19. KOBAD, or COBADES (Κοβάδης
), reigned from A. D. 488 to 498, and again from 501 or 502 till 531.
The years from 498 till 502 were filled up by the short reign of, 20. JAMASPES or ZAMES.
According to the Eastern authorities, he was the brother of Cobades, whom he dethroned, and compelled to fly to the Huns, with whose assistance Cobades recovered his throne about 502. Cobades divided his kingdom in four great divisions: an eastern, a western, a northern, and a southern, and made many wise regulations. Under him rose the religio-political sect of the Mazdakites, so named from Mazdar, their founder, and whom we may compare to the modern Communists, or Socialists. Their principles were democratical, and their rise may be considered as a re-action against the overwhelming influence of the aristocracy. Cobades was for some time an adherent of Mazdak, but he afterwards turned against him, in order to gain the aristocratical party. The Mazdakites accordingly rose in arms, and offered the diadem to Phtasurus, a son of Cobades, but the king seized their leaders by a stratagem, and great numbers of the sectarians were massacred. Procopius (Bell. Pers.
1.11) says, that Cobades entreated the emperor Justin to adopt his son Khosrew or Chosroes, afterwards Nushirwan, in order thus to secure the succession to him through the assistance of the Romans.
But this smacks very much of the tale of Arcadius having appointed king Yesdigerd the guardian of his son Theodosius.
The same author relates that Cobades had four sons, Cuases, Zames, Chosroes, and Phtasurus, whence it would seem as if the above Jamaspes or Zames had rebelled against his father, and not against his brother.
But as Cobades reigned forty-three years, it seems incredible that he should have had an adult son at the beginning of his reign, and this is an additional reason to put greater confidence in the Eastern writers in matters of genealogy. We now proceed to the great war between Cobades and the emperor Anastasius.
It appears that according to the terms of the peace of one hundred years concluded between Theodosius the Younger and Bahram V., the Romans were obliged to pay annually a certain sum of money to the Persian king, and Cobades having sent in his request for the purpose, was answered by Anastasius, that he would lend him money, but would not pay any. Cobades declared war, and his arms were victorious. The Roman generals Hypacius and Patricius Phrygius were defeated, the fortified towns in Mesopotamia were conquered by the Persians, and even the great fortress of Amida was carried by storm, its inhabitants becoming the victims to the fury of the besiegers. Arabic and Hunnic hordes served under the Persian banner. The Huns, however, turned against Cobades, and made so powerful a diversion in the North, that he listened to the proposals of Anastasius, to whom he granted peace in 505, on receiving 11,000 pounds of gold as an indemnity.
He also restored Mesopotamia and his other conquests to the Romans, being unable to maintain his authority there on account of the protracted war with the Huns. About this time the Romans constructed the fortress of Dara, the strongest bulwark against Persia, and situated in the very face of Ctesiphon, on the spot where the traveller descends from the mountainous portion of Mesopotamia into the plains of the South. Cobades in his turn, seized upon the great defiles of the Caucasus and fortified them, although less as a precaution against the Romans than the Huns and other northern barbarians.
These are the celebrated Iberian and Albanian gates, the latter of which are now called Demir Kapu, " the Iron Gates," or the gates of Derbend.
The war with Constantinople was renewed in 521, in the reign of the emperor Justin I., and success was rather on the side of the Persians, till Narses and his brothers, all of whom were among the most distinguished generals of Cobades, deserted their master for political motives which it is not the place here to discuss, and joined the army of Justin.
The great Belisarius appears in these wars as a skilful and successful general. Cobades left several sons, but bequeathed his empire to his favourite son Chosroes.