Mauretania

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Mauretania
Tribal Berber kingdoms (3rd century BC-40 AD)
Provinces of the Roman Empire (44 AD-431 AD)
3rd century BC – 431 AD
533–698
Capital Volubilis[1]
Iol / Caesarea[2]
Languages Berber, Latin
Religion Roman paganism, local beliefs
Political structure Tribal Berber kingdoms (3rd century BC-40 AD)
Provinces of the Roman Empire (44 AD-431 AD)
King
 •  110–80 BC Bocchus I
 •  25 BC - 23 AD Juba II
 •  23–40 AD Ptolemy of Mauretania
Historical era Classical Antiquity
 •  Established before 200 BC
 •  client state of the Roman Empire 33 BC
 •  Roman provinces 44 AD
 •  Vandal conquest 430s
 •  Roman reconquest 533
 •  Muslim conquest of the Maghreb 698
Today part of  Algeria
 Morocco

 Spain

Mauretania (also spelled Mauritania)[3] is the Latin name for an area in the ancient Maghreb stretching from central Algeria westwards to the Atlantic, covering northern Morocco, and southward to the Atlas Mountains.[4] Its native inhabitants, seminomadic pastoralists of Berber ancestral stock, were known to the Romans as the Mauri and the Masaesyli.[5]

Beginning in 27 BC, the kings of Mauretania became Roman vassals until about 44 AD when the area was annexed to Rome and divided into two provinces: Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis; in the late 3rd century, another province, Mauretania Sitifensis, was formed out of the eastern part of Caesariensis. When the Vandals arrived in Africa in 429, much of Mauretania became virtually independent. Christianity had spread rapidly there in the 4th and 5th centuries but was extinguished when the Arabs conquered the region in the 7th century.[5]

Mauri (Moorish) Kingdom[edit]

Mauretania existed as a tribal kingdom of the Berber Mauri people. Mauri (Μαῦροι) is recorded as the native name by Strabo in the early 1st century. This appellation was also adopted into Latin, whereas the Greek name for the tribe was Maurusii (Μαυρούσιοι),[6] the Mauri would later bequeath their name to the Moors on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, from at least the 3rd century BC. The Mediterranean coast of Mauretania had commercial harbours for trade with Carthage since before the 4th century BC, but the interior was controlled by Berber tribes, who had established themselves in the region by the beginning of the Iron Age.

King Atlas was a legendary king of Mauretania credited with the invention of the celestial globe. The first known historical king of the Mauri is Baga, who ruled during the Second Punic War, the Mauri were in close contact with Numidia. Bocchus I (fl. 110 BC) was father-in-law to the redoubted Numidian king Jugurtha.

Mauretania became a client kingdom of the Roman Empire in 33 BC, the Romans installed Juba II of Numidia as their client-king. When Juba died in AD 23, his Roman-educated son Ptolemy of Mauretania succeeded him, the Emperor Caligula had Ptolemy executed in 40.[7] Emperor Claudius annexed Mauretania directly as a Roman province in 44, under an imperial governor (either a procurator Augusti, or a legatus Augusti pro praetore).

Kings[edit]

The known kings of Mauretania are:

Name Reign Notes Image
Bocchus I c. 110 – c. 80s BC
Mastanesosus c. 80s BC – 49
Bocchus II 49 – c. 33 BC Co-ruler with Bogud
Bogud 49 – c. 38 BC Co-ruler with Bocchus II
Juba II 25 BC – AD 23 Roman client king Portrait Juba II Louvre Ma1886.jpg
Ptolemy 20–40 Last king of Mauretania
Began reign as co-ruler with Juba II
Executed by Caligula
Ptolemy of Mauretania Louvre Ma1887.jpg

Roman province(s)[edit]

In the 1st century AD, Emperor Claudius divided the Roman province of Mauretania into Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana along the line of the Mulucha (Muluya) River, about 60 km west of modern Oran:

Mauretania gave the empire one emperor, the equestrian Macrinus, he seized power after the assassination of Caracalla in 217 but was himself defeated and executed by Elagabalus the next year.

Emperor Diocletian's Tetrarchy reform (293) further divided the area into three provinces, as the small, easternmost region of Sitifensis was split off from Mauretania Caesariensis.

The Notitia Dignitatum (c. 400) mentions them[clarification needed] still, two being under the authority of the Vicarius of the diocese of Africa:

  • A Dux et praeses provinciae Mauritaniae et Caesariensis, i.e. a Roman governor of the rank of Vir spectabilis, who also held the high military command of dux, as the superior of eight border garrison commanders, each styled Praepositus limitis ..., followed by (genitive forms) Columnatensis, Vidensis, inferioris (i.e. lower border), Fortensis, Muticitani, Audiensis, Caputcellensis and Augustensis.
  • A (civilian) Praeses in the province of Mauretania Sitifensis.

And, under the authority of the Vicarius of the diocese of Hispaniae:

and to whom three extraordinary cavalry units were assigned:

    • Equites scutarii seniores
    • Equites sagittarii seniores
    • Equites Cordueni
  • A Praeses (civilian governor) of the same province of Tingitana

Late Antiquity[edit]

Roman-Moorish kingdoms[edit]

During the crisis of the 3rd century, parts of Mauretania were reconquered by Berber tribes. Direct Roman rule became confined to a few coastal cities (such as Septum (Ceuta) in Mauretania Tingitana and Cherchell in Mauretania Caesariensis) by the late 3rd century.[8]

Historical sources about inland areas are sparse, but these were apparently controlled by local Berber rulers who, however, maintained a degree of Roman culture, including the local cities, and usually nominally acknowledged the suzerainty of the Roman Emperors.[9]

The Western kingdom more distant from the Vandal kingdom was the one of Altava, a city located at the borders of Mauretania Tingitana and Caesariensis....It is clear that the Mauro-Roman kingdom of Altava was fully inside the Western Latin world, not only because of location but mainly because it adopted the military-religious-sociocultural-administrative organization of the Roman Empire...[10]

In an inscription from Altava in western Algeria, one of these rulers, Masuna, described himself as rex gentium Maurorum et Romanorum (king of the Roman and Moorish peoples). Altava was later the capital of another ruler, Garmul or Garmules, who resisted Byzantine rule in Africa but was finally defeated in 578.[11]

Map of the Romano-moorish kingdoms during the late Roman empire

The Byzantine historian Procopius also mentions another independent ruler, Mastigas, who controlled most of Mauretania Caesariensis in the 530s. In the VII century there were eight Romano-Moorish kingdoms: Altava, Ouarsenis, Hodna, Aures, Nemenchas, Capsa, Dorsale and Cabaon.[12]

The last resistance against the Arab invasion was sustained in the second half of the VII century mainly by the Roman-Moorish kingdoms -with the last Byzantine troops in the region- under the leadership of the christian king of Altava Caecilius, but later ended in complete defeat in 703 AD (when the Christian Queen Kahina died in battle).

Vandal kingdom[edit]

The Vandals conquered the Roman province beginning in the 420s, the city of Hippo Regius fell to the Vandals in 431 after a prolonged siege, and Carthage also fell in 439. Theodosius II dispatched an expedition to deal with the Vandals in 441, which failed to progress farther than Sicily.[clarification needed] The Western Empire under Valentinian III secured peace with the Vandals in 442, confirming their control of Proconsular Africa, for the next 90 years, Africa was firmly under the Vandal control. The Vandals were ousted from Africa in the Vandalic War of 533–534, from which time Mauretania at least nominally became a Roman province once again.

The old provinces of the Roman Diocese of Africa were mostly preserved by the Vandals, but large parts, including almost all of Mauretania Tingitana, much of Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Sitifensis and large parts of the interior of Numidia and Byzacena, had been lost to the inroads of Berber tribes, now collectively called the Mauri (later Moors) as a generic term for "the Berber tribes in the province of Mauretania".

Praetorian prefecture of Africa[edit]

In 533, the Roman army under Belisarius defeated the Vandals; in April 534, Justinian published a law concerning the administrative organization of the newly acquired territories. Nevertheless, Justinian restored the old administrative division, but raised the overall governor at Carthage to the supreme administrative rank of praetorian prefect, thereby ending the Diocese of Africa's traditional subordination to the Prefecture of Italy (then still under Ostrogoth rule).

Exarchate of Africa[edit]

The emperor Maurice sometime between 585 and 590 AD created the office of "Exarch", which combined the supreme civil authority of a praetorian prefect and the military authority of a magister militum, and enjoyed considerable autonomy from Constantinople. Two exarchates were established, one in Italy, with seat at Ravenna (hence known as the Exarchate of Ravenna), and one in Africa, based at Carthage and including all imperial possessions in the Western Mediterranean, the first African exarch was the patricius Gennadius.[13]

Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Sitifensis were merged to form the new province of Mauretania Prima, while Maretania Tingitana, effectively reduced to the city of Septum (Ceuta), was combined with the citadels of the Spanish coast (Spania) and the Balearic islands to form Mauretania Secunda. The African exarch was in possession of Mauretania Secunda, which was little more than a tiny outpost in southern Spain, beleaguered by the Visigoths, the last Spanish strongholds were conquered by the Visigoths in 624 AD, reducing "Mauretania Seconda" opposite Gibraltar to only the fort of Septum.

Episcopal sees[edit]

Ancient episcopal sees of the late Roman province of Mauretania Sitifensis, listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees:[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/836
  2. ^ "Iol - ancient city, Algeria". Encyclopedia Britannica. 28 Aug 2008. Retrieved 25 March 2017. 
  3. ^ The Classic Latin Dictionary, Follett, 1957, only gives "Mauritania"
  4. ^ Phillip C. Naylor (7 May 2015). Historical Dictionary of Algeria. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 376. ISBN 978-0-8108-7919-5. 
  5. ^ a b "region, North Africa". Encyclopedia Britannica. August 9, 2007. Retrieved 25 March 2017. 
  6. ^ οἰκοῦσι δ᾽ ἐνταῦθα Μαυρούσιοι μὲν ὑπὸ τῶν Ἑλλήνων λεγόμενοι, Μαῦροι δ᾽ ὑπὸ τῶν Ῥωμαίων καὶ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων "Here dwell a people called by the Greeks Maurusii, and by the Romans and the natives Mauri" Strabo, Geographica 17.3.2. Lewis and Short, Latin Dictionary, 1879 s.v. "Mauri"
  7. ^ Anthony A. Barrett, Caligula: The Corruption of Power, (Routledge, 1989), pp. 116–117.
  8. ^ Wickham, Chris (2005). Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400 - 800. Oxford University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-19-921296-5. 
  9. ^ Wickham, Chris (2005). Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400 - 800. Oxford University Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-19-921296-5. 
  10. ^ Noé Villaverde, Vega: "El Reino mauretoromano de Altava, siglo VI" (The Mauro-Roman kingdom of Altava) p.355
  11. ^ Aguado Blazquez, Francisco (2005). El Africa Bizantina: Reconquista y ocaso (PDF). p. 46. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-07. 
  12. ^ Map showing the eight romano-berber kingdoms
  13. ^ Julien (1931, v.1, p.273)
  14. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), "Sedi titolari", pp. 819-1013

External links[edit]