|King of Kings of Iran and non-Iran[a]|
Coin of Bahram IV, minted at Herat
|King of the Sasanian Empire|
|House||House of Sasan|
Bahram IV (also spelled Wahram IV or Warahran IV; Middle Persian: ), was the Sasanian King of Kings (shahanshah) of Iran from 388 to 399. He was the son and successor of Shapur III (r. 383-388). His reign was largely uneventful. In Armenia, he deposed his insubordinate vassal Khosrov IV and installed the latters brother Vramshapuh on the Armenian throne. In 395, the Huns invaded the countryside around the Euphrates and the Tigris, but were repelled.
Seemingly disliked by the nobility and clergy, Bahram IV was killed by his own troops; he was succeeded by his brother Yazdegerd I.
His theophoric name "Bahram" is the New Persian form of the Middle Persian Warahr?n (also spelled Wahr?m), which is derived from the Old Iranian Vragna. The Avestan equivalent was Verethragna, the name of the old Iranian god of victory, whilst the Parthian version was *War?agn. The name is transliterated in Greek as Baranes, whilst the Armenian transliteration is Vahagn/Vr?m.
According to al-Tabari, Bahram IV was the son of Shapur II (r. 309-379), however, several other historians, such as Hamza al-Isfahani, states that he was the son of Shapur III (r. 383-388), which seems more likely. Bahram, during the reign of his father, was the governor of Kirman, where he built the town of Shiragan, which would serve as the capital of the province for the remainder of the Sasanian period. The town played an important economic role, as it served as a mint city and had a great agricultural importance to the province. As many other governors of Kirman, Bahram bore the title of Kirmanshah (meaning "king of Kirman"), which would serve as the name of the city he later founded in western Iran. A seal of Bahram has survived, made during his term as governor of Kirman. Written in Middle Persian, its inscription says the following; "Wahr?n Kerm?n h, son of the Mazd?-worshipping Lord p?r, king of kings of Iran and non-Iran, who is a scion of lords". In 388, Bahram succeeded his father, who had been killed by party of Iranian nobles.
Armenia had been divided during the reign of Shapur III according to the terms of a peace treaty. But this arrangement barely survived the reign of Bahram IV. In 389, Khosrov IV, the vassal king of Armenia under Sasanian suzerainty grew wary of his subordination to Iran and entered into a treaty with the Roman emperor Theodosius I, who made him the king of a united Armenia in return for his allegiance. This enraged Bahram and made him have Khosrov imprisoned in the Castle of Oblivion. Bahram shortly made the latter's brother Vramshapuh the new ruler of Armenia. In 395, the Huns invaded the Roman provinces of Sophene, Western Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Cappadocia. They reached as far Galatia, taking many captive. They then invaded the Iranian realm, devastating much of the countryside around the Euphrates and the Tigris. A counterattack was soon made, which resulted in the defeat of Hunnic forces and the retrieval of their spoils. Bahram IV allowed the Roman captives to stay at Veh-Ardashir and Ctesiphon, where they were given rations, which included bread, wine and oil. Most of the captives were later returned to their own lands.
Bahram IV has been reported to be an ineffective and unpopular monarch, which generally implies that the nobility and Zoroastrian clergy loathed him. He was ultimately killed in 399 by his own troops. He was succeeded by his brother Yazdegerd I.
On his coinage, Bahram IV is portrayed wearing the same crown as his predecessors Bahram II and Hormizd II, with the two wings being a reference to Verethragna. The wings are attached to a mural crown, which was a symbol of the supreme god in Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda. Bahram IV was the first Sasanian monarch to combine two religious components on his crown. Afterwards such crowns became a common feature among the Sasanians.