Boran[1][2][3] (Middle Persian: BoranPahlavi.png; Persian: پوراندخت, Pūrāndokht) was queen (banbishn) of the Sasanian Empire. She was the daughter of emperor Khosrow II, and the first of only two women to rule the Sasanian Empire; the other was her sister and successor, Azarmidokht. Various authors place her reign between one year and four months to two years.[2]

Her name appears as Bōrān (or Burān) on her coinage.[1][4] The Persian poet Ferdowsi refers to her as Purandokht in his epic poem, the Shahnameh. She was committed to revive the memory and prestige of her father, during whose reign the Sasanian Empire had grown to its largest territorial extent.

Queen of Queens of Iran
Coin of Boran, minted at Arrajan in 630/1
First reign
Reign17 June 629 – 16 June 630
SuccessorShapur-i Shahrvaraz
Second reign
SuccessorYazdegerd III
Died632 (aged 41–42)
ConsortKavadh II
HouseHouse of Sasan
FatherKhosrow II

Background and early life

Boran was the daughter of the last prominent shah of Iran, Khosrow II (r. 590–628) and the Byzantine princess Maria.[5] Khosrow II was in 628 overthrown and executed by his own son Kavadh II, who proceeded to have all his brothers and half-brothers executed, including Shahriyar.[6] This dealt a heavy blow to the empire, which it would never recover from. Boran and her sister Azarmidokht reportedly criticized and scolded Kavadh II for his barbaric actions, which made him filled with remorse.[7] According to Guidi's chronicle, Boran was also Kavadh II's wife, demonstrating the Zoroastrian practice of close-kin-marriages (xwedodah).[1][5][a]

The fall of Khosrow II culminated in a civil war lasting four years, with the most powerful members of the nobility gaining full autonomy and starting to create their own government. The hostilities between the Persian (Parsig) and Parthian (Pahlav) noble-families were also resumed, which split up the wealth of the nation.[8] A few months later, a devastating plague swept through the western Sasanian provinces, killing half of its population including Kavadh II.[8] He was succeeded by his eight year old son Ardashir III, who was killed two years later by the distinguished Sasanian general Shahrbaraz, who was in turn murdered forty days later in a coup by leader of the Pahlav, Farrukh Hormizd, who helped Boran ascend the throne.[9]

First reign

Boran was the first queen to rule the Sasanian Empire. However, it was not unusual for royal women to occupy political offices in the management of the country. Many before Boran had risen to prominence. A 5th-century Sasanian queen, Denag, had temporarily ruled as regent of the empire from its capital, Ctesiphon during the dynastic struggle for the throne between her sons Hormizd III (r. 457–459) and Peroz I (r. 459–484) in 457–459.[10] Wiesehöfer also highlights the role of noblewomen in Sasanian Iran, stating that "Iranian records of the third century (inscriptions, reliefs, coins) show that the female members of the royal family received an unusual amount of attention and respect."[11] The story of the legendary Kayanian queen Humay and veneration towards the Iranian goddess Anahita probably also helped to the approval of Boran's rule.[12]

When Boran ascended the throne, she appointed Farrukh Hormizd as the chief minister (wuzurg framadar) of the empire.[2] She then attempted to bring stability to the Sasanian Empire by the implementation of justice, reconstruction of the infrastructure, lowering of taxes, and minting coins.[1] Her rule was accepted by the magnates, which is apparent by her coin mints in the provinces of Pars, Khuzestan, Media, and Abarshahr.[1] No opposition was voiced towards her gender.[13] However, after some time she was deposed in 630, and Shapur-i Shahrvaraz, the son of Shahrbaraz and a sister of Khosrau II, was made king of Sasanian Empire. However, he was not recognized by the Parsig faction of the powerful general Piruz Khosrow. Shapur-i Shahrvaraz was thus deposed in favor of Azarmidokht, the sister of Boran.[14]

Second reign

Her sister, Azarmidokht, was then placed on the throne.[3] In order to seize power, Farrukh Hormizd asked Azar to marry him. Not daring to refuse, she had him killed with the aid of the Mihranid Siyavakhsh, who was the grandson of Bahram Chobin, the famous spahbed and briefly shahanshah. She was however, shortly assassinated by the latter's son Rostam Farrokhzad, who was now the new leader of the Pahlav faction. After the murder of Azarmidokht by Rostam Farrokhzad, the latter restored Boran to the throne. Boran shortly made a meeting with the Pahlav and Parsig faction, where both factions agreed to work together. She desired a good relationship with the Byzantine Empire, therefore she dispatched an embassy to Emperor Heraclius led by the dignitaries of the Iranian church.[15] Heraclius sent Boran a formal invitation to visit Constantinople.[3] However, after one year of reign she was found suffocated by a pillow in her bed. According to some sources she was murdered by Piruz Khosrow, thus ending the Parsig-Pahlav alliance and resuming hostilities between the two factions.[16] However, the two powerful leaders of the two factions were now threatened by their own men, and thus agreed to work together once more, installing Boran's nephew Yazdegerd III on the throne, thus putting an end to the civil war.[17]


  1. ^ According to the 7th-century Armenian historian Sebeos, Boran was the wife of Shahrbaraz. However, this is unlikely.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Daryaee 1999, pp. 77-82.
  2. ^ a b c d Shahbazi 1989, p. 366.
  3. ^ a b c Farrokh, K. (2007). Downfall of the Sasanians and the Islamic conquests. In Shadows in the Desert : Ancient Persia at War (p. 262, 263).
  4. ^ "For instance her gold coins bear the Middle Persian legend:
    , Burano faré afzuto (lit. Buran's glory/splendor be increased)". Bayani, B. (n.d.). (پادشاهی پوراندخت ملکه ساسانی و پژوهشی درباره ی سکه های زمان او) (p. 31).
  5. ^ a b Al-Tabari 1985–2007, v. 5: p. 404.
  6. ^ Kia 2016, p. 284.
  7. ^ Al-Tabari 1985–2007, v. 5: p. 399.
  8. ^ a b Shahbazi 2005.
  9. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 185.
  10. ^ Kia 2016, p. 248.
  11. ^ Emrani 2009, p. 4.
  12. ^ Emrani 2009, p. 5.
  13. ^ Emrani 2009, p. 6.
  14. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 204.
  15. ^ Guidi, I. (1903). Chronicle of Seert. In Anonymous Syriac Chronicle (Vol. II, p. 237).
  16. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 218.
  17. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 219.


  • Pourshariati, Parvaneh (2008). Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-645-3.
  • Daryaee, Touraj (2008). Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–240. ISBN 0857716662.
  • Kia, Mehrdad (2016). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1610693912.
  • Shahbazi, A. Shapur (1989). "Bōrān". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 4. p. 366.
  • Sundermann, W. (1988). "Bānbišn". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. III, Fasc. 7. London et al. pp. 678–679.
  • Brosius, Maria. "WOMEN i. In Pre-Islamic Persia". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. London et al.
  • Al-Tabari, Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir (1985–2007). Ehsan Yar-Shater, ed. The History of Al-Ṭabarī. 40 vols. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • Shahbazi, A. Shapur (2005). "Sasanian dynasty". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition.
  • Daryaee, Touraj (1999). "The Coinage of Queen Bōrān and Its Significance for Late Sāsānian Imperial Ideology". Bulletin (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies). 13: 77–82.
  • Emrani, Haleh (2009). Like Father, Like Daughter: Late Sasanian Imperial Ideology & the Rise of Bōrān to Power (PDF). Sasanika. pp. 1–16.
Preceded by
Queen of Queens of Iran
17 June 629 – 16 June 630
Succeeded by
Shapur-i Shahrvaraz
Preceded by
Queen of Queens of Iran
Succeeded by
Yazdegerd III

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Early linguistic investigators thought that Bora was related to the Huitoto (Witoto) language, but there is actually very little similarity between the two. The confusion was most likely due to the frequent intermarriage between the tribes and the Ocaina dialect of Witotoan which has many Bora words.


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Boran languages

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Bora–Witoto languages

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Central Statistical Agency

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Muay boran

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Pat Boran

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His poetry publications include The Unwound Clock (1990), History and Promise (1991), Familiar Things (1993), The Shape of Water (1996), As the Hand, the Glove (2001) and The Next Life (2012). His New and Selected Poems (2005), with an Introduction by the late Dennis O'Driscoll, was first published by Salt Publishing UK and was reissued in 2007 by Dedalus Press. "Waveforms: Bull Island Haiku", a book-length haiku sequence or rensaku that explores the interplay of flora, fauna and human activity on Dublin Bay's Bull Island was published in 2015 by Orange Crate Books. The book also features the author's own photographs. "A Man Is Only As Good: A Pocket Selected Poems" was published in 2017, also by Orange Crate Books. His most recent publication is the poetry collection Then Again (Dedalus Press, 2019). Volumes of his selected poems have appeared in Italian, Hungarian, Portuguese and Macedonian. His writers' handbook, The Portable Creative Writing Workshop (2005), is now in its fourth edition while his A Short History of Dublin (2000) is published by Mercier Press. In 2007 Pat Boran was elected to the membership of Aosdána, the Irish affiliation of artists and writers.

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