Illyricum (Roman province)

Illyricum (Roman province)

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The Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

. It stretched from the Drilon
Drin River
The Drin is the longest river in Albania with a total length of . It has two distributaries, one going directly into the Adriatic Sea, the other one into the Bojana River .- Origin :...

 river in modern north Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 to Istria
Istria
Istria , formerly Histria , is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic between the Gulf of Trieste and the Bay of Kvarner...

 (Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

) in the west and to the Sava river (Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

) in the north. Salona
Salona
Salona was an ancient Illyrian Delmati city in the first millennium BC. The Greeks had set up an emporion there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia...

 (near modern Split
Split (city)
Split is a Mediterranean city on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, centered around the ancient Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian and its wide port bay. With a population of 178,192 citizens, and a metropolitan area numbering up to 467,899, Split is by far the largest Dalmatian city and...

 in Croatia) functioned as its capital. The regions which it included changed through the centuries though a great part of ancient Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

 remained part of Illyricum
Illyricum (Roman province)
The Roman province of Illyricum or Illyris Romana or Illyris Barbara or Illyria Barbara replaced most of the region of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern north Albania to Istria in the west and to the Sava river in the north. Salona functioned as its capital...

 as a province while south Illyria became Epirus Nova, part of Roman Macedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

.

Background


The Roman Navy
Roman Navy
The Roman Navy comprised the naval forces of the Ancient Roman state. Although the navy was instrumental in the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean basin, it never enjoyed the prestige of the Roman legions...

's first crossing of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 in 229 BC
229 BC
Year 229 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Albinus and Centumalus...

 involved Rome's first invasion of Illyria, the First Illyrian War. The Roman Republic finally completed the conquest of Illyria in 168 BC by defeating the army of the Illyrian king Gentius. From 167 BC, southern Illyria became a formally independent Roman protectorate.

Roman province


The region had considerable strategic and economic importance for the Romans. It possessed a number of important commercial ports along its coastline, and had gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

-mines in Dalmatia
Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

 with an imperial bureau in Salona
Salona
Salona was an ancient Illyrian Delmati city in the first millennium BC. The Greeks had set up an emporion there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia...

. Illyria also became the starting point of the Via Egnatia
Via Egnatia
The Via Egnatia was a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. It crossed the Roman provinces of Illyricum, Macedonia, and Thrace, running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey.Starting at Dyrrachium on the...

, the great Roman road
Roman road
The Roman roads were a vital part of the development of the Roman state, from about 500 BC through the expansion during the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. Roman roads enabled the Romans to move armies and trade goods and to communicate. The Roman road system spanned more than 400,000 km...

 that ran from Dyrrachium (modern Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

 in Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

), on the Adriatic, to Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 in the east.

In 59 BC the Lex Vatinia assigned Illyricum (together with Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul, in Latin: Gallia Cisalpina or Citerior, also called Gallia Togata, was a Roman province until 41 BC when it was merged into Roman Italy.It bore the name Gallia, because the great body of its inhabitants, after the expulsion of the Etruscans, consisted of Gauls or Celts...

) as a provincia (zone of responsibility rather than a "province" as understood today) to Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

. The Roman administration did not establish a province until Octavian
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

's wars in Illyricum in the period 35-33 BC. The first mention of the province of Illyricum occurs in the context of Augustan settlement of 27 BC, when it was assigned as a propraetorial province to imperial control.
As the Romans expanded their power in the region through a series of campaigns known as the Pannonian War or as the Pannonian wars (Bellum Pannonicum, 12-9 BC), fought against group of peoples known as the Pannonians, they enlarged the province of Illyricum.

After crushing the Great Illyrian Revolt
Great Illyrian revolt
The Great Illyrian Revolt, was a major conflict between an alliance of indigenous communities from Illyricum and Roman forces that lasted for four years beginning in AD 6 and ending in AD 9.-The war:...

 of Pannonians and Daesitiates subsequent to 10
10
Year 10 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, throughout Roman Empire, it was known as the year of the consulship of Dolabella and Silanus...

 (some scholars such as Jeno Fitz move this date to middle-late Claudian era c. 20-35), Roman administrators dissolved the province of Illyricum and divided its lands between the new provinces of Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

 in the north and Dalmatia
Dalmatia (Roman province)
Dalmatia was an ancient Roman province. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in Classical antiquity....

 in the south.

On the shore of Dalmatia
Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

 Roman traders established themselves in a number of towns, Iader, Salona
Salona
Salona was an ancient Illyrian Delmati city in the first millennium BC. The Greeks had set up an emporion there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia...

, Narona
Narona
Narona was the name of the ancient Roman city that was located in the Neretva valley in present day Croatia. It was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The city was established after the Illyrian Wars and was located on the alluvial planes, between present day city of Metković and village of...

, Epidaurum
Epidaurum
Epidaurum was a Roman city in the province of Illyricum, later Dalmatia, the modern-day Cavtat in Croatia, 15 km south of Dubrovnik. It had been a ancient Greek colony named Epidaurus or Epidauros since the 6th century BC...

. The capital Salona
Salona
Salona was an ancient Illyrian Delmati city in the first millennium BC. The Greeks had set up an emporion there. After the conquest by the Romans, Salona became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia...

 was protected by two military camps at Burnum
Burnum
Burnum or Burnum Municipium, an archaeological site, was a Roman Legion camp and town. It is located 2.5 km north of Kistanje, in inland Dalmatia, Croatia...

 and Delminium
Delminium
Delminium was an Illyrian settlement which was located near today's Tomislavgrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina.- Etymology :The toponym Delminium has the same origin with the name of the tribe of the Dalmatae, which is connected with the Illyrian word delmë, dele in modern Albanian, which means sheep in...

.

In addition to the economic importance of Illyricum, it was a very valuable source of military personnel. From the 3rd to the 6th century AD the most useful troops were recruited from Illyricum (and Roman Thrace among others). Ronald Syme
Ronald Syme
Sir Ronald Syme, OM, FBA was a New Zealand-born historian and classicist. Long associated with Oxford University, he is widely regarded as the 20th century's greatest historian of ancient Rome...

 outlined the importance of Illyricum as the province that held the empire together. As a main recruiting ground, with armies ever present in its territory, it possessed a commander in-chief of the Illyrian army, the magister militum per Illyricum, based at Naissus.

Diocletian's reforms


The term "Illyricum" continued to be used to refer to the western Balkan peninsula, and in the mid-4th century, the praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
The praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was one of four praetorian prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided.The administrative centre of the prefecture was Sirmium , and, after 379, Thessalonica...

 was set up as one of four praetorian prefecture
Praetorian prefecture
The praetorian prefecture was the largest administrative division of the late Roman Empire, above the mid-level dioceses and the low-level provinces. Praetorian prefectures originated in the reign of Constantine I The praetorian prefecture was the largest administrative division of the late Roman...

s that the Roman Empire was divided into; it encompassed Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

, Noricum
Noricum
Noricum, in ancient geography, was a Celtic kingdom stretching over the area of today's Austria and a part of Slovenia. It became a province of the Roman Empire...

, Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, and the whole Balkan peninsula
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 except Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. The prefecture survived until the early 7th century.

Legacy


The region's native peoples won renown for their military prowess and they became an important source of manpower for the Roman army
Roman army
The Roman army is the generic term for the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the kingdom of Rome , the Roman Republic , the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine empire...

. Several notable Roman emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

s came from the region, including Aurelian
Aurelian
Aurelian , was Roman Emperor from 270 to 275. During his reign, he defeated the Alamanni after a devastating war. He also defeated the Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. Aurelian restored the Empire's eastern provinces after his conquest of the Palmyrene Empire in 273. The following...

, Claudius II
Claudius II
Claudius II , commonly known as Claudius Gothicus, was Roman Emperor from 268 to 270. During his reign he fought successfully against the Alamanni and scored a crushing victory against the Goths at the Battle of Naissus. He died after succumbing to a smallpox plague that ravaged the provinces of...

, Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 and Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

, as well as the Byzantine emperors Anastasius I
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

 and Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

.

Further reading

  • Marjeta Šašel Kos. Appian and Illyricum. Situla 43. (National Museum of Slovenia Ljubljana, 2005)
  • Danijel Dzino. Illyricum in Roman Politics, 229BC-AD68 (Cambridge University Press, 2010) 242 pages

External links