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Map of the provinces Hispania citerior and Hispania ulterior, after Kiepert 1861
Mosaic from Llíria, today in the MAN

Hispania (Germanized) or Hispania was the Latin name for the Iberian Peninsula in antiquity , especially for the Roman province of the same name (especially the name of the diocese in question in late antiquity ).


The name Hispania possibly derives from the Phoenician expression I-Shapan-im (land of hyrax ), since the Phoenicians believed rabbits sighted there to be hyrax, but they never lived there. A Roman mythological interpretation (after Pliny and Plutarch) the name goes back to Pan , who is said to have conquered Iberia together with Bacchus and then left behind by Bacchus as governor.

Another explanation relates the name to the evening star ; Hesperia was the name the ancient Greeks called the almost inaccessible land of Hispania at the western end of the Mediterranean Sea based on Hesperos (evening star), the planet Venus, which is not directly accessible to humans and appears in the western evening sky.


Hispania as a new power base

Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula with the main roads

After the Carthaginians had lost Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia to the Romans in the First Punic War (264–241 BC), they expanded on the Iberian Peninsula, which was not claimed by Rome. From then on, the Carthaginian military leaders Hamilkar Barkas , Hasdrubal and Hannibal built Hispania as a new power base and quasi-colony between 237 and 218 BC. Chr. From. By expanding into Hispania, they found markets and were able to restore their economy.

The expansion did not remain hidden from Rome and its Greek allies Emporion ( Empúries ) and Massalia ( Marseille ), so that in the Ebro Treaty of 226 BC. The Iber was agreed as the eastern border of the Carthaginian sphere of influence. In 219 BC However, Hannibal took the Greek city of Saguntum in Hispania , which was an ally of the Romans. Thereupon the second Punic War broke out between Carthage and Rome (218 BC to 201 BC).

Map of the Roman occupation of Iberia in the period from 220 BC Until 19 BC She leads with the approximate provincial boundaries .

At that moment, possession of the coasts of Hispania became the strategic goal of the Romans in order to wrest from the Carthaginians the immeasurable economic reserves of people and material. Hannibal marched in the spring of 218 BC. Overland with about 100,000 soldiers in the direction of Gaul and Italy . What remained was a reserve of 22,000 foot soldiers, 3,500 horsemen and 52 warships under the command of his brothers Mago and Hasdrubal Barkas .

In 217 BC The Romans landed under their general and consul Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus with two legions and 60 ships in Emporion to cut Hannibal's supplies. His nephew Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus finally drove the Carthaginians out of Hispania (206 BC).

In 197 BC The Romans divided the Iberian Peninsula into the provinces of Hispania citerior and Hispania ulterior (nearer and more distant Hispania), with ulterior being the south and west, citerior being the east, while the north, that is, the region between Pyrenees and Galicia , remained independent until the time of Caesar .

Augustus named Hispania citerior in 27 BC. In Hispania Tarraconensis or Tarraconensis for short , made the province an imperial province and divided Hispania Ulterior into the provinces of Lusitania and Baetica , whereby he in turn appropriated the former and left the latter as a senatorial province .

Late antiquity

The late antique Dioecesis Hispaniae

In late antiquity , the peninsula was combined under Diocletian with parts of North Africa to form Diocese XV ( Dioecesis Hispaniae ), whereby the province of Tarraconensis was divided into several parts:

  1. Baetica
  2. Lusitania
  3. Gallaecia
  4. Tarraconensis including the Balearic Islands
  5. Carthaginiensis
  6. Mauretania Tingitana

In the 5th century AD, rule in Hispania passed from the Romans to the Suebi and Visigoths . This did not happen in a single act, but happened gradually. In 409 there was the first major invasion of Suebi, Alans and Vandals. The Romans therefore brought the Visigoths under Athaulf as allies around 415 , who were finally settled in 418 in Aquitaine (south-west Gaul) and formed a kingdom around Toulouse , the Visigoth Empire , the first phase of which is also called the Tolosan Empire after its capital, Tolosa (Toulouse) . In 456 the Goths invaded Hispania for the first time, where they - nominally on behalf of the Emperor Avitus - destroyed the empire of the Suebi. In the following decades the Visigoths continued to expand their influence in Spain, but officially still acted auctoritate Romana ("on behalf of the Romans"). In 460 the Emperor Majorian once again set foot on Spanish soil at the head of an army. But in 469 the Visigoths rebelled openly against Emperor Anthemius , and in 472 they plundered the Tarraconensis , the last province still officially under imperial control, under Eurich , who had terminated the foedus with Westrom . From the 490s they moved to permanent settlement in Spain. This ended the Roman rule in Hispania for the time being, although it had long since vanished.

551/52, however, sent Emperor Justinian the patrician Liberius with an expeditionary force to southern Spain; This succeeded by taking advantage of intra-Gothic battles to conquer an area that roughly corresponded to the old Baetica . It was organized by the emperor as the new province of Spania , the troops there were subordinated to a magister militum Spaniae . The capital was Carthago Nova . When the Visigoths succeeded in conquering the city in 625, this marked the final end of the Roman imperial presence on the Iberian Peninsula.

For the following history see Visigoth Empire , History of Portugal and History of Spain .


When the Romans in the 2nd century BC Chr. The Iberian Peninsula reached, had the Iberian aborigines (see also: Basques ) with for centuries Celts mixed. Phoenicians , Carthaginian and Greek colonization along the Mediterranean coast since the 8th century BC Chr. Were added. The legions stationed by the Romans increased the cultural mix, and finally Germanic tribes, North Africans ( Moors ) and Jews joined them.


The peninsula exported wood , vermilion , gold , iron , tin , lead , pottery , marble , wine and olive oil .


The most popular deity in the Roman province of Hispania was Isis , followed by Magna Mater , the great mother. The Carthaginian-Phoenician deities Melkart (both a sun and sea god) and Tanit -Caelestis (a mother goddess who may have been associated with the moon ) were also popular. The Roman pantheon quickly replaced the original deities through identification: Melkart became Hercules, who for a long time was considered by the Greeks as a variant of their Heracles . Baal-Hammon , the main Carthaginian god, also played an essential role, as did the Egyptian gods Bes and Osiris .

However, in the 4th century, Christianity spread rapidly.


Web links

Commons : Hispania  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hispania  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hispania ( memento of October 26, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). In: aquela.com (English).