Spain’s geographical position has made it a focus of attention throughout history for numerous migrants, traders, colonizers, and conquerors alike. Iberia, also known as Hispaniola or Hispania, is in the southwestern corner of Europe and is separated from Africa by a mere eight miles, the point at which the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. The whole of the Iberian Peninsula, which today incorporates the modern nation states of Spain and Portugal, was known to the Romans and Greeks as Hispania.
Over the centuries, before Roman involvement in the Iberian Peninsula, it had been settled by different waves of eastern tribes: Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, Africans, and Carthaginians. It was the settlement in the south of Spain by the last of these that led to Roman interest in the area and ultimately to its conquest and integration into the Roman Empire, though the complete process was to take more than 200 years.
Once the Carthaginian territories had been taken, those parts of Hispania became the two provinces of Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior, which in turn were later subdivided into further provinces. They became some of the wealthiest and most Romanized of the empire’s provinces, but the process by which the whole of Spain came under Roman rule was both violent and complex. Given that the Iberian Peninsula is Europe’s second largest peninsula, maintaining control required vigorous efforts, including Roman-sponsored migrations by the Sueves, Alani, Vandals, Visigoths, and other tribes. For example, the Visigoths first set foot on the peninsula in the year 416, where they were tasked with forcefully re-instituting Roman authority upon other Germanic invaders who had occupied the land. Initially, the Visigoths followed instructions to a tee, but as time progressed, it appeared there may have been reason to have been suspicious of the Visigoths after all. In 418, they were relocated to France, where they established a makeshift kingdom of their own in Toulouse. When they inevitably became wise to their employer's increasingly fragile authority, they realized it would not take much to squeeze the disintegrating empire out of the picture.
The ramifications of 600 years of Roman rule had significant consequences for the rest of the ancient world, and it had a profound impact on subsequent European history. In fact, it can be argued those consequences are still being felt in Spain today in terms of language, culture, and political complications.
Roman Hispania: The History of Ancient Rome’s Conquest of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula looks at the history of relations between the two ancient empires. You will learn about Roman Hispania like never before.