The Roman conquest
of Hispania (roughly modern Spain and Portugal) began mainly due to the actions of Carthage. At the
end of the First Punic War (264-241 BCE) Rome defeated Carthage
and claimed Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. This deprived Carthage
of a main source of wealth and manpower. As a result of this
burden Carthage placed an increased emphasis on Hispania.
228-227 Carthage founded the city of Cathargo Nova on the
southeast coast. This coast was rich in silver, and the Carthaginians
wished to exploit it. Soon Carthaginian influence spread all
along the eastern coast and began to alarm the Massalia who
Rome had signed a treaty with. In 226 Rome signed a treaty
with Carthage, confining Carthaginian expansion to south of
the Ebro river, and Rome to the north. The Romans, however,
made an alliance with the town of Seguntum (modern Sagunto),
which is located about 100 miles south of the Ebro river.
In 219 BCE Hannibal, the Carthaginian leader, attacked, and
laid siege to Saguntum. In 218 BC the Roman senate came to
the assistance of their allies. They declared Hispania a Roman
province and dispatched Cnaeus Cornelius Scipio with two legions
to block Carthaginian forces moving towards Italy. He landed
at the Greek colony of Emporion and established a base there.
Unfortunately for Scipio, he found that Hannibal had slipped
past him and crossed the Pyrenees Mountains to invade Italy.
With Hannibal gone he switched his focus to blocking reinforcements
from Carthage, or Cathargo Nova. Cnaeus advanced to Tarraco
(modern Tarragona) and established a stronghold. In 217 he
defeated a Carthaginian fleet in the mouth of the Ebro River.
In 215 BCE his brother Publius Scipio arrived with reinforcements,
and in 214 the Romans advanced and recaptured Saguntum. In
213 however disaster struck the Romans. Hasdrubal, Hannibal's
brother, with and army of 40,000 and supported by Iberian
mercenaries routed the Romans at Castulo (modern Cazlona)
and killed both the Scipio brothers.
Publius Cornelius Scipio, was sent to replace his father and
uncle. In 209 he advanced and succeeded in capturing the city
of Cathargo Nova, Carthage's main supply-base in Spain.
Following his victory at Cathargo Nova, Scipio fought for
three more years before he finally forced the remainder of
Carthaginians from Spain. In 206 Scipio returned to Rome and
brought the war to Carthage in Africa. There he defeated Hannibal
in 202 BC at the Battle of Zama, and earned the name Scipio
of Hispania however was not uncontested. After the war Rome divided
Spain into two provinces, known as Hispania Citerior (Near) and Hispania Ulterior (Far). Both of these provinces
were rich in silver and other precious metals, and their governors
did not hesitate to extort extra wealth from the local inhabitants.
During the second Punic war the native tribes of the region switched
between supporting the Carthaginians and the Romans. Eventually
they turned fully against the Romans in a series of revolts.
The first to revolt
were the Ilergeti tribes. Scipio put down this uprising in
206 BC, but they revolted again the next year. Scipio's
successors were able to suppress the tribes, but in 197 the
Turdetani who lived in the southeast rebelled and the central
and north-eastern tribes soon followed suit. Marcus Porcius
Cato became consul in 195 BC, and was given the command of
the whole peninsula. Cato put down the rebellion in the northeast
and the lower Ebro valley. He then marched southwards and
put down a revolt by the Turdetani and Celtiberian tribes.
Cato returned to Rome in 194 leaving two praetors in charge
of the two provinces.
For the next 175
years Spain was an almost constant battleground. Between 82
and 72 BC the senator Quintus Sertorius fought a civil war
against Rome. Sertorius was a supporter of Gaius Marius and
later after Marius's death, of Lucius Cornelius Cinna.
Sertorius was appointed governor of Hispania Citerior in 83
BC. His first act as governor was the expulsion of the incumbent
governor, who was a supporter of Sulla. During the next ten
years he fought to gain control of both Hispania Citerior
and Hispania Ulterior, and defeated several armies sent by
These victories won him the support of Lusitanian and
Celtiberian mercenaries. By 77 BC Sertorius had control of
most of Citerior, and had established a new capital at Osca.
Between 79 and 72 BC Sertorius fought against the armies of
Caecilius Metellus and Pompey. The long fighting eventually
weakened Sertorius' forces, and led to defections by
many of his Celtiberian allies. In 72 BC Sertorius was murdered
by Perperna, one of his own generals.
The Lusitani and
Celtiberians who lived on the west coast and central plains
began raiding Roman Spain in the 160s, and continued to resist
Roman attempts to pacify them until 133 BC. The Lusitani tribe
revolted again in 61 BC which was put down by Julius Caesar. The final conquest
of Hispania was accomplished under Augustus, between
the years 39 and 19 BC. In 13 BCE Hispania was divided into
three provinces: Baetica, Lusitania, and Tarraconensis.
Hispania was significantly Romanized throughout the imperial period and it came to be one of the most important territories of the Roman Empire. Emperors Trajan and Hadrian were both born there and most all of the people of Hispania were granted Roman citizen status. Despite this, Legio VII Gemina was permanently stationed in Hispania Tarraconensis. Its base was at Leon to be close to, and to protect the gold and iron mines of Gallica. Hispania finally fell from the Roman Empire with the great Germanic migrations of the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Alani, Seuvi, Vandals and Visigoths poured through Gaul and into the west, effectively removing Hispania from Roman control by about 409 AD.
Hispania's economy expanded greatly under Roman Rule. The province, along with North Africa, served as a granary for the Roman market, and its harbors exported gold, wool, olive oil, and wine. Agricultural production increased with the introduction of irrigation projects, some of which remain in use even today. Much of daily life consisted of agricultural work under which the region flourished. Much of the eastern region cultivated grapes and olives to supplement the economy. Silver mining within the Guadalquivir River valley became an integral part of Iberian society. In fact some of the Empire's most important metal resources were in Hispania. Gold, Iron, Tin, Copper and Lead were also all mined in abundance.
Along with the
following tribes, the people of Hispania had a great deal
of influence from Phoenician (Carthaginian), Greek and Roman
The Lusitani -
Were a group of warlike tribes who, despite defeats, resisted
Roman domination until their great leader, Viriatus, was killed
(139 BC). In the 1st century BCE they joined in supporting
Sertorius, against the government in Rome. The Lusitani lived
in what is now Portugal.
or "Celts of Iberia" - In Roman times the Celtiberians
were composed of the Arevaci, Belli, Titti, and Lusones. The
Arevaci dominated the neighboring Celtiberian tribes from
the powerful strongholds at Okilis (modern Medinaceli) and
Numantia. The Belli and the Titti were settled in the Jalon
valley, the Sierra del Solorio separating them from the Lusones
to the northeast.
The Iberians -
Settled in the southern and eastern sections of what is now
Spain, from which the entire peninsula got its name. Iberian
applied to all tribes that settled by the 5th century BC between
the Iberus River and the Huelva River. The most important
of the Iberian tribes were the Bastetani, who occupied the
Almeria and mountainous Granada regions. To the west of the
Bastetani were the Turdetani who were the regions most powerful.
The Turdetani tribes were located around the Guadalquivir
River valley and were greatly influenced by the Greeks in
the Emporion and Alicante regions. Towards the southeast greater
influence was found from the Malaca, Sexi, and Abdera,