Novempopulania (Latin for "country of the nine peoples") was one of the provinces created by Diocletian (Roman emperor from 284 to 305) out of Gallia Aquitania, which was also called Aquitania Tertia.
The area of Novempopulania was first named Aquitania , as it was where the Aquitani dwelt. The territory extended within the triangular area outlined by the River Garonne, the Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay, as described by Julius Caesar in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico for Gallia Aquitania. In his work, Caesar describes the Aquitania as being different in language and body make-up from their northerly neighbours and more similar to the Celtiberians.The province of Aquitania was enlarged by Augustus, and it began to signify a larger and more diverse territory.
The name Novempopulania stands for the nine peoples making up the original territory (Aquitania Tertia). It seems clear that at the time of the lower empire (2nd to 4th century),the nine peoples were granted by the emperor the right to detach from the Gauls proper (Celts) by means of the magister pagi Verus Flamen Dumvir and, as a result, a celebrating altar was erected which was dedicated to the deity of the pagus. This fact is accounted for by the remains of the altar unearthed in the current Basque town of Hasparren. The newly acquired status may have affected not only the tax system but the conscription and military order too, since two separate bodies were created within Aquitania, i.e. the "Cohortes Aquitanorum" for old Aquitanians and "Cohortes Aquitanorum Biturigum" for those of proper Gaulish origin.
The number of peoples went on to be twelve later, the tribes being identified with a corresponding capital town or civitas, namely Civitas Ausciorum, Civ. Aquensium, Civ. Lactoratium, Civ. Convenarum, Civ. Consorannorum, Civ. Boatium, Civ. Benarnensium, Civ. Aturensium, Civ. Vasatica, Civ. Turba, Civ. Illoronensium and Civ. Elusatium. These civitas are in turn identifiable with present-day towns and cities as follows: Auch, Dax, Lectoure, Comminges, Couserans, Buch and Born, Béarn or Lescar, Aire-sur-l'Adour, Bazas, Tarbes, Oloron, Eauze.Elusa (Eauze) remained the capital city of Novempopulania throughout most of its existence.
Wide evidence of stone inscriptions have been found scattered all over the area which constitutes Novempopulania. These recordings feature names of deities, persons and places with easily identifiable similarities to present-day Basque, a fact that provides, along with current and ancient place-names north of the Pyrenees (e.g. Illiberris mentioned by Ptolemy on the eastern fringes of Novempopulania)and traces of Basque in the Gascon language (especially in the Béarnese dialect), the basis for an Aquitanian proto-Basque theory.
In 418, in the stir of the crumbling rule of the Roman Empire and its territories overrun by Germanic tribes, emperor Honorius allocated Aquitania to the Visigoths as foederati, with their tribes settling on the fringes of Novempopulania at both banks of the River Garonne as far south as Toulouse, where they established their seat. Other than this, their power tenure over Novempopulania may have been more nominal than real. Furthermore, after the 507 Battle of Vouille, they were expelled from the area by the Franks.
Accounts of events taking place at that time on the territory of Novempopulania are confusing and blurred, and so are the names of the peoples and their geographical locations, who are as of now dubbed Vascones, Wasconia, Guasconia (as opposed to the Spanoguasconia, according to the Ravenna Cosmography) with no clear boundaries. At that point, Vascones had taken on an extended meaning arguably encompassing all Basque-language tribes, different from the more restricted definition provided at the time of Augustus.
The crisis of Late antiquity brought about much unrest and turmoil in Novempopulania, where the bagaudae and Vascon raids that occurred later on are often mentioned in various documents. Novempopulania was to become the core region of the Duchy of Vasconia, which was established by the Franks at the beginning of the 7th century with a view to holding back the Basques, but which often conducted a semi-autonomous governance of Basque-Aquitanian background. It later split into the Duchy of Gascony and the County of Vasconia.
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Gallia Aquitania, also known as Aquitaine or Aquitaine Gaul, was a province of the Roman Empire. It lies in present-day southwest France, where it gives its name to the modern region of Aquitaine. It was bordered by the provinces of Gallia Lugdunensis, Gallia Narbonensis, and Hispania Tarraconensis.
The Vascones were a pre-Roman tribe who, on the arrival of the Romans in the 1st century, inhabited a territory that spanned between the upper course of the Ebro river and the southern basin of the western Pyrenees, a region that coincides with present-day Navarre, western Aragon and northeastern La Rioja, in the Iberian Peninsula. The Vascones are often considered ancestors of the present-day Basques to whom they left their name.
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The Aquitanian people lived in the area of present-day southern Nouvelle-Aquitaine and southwestern Midi-Pyrénées, France - in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic ocean, and the Garonne, in present-day southwestern France in the 1st century BCE. The Romans, dubbed this region Gallia Aquitania. Classical authors such as Julius Caesar and Strabo clearly distinguish the Aquitani from the other peoples of Gaul, and note their similarity to others in the Iberian Peninsula.
The Aquitanian language was the language of the ancient Aquitani, spoken on both sides of the western Pyrenees in ancient Aquitaine and in the areas south of the Pyrenees in the valleys of the Basque Country before the Roman conquest. It probably survived in Aquitania north of the Pyrenees until the Early Middle Ages.
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The Varduli were a pre-Roman tribe settled in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, in what today is the eastern region of the autonomous community of the Basque Country and western Navarre, in northern Spain. Their historical territory corresponds with current Basque-speaking areas, however it is debated whether the Varduli were actually Aquitanians, related to the Vascones, or if they were Celts, related to tribes such as the Cantabri and Celtiberians and which later underwent Basquisation.
The Duchy of Gascony or Duchy of Vasconia was a duchy located in present-day southwestern France and northeastern Spain, an area encompassing the modern region of Gascony. The Duchy of Gascony, then known as Wasconia, was originally a Frankish march formed to hold sway over the Basques (Vascones). However, the Duchy went through different periods, from its early years with its distinctively Basque element to the merger in personal union with the Duchy of Aquitaine to the later period as a dependency of the Plantagenet kings of England.
The Basques are an indigenous ethno-linguistic group mainly inhabiting Basque Country. Their history is therefore interconnected with Spanish and French history and also with the history of many other past and present countries, particularly in Europe and the Americas, where a large number of their descendants keep attached to their roots, clustering around Basque clubs which are centers for Basque people.
Late Basquisation is a series of minority hypotheses that dates the arrival of the first Basque-speakers in north-eastern Iberia from Aquitaine to the 5th or 6th century AD.
Cohors secunda Aquitanorum equitata civium Romanorum was a Roman auxiliary mixed infantry and cavalry regiment. It was probably originally raised in Gallia Aquitania in the reign of founder-emperor Augustus after the revolt of the Aquitani was suppressed in 26 BC. Unlike most Gauls, the Aquitani were not Celtic-speaking but spoke Aquitanian, a now extinct non Indo-European language closely related to Basque. The regiment was also known as cohors II Biturigum. The Bituriges were a Celtic-speaking tribe whose territory was included in Gallia Aquitania. It is believed that when the Aquitani regiments were originally raised, some were made up of mixed Aquitani and Bituriges recruits.
The Elusates were an Aquitani tribe dwelling in the modern Gers department, around present-day Eauze, during the Iron Age and the Roman period.
Navarro-Aragonese is a Romance language once spoken in a large part of the Ebro River basin, south of the middle Pyrenees, although it is only currently spoken in a small portion of its original territory. The areas where it was spoken might have included most of Aragón, southern Navarre, and La Rioja. It was also spoken across several towns of central Navarre in a multilingual environment with Occitan, where Basque was the native language.
The Tarbelli were an Aquitani pre-Roman tribe settled in what today is southwestern France, between the river Adour and the Pyrenees. The capital of the Tarbelli people was Aquae Tarbellicae, present-day Dax. They lived in Labourd, in the Northern Basque Country, in the present-day French department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Orthez was also an important Tarbelli city.
The Cocosates were an Aquitani pre-Roman tribe settled in what today is southwestern France, at north of the river Adour. They were surrounded by the Tarbelli at south and the Boiates at north. They inhabited what today is the western part of the French department of Landes.
The Ausci were an Aquitani pre-Roman tribe settled in what today is southwestern France, in the city of Elimberrum or Eliberris, present-day Auch in the French department of Gers. The Ausci spoke a form or dialect of the Aquitanian language, a precursor of the Basque language.
The Bigerriones were an Aquitani pre-Roman tribe settled in what today is southwestern France, around the city of Castrum Bigorra, present-day Saint-Lézer and Civitas Turba, present-day Tarbes. The Bigorre region is named after this tribe. They are mentioned by Julius Caesar in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, where he mentions how the peoples from Aquitaine were subdued by Publius Licinius Crassus. It is believed the Bigerriones spoke a form or dialect of the Aquitanian language, a precursor of the Basque language.