Ardashir I 180-240 (a.k.a. Artaxerxes) is recognised as being the first ruler of the Sassanid Empire. His father Papak was a vassal of a minor king of Parthia, Gochihr before he staged a coup, killing him and taking the throne for himself. Ardashir suceeded him in 208; but it wasn't until he defeated the Parthian army in 226, capturing the capital Ctesiphon and killing the king Artabanus IV, that he was named "king of kings". His victory is celebrated in some of the earliest bas-relief rock carvings at Naqsh-i-Rajab, which shows the god Hormizd (Ahura-mazda) passing a crown to Ardashir. It also has an inscription by a priest Kartir, founder of the Zoroastrian state religon, which proclaims his beliefs.

He united the people behind him, using stories of the might of Persia's past and the religion of Zoroastrianism to weld together an army that rapidly began a campaign to conquest the old Persian lands. His attacks on Mesopotamia, Armenia and Cappadocia drew the might of the Roman Empire (under the leadership of Alexander Severus) upon him. The decisive battle occured in 232, although both sides suffered heavy losses, it was the Romans who were forced to withdraw. This victory consolidated the Sassanid power base and set the stage for the next 400 years .....

He was suceeded by his son Shapur I.

NB I've seen BOTH Artabanus IV and V quoted as being killed by Ardashir. (Gritchka agrees with me though!) Also (and thanks to Gritchka for this!)Artaxerxes was the Greek name for Ardashir; this name being a later Pahlavi rendering. If anyone thinks any of my w/u is wrong or lacking, please /msg me!

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