Mazdakite Movement

Mazdakite Movement


a movement of the peasantry and urban poor in the Sassanid state that lasted from the early 490’s through the end of the 520’s.

The Mazdakite movement arose during the heightening of an economic and political crisis that resulted from a shift in power to the feudalized aristocracy and Zoroastrian priestly class at the expense of royal authority. This new situation led to the increased exploitation of the peasantry, the ruination and impoverishment of the broad masses, and failures in foreign policy. The ideology of the Mazdakite movement was based on the religious doctrine of Mazdakism.

The movement was supported by Kawadh I, who sought to weaken the position of the powerful aristocrats and priests. The aristocracy and priestly class overthrew Kawadh I about the year 496. After Kawadh’s return to power in 499, the adherents of the Mazdakite movement were given important administrative posts; Mazdak became an important personage in the Sassanid state. The Mazdakites seized property from the aristocracy and distributed it to the needy.

The subsequent development of the Mazdakite movement led to a regrouping of political forces. In the 520’s, Kawadh reached a reconciliation with the weakened elite. His son and successor, Khosrau, with his father’s silent support, took measures against the Mazdakites. By the end of the 520’s, the Mazdakite movement had been crushed.


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