Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Sassanid from Collins English Dictionary

n pl Sassanids or Sassanidae (sæˈsænɪˌdiː)

1 any member of the native dynasty that built and ruled an empire in Persia from 224 to 636 ad

› Saˈssanian adj


Summary Article: Sassanid
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

Sasanid (both: săs'Әnĭd), or Sassanian (săsā'nyӘn), last dynasty of native rulers to reign in Persia before the Arab conquest. The period of their dominion extended from c.A.D. 224, when the Parthians were overthrown and the capital, Ctesiphon, was taken, until c.640, when the country fell under the power of the Arabs. The last Sassanid king died a fugitive in 651, but he had been forced to yield Ctesiphon to the Arabs in 636. Under the Sassanids, who revived Achaemenid tradition, Zoroastrianism was reestablished as the state religion. The name of the dynasty was derived from Sassan, an ancestor of the founder of the dynasty, Ardashir I, who took and ruled Ctesiphon (224–40). During his reign and many that followed, war with the Romans occupied much attention. Sassanid persecution of Christians led to wars with Byzantium. Syria and Armenia suffered particularly from invading armies. Ardashir I was succeeded by his son Shapur I, who was victorious over Roman Emperor Valerian and ruled until 272. The next reign of importance was that of Shapur II (309–79), a period of particular significance and glory. Bahram V, ruling 420–38, was defeated by the Emperor Theodosius but succeeded against the White Huns. The Armenians were overwhelmed by Yazdagird II in 451, and their land was overrun by Sassanids under Khosrow I, who reigned 531–79 and who also invaded Syria. Both countries were again overrun by Khosrow II (ruled 590–628), whose conquest of Egypt was the final victorious achievement of the dynasty. The last representative of the family on the throne was Yazdagird III, who began his reign in 632. His struggle against the Arabs ended in the fall of the Sassanid dynasty. See Persia.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles


Full text Article The Sassanian Empire
World History Encyclopedia

The Sassanian empire was the third of the great Persian empires in Classical and late antiquity. The first was the Archaemenid empire that was found

Full text Article Zoroastrianism in the Sassanid Period
World History Encyclopedia

The story of religion is integrated to the political events in the Sassanid age. The reason is the role of Sassanid kings who claimed to be the owne

Full text Article The Origins of the Sassanids
World History Encyclopedia

In the early third century CE, the Parthian empire, beset by both internal problems and endemic warfare with Rome to the west and Kushans to the eas

See more from Credo