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Shapur II

Shapur II or Sapor II, 310–79, king of Persia (310–79), of the Sassanid, or Sassanian, dynasty. He was the posthumous son of Hormuz II and therefore was born king. His long reign was marked by great military success. Central Asian tribes had taken advantage of his minority to regain much of their former territory, then held by Persia. Later, however, Shapur crushed their kingdom in the east and annexed the area as a new province. Cultural expansion followed this victory, and Sassanian art penetrated Turkistan, reaching as far as China. Having removed the threat from the east, Shapur resumed warfare against the Romans over the control of Armenia. Although driven back at first, the Roman army counterattacked and threatened Ctesiphon. But when the emperor Julian the Apostate was killed (363) in battle, the Romans withdrew. The emperor Jovian made a humiliating peace, and Shapur recovered Armenia, which he placed under military occupation. Armenia had in the meantime accepted Christianity, and Shapur, an orthodox Zoroastrian, at first persecuted the Christians but later recognized their autonomy and respected their religion. He had a large rock sculpture made near Shapur to commemorate his victory over the Romans.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Iranian History: Biographies


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