Third Perso-Turkic War - Background

Background

Following the First Siege of Constantinople by the Avars and Persians, the beleaguered Byzantine Emperor Heraclius found himself politically isolated. He could not rely on the Christian Armenian potentates of Transcaucasia, since they were branded as heretics by the Orthodox Church, and even the king of Iberia preferred to befriend the religiously tolerant Persians. Against this dismal background, he found a natural ally in Tong Yabghu. Earlier in 568, the Turks under Istämi had turned to Byzantium when their relations with Persia soured over commerce issues.

In 625, Heraclius dispatched to the steppes his emissary, named Andrew, who promised to the Khagan some "staggering riches" in return for military aid. The khagan, on his part, was anxious to secure the Chinese-Byzantine trade along the Silk Route, which had been disrupted by the Persians in the aftermath of the Second Perso-Turkic War. He sent word to the Emperor that "I shall take revenge on your enemies and will come with my valiant troops to your help". A unit of 1,000 horsemen fought their way through Persian Transcaucasia and delivered the Khagan's message to the Byzantine camp in Anatolia.

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