Military and Society in Sasanian Iran

Scott McDonough

in The Oxford Handbook of Warfare in the Classical World

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780195304657
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Military and Society in Sasanian Iran

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This chapter examines the military as an institution in Iranian politics and society, starting in the Parthian era and focusing on Sasanian developments. Sasanian Iran was a considerably less populous, rich, and centralized polity than Rome, even though the Iranian society was highly militarized and its elites defined themselves as a “warrior aristocracy.” The Iranian (“Aryan”) cavalry was the backbone of Sasanian military power. The regions on the “bleeding edge” of Sasanian expansion contributed to Sasanian military strength. Successful offensive warfare gave the Sasanians a deeper base of military manpower. The final two centuries of the Sasanian era exhibited a military crisis, and the restructuring of the Sasanian military and society, all of which eventually resulted in the end of the Sasanian army. The soldiers and principles of the Sasanian military would live on in Iran and beyond though the Middle Ages.

Keywords: Sasanian military; Iranian politics; Iranian society; Sasanian Iran; Aryan; Sasanian army; warfare

Article.  8999 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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