Shapur II
Shapur II (309-379 CE) was the Emperor of the Sassanid Empire of Persia from 309 to 379, succeeding Hormizd II and preceding Ardashir II.



A bust possibly representing Shapur II, excavated at Kish, shows the elaborate regalia of the Sasanian kings, including the typically crenelated crown.

Sasanian ruler of Persia, Shapur II was crowned while still in his mother's womb. Thus, he ruled from birth to death, a period of 70 years. He inherited a crumbling empire that was suffering incursions from Arabs and central Asian nomads and had lost much of Mesopotamia to the Romans. 

On coming of age, he first led an army on a punitive expedition into Arabia and then struck eastward into Transoxiana and Afghanistan. With threats from these directions quelled, in 337, he ended a 40-year peace with Rome, occupied Armenia, and marched against Rome's Mesopotamian strongholds. For 13 years, war dragged on inconclusively, ended by a peace in 350 that confirmed the status quo. Shapur did not give up, however. Campaigning in central Asia, he subdued troublesome nomadic warriors and obliged them to accompany him as allies in a renewed offensive in the west. Thus reinforced, Shapur was more successful, capturing the Roman fortress of Amida (Diyarbakir) on the Tigris River after a siege of 73 days.

Emperor Julian counterattacked in 360, leading an army as far as the walls of the Sasanian capital Ctesiphon. But Shapur kept his nerve and instituted a scorched-earth policy, harassing the Romans mercilessly. Julian was killed in a skirmish and Shapur was able to demand all territory east of the Tigris in return for allowing the surviving Romans safe passage home. For the rest of his reign, Shapur campaigned in central Asia, especially against the Kushans. By the time of his death in 379, the Sasanian Empire stretched from northern India to Mesopotamia.