Spain History: the Roman and Pre-Roman Period

By | October 17, 2021

Among the Iberians, primitive residents of Spain, highly popular particularly in the rich south-west, you were soon to enter, attracted by the rich silver and copper mines and agriculture become prosperous, the most ancient navigators of the eastern Mediterranean: the Phoenicians, who they installed emporiums in Gades and Málaga, the Aegean-Cretans and, towards the sec. VIII-VII a. C., also the Greeks from Marseille who set up bases on the east coast. Subsequently, around the century. VI, Celtic immigration from the north towards the central-western area of ​​the peninsula merged with the Iberians, giving rise to the mixed population of the Celtibers. At the same time the colonizing action of the gods began Carthaginians who quickly succeeded in taking over from the Phoenicians and imposing themselves on the Iberians and, after the battle of 535 BC. C. to Alalia, in the waters of Corsica, also to the Greeks, thus extending their dominance over the eastern and southern coastal strips of Spain. During the First Punic War (264-241 BC), the Spanish populations rebelled against the Carthaginians, but these, although succumbed in the conflict, with Amilcare and, later, with Hannibal, returned to establish their supremacy on the peninsula. When the second Punic war broke out (218-212 BC), Spain also became the scene of the conflict and, after the capture of Cartagena by Scipio in 209 a. C., its Carthaginian areas, nucleus of the future provinces of Hither and Later Spain, passed under Roman control.

According to globalsciencellc, the order imposed by Rome immediately aroused several times riots and guerrillas among the internal tribes, especially between the Lusitani and the Celtiberians, who hardly engaged the Roman legions for years: successes obtained against them Cato, sent to Spain in 195, and, above all, Tiberio Sempronio Gracchus, father of the future tribunes, who assumed command of the operations in the year 179 a. C. and, with his benevolent attitude towards the subjugated local tribes, he assured the peninsula twenty years of peace. In 154 a. C., at the resumption of the riots, Rome, fearing that Carthage would take advantage of it to resume its expansionist aims, sent an army of about 30,000 men to Spain who, however, managed to overcome the rebels only with Scipione Emiliano who in 133 after an exhausting siege he capitulated the city of Numantia, last center of the resistance of the Celtibers. The entire peninsula thus passed under the control of Rome and since then the process of Romanization began, albeit with new local revolts, especially thanks to colonial settlements. In the sec. I a. C., however, there was a general insurrectionary movement in Spain and it was led by Sertorio, who, after having played in Mario’s ranks, had abandoned Italy with others, escaping the civil disputes of the time. Sertorio even managed to detach Spain from Rome, but the revolt was soon crushed by Pompeo (73), who then stayed there for some time to reorganize the province. In 68 a. C. was quaestor in Spain Cesare who returned there in 45 when, in Munda, extinguished the last outbreak of Pompeian resistance. In 29 a. C. the riots resumed violent so much that Augustus himself remained in Spain from 27 to 24, when the situation seemed to improve; but when it returned to worsen in 22 and 19 a. C., Agrippa went into the mountains of the interior and definitively put an end to the Spanish problem by massacring and transplanting the rebel tribes to the plains. Augustus divided Spain into Citerior or TarraconensisLusitania, and Ulterior or Baetica, the first two imperial provinces and the third senatorial; later it separated Asturias and Callaecia from Citerior, which formed the province of Callaecia a century later. In the administrative reorganization of Diocletian, Spain, constituted in diocese, was divided into six provinces, including the Balearics and Carthaginiensis detached from Tarraconensis. The centuries of Roman rule obviously left many and lasting traces in Spain and, in concrete, numerous and beautiful cities, a splendid road network, bridges and aqueducts (all financed by an intense exploitation of the country’s resources: metals, wines, oils, cereals), as well as a very solid political-bureaucratic mechanism.

However, Roman domination did not resolve, but on the contrary sharpened, the differentiation between the large landowners (real landowners, in the South) – who very often were the “rulers” of the ancient Iberian tribes, who became owners under the protection of Roman laws – and the popular mass (slave and semi-free peasants from the South and Center and indomitable shepherds, often real bandits, from the North); altogether, a few tens of thousands of privileged people against at least six million derelicts. hispani, city dwellers, officials, school teachers, enriched curials, educated men who contributed, in some cases (the Senecas, Quintilian, Lucan, Martial, the emperors Trajan and Hadrian etc.), to the literature and to the government of the Empire. However, they did not represent so much a social “class” as an urban “mentality”, certainly important in the “normal” centuries, but destined to weaken with the decline of the cities. In this class Christianity soon found its basis, widespread since the century. I, persecuted by the Empire (there were numerous martyrs, in Mérida, Seville, Zaragoza, Barcelona etc.), but finally transformed, by a singular destiny, into the heir of the hierarchical and cultural spirit of the Empire itself, continuer and defender of the language Latin and ideas of universality and authority. And in the face of the barbarian invasions of the century. V, political ties with Rome having been almost completely broken, the bishops ended up becoming defensores civitatum (understood the term civitas in the double meaning of city and civilization). It is no coincidence that a bishop, Isidore of Seville, was the highest figure in Roman-barbarian Spain and the first ideologue of an ephemeral national state.

Spain History - the Roman and Pre-Roman Period