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Romanization describes the adoption of the Latin language and Roman civilization by other, mostly subjugated, peoples. Romanization essentially means a linguistic and cultural adaptation while giving up or redesigning one's own cultural forms.

Romanization was often carried out by veterans of the auxiliary troops, who were originally local themselves, but were given the status of Roman citizens and consequently married a local (who was usually a member of the same tribe or people of the auxiliary veteran in the past). As a result, the veteran's wife and successor also became Roman citizens. The role of the local upper classes was also important, as they adapted to the Romans at an early stage in order to gain a share in the rule.

The expansion of the Roman Empire did not result in Romanization everywhere. In the eastern Mediterranean , the oriental or Hellenistic forms of culture found by the Romans have asserted themselves ; the dominance of ancient Greek culture , for example , was too great for that. They could even influence Roman culture. The northern and northwestern regions of Europe, which at the time of their conquest did not have a highly developed written culture of their own, have romanized themselves . Often, however, only the urban or local elite participated. The vast majority of the population persisted in the pre-Roman way of life. Outside the cities it was largely without rights or unfree.


Romanization began in the third century BC, but was usually not a planned process: cases in which the Romans themselves purposefully promoted it, as according to Tacitus, for example, Gnaeus Iulius Agricola did in Britain (Tac. Agric. 21), were exceptions. More often the initiative came from the subject themselves, but was welcomed and encouraged by the Romans. Also in the 1st / 2nd In the 17th century AD, the increasing urbanization of Western Europe significantly promoted Romanization, as the cities were an imitation of Rome in miniature and thus the peoples, influenced by the temples, theaters and arenas, adapted their lifestyle to the Roman culture. Away from the cities, however, pre-Roman traditions usually lasted much longer.

In a narrower sense, the word only describes cultural developments up to the early Middle Ages (for example the Romanization of the Franconian upper class in the late ancient Franconian Empire); In a broader sense, this process continues to some extent to this day in the French and Spanish spheres of influence in Africa and South America.

Points that primarily led to Romanization were in particular:

  • Residential and public facilities are built (thermal baths, places of worship)
  • Imitation of Rome → building boom, city foundation
  • Certain events (gladiator fights, etc.) become popular
  • Language, law and religion are adapted to Roman conditions → other cultures and views are excluded (standardization)
  • Veterans and traders brought Roman cultures to conquered provinces


  • Helga Botermann : How the Gauls became Romans. Life in the Roman Empire. Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-608-94048-0 .
  • Dirk Krauße : The Romanization phenomenon. Ancient forerunner of globalization? In: Imperium Romanum. Rome's provinces on the Neckar, Rhine and Danube. Archaeological State Museum Baden-Württemberg, Esslingen 2005, ISBN 3-8062-1945-1 pp. 56–62.
  • Alexander Rubel (Ed.): Romanization and Empire. New research approaches from East and West on the exercise, transformation and acceptance of rule in the Roman Empire. Constance 2013, ISBN 978-3-86628-467-8 .
  • Cathy Schucany: Aquae Helveticae. On the Romanization process using the example of Roman bathing. Basel 1996, ISBN 3-908006-19-8 .
  • Greg Woolf: Becoming Roman. The Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998 (Reprint 2003), ISBN 0-521-41445-8 .
  • Michael Kulikowski: The Goths before Rome. Konrad Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart 2009.
  • Spectrum of Science Special Archeology - History - Culture 1/2015, therein: Roland Steinacher: Social history, what is a barbarian ?, p. 23.

Web links

On the Romanization in the Rhineland (website of the Rhineland Regional Council)

Wiktionary: Romanization  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations