History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian - Vol. 2

History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian - Vol. 2

History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian - Vol. 2

History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian - Vol. 2

Excerpt

§1. Relations with Persia in the Fifth Century

The rulers of Constantinople would hardly have steered their section of the Empire with even such success as they achieved through the dangers which beset it in the fifth century, had it not been that from the reign of Arcadius to that of Anastasius their peaceful relations with the Sassanid kings of Persia were only twice interrupted by brief hostilities. The unusually long duration of this period of peace, notwithstanding the fact that the conditions in Armenia constantly supplied provocations or pretexts for war, was in a great measure due to the occupation of Persia with savage and dangerous enemies who threatened her north-eastern frontier, the Ephthalites or White Huns, but there was a contributory cause in the fact that the power of the Sassanid kings at this time was steadily declining. It is significant that when, at the end of the fifth century, a monarch arose who was able to hold his own against the encroachments of the Zoroastrian priesthood and the nobility, grave hostilities immediately ensued which were to last with few and uneasy intervals for a hundred and thirty years.

At the accession of Arcadius, Varahran IV. was on the Persian throne, but was succeeded in A.D. 399 by Yezdegerd I. The policy of this sovran was favourable to his Christian subjects, who had been allowed to recover from the violent persecution which they had suffered at the hands of Sapor, the conqueror of Julian; and he was an object of veneration to Christian historians,1 while the Magi and the chroniclers of his own kingdom . . .

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