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The Roman provinces (Latin: provincia, pl. provinciae) were the administrative regions of the Roman Empire outside of Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Republic and later under the Empire. Each province was ruled by a Roman appointed as governor.
A province was the basic and, until the tetrarchy (from 293 AD), the largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The word province in Modern English has its origins in the Latin term used by the Romans.
Provinces were generally governed by politicians of senatorial rank, usually former consuls or former praetors. A later exception was the province of Egypt, which was incorporated by Augustus after the death of Cleopatra and was ruled by a governor of only equestrian rank, perhaps as a discouragement to senatorial ambition. That exception was unique but not contrary to Roman law, as Egypt was considered Augustus's personal property, following the tradition of the kings of the earlier Hellenistic period.
The Latin term provincia also had a more general meaning of "jurisdiction".
The Latin word provincia originally meant any task or set of responsibilities assigned by the Roman Senate to an individual who held imperium (right of command), which was often a military command within a specified theatre of operations.Under the Roman Republic, the magistrates were elected to office for a period of one year, and those serving outside the city of Rome, such as consuls acting as generals on a military campaign, were assigned a particular provincia, the scope of authority within which they exercised their command.
The territory of a people who were defeated in war might be brought under various forms of treaty, in some cases entailing complete subjection (deditio). The formal annexation of a territory created a province, in the modern sense of an administrative unit that is geographically defined. Republican-period provinces were administered in one-year terms by the consuls and praetors who had held office the previous year and were invested with imperium.
Rome started expanding beyond Italy during the First Punic War. The first permanent provinces to be annexed were Sicilia in 241 BC and Corsica et Sardinia in 237 BC. Militarized expansionism kept increasing the number of these administrative provinces until there were no longer enough qualified individuals to fill the posts.
The terms of provincial governors often had to be extended for multiple years (prorogatio), and on occasion, the Senate awarded imperium even to private citizens (privati), most notably Pompey the Great.Prorogation undermined the republican constitutional principle of annually-elected magistracies and the amassing of disproportionate wealth and military power by a few men through their provincial commands was a major factor in the transition from a republic to an imperial autocracy.
Gallia Cisalpina (in northern Italy) was a province in the sense of an area of military command, but was never a province in the sense of an administrative unit. During Rome's expansion in the Italian peninsula, the Romans assigned some areas as provinces in the sense of areas of military command assigned to consuls and praetors (not proconsuls or propraetors as in the case of administrative provinces) due to risks of rebellions or invasions. This was applied to Liguria because there was a series of rebellions, Bruttium and to (Calabria) because of perceived risks of rebellion.
In the early days of the Roman presence in Gallia Cisalpina, the issue was rebellion. Later, the issue was risk of invasions by warlike peoples east of Italy. The city of Aquileia was founded to protect northern Italy from invasions. Gaius Julius Caesar granted the inhabitants of this region Roman citizenship and incorporated the region into Italy.
In the so-called Augustan Settlement of 27 BC, which established the Roman Empire, the governance of the provinces was regulated. Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, having emerged from the civil wars as the undisputed victor and master of Rome, officially laid down his powers and, in theory, restored the authority of the Roman Senate. Octavian himself assumed the title "Augustus" and was given to govern, in addition to Egypt, the strategically-important provinces of Gaul, Hispania and Syria (including Cilicia and Cyprus).
Under Augustus, Roman provinces were classified as either public or imperial, depending on whether power was exercised by the Senate or the emperor. Generally, the older provinces that had existed under the Republic were public. Public provinces were, as they had been under the Republic, governed by a proconsul, who was chosen by lot among the ranks of senators who were ex-consuls or ex-praetors, depending on the province that was assigned.
The major imperial provinces were under a legatus Augusti pro praetore , also a senator of consular or praetorian rank. Egypt and some smaller provinces in which no legions were based were ruled by a procurator (praefectus in Egypt), whom the emperor selected from non-senators of equestrian rank.
The status of a province could change from time to time. In AD 68, of a total 36 provinces, 11 were public and 25 imperial. Of the latter, 15 were under legati and 10 under procuratores or praefecti.
During the principate , the number and size of provinces also changed, through conquest or the division of existing provinces. The larger or most heavily-garrisoned provinces (for example Syria and Moesia) were subdivided into smaller provinces to prevent any single governor from holding too much power.
Emperor Diocletian introduced a radical reform known as the tetrarchy (284–305), with a western and an eastern Augustus or senior emperor, each seconded by a junior emperor (and designated successor) styled caesar , and each of these four defending and administering a quarter of the empire. In the 290s, Diocletian divided the empire anew into almost a hundred provinces, including Italy. Their governors were hierarchically ranked, from the proconsuls of Africa Proconsularis and Asia through those governed by consulares and correctores to the praesides . These last were the only ones recruited from the equestrian class. The provinces in turn were grouped into (originally twelve) dioceses, headed usually by a vicarius , who oversaw their affairs. Only the proconsuls and the urban prefect of Rome (and later Constantinople) were exempt from this, and were directly subordinated to the tetrarchs.
Although the Caesars were soon eliminated from the picture, the four administrative resorts were restored in 318 by Emperor Constantine I, in the form of praetorian prefectures, whose holders generally rotated frequently, as in the usual magistracies but without a colleague. Constantine also created a new capital, known after him as Constantinople, which was sometimes called 'New Rome' because it became the permanent seat of the government. In Italy itself, Rome had not been the imperial residence for some time and 286 Diocletian formally moved the seat of government to Mediolanum (modern Milan), while taking up residence himself in Nicomedia. During the 4th century, the administrative structure was modified several times, including repeated experiments with Eastern-Western co-emperors. Provinces and dioceses were split to form new ones, the praetorian prefecture of Illyricum was abolished and reformed. In the end, with the rise of Odoacer in 476 and the death of Julius Nepos in 480, administration of the effectively reduced Empire was permanently unified in Constantinople.
Detailed information on the arrangements during this period is contained in the Notitia Dignitatum (Record of Offices), a document dating from the early 5th century. Most data is drawn from this authentic imperial source, as the names of the areas governed and titles of the governors are given there. There are however debates about the source of some data recorded in the Notitia, and it seems clear that some of its own sources are earlier than others. It is interesting to compare this with the list of military territories under the duces , in charge of border garrisons on so-called limites , and the higher ranking Comites rei militaris, with more mobile forces, and the later, even higher magistri militum.
Justinian I made the next great changes in 534–536 by abolishing, in some provinces, the strict separation of civil and military authority that Diocletian had established. This process was continued on a larger scale with the creation of extraordinary Exarchates in the 580s and culminated with the adoption of the military theme system in the 640s, which replaced the older administrative arrangements entirely. Some scholars use the reorganization of the empire into themata in this period as one of the demarcations between the Dominate and the Byzantine (or the Later Roman) period. As a matter of scholarly convenience, the medieval phase of the Roman Empire is today conventionally referred to as Byzantine, named after the original name of the city that Constantine rebuilt into the new capital of Constantinople.
This article concerns the period 19 BC – 10 BC.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ancient Rome:
Gallia Lugdunensis was a province of the Roman Empire in what is now the modern country of France, part of the Celtic territory of Gaul formerly known as Celtica. It is named after its capital Lugdunum, possibly Roman Europe's major city west of Italy, and a major imperial mint. Outside Lugdunum was the Sanctuary of the Three Gauls, where representatives met to celebrate the cult of Rome and Augustus.
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans south of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Central Serbia, Kosovo and the northern parts of the modern North Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja and Southern Ukraine.
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.
In ancient Rome a promagistrate was an ex-consul or ex-praetor whose imperium was extended at the end of his annual term of office or later. They were called proconsuls and propraetors. This was an innovation created during the Roman Republic. Initially it was intended to provide additional military commanders to support the armies of the consuls or to lead an additional army. With the acquisitions of territories outside Italy which were annexed as provinces, proconsuls and propraetors became provincial governors or administrators. A third type of promagistrate were the proquaestors.
An imperial province was a Roman province during the Principate where the Roman Emperor had the sole right to appoint the governor. These provinces were often the strategically located border provinces.
Gallia Narbonensis was a Roman province located in what is now Languedoc and Provence, in southern France. It was also known as Provincia Nostra, from its having been the first Roman province north of the Alps, and as Gallia Transalpina, distinguishing it from Cisalpine Gaul in northern Italy. It became a Roman province in the late 2nd century BC. Its boundaries were roughly defined by the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Cévennes and Alps to the west and north. The western region of Gallia Narbonensis was known as Septimania.
Lucius Caesar was a grandson of Augustus, the first Roman emperor. The son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder, Augustus' only daughter, Lucius was adopted by his grandfather along with his older brother, Gaius Caesar. As the emperor's adopted sons and joint-heirs to the Roman Empire, Lucius and Gaius had promising political and military careers. However, Lucius died of a sudden illness on 20 August AD 2, in Massilia, Gaul, while traveling to meet the Roman army in Hispania. His brother Gaius also died at a relatively young age on 21 February, AD 4. The untimely loss of both heirs compelled Augustus to redraw the line of succession by adopting Lucius' younger brother, Agrippa Postumus as well as his stepson, Tiberius on 26 June AD 4.
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Roman Gaul refers to Gaul under provincial rule in the Roman Empire from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD.
Illyricum was a Roman province that existed from 27 BC to sometime during the reign of Vespasian. The province comprised Illyria/Dalmatia and Pannonia. Illyria included the area along the east coast of the Adriatic Sea and its inland mountains. With the creation of this province it came to be called Dalmatia. It was in the south, while Pannonia was in the north. Illyria/Dalmatia stretched from the River Drin to Istria (Croatia) and the River Sava in the north. The area roughly corresponded to modern northern Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and coastal Croatia. Pannonia was the plain which lies to its north, from the mountains of Illyria/Dalmatia to the westward bend of the River Danube, and included modern Vojvodina, northern Croatia and western Hungary. As the province developed, Salona became its capital.
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Dalmatia was a Roman province. Its name is derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae, which lived in the central area of the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It encompassed the northern part of present-day Albania, much of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia, thus covering an area significantly larger than the current Croatian region of Dalmatia. Originally this region was called Illyria or Illyricum.
The history of the Roman Empire covers the history of ancient Rome from the fall of the Roman Republic in 27 BC until the abdication of Romulus Augustulus in AD 476 in the West, and the Fall of Constantinople in the East. Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the Republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside of the Italian Peninsula until the 3rd century BC. Civil war engulfed the Roman state in the mid 1st century BC, first between Julius Caesar and Pompey, and finally between Octavian and Mark Antony. Antony was defeated at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian imperator ("commander") thus beginning the Principate, the first epoch of Roman imperial history usually dated from 27 BC to AD 284; they later awarded him the name Augustus, "the venerated". The success of Augustus in establishing principles of dynastic succession was limited by his outliving a number of talented potential heirs: the Julio-Claudian dynasty lasted for four more emperors—Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero—before it yielded in AD 69 to the strife-torn Year of Four Emperors, from which Vespasian emerged as victor. Vespasian became the founder of the brief Flavian dynasty, to be followed by the Nerva–Antonine dynasty which produced the "Five Good Emperors": Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and the philosophically inclined Marcus Aurelius. In the view of the Greek historian Dio Cassius, a contemporary observer, the accession of the emperor Commodus in AD 180 marked the descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of rust and iron"—a famous comment which has led some historians, notably Edward Gibbon, to take Commodus' reign as the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire.
Cilicia was an early Roman province, located on what is today the southern (Mediterranean) coast of Turkey. Cilicia was annexed to the Roman Republic in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of its military presence in the east, after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It was subdivided by Diocletian in around 297, and it remained under Roman rule for several centuries, until falling to the Islamic conquests.
A legatus Augusti pro praetore was the official title of the governor or general of some imperial provinces of the Roman Empire during the Principate era, normally the larger ones or those where legions were based. Provinces were denoted imperial if their governor was selected by the emperor, in contrast to senatorial provinces, whose governors were elected by the Roman Senate.
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