Gallaecia

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Gallaecia, also known as Hispania Gallaecia, was the name of a Roman province in the north-west of Hispania, approximately present-day Galicia, northern Portugal, Asturias and Leon and the later Suebic Kingdom of Gallaecia. The Roman cities included the port Cale (Porto), the governing centers Bracara Augusta (Braga), Lucus Augusti (Lugo) and Asturica Augusta (Astorga) and their administrative areas Conventus bracarensis, Conventus lucensis and Conventus asturicensis.

Contents

Description

The Romans gave the name Gallaecia to the northwest part of the Iberian peninsula after the tribes of the area, the Gallaeci or Gallaecians. [1]

The Gallaic Celts make their entry in written history in the first-century epic Punica of Silius Italicus on the First Punic War:

Fibrarum et pennae divinarumque sagacem
flammarum misit dives Callaecia pubem,
barbara nunc patriis ululantem carmina linguis,
nunc pedis alterno percussa verbere terra,
ad numerum resonas gaudentem plaudere caetras. (book III.344-7)
"Rich Gallaecia sent its youths, wise in the knowledge of divination by the entrails of beasts, by feathers and flames— who, now crying out the barbarian song of their native tongue, now alternately stamping the ground in their rhythmic dances until the ground rang, and accompanying the playing with sonorous caetrae" (a caetra was a small type of shield used in the region).

Gallaecia, as a region, was thus marked for the Romans as much for its Celtic culture, the culture of the castroshillforts of Celtic origin—as it was for the lure of its gold mines. This civilization extended over present day Galicia, the north of Portugal, the western part of Asturias, the Bierzo, and Sanabria and was distinctive from the neighbouring Lusitanian civilization to the south according to the classical authors Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder. [2]

At a far later date, the mythic history that was encapsulated in Lebor Gabála Érenn credited Gallaecia as the point from which the Gaels sailed to conquer Ireland, as they had Gallaecia, by force of arms.

History

Pre-Roman Gallaecia

Strabo in his Geography lists the people of the northwestern Atlantic coast of Iberia as follows:

...then the Vettonians and the Vaccaeans, through whose territory the Durius [Douro] River flows, which affords a crossing at Acutia, a city of the Vaccaeans; and last, the Callaicans, [Gallaicans] who occupy a very considerable part of the mountainous country. For this reason, since they were very hard to fight with, the Callaicans themselves have not only furnished the surname for the man who defeated the Lusitanians [meaning Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus, Roman general] but they have also brought it about that now, already, the most of the Lusitanians are called Callaicans.

Roman Gallaecia

Roman Gallaecia under Diocletian's reorganization, 293 AD Gallaecia-Dioclecianus.png
Roman Gallaecia under Diocletian's reorganization, 293 AD

After the Punic Wars, the Romans turned their attention to conquering Hispania. The tribe of the Gallaeci 60,000 strong, according to Paulus Orosius, faced the Roman forces in 137 BC in a battle at the river Douro (Spanish : Duero, Portuguese : Douro, Latin : Durius), which resulted in a great Roman victory, by virtue of which the Roman proconsul Decimus Junius Brutus returned a hero, receiving the agnomen Gallaicus ("conqueror of the Gallaicoi"). From this time, Gallaic fighters joined the Roman legions, to serve as far away as Dacia and Britain. The final extinction of Celtic resistance was the aim of the violent and ruthless Cantabrian Wars fought under the Emperor Augustus from 26 to 19 BC. The resistance was appalling: collective suicide rather than surrender, mothers who killed their children before committing suicide, crucified prisoners of war who sang triumphant hymns, rebellions of captives who killed their guards and returned home from Gaul.

For Rome Gallaecia was a region formed exclusively by two conventus—the Lucensis and the Bracarensis—and was distinguished clearly from other zones like the Asturica, according to written sources:

In the 3rd century, Diocletian created an administrative division which included the conventus of Gallaecia, Asturica and, perhaps, Cluniense. This province took the name of Gallaecia since Gallaecia was the most populous and important zone within the province. In 409, as Roman control collapsed, the Suebi conquests transformed Roman Gallaecia (convents Lucense and Bracarense) into the kingdom of Galicia (the Galliciense Regnum recorded by Hydatius and Gregory of Tours).

Roman governors

Later Gallaecia

On the night of 31 December 406 AD, several Germanic barbarian tribes, the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi, swept over the Roman frontier on the Rhine. They advanced south, pillaging Gaul, and crossed the Pyrenees. They set about dividing up the Roman provinces of Carthaginiensis, Tarraconensis, Gallaecia, and Baetica. The Suebi took part of Gallaecia, where they later established a kingdom. After the Vandals and Alans left for North Africa, the Suevi took control of much of the Iberian Peninsula. However, Visigothic campaigns took much of this territory back. The Visigoths emerged victorious in the wars that followed, and eventually annexed Gallaecia.

After the Visigothic defeat and the annexation of much of Hispania by the Moors, a group of Visigothic states survived in the northern mountains, including Gallaecia. In Beatus of Liébana (d. 798), Gallaecia became used to refer to the Christian part of the Iberian peninsula, whereas Hispania was used for the Muslim one. The emirs found it not worth their while to conquer these mountains filled with warlike tribes and lacking oil or wine.

In Charlemagne's time, bishops of Gallaecia attended the Council of Frankfurt in 794. During his residence in Aachen, he received embassies from Alfonso II of Asturias, according to the Frankish chronicles.

Sancho III of Navarre in 1029 refers to Bermudo III of León as Imperator domus Vermudus in Gallaecia.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Lusitanian mythology is the mythology of the Lusitanians, an Indo-European speaking people of western Iberia, in the territory comprising most of modern Portugal, Galicia, Extremadura and a small part of Salamanca.

Lusitanians Celtiberian people who inhabited Lusitania, the Roman province corresponding to modern Portugal

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Celtici Celtic tribe or group of tribes of the Iberian peninsula

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Coelerni

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Gallaeci

The Gallaeci, Callaeci or Callaici were a largely Celtic tribal complex who inhabited Gallaecia, the north-western corner of Iberia, a region roughly corresponding to what is now northern Portugal, Galicia, western Asturias and western Castile and León in Spain, before and during the Roman period. They spoke a Q-Celtic language related to Northeastern Hispano-Celtic, sometimes called Gallaic, Gallaecian, or Northwestern Hispano-Celtic. The region was annexed by the Romans in the time of Caesar Augustus during the Cantabrian Wars, a war which initiated the assimilation of the Gallaeci into Latin culture.

History of Galicia

The Iberian Peninsula has been inhabited for at least 500,000 years, first by Neanderthals and then by modern humans.

Kingdom of the Suebi Germanic kingdom in what is today Galicia, Spain, that was established by the Suebi about 410, and existed until 585

The Kingdom of the Suebi, also called the Kingdom of Gallæcia or Suebi Kingdom of Gallæcia, was a Germanic post-Roman kingdom that was one of the first to separate from the Roman Empire. Based in the former Roman provinces of Gallaecia and northern Lusitania, the de facto kingdom was established by the Suebi about 409, and during the 6th century it became a formally declared kingdom identifying with Gallaecia. It maintained its independence until 585, when it was annexed by the Visigoths, and was turned into the sixth province of the Visigothic Kingdom in Hispania.

Portus Cale was an ancient town and port in present-day northern Portugal, in the area of today's Grande Porto. The name of the town eventually influenced the name of the subsequent country Portugal.

Hispania Roman province

Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and its provinces. Under the Roman Republic, Hispania was divided into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. During the Principate, Hispania Ulterior was divided into two new provinces, Baetica and Lusitania, while Hispania Citerior was renamed Hispania Tarraconensis. Subsequently, the western part of Tarraconensis was split off, first as Hispania Nova, later renamed "Callaecia". From Diocletian's Tetrarchy onwards, the south of the remainder of Tarraconensis was again split off as Carthaginensis, and all of the mainland Hispanic provinces, along with the Balearic Islands and the North African province of Mauretania Tingitana, were later grouped into a civil diocese headed by a vicarius. The name Hispania was also used in the period of Visigothic rule.

Gallaecian, or Northwestern Hispano-Celtic, is an extinct Celtic language of the Hispano-Celtic group. It was spoken at the beginning of the 1st millennium in the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula that became the Roman province of Gallaecia and is now divided between the present day Norte Region in northern Portugal, and the Spanish regions of Galicia, western Asturias and the west of the Province of León.

Conventus Bracarensis Administrative region of the Roman province of Gallaecia

The Conventus bracarensis, was a Roman administrative unit located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, in Gallaecia. Its name derives from its capital Bracara Augusta, a citadel established by the Romans, which became the convent's administrative center. Its southern limit was the river Douro, it marked the streak with the Roman province of Lusitania. In the north, its limits were the river Verdugo, and the river Sil, both marked the border with the Conventus lucensis. Its eastern borders were marked by the river Navea, a tributary of the Sil, that limited with the Conventus asturicensis.

Conventus lucensis Administrative region within the Roman province of Gallaecia

The Conventus lucensis, was a Roman administrative unit located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, in Gallaecia. Its name derives from its capital Lucus Augusti, the most important city in this convent, economical and administrative center of the country. Its Southern borders were marked by the river Verdugo, and the river Sil (limit with the Conventus bracarensis, in the north the coastline from Morrazo until river Navia, in the East the Ancares' mountains and the Conventus asturicensis.

Battle of the Nervasos Mountains

The Battle of the Nervasos Mountains occurred in the year 419 and was fought between a coalition of Suebi, led by King Hermeric together with allied Roman Imperial forces stationed in the Province of Hispania, against the combined forces of the Vandals and Alans who were led by their King Gunderic. This battle occurred in the context of a contemporary Germanic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The battle took place in what is today the Province of León, Spain, and resulted in a Roman/Suebian Victory.

Name of Galicia

The name of Galicia, an autonomous community of Spain and former kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula, derives from the Latin toponym Callaecia, later Gallaecia, related to the name of an ancient tribe that resided north of the Douro river, the Gallaeci or Callaeci in Latin, or Kallaikói (καλλαικoι) in Greek.

The Gallaeci or Callaeci were an ancient Celtic tribe of Gallaecia, living in the northwest of modern Portugal, roughly in today's western half of the Porto District, from the west of the Tâmega river valley to the Atlantic coast in the west and north of the Douro river. The Greek name of the tribe was Kallaikoi.

References

  1. Luján, Eugenio R. (2000) "Ptolemy's 'Callaecia' and the language(s) of the 'Callaeci'", in: David N. Parsons & Patrick Sims-Williams, editors (2000) Ptolemy; towards a linguistic atlas of the earliest Celtic place-names of Europe: papers from a workshop sponsored by the British Academy, Dept. of Welsh, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 11–12 April 1999, pp. 55–72.
  2. Among them the Praestamarci, Supertamarci, Nerii, Artabri, and in general all people living by the seashore except for the Grovi of southern Galicia and northern Portugal: 'Totam Celtici colunt, sed a Durio ad flexum Grovi, fluuntque per eos Avo, Celadus, Nebis, Minius et cui oblivionis cognomen est Limia. Flexus ipse Lambriacam urbem amplexus recipit fluvios Laeron et Ullam. Partem quae prominet Praesamarchi habitant, perque eos Tamaris et Sars flumina non-longe orta decurrunt, Tamaris secundum Ebora portum, Sars iuxta turrem Augusti titulo memorabilem. Cetera super Tamarici Nerique incolunt in eo tractu ultimi. Hactenus enim ad occidentem versa litora pertinent. Deinde ad septentriones toto latere terra convertitur a Celtico promunturio ad Pyrenaeum usque. Perpetua eius ora, nisi ubi modici recessus ac parva promunturia sunt, ad Cantabros paene recta est. In ea primum Artabri sunt etiamnum Celticae gentis, deinde Astyres.', Pomponius Mela, Chorographia, III.7–9.

Bibliography