Colonia (Rome)

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A Colonia (Germanized Colony , plural Coloniae ) was a planned settlement outside Rome in the Roman Empire , originally in an area that had been conquered during the war. As a result, the Coloniae initially had the character of a military outpost to control and hold down the original population, who were usually involved in the settlement. Later, the most important purpose was to provide Roman citizens with land, especially for veterans . Coloniae must not be confused with the Roman provinces .

Republican time

There were two types of coloniae in the Roman Republic :

  • Coloniae civium Romanorum , where Roman citizens were settled. These retained their Roman citizenship and were given a small piece of land by lot. The civil colonies were initially on the coasts of Italy (that is why they were occasionally referred to as coloniae maritimae ) and were provided with relatively few colonists (mostly 300 families). Later they were also created in the interior of the country and provided with a larger number of colonists. The first civil colony had traditionally been in the monarchy , founded Ostia Antica , later about Mutina and Parma .
  • Coloniae Latinae , whose inhabitants had their own "Latin" citizenship (comparable to the Latins in the vicinity of the city who were subjugated by Rome ). Originally Roman citizens were given their citizenship again when they returned to Rome. The Latin colonies were larger than civil colonies and were considered independent cities within the Roman alliance system .

Both types of Coloniae formed the core of the Roman alliance system in Italy during the Middle Republic . They served z. B. as bases in the wars against the Samnites and against King Pyrrhus . The establishment of Coloniae in the newly occupied territories spared the Romans the stationing of occupying troops, which would hardly have been possible in the republic in view of the non-standing armies for longer periods of time. At the same time, the colonists promoted economic development, trade and the associated Romanization of the original population.

A law of the Roman people's assembly was required for the establishment of a Colonia . The selection of the colonists (coloni) and their settlement (deductio) was usually carried out by a college of three ( tresviri coloniae deducendae) , which often included members of the Roman ruling class (nobility). As a rule, parts of the previous population came to the Roman or Latin colonists, as archaeological and epigraphic evidence in particular has shown. The actual foundation of a Colonia took place according to the Etruscan rite. The city's layout and its agriculturally used area were also measured and divided into plots (centuriatio) .

Towards the end of the republic the first Coloniae outside Italy were established (first Carthage by the tribune Gaius Sempronius Gracchus , then Narbo ). In the late republic, colonies served primarily to supply the landless population (plebs) of the capital, but in particular to compensate the disarmed veterans from the army, which was now constantly under arms . An example is Pompeii , in which 80 BC. BC by Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix 2000 veterans were settled.

Imperial times and late antiquity

In the early imperial period , the establishment of colonies, especially outside of Italy, was initially continued, now also in the eastern half of the empire (such as Corinth or Alexandria Troas ). The establishment of new colonies ended at the beginning of the 2nd century. After that there was still the award of the title of a colonia to existing cities (so-called "titular colonies", without the settlement of colonists). This legal status had a higher status than that of a municipality . Originally, the inhabitants of a Colonia civium Romanorum were also exempt from taxes and duties, but this privilege was lifted again during the imperial era and cities were given separate privileges if necessary.

In late antiquity , the differences between the different types of city law disappeared completely. In the sources of this time cities are still referred to as colonia , municipium , civitas , urbs or oppidum , but there were no longer any recognizable class differences.

Examples of Coloniae from the Imperial Era:


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Alexander Demandt : History of late antiquity. The Roman Empire from Diocletian to Justinian, 284–565 AD. Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-44107-6 . P. 345.