conquest, and hence an inflated reputation for an ancestor helps out with taxation and prestige in the present.

On the Roman side I tend to agree that the stories are inflated, but I do wonder about the reality behind them. Particularly, I wonder if generals would actually allow battles between champions, particularly in an institution as focused on group discipline as the Roman army. I wonder, and I am speculating here, if sometimes the "champions" that end up in front of an army aren't hotheads trying to galvanize the men around them into a premature charge and who ended up getting shoved or running out of the ranks alone, at which point they're stuck between the enemy army and their own, where one would expect some sort of punishment for ill-discipline. But I have no evidence for this whatsoever.
 
Jul 2015
679
Near East
Yeah, exactly. I've always been under the impression that the Arab embellishment is because many of the sources are from the 9-10th c. when it was socially prestigious to have had relatives fighting during the early conquest, and hence an inflated reputation for an ancestor helps out with taxation and prestige in the present.

On the Roman side I tend to agree that the stories are inflated, but I do wonder about the reality behind them. Particularly, I wonder if generals would actually allow battles between champions, particularly in an institution as focused on group discipline as the Roman army. I wonder, and I am speculating here, if sometimes the "champions" that end up in front of an army aren't hotheads trying to galvanize the men around them into a premature charge and who ended up getting shoved or running out of the ranks alone, at which point they're stuck between the enemy army and their own, where one would expect some sort of punishment for ill-discipline. But I have no evidence for this whatsoever.
Well, Iranian martial tradition has a special emphasise on champion combat, and the Shahnameh (the Book of Kings) mentions at least 100 duels. That duels took place between the Sassanids and their enemies is not far fetched IMHO, and it is unlikely that they had a negative effect on group discipline.

Taking your educated speculation into consideration and assuming for a moment that these duels were a form of punishment, I'm inclined to think that this kind of punishment would do more harm than good, because an ill-disciplined soldier would not be a good choice for a "champion", and forcing him to fight a duel would risk demoralising the troops for he would likely lose the fight.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Yeah, exactly. I've always been under the impression that the Arab embellishment is because many of the sources are from the 9-10th c. when it was socially prestigious to have had relatives fighting during the early conquest, and hence an inflated reputation for an ancestor helps out with taxation and prestige in the present.

On the Roman side I tend to agree that the stories are inflated, but I do wonder about the reality behind them. Particularly, I wonder if generals would actually allow battles between champions, particularly in an institution as focused on group discipline as the Roman army. I wonder, and I am speculating here, if sometimes the "champions" that end up in front of an army aren't hotheads trying to galvanize the men around them into a premature charge and who ended up getting shoved or running out of the ranks alone, at which point they're stuck between the enemy army and their own, where one would expect some sort of punishment for ill-discipline. But I have no evidence for this whatsoever.
There are a some accounts of Roman commanders engaging in solo combat with enemy commanders, though it doesn't seem to have been common place. A few are legendary or semi-legendary from early in the Republic's history, but there some later examples that probably happened, if not entirely in the manner recorded.

The most famous was probably the Consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus slaying the Insubrian king Viridomarus in solo combat. Nero Claudius Drusus also supposedly had a penchant for champion fights, and slew three Germanic chieftans in separate bouts of solo combat while campaigning against the Cherusci, Chatti, and Marcomanni.

It was a rare occurrence to be sure, but it does seem as if the Romans occasionally engaged in champion duels.
 
Jan 2016
6
nowhere
well all of sassanid based sources that i have say Heraclius retreted because he thought there is trap waiting for him due the letters sent by
Khosrow ii.

did anyone have info on this so we can discuss or should i post what i have?
 
Jan 2016
6
nowhere
in all of the Sassanid based sources it said that khosrow wrote a letter to shahrbaraz,and told him i like what you did and what you planned.
i will write the letter here based on Shahnameh because i dont have access on my other sources at the time.

the letter was something like this:

"I liked what you did and I admired you in front of my man
You increased cunning in your acts and put Caesar in this trouble
so Be ready until I move with my man after that you come
With yours toward romans,When from my side and yours there be a army,whatever Caesar choice will not matter and Then we shall capture all of the romans and there Caesar."


The letter was given to one of court members I think but in some other versions was given to a Priest because khosrow knew he will give the letter to the romans at the end.
In some other sources there is a more complete version which in them khosrow first forge a letter and make it like sharbaraz is sending it to khosrow then romans capture the letter and give it to Heraclius when he reads it he says:"I wonder how this Persian tricked Khosrow!"
They sent the letter but after receiving the answer that I wrote above Heraclius thinks it’s a trap and retreats because he already knew that Khosrow is preparing an army and this is not unlikely to be true.