Spanish war

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Numantia by Alejo Vera (1881)

The Spanish War ( 154 BC to 133 BC ) denotes a military conflict between the Romans and the Celtiberian tribes of the Iberian Peninsula , who resisted the Roman occupation of their territories. In the history of Portugal, on whose present, formerly Lusitanian, territory the war was predominantly fought , it is called the Lusitanian War (A Guerra Lúsitana). In its main phase (148 BC to 139 BC) the war is also known as the Viriatic War , after the Lusitan leader Viriatus . The war in the years 154 to 150 BC Chr. Is also called Second Celtiberian War . The entire war or phase 143 to 133/132 BC BC is sometimes also called the Numantine War , after the Celtic oppidum Numantia , located in Spain today , one of the centers of resistance against the Romans.

Course of war


The Spanish War began in 154 BC. BC with a revolt of Celtiberian tribes (Beller, Avaker) under the leadership of the Punicus, who were able to quickly achieve significant gains against the Romans. In the same year the Lusitans , another Celtiberian tribe, rose. On August 23, 153 BC The Roman consul Quintus Fulvius Nobilior was attacked near Numantia and lost an entire legion. 150 BC An embassy of the Lusitans offered the Praetor Servius Sulpicius Galba (not to be confused with the later Roman emperor of the same name) an armistice. This pretended to accept it and even offered them land on which to settle. To do this, they should split up into three groups and lay down their arms. Galba, however, had the three now defenseless groups encircled one by one and killed by the thousands, the rest being sold into slavery. For this act, Galba narrowly escaped charge in Rome, but the war was thus over for the time being.


Viriatus , one of the few Lusitans who escaped the Galba slaughter, swung from 147 BC. BC to the leader of the Lusitans and became one of the most dangerous opponents of the Romans. These made Quintus Fabius Maximus , the brother of Scipio Africanus the Younger , consul for the Roman province of Hispania citerior . Quintus Fabius Maximus initially succeeded in defeating Viriatus, but after that he was able to inflict a serious defeat on the Romans (143 BC, Second Battle of Baecula ), so that the Romans had to retreat to Córdoba. 140 BC BC Viriatus struck the new Roman consul Quintus Fabius Maximus Servilianus ; more than 3,000 Romans died on the battlefield. The Romans had to agree to a humiliating peace treaty , which, however, was not ratified by the Senate in Rome. This meant, among other things, the first confrontation of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus with the Senate, whose reputation suffered from the participation in this defeat. 139 BC The Romans broke the peace made with Viriatus and bribed his envoys, who then murdered Viriatus near Viseu .

Ending the war

With the death of Viriatus, the uprising collapsed. The 138 BC The newly appointed governor of the province of Hispania Ulterior , Decius Junius Brutus, immediately began new military actions in what is now Portugal, especially since the Lusitans cut off the Romans' free access to the Atlantic in this area. He had fortified military installations built in the valley of the Tagus and began from here to subdue what is now the Alentejo and Algarve . In the north, his troops subjugated parts of the areas inhabited by the Galicians (which were completely conquered by the Romans, unlike later by the Moors ). He met little resistance. One of the last battles may have been fought near today's Santarém in the Tagus Valley, which is believed to be identical to the Roman city of Scallabis , with which Decius Junius Brutus saw access to the Iberian west coast, the Atlantic, as secured. According to early legends, he is said to have built a temple of Neptune on the coast of what would later become the sub-province of Scallabis. In fact, in 1961 in this region near today's city of Nazaré, parts of one of the oldest early Christian churches on the Iberian Peninsula, dating from the 7th century, the Church of São Gião were discovered . According to some archaeologists, it was built on the remains of a Roman temple. The archaeological excavations have not yet been completed. With the military actions of Decius Junius Brutus, the most dangerous challenge for Roman rule on the Iberian Peninsula ended. The Celtiberians received land for settlement from the Romans.

Razing Numantias

Numantia did not surrender, however. In 134 BC BC Scipio Africanus the Younger took over command of the troops in Spain and captured Numantia in the summer a year later. He sold the population into slavery and left the city to grind, thus ending the Spanish War for good.


After the victory of the Romans in the Spanish War, their rule over the Iberian Peninsula is no longer seriously endangered, although conflicts flare up again and again. So the governor of Hispania Ulterior Publius Licinius Crassus had to have between 96 and 94 BC. Send troops to the north-western part of the Iberian Peninsula to suppress an uprising, which had already been occupied by Decius Junius Brutus as part of the campaigns between the Duero and Miño rivers . From the year 81 BC Revolts against the Roman occupation flared up again in both provinces ( Hispania Citerior and Ulterior ) across the Iberian Peninsula , this time as a result of the weakening of the ongoing civil war in Rome . First Caesar , who in 61 BC Was appointed consul of the province of Hispania Ulterior, succeeded from the Tagus Valley and the Duero Valley to break the resistance of the Lusitan tribes to a large extent without, however, dominating the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. In order to pacify this region too, the cities of Bracara Augusta ( Braga ), Lucus Augusti ( Lugo ) and Asturica Augusta ( Astorga ) were founded there under Augustus . But neither through this nor through the repeated settlement of veterans could the resistance starting from the fortifications (the castros , also called cultura castreja ) that had existed there since pre-Roman times . Germanic tribes who had invaded the Roman Empire also settled there in the third century.

See also



  • Martin Luik : The difficult path to world power. Rome's conquest of the Iberian Peninsula 218–19 BC Chr. Von Zabern, Mainz 2005, ISBN 3-8053-3471-0 , pp. 51–81.
  • Helmut Simon: Rome's wars in Spain 154-133 BC Chr. (= Frankfurt scientific articles. Cultural studies series. 11, ZDB -ID 575519-0 ). Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1962, (at the same time: Frankfurt am Main, University, dissertation, 1961).

Individual evidence

  1. José Mattoso (Ed.): História de Portugal. Volume 1: Antes de Portugal. Editorial Estampa, Lisbon 1993, ISBN 972-33-0920-3 , pp. 212-218.
  2. José Mattoso (Ed.): História de Portugal. Volume 1: Antes de Portugal. Editorial Estampa, Lisbon 1993, ISBN 972-33-0920-3 , pp. 217-218.
  3. Achim Arbeiter : Architecture and Cult in the Visigothic Period. The São Gião de Nazaré Church. In: Hermanfried Schubart, Achim Arbeiter, Sabine Noack-Haley (ed.): Finds in Portugal (= great moments of archeology. 12). Muster-Schmidt, Göttingen et al. 1993, ISBN 3-7881-1512-2 , pp. 177–196, plates 54–57; Helmut Schlunk, Theodor Hauschild : The monuments of the early Christian and Visigoth times (= Hispania antiqua. 1). von Zabern, Mainz 1978, ISBN 3-8053-0276-2 , pp. 36, 94, 213-214; Helmut Schlunk: The Church of S. Gião near Nazaré (Portugal). In: Madrid Communications. 12, 1971, ISSN  0418-9744 , pp. 206-240.
  4. José Mattoso (Ed.): História de Portugal. Volume 1: Antes de Portugal. Editorial Estampa, Lisbon 1993, ISBN 972-33-0920-3 , p. 218.
  5. José Mattoso (Ed.): História de Portugal. Volume 1: Antes de Portugal. Editorial Estampa, Lisbon 1993, ISBN 972-33-0920-3 , pp. 223 ff., 239, 243, 247-252; José Hermano Saraiva : Portugal. A companion history. Carcanet Press, Manchester 1997, ISBN 1-85754-211-8 , p. 4 ff.