Original Articles

Khosrow in Jerusalem: Sasanians, Romans, and the Removal of the True Cross

Sara Mashayekh, University of California, Irvine

The Roman-Persian War of the seventh century that lasted for almost three decades was very influential in shaping the future of the region and the two empires. In many ways, it was much more than just a conflict over territory and wealth, rather a religious war which is sometimes suggested to have been the First Crusade. Not only do the Roman sources constantly refer to their emperor as the “Beloved of Christ” and the Persian king as the “God-hated khusro” who has come to destroy their “Christian” Empire, but we can see that the Persian king himself is quite aware of the role of religion in the conflict. Among many of Khosrow’s actions which could have had a religious motivation, his removal of the True Cross from Jerusalem and transferring it to Iran is the most important and in many ways puzzling one.