Epirus is a geographical and historical region in southeastern Europe, now shared between Greece and Albania. It lies between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea, stretching from the Bay of Vlorë and the Acroceraunian mountains in the north to the Ambracian Gulf and the ruined Roman city of Nicopolis in the south, it is divided between the region of Epirus in northwestern Greece and the counties of Gjirokastër, Vlorë, Berat in southern Albania. The largest city in Epirus is Ioannina, seat of the region of Epirus, with Gjirokastër the largest city in the Albanian part of Epirus. A rugged and mountainous region, Epirus was the north-west area of ancient Greece, it was inhabited by the Greek tribes of the Chaonians and Thesprotians, home to the sanctuary of Dodona, the oldest ancient Greek oracle, the most prestigious one after Delphi. Unified into a single state in 370 BC by the Aeacidae dynasty, Epirus achieved fame during the reign of Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose campaigns against Rome are the origin of the term "Pyrrhic victory".
Epirus subsequently became part of the Roman Empire along with the rest of Greece in 146 BC, followed by the Byzantine Empire. Following the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade, Epirus became the center of the Despotate of Epirus, one of the successor states to the Byzantine Empire. Conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, Epirus became semi-independent during the rule of Ali Pasha in the early 19th century, but the Ottomans re-asserted their control in 1821. Following the Balkan Wars and World War I, southern Epirus became part of Greece, while northern Epirus became part of Albania; the name Epirus is derived from the Greek: Ḗpeiros, meaning "mainland" or terra firma. It is thought to come from an Indo-European root *apero-'coast', was applied to the mainland opposite Corfu and the Ionian islands; the local name was stamped on the coinage of the unified Epirote commonwealth: ΑΠΕΙΡΩΤΑΝ. The Albanian name for the region, which derives from the Greek, is Epiri; the historical region of Epirus is regarded as extending from the northern end of the Ceraunian mountains, located just south of the Bay of Aulon, to the Ambracian Gulf in Greece.
The northern boundary of ancient Epirus is alternatively given as the mouth of the Aoös river to the north of the Bay of Vlorë. Epirus's eastern boundary is defined by the Pindus Mountains, that form the spine of mainland Greece and separate Epirus from Macedonia and Thessaly. To the west, Epirus faces the Ionian Sea; the island of Corfu is not regarded as part of Epirus. The definition of Epirus has changed over time, such that modern administrative boundaries do not correspond to the boundaries of ancient Epirus; the region of Epirus in Greece only comprises a fraction of classical Epirus and does not include its easternmost portions, which lie in Thessaly. In Albania, where the concept of Epirus is never used in an official context, the counties of Gjirokastër, Vlorë, Berat extend well beyond the northern and northeastern boundaries of classical Epirus. Epirus is a predominantly mountainous region, it is made up of the Pindus Mountains, a series of parallel limestone ridges that are a continuation of the Dinaric Alps.
The Pindus mountains form the spine of mainland Greece and separate Epirus from Macedonia and Thessaly to the east. The ridges of the Pindus are parallel to the sea and so steep that the valleys between them are suitable for pasture rather than large-scale agriculture. Altitude increases as one moves east, away from the coast, reaching a maximum of 2,637 m at Mount Smolikas, the highest point in Epirus. Other important ranges include Tymfi, Lygkos, to the west and east of Smolikas Gramos in the northeast, Tzoumerka in the southeast, Tomaros in the southwest, Mitsikeli near Ioannina and Nemercke/Aeoropos on the border between Greece and Albania, the Ceraunian Mountains near Himara in Albania. Most of Epirus lies on the windward side of the Pindus, the prevailing winds from the Ionian Sea make the region the rainiest in mainland Greece. Significant lowlands are to be found only near the coast, in the southwest near Arta and Preveza, in the Acheron plain between Paramythia and Fanari, between Igoumenitsa and Sagiada, near Saranda.
The Zagori area is a scenic upland plateau surrounded by mountain on all sides. The main river flowing through Epirus is the Vjosë, which flows in a northwesterly direction from the Pindus mountains in Greece to its mouth north of the Bay of Vlorë in Albania. Other important rivers include the Acheron river, famous for its religious significance in ancient Greece and site of the Necromanteion, the Arachthos river, crossed by the historic Bridge of Arta, the Louros, the Thyamis or Kalamas, the Voidomatis, a tributary of the Vjosë flowing through the Vikos Gorge; the Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest in the world, forms the centerpiece of the Vikos–Aoös National Park, known for its scenic beauty. The only significant lake in Epirus is Lake Pamvotis, on whose shores lies the city of Ioannina, the region's largest and traditionally most important city; the climate of Epirus is Alpine in the interior. Epirus is forested by coniferous species; the fauna in Epirus is rich and features species such as bears, foxes and lynxes.
Epirus has been occupied since at least Neolithic times by
Ioannina called Yannena within Greece, is the capital and largest city of the Ioannina regional unit and of Epirus, an administrative region in north-western Greece. Its population is 112,486, according to 2011 census, it lies at an elevation of 500 metres above sea level, on the western shore of lake Pamvotis. Ioannina is located 410 km northwest of Athens, 260 kilometres southwest of Thessaloniki and 80 km east of the port of Igoumenitsa in the Ionian Sea; the city's foundation has traditionally been ascribed to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, but modern archaeological research has uncovered evidence of Hellenistic settlements. Ioannina flourished in the late Byzantine period, it became part of the Despotate of Epirus following the Fourth Crusade and many wealthy Byzantine families fled there following the sack of Constantinople, with the city experiencing great prosperity and considerable autonomy, despite the political turmoils. Ioannina surrendered to the Ottomans in 1430 and until 1868 it was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina.
In the period between the 18th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment. Ioannina was ceded to Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars; the city has two hospitals, the General Hospital of Ioannina "G. Hatzikosta", the University Hospital of Ioannina, it is the seat of the University of Ioannina and of several departments of the Τechnological Educational Institute of Epirus, the headquarters of which are located in Arta. The city's emblem consists of the portrait of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian crowned by a stylized depiction of the nearby ancient theater of Dodona; the city's formal name, Ioannina, is a corruption of Agioannina or Agioanneia, "place of St. John", is said to be linked to the establishment of a monastery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, around which the settlement grew. According to another theory, the city was named after Ioannina, the daughter of Belisarius, general of the emperor Justinian. There are two name forms in Greek, Ioannina being the formal and historical name, while the colloquial and more used Υannena or Υannina represents the vernacular tradition of Demotic Greek.
The demotic form corresponds to those in the neighbouring languages. The first indications of human presence in Ioannina basin are dated back to the Paleolithic period as testified by findings in the cavern of Kastritsa. During classical antiquity the basin was inhabited by the Molossians and four of their settlements have been identified there. Despite the extensive destruction suffered in Molossia during the Roman conquest of 167 BC, settlement continued in the basin albeit no longer in an urban pattern; the exact time of Ioannina's foundation is unknown, but it is identified with an unnamed new, "well-fortified" city, recorded by the historian Procopius as having been built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I for the inhabitants of ancient Euroia. This view is not supported, however, by any concrete archaeological evidence. Early 21st-century excavations have brought to light fortifications dating to the Hellenistic period, the course of, followed by reconstruction of the fortress in the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
The identification of the site with one of the ancient cities of Epirus has not yet been possible. It is not until 879 that the name Ioannina appears for the first time, in the acts of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, which refer to one Zacharias, Bishop of Ioannine, a suffragan of Naupaktos. After the Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria, in 1020 Emperor Basil II subordinated the local bishopric to the Archbishopric of Ohrid; the Greek archaeologist K. Tsoures dated the Byzantine city walls and the northeastern citadel of the Ioannina Castle to the 10th century, with additions in the late 11th century, including the south-eastern citadel, traditionally ascribed to the short-lived occupation of the city by the Normans under the leadership of Bohemond of Taranto in 1082. In a chrysobull to the Venetians in 1198, the city is listed as part of its own province. In the treaty of partition of the Byzantine lands after the Fourth Crusade, Ioannina was promised to the Venetians, but in the event, it became part of the new state of Epirus, founded by Michael I Komnenos Doukas.
Under Michael I, the city was fortified anew. The Metropolitan of Naupaktos, John Apokaukos, reports how the city was but a "small town", until Michael gathered refugees who had led Constantinople and other parts of the Empire that fell to the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade, settled them there, transforming the city into a fortress and "ark of salvation". Despite frictions with local inhabitants who tried in 1232 to expel the refugees, the latter were successfully settled and Ioannina gained in both population and economic and political importance. In the aftermath of the Battle of Pelagonia in 1259, much of Epirus was occupied by the Empire of Nicaea, Ioannina was placed under siege. Soon, the Epirote ruler Michael II Komnenos Doukas, aided by his younger son John I Doukas, managed to recover their capital of Arta and relieve Ioannina, evicting the Nicaeans from Epirus. In c. 1275 or c. 1285, John I Doukas, now ruler of Thessaly, launched a raid against the city and its environs, a few years an army from the restored Byzantine Empire unsuccessfully laid siege to the city.
Following the assassination in 1318 of the last n
Arta is a city in northwestern Greece, capital of the regional unit of Arta, part of Epirus region. The city was known in ancient times as Ambracia. Arta is known for the medieval bridge over the Arachthos River. Arta is known for its ancient sites from the era of Pyrrhus of Epirus and its well-preserved 13th-century castle. Arta's Byzantine history is reflected in its many Byzantine churches; the city is the seat of the Technological Educational Institute of Epirus. The first settlement in the area of the modern city dates to the 9th century B. C. Ambracia was founded as a Corinthian colony in the 7th century B. C. In 294 BC, after forty-three years of semi-autonomy under Macedonian suzerainty, Ambracia was given to Pyrrhus, king of the Molossians and of Epirus, who made it his capital, using Ambracia as a base to attack the Romans. Pyrrhus managed to achieve great but costly victories against the Romans, hence the phrase "Pyrrhic victory" which refers in particular to an exchange at the Battle of Asculum.
Pyrrhus found the time and means to adorn his capital with a palace and theatres. In 146 BC, Ambracia became part of the Roman Republic. Despite the existence several churches from the 9th and 10th centuries, Arta is first attested only in 1082, when the Normans under Bohemond laid siege to the city; the origin and etymology of the name is debated. In the Komnenian period, the city flourished as a commercial centre, with links to Venice, rose to become a bishopric by 1157; the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela visited the area in 1165. By the end of the 12th century, Arta formed a distinct fiscal district within the wider theme of Nicopolis. After the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade, it is recorded as the pertinentia de Arta in the Partitio Romaniae treaty of 1204, assigned to Venice; the Venetians did not take control, for in 1205 Michael I Komnenos Doukas came to the city, succeeded its previous Byzantine governor, established a new principality, known by historians as the Despotate of Epirus.
Arta remained the capital of the new principality for most of its history, flourished as a result. The city experienced considerable building activity, with the renovation of older churches and the construction of new ones, most notably the Church of the Parigoritissa and the Church of the Kato Panagia. Sometime after 1227 it received fortifications, was the site of regional Church councils in 1213, 1219, 1225; the 15th-century Chronicle of the Tocco describes it as "the center of a fertile agricultural region with many water buffaloes and horses". The city had trade links to Venice—a Venetian consul is attested in 1284 and 1314/19—and Ragusa, exporting dried meat, ham and indigo. Archaeological finds attest to a local ceramic industry. After the Battle of Pelagonia in 1259, the city was occupied by the troops of the rival Greek successor state, the Empire of Nicaea, but was soon recovered for Epirus by John I Doukas. Another attack by the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1292, by land and sea, was unsuccessful.
In 1303, the city was besieged for a month by the Angevins under Charles II of Naples. In 1313, much of the city was destroyed in a great fire. In the next year, Byzantine troops under the pinkernes John attacked Epirus, including Arta. In 1318, the last male-line descendant of Michael I, Thomas I Komnenos Doukas, was assassinated by his nephew, the Count of Cephalonia Nicholas Orsini, Epirus passed to the Italian Orsini family. Nicholas was in turn murdered in 1323 by his brother John II Orsini. In 1331 Arta, as well as Leucas and other areas, were occupied by Walter VI of Brienne, John Orsini was forced to accept Angevin suzerainty. John's death in 1335 left Epirus in the weak hands of the young Nikephoros II Orsini and his mother Anna Palaiologina, the Byzantine emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos availed himself of the opportunity to occupy and annex Epirus. Byzantine rule was unpopular, in 1339 a revolt broke out, with Arta joining it, under a certain Nicholas Basilitzes. Andronikos III and his commander-in-chief, John Kantakouzenos, campaigned in person in Epirus and captured the rebel fortresses one by one, either by siege or through negotiations.
By the end of 1340, Byzantine rule was restored, John Angelos took his seat as imperial governor in Arta. Aided by the Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347 and an outbreak of the Black Death that devastated the region, Arta with the rest of Epirus fell under the rule of the Serbian king Stefan Dushan in autumn 1347. Dushan's half-brother Simeon Uroš, who married John II Orsini's daughter Thomais Orsini, was appointed governor of Epirus; the city remained part of the new Serbian Empire until Dushan's death in 1355. Nikephoros II Orsini recovered Epirus in 1356/7, but his death in the Battle of Achelous against the Albanian tribes that had invaded the region, meant that Arta returned to the rule of Simeon Uroš, who preferred to reside in Thessaly rather than Epirus; this left Epirus open to increasing Albanian migration, who soon captured most of Epirus, except for Ioannina. In 1367 or shortly after, Arta too was captured, became the centre of the "Despotate of Arta", until 1374 under Peter Losha and John Bua Spata.
The Albanian rulers managed to withstand attacks by the Angevins, as well as by the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller Juan Fernández de Heredia in 1378, but in 1384 the city was plundered by the Ottoman Turks. From 1401/02, Carlo I Tocco, the ambitious Count
Peter Losha was an Albanian nobleman in medieval Epirus, the leader of the Mazaraki and Malakasi clans, who served as the despot of Arta from 1359 until his death in 1374 as vassal under Serbian magnates Simeon Uroš and Toma Preljubović, though at times independent. Peter and John Bua Spata had been given the title despot in 1359 by Simeon Uroš, the brother of deceased Emperor Stefan Dušan, following their victory over Nikephoros II Orsini, who had sought to recover Epirus. Losha's genealogy or birth date is unknown; the word lios means "pockmark" in Albanian. Albanian historians consider him Albanian, while a Vlach origin has been given by some historians. In the first half of the 14th century, mercenaries and migrants flooded into Greece; these were known in Greek as Albanians, from their area of origin, but they included Vlachs. In 1358, Albanians and Vlachs overran Epirus and Aetolia, subsequently established two principalities under their leaders, John Spata and Peter Losha. Losha led the Albanian force against Nikephoros II Orsini at the Battle of Achelous that won him the rule of Arta.
The domains he gained after the battle included Rogoi and Amphilochia, as mentioned in the Chronicle of Ioannina. To emphasize his suzerainty over the rulers in Epirus, Simeon Uroš granted him the title of despot in 1359–60, an act of mere recognition of his rule after the battle of Achelous. In 1366, Toma Preljubović succeeded Simeon as ruler of Epirus, his rule marked a renewal of hostilities in the region as from 1367 to 1370, the capital of Preljubović, came under constant siege and was blocked by the Mazaraki and Malakasi clans under Losha. A truce was signed. According to the Ioanninna chronicle he died in 1373–74; the cause of death has been given as a result of an outbreak of plague in Arta, or an assassination by the Mazaraki. The lordship passed to his son John before coming under the rule of John Spata, his estates included the Epirote cities of: Arta, Rogoi or Roga Amphilochia He had a son, who married Irina Preljubović, the daughter of Toma. Fine, John Van Antwerp; the Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest.
Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08260-4. Jireček, Konstantin Josef. Geschichte der Serben. 1. Gotha, Germany: Friedriech Andreas Perthes A.-G. Madgearu, Alexandru; the Wars of the Balkan Peninsula: Their Medieval Origins. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5846-6. Mihaljčić, Rade. Крај Српског царства. Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga. Nicol, Donald MacGillivray, The Despotate of Epiros 1267–1479: A Contribution to the History of Greece in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-13089-9 Soulis, George Christos, The Serbs and Byzantium during the reign of Tsar Stephen Dušan and his successors, Dumbarton Oaks, ISBN 0-88402-137-8 Vizantološki institut, Recueil de travaux de l'Institut des études byzantines, 33, Naučno delo Vizantološki institut, Zbornik radova, 16-18, Naučno delo
Yaqub Spata or Shpata was the last Lord of Arta, ruling from 1414/15 until 1416, with a brief interval when he was evicted by the local population. His rule ended after his capture and execution by Carlo I Tocco, who proceeded to incorporate Arta to his domains. Yaqub was a scion of the Albanian Spata family, he was a grandson of John Spata, the first Albanian ruler of Arta, son of John's daughter Irene and an unknown member of the Spata family. He had one brother, Maurice Spata, two half-siblings from his mother's second marriage and Madalena Marchesano. Yaqub was raised at the Ottoman court of Sultan Mehmed I, where he had converted to Islam and acquired his name. In 1414/5, at the time of his elder brother Maurice's death, he claimed the succession over Arta. With the support of his mother Irene, he was successful in securing control over Arta itself, while his half-brother Charles became ruler of nearby Rogoi, his Muslim faith, soon provoked opposition, as the locals feared that he would deliver them to the Ottomans.
The local population rose up, imprisoned him and installed his half-brother Charles Marchesano in his place. Released from prison, Yaqub sought refuge in the Ottoman court. There he secured the Sultan's aid. Backed by an Ottoman army under a leader named Ismail, he returned to Arta and recovered the city after a brief siege, he exiled his half-brother in turn, had the leading men of the city executed for their role in his overthrow. After recovering Arta, Yaqub was confronted with the designs of the ambitious Count palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos, Carlo I Tocco. Carlo had acquired possession of Ioannina and the northern half of the old Despotate of Epirus a few years posing as the champion of the local Greeks against the Albanian lords who had conquered Epirus, now set his sights on the southern portions of Epirus around Arta and Aetolia and Acarnania; the chronology of the conflict is somewhat vague, as the main source, the Chronicle of the Tocco, does not follow a strict chronological order.
It is clear that Carlo, using the fortress of Vobliana as his base, was raiding the Spata domains before Yaqub's return to power. Yaqub, along with his father-in-law, who had defected from Tocco service, tried to capture Vobliana; the Spatas were heavily defeated by Carlo's brother Leonardo II Tocco at Mazoma near ancient Nicopolis, but Carlo's son Torno suffered setbacks against the Albanians. After the Tocchi succeeded in capturing Rhiniasa, Leonardo tried to take Rogoi and Carlo Arta, but Yaqub and his father-in-law succeeded in defending their capital for the time being. Carlo withdrew to Ioannina, but soon after was able to lure Yaqub in an ambush near Vobliana: Yaqub was captured and executed. Following his death, the magnates of Arta seized control from Yaqub's mother, offered to surrender the city to Carlo if their existing rights and privileges were respected. Carlo accepted, entered Arta on 4 October. At the same time, Leonardo took over Rogoi. Fine, John Van Antwerp; the Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5. Nicol, Donald MacGillivray; the Despotate of Epiros 1267–1479: A Contribution to the History of Greece in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-13089-9. Trapp, Erich. Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. ISBN 3-7001-3003-1
Greece the Hellenic Republic, self-identified and known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of 11 million as of 2016. Athens is largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, Turkey to the northeast; the Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km in length, featuring a large number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres; the country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Thrace and the Ionian Islands.
Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, Western drama and notably the Olympic Games. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Philip of Macedon united most of the Greek mainland in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great conquering much of the ancient world, from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, in which Greek language and culture were dominant. Rooted in the first century A. D. the Greek Orthodox Church helped shape modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World. Falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence.
Greece's rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The sovereign state of Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, a high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001, it is a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Greece's unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance classify it as a middle power, it is the largest economy in the Balkans. The names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other languages and cultures.
The Greek name of the country is Hellas or Ellada, its official name is the Hellenic Republic. In English, the country is called Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia and means'the land of the Greeks'; the earliest evidence of the presence of human ancestors in the southern Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona cave, in the Greek province of Macedonia. All three stages of the stone age are represented for example in the Franchthi Cave. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries, as Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the Near East to Europe. Greece is home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation, beginning with the Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC, the Minoan civilization in Crete, the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland; these civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek.
The Mycenaeans absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse. This ushered from which written records are absent. Though the unearthed Linear B texts are too fragmentary for the reconstruction of the political landscape and can't support the existence of a larger state contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records suggest the presence of a single state under a "Great King" based in mainland Greece; the end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to the year of the first Olympic Games. The Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula, which spread to the shores of the Black Sea, So
The spatha was a type of straight and long sword, measuring between 0.75 and 1 m, with a handle length between 18 and 20 cm, in use in the territory of the Roman Empire during the 1st to 6th centuries AD. Swords, from the 7th to 10th centuries, like the Viking swords, are recognizable derivatives and sometimes subsumed under the term spatha; the Roman spatha was used in gladiatorial fights. The spatha of literature appears in the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD as a weapon used by Germanic auxiliaries and became a standard heavy infantry weapon, relegating the gladius to use as a light infantry weapon; the spatha replaced the gladius in the front ranks, giving the infantry more reach when thrusting. While the infantry version had a long point, versions carried by the cavalry had a rounded tip that prevented accidental stabbing of the cavalryman's own foot or horse. Archaeologically many instances of the spatha have been found in Germany, it was used extensively by Germanic warriors. It is unclear whether it came from the Pompeii gladius or the longer Celtic swords, or whether it served as a model for the various arming swords and Viking swords of Europe.
The spatha remained popular throughout the Migration Period. It evolved into the knightly sword of the High Middle Ages by the 12th century; the word comes from the Latin spatha, which derives from Greek σπάθη, meaning "any broad blade, of wood or metal" but "broad blade of a sword". The Greek word σπάθη was used in the middle archaic period for various types of Iron Age swords; the word does not appear in Homeric Greek, but it is mentioned in the works of Alcaeus of Mytilene and Theophrastus. It is that spatha is the romanization of a Doric Greek σπάθα The word survives in Modern Greek as σπάθη and σπαθί; the Latin word became the French épée, Catalan espasa and Spanish espada, Italian spada, Romanian spadă and Albanian shpata, all meaning "sword". The English word spatula comes from the diminutive of spatha. English spade, from Old English spadu or spædu, is the Germanic cognate, derived from a Common Germanic *spadō from a Proto-Indo-European stem *sph2-dh-; the spatha was introduced to the Roman army in the early imperial period by Celtic cavalry auxiliaries who continued to wear their Celtic long swords, with blade lengths of 60 to 75 cm, in Roman service.
The earlier gladius sword was replaced by the spatha from the late 2nd to the 3rd century. From the early 3rd century and cavalrymen began to wear their swords on the left side because the scutum had been abandoned and the spatha had replaced the gladius. In the imperial period, the Romans adopted the original Greek term, spáthē, as spatha, which still carried the general meaning of any object considered long and flat. Spatha appears first in Pliny and Seneca with different meanings: a spatula, a metal-working implement, a palm-leaf and so on. There is no hint of any native Roman sword called a spatha. Referring to an actual sword, the term first appears in the pages of Tacitus with reference to an incident of the early empire; the British king, having rebelled, found himself trapped on a rocky hill, so that if he turned one way he encountered the gladii of the legionaries, if the other, the spathae of the auxiliaries. Tacitus does not identify the auxiliaries, since the Romans employed both transplanted soldiers and local levies, it is impossible to know the origins of the Roman auxiliaries in Tacitus' account.
Most examples of spathae come from Eastern Europe, however. There is an excellent chance. There is no indication in Tacitus either; when the spathae next appeared, after a mysterious lacuna of about two centuries, they became the standard weapon of heavy infantry. The Romans could have borrowed this weapon from the auxiliaries Germanic mercenaries, but the name does not support this origin. Spatha was not a Germanic name, nor is there any indication anywhere what its Germanic name was. There are a plenitude of Germanic names, such as Old English sweord, so on, but no evidence to tie any name to the spatha, never used in Germanic languages as the name of a sword; the spatha remained in use in its army. In the Byzantine court, spatharios, or "bearer of the spatha", was a mid-level court title. Other variants deriving from it were protospatharios, spatharokandidatos and spatharokoubikoularios, the latter reserved for eunuchs. One of the more famous spatharokandidatoi was Harald Hardrada; the Roman Iron Age refers to the time of the Roman Empire in north Europe, outside the jurisdiction of the empire, judging from the imported Roman artifacts, was influenced by Roman civilization.
One source of artifacts from this period are the bogs of Schleswig and Denmark. Objects were deliberately broken and thrown into the bog in the belief that they could go with a deceased chief on his voyage to a better place. A cache of 90 swords was found at Nydam Mose in Denmark in 1858, they were in the form of the spatha and therefore have been classified as "Roman swords". They are dated to the 3rd to 4th centuries. Many connect the Nydam cache with the sword of Beowulf, supposed to be a contemporary. Surviving examples of these Germanic Iron Age swords have blades measuring between 71 and 81 cm in length and 43 to 61 mm in width; these single handed weapons of war sport a tang 10 to 13 cm long and have lit