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Iranian Empress Purandokht, Who Preached Egalitarianism


25 August 2005



Ruling the Persian Empire about 1400 years ago, Empress Purandokht, of Sasanid dynasty, is now ranked among the very first harbingers of sexual egalitarianism as she is quoted in a letter to her troops writing, “A monarch, regardless of being a queen or a king, must defend his or her land and treat the people with justice.”

Plotting against his reigned father, King of Kings Khosrow II Parviz, who was murdered in 628 AD, Shiruyeh’s ascent to the throne lasted only for six months and once he was toppled, Purandokht, the eldest daughter of the Emperor was crowned as the first Empress of Iran.

Unlike the second Iranian dynasty, the Achaemenids, sexuality was not considered so important, Sasanids to some certain extent believed the  male dominance. During the rule of Achaemenid dynasty, women, just like men, headed the workshops in charge of Persepolis construction and even some of them earned salaries twice as men’s. These women were either engineers or designers who created the finest patterns and designs in the Achaemenid palace complex. Women in that era were even entitled an extra maternity ration.”

Purandokht exercised some reforms to better the situation. She ordered a public tax exemption for one year and exchanged a peace treaty with Heraclius, of Rome. She also returned the alleged sacred cross of Jesus to Jerusalem which followed splendid festivities around the city in appreciation.

The reign of Purandokht, whose name is synonymous to “a girl with a rosy face” was contemporary to Abu-Bakr and Umar caliphates in Arabia.

In ancient books and resources she is described as a wise, just, and a good natured Empress, whose outstanding characteristics were even undeniable to the greatest Persian poet, Great Ferdowsi (935-1020); despite his own favor against women in power, Ferdowsi, in his masterpiece, Shahnameh or “the Book of Kings”, noted her justice and the welfare that peasants enjoyed during her reign.

But after 16 months, when preparing for the deployment of her troops to confront the Arab invaders, Purandokht got sick and passed away in Ctesiphon to be the only monarch in the last chaotic days of Sasanid reign to die naturally.




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