The Persian empires form today what is known as contemporary Iran. The Medes are known to have laid the foundation of Iran as a nation and as an empire. They’re also responsible for establishing the first Iranian empire, which was the largest until Cyrus the Great merged the Medes and Persians empire forming what was known as the Achaemenian Empire. The Persian empires were made up of four major dynasties: Achaemenid, Seleucids, Parthian and Sasanid.
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Reason for rise of Persian empires
One of the reasons why the Persian empires rose was due to some of the leadership skills attributed to the leaders. For instance, Cyrus the great was known for his tolerance. He accepted different cultures within his empire and allowed its citizens to practice them. The Greeks called him a law giver while the Jews referred to him as anointed by the Lord. Through more benevolent policies, he was able to reunite his subjects to Persian rule thus his empire was able to remain stable for a long time. Darius the Great on the other hand established a government model that later on became a model for other future governments. He also established a tax collecting system, allowed his citizens to observe their religions and customs, built a system of roads that’s still used today and established a complex postal system.
The system of governing was centralized in such a way that a certain amount of autonomy in the form of a satrapy system was allowed. A satrapy can be defined as an administrative unit that was created on a geographical basis. For instance, the governor under the Persian political system was allocated a province under the ancient Persian monarchy. This consisted of 23 administrative divisions. Additionally, a system of spies and surprise audits prevented any local rebellion.
Another factor that ensured the Persian empires remained united was their level of tolerance. The citizens were allowed to practice their religions and customs without any restrictions. Legal codes were also implemented to protect the minority. Good infrastructure was one key factor that facilitated trade in the empires and beyond. This helped to maintain a source of livelihood for the empires as well as cater for their basic needs.
One major challenge that faced the Persian empires and perhaps a factor that contributed to their downfall was the high number of population. The population consisted of 35 million people who formed different ethnic groups. It is believed that there were 70 different ethnic groups in the existing empires. This made it difficult to rule as the population consisted of different cultures and religions, as well as people who spoke different languages.
Organization and governance in the empires contributed a lot to their decline. For instance, towards its end, the Parthian empire’s disorganization had loosened and the last king was defeated by one of the empire’s vassal peoples. Social stratification also contributed to the fall of the empires. There was the bureaucratic class that consisted of tax collectors, record keepers and translators. There also existed the free class which comprised of craftsmen, priests, artisans and merchants. Finally, there was the slave class which consisted of prisoners of war and conquered populations and debtors. This division among the people created a level of discontent and disharmony.