Siege of Alexandria (619)
Between 618 and 621 AD, the Sassanid Persian
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 army defeated the East Roman (Byzantine)
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 forces in Egypt and occupied the province. The fall of Alexandria, the capital of Roman Egypt, marked the first and most important stage in the Sassanid campaign to conquer this rich province, which eventually fell completely under Persian rule within a couple of years.


The Persian shah, Khosrau II
Khosrau II
250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II (Khosrow II, Chosroes II, or Xosrov II in classical sources, sometimes called Parvez, "the Ever Victorious" – (in Persian: خسرو پرویز), was the twenty-second Sassanid King of Persia, reigning from 590 to 628...

, had taken advantage of the internal turmoil of the East Roman Empire after the overthrow of Emperor Maurice
Maurice (emperor)
Maurice was Byzantine Emperor from 582 to 602.A prominent general in his youth, Maurice fought with success against the Sassanid Persians...

 by Phocas
Phocas was Byzantine Emperor from 602 to 610. He usurped the throne from the Emperor Maurice, and was himself overthrown by Heraclius after losing a civil war.-Origins:...

 to attack the Roman provinces in the East. By 615, the Persians had driven the Romans out of northern Mesopotamia, Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. Determined to eradicate Roman rule in Asia, Khosrau turned his sight on Egypt, the East Roman Empire's granary.

Fall of Egypt

The Persian invasion of Egypt began either in 617 or 618, but little is known about the particulars of this campaign, since the province was practically cut off from the remaining Roman territories. The Persian army headed for Alexandria, where Nicetas
Nicetas (cousin of Heraclius)
Nicetas was the cousin of Emperor Heraclius, helping him the wars against Phocas and the Persians in the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602–628. He helped Heraclius revolt against Phocas by conquering Egypt in 610. At Egypt, Nicetas established a power base because of his friendship with Patriarch John...

, Heraclius' cousin and local governor, was unable to offer effective resistance. He and the Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ...

 patriarch, John V
John the Merciful
John the Merciful was the Patriarch of Alexandria in the early 7th century and a christian saint.- Early life :He was born at Amathus...

, fled the city to Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

. According to the Khuzistan Chronicle, Alexandria was then betrayed to the Persians by a certain Peter in June 619.

After the fall of Alexandria, the Persians gradually extended their rule southwards along the Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

. Sporadic resistance required some mopping-up operations, but by 621, the province was securely in Persian hands.


Egypt would remain in Persian hands for 10 years, run by general Shahrbaraz
Shahrbaraz or Shahrwaraz was a general, with the rank of Eran Spahbod under Khosrau II . His name was Farrokhan, and Shahrbaraz was his title...

 from Alexandria. As the new Roman emperor, Heraclius
Heraclius was Byzantine Emperor from 610 to 641.He was responsible for introducing Greek as the empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.Heraclius'...

, reversed the tide and defeated Khosrau, Shahrbaraz was ordered to evacuate the province, but refused. In the end, Heraclius, trying both to recover Egypt and to sow disunion amongst the Persians, offered to help Shahrbaraz seize the Persian throne for himself. An agreement was reached, and in the summer of 629, the Persian troops began leaving Egypt.
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