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Mauretania Definition

Mauretania ancient kingdom in northwestern Africa that was settled by a Berber people and was ruled by Rome from about 100 B.C. to the 5th century A.D. (in the area of present-day Morocco and Algeria) (Wikipedia) - Mauretania Not to be confused with the modern country of Mauritania. For the sailing vessel, see RMS Mauretania (disambiguation).
tribal; province of the Roman Empire (33 BC-44 AD); imperial administration
3rd century BC – 431 AD 533–698
Mauretania Tingitana province (borders in 116 AD).
Capital Julia Caesara
Languages Berber, Latin
Religion Roman paganism, local beliefs
Political structure tribal; province of the Roman Empire (33 BC-44 AD); imperial administration
 -  110-80 BC Bocchus I
 -  23-40 AD Ptolemy of Mauretania
Historical era Classical Antiquity
 -  Established before 200 BC
 -  client state of the Roman Empire 33 BC
 -  Roman province 44 AD
 -  Vandal conquest 430s
 -  Roman reconquest 533
 -  Muslim conquest of the Maghreb 698
Part of a series on the History of Morocco
  • Prehistoric Morocco
  • Berber kingdom of Mauretania
  • Mauretania Tingitana
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  • Berber Revolt
  • Emirate of Nekor
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Mauretania (also called Mauritania) was a part of North Africa corresponding to the Mediterranean coast of what is today Morocco, western Algeria and the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Mauretania was an independent tribal Berber kingdom from about the 3rd century BC. It became a client of the Roman empire in 33 BC, and a full province after the death of Ptolemy of Mauretania in AD 40. Mauretania fell to the Vandal conquest in the 430s, but was reconquered by the Eastern Roman Empire in 533. There was a time of weak Byzantine rule where the territory was practically independent. The province was finally lost to the Umayyad Muslim conquest of the Maghreb around 698 AD. In 743 AD, the Berbers defeated the Umayyad Muslims in the Berber Revolt, regained their full independence and founded many Muslim Berber kingdoms, until 1912 when the country was invaded and occupied by France and Spain with fierce Berber resistance. In 1956 the country regained its independence and is now known as Morocco.

  • 1 Kingdom
  • 2 Roman province
  • 3 Late Antiquity
    • 3.1 Roman-Moorish kingdoms
    • 3.2 Vandal kingdom
    • 3.3 Praetorian prefecture of Africa
    • 3.4 Exarchate of Africa
  • 4 Episcopal sees
  • 5 See also
  • 6 Line notes
  • 7 References

Kingdom Further information: North Africa during Antiquity

Mauretania existed as a tribal kingdom of the Mauri people on the Mediterranean coast of north Africa, from at least the 3rd century BC. The Mediterranean coast of Mauretania had commercial harbours for trade with Carthage since before the 4th century BC, but the interior was controlled by Berber tribes, who had established themselves in the region by the beginning Iron Age. The earliest recorded mentions of the Mauri are in the context of Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements such as Lixus, Volubilis, Mogador and Chellah.

King Atlas was a legendary king of Mauretania credited with the invention of the celestial globe. The first known historical king of the Mauri is Bagas, who ruled during the Second Punic War. The Mauri were in close contact with Numidia. Bocchus I (fl. 110 BC) was father-in-law to Jugurtha.

Mauretania became a Roman client kingdom of the Roman Empire in 33 BC. The Romans placed Juba II of Numidia as their client-king. When Juba died in 23 AD, his Roman-educated son Ptolemy of Mauretania succeeded him on the throne. Caligula had Ptolemy executed in 40. Claudius annexed Mauretania directly as a Roman province in 44, under an imperial (not senatorial) governor.

Not depriving the Mauri of their line of kings would have contributed to preserving loyalty and order, it appears: "The Mauri, indeed, manifestly worship kings, and do not conceal their name by any disguise," Cyprian observed in 247, likely quoting a geographer rather than personal observation, in his brief euhemerist exercise in deflating the gods entitled On the Vanity of Idols. The known kings of Mauretania are:

Name Reign Notes Image
Bagas fl. 225 BC
Bocchus I c. 110 – c. 80s BC
Bocchus II 49 – c. 33 BC co-ruler with Bogud
Bogud 49 – c. 38 BC co-ruler with Bocchus II
Juba II 25 BC – 23 AD Roman client king
Ptolemy 20 – 40 last king of Mauretania; began reign as co-ruler with Juba II, executed by Caligula
Roman province Further information: Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis

In the 1st century Emperor Claudius divided the Roman province of Mauretania into Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana along the line of the Mulucha (Muluya) River, about 60 km west of modern Oran:

  • Mauretania Tingitana, named after its capital Tingis (now Tangier); it corresponded to northern Morocco including the Spanish enclaves.
  • Mauretania Caesariensis, comprising western and central Algeria as far as Kabylie.
Map of the Roman Empire showing Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis

Mauretania gave to the empire one emperor, the equestrian Macrinus, who seized power after the assassination of Caracalla in 217 but was himself defeated and executed by Elagabalus the next year.

Since emperor Diocletian''s Tetrarchy reform (293), the country was further divided in three provinces, as the small, easternmost region Sitifensis was split off from Mauretania Caesariensis.

The Notitia Dignitatum (circa 400) mentions them still, two being under the authority of the Vicarius of the diocese of Africa:

  • a Dux et praeses provinciae Mauritaniae et Caesariensis, i.e., a Roman governor of the rank of Vir spectabilis, who also holds the high military command of ''duke'', as the superior of eight border garrison commanders, each styled Praepositus limitis, named (genitive forms) Columnatensis, Vidensis, Praepositus limitis inferioris (i.e., lower border), Fortensis, Muticitani, Audiensis, Caputcellensis and Augustensis.
  • an (ordinary, civilian) Praeses in the province of Mauretania Sitifensis.
Cities of Roman Mauretania in the Tabula Peutingeriana

And, under the authority of the Vicarius of the diocese of Hispaniae:

  • a Comes rei militaris of (Mauretania -, but not mentioning that part of the name) Tingitana, also ranking as vir spectabilis, in charge of the following border garrison (Limitanei) commanders: Praefectus alae Herculeae at Tamuco, Tribunus cohortis secundae Hispanorum at Duga, Tribunus cohortis primae Herculeae at Aulucos, Tribunus cohortis primae Ityraeorum at Castrabarensis, another Tribunus cohortis at Sala, Tribunus cohortis Pacatianensis at Pacatiana, Tribunus cohortis tertiae Asturum at Tabernas and Tribunus cohortis Friglensis at (and apparently also from, a rarity) Friglas; and to whom three extraordinary cavalry units are assigned: Equites scutarii seniores, Equites sagittarii seniores and Equites Cordueni,
  • a Praeses (civilian governor) of the same province of Tingitana
Late Antiquity Further information: Diocese of Africa Roman-Moorish kingdoms

During the crisis of the 3rd century, parts of Mauretania were re-conquered by Berber tribes. Direct Roman rule became confined to a few coastal cities (such as Septum (Ceuta) in Mauretania Tingitana and Cherchell in Mauretania Caesariensis) by the late 3rd century.

Historical sources about inland areas are sparse, but these were apparently controlled by local Berber rulers who, however, maintained a degree of Roman culture, including the local cities, and usually nominally acknowledged the suzerainty of the Roman Emperors. In an inscription from Altava in western Algeria, one of these rulers, Masuna, described himself as rex gentium Maurorum et Romanorum (king of the Roman and Moorish peoples). Altava was later the capital of another ruler, Garmul or Garmules, who resisted Byzantine rule in Africa but was finally defeated in 578. The Byzantine historian Procopius also mentions another independent ruler, Mastigas, who controlled most of Mauretania Caesariensis in the 530s.

Vandal kingdom Main article: Vandal kingdom

The Vandals conquered the Roman province beginning in the 420s. The city of Hippo Regius fell to the Vandals in 431 after a prolonged siege, and Carthage also fell in 439. Theodosius II dispatched an expedition to deal with the Vandals in 441, which failed to progress farther than Sicily. The Western Empire under Valentinian III secured peace with the Vandals in 442, confirming their control of Proconsular Africa. For the next 90 years, Africa was firmly under the Vandal control. The Vandals were ousted from Africa in the Vandalic War of 533-534, from which time Mauretania at least nominally became a Roman province once again.

The old provinces of the Roman Diocese of Africa were mostly preserved by the Vandals, but large parts, including almost all of Mauretania Tingitana, much of Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Sitifensis and large parts of the interior of Numidia and Byzacena, had been lost to the inroads of Berber tribes, now collectively called the Mauri (later Moors) as a generic term for "the Berber tribes in the province of Mauretania".

Praetorian prefecture of Africa Main article: Praetorian prefecture of Africa

In 533, the Roman army under Belisarius defeated the Vandals. In April 534, Justinian published a law concerning the administrative organization of the newly acquired territories. Nevertheless, Justinian restored the old administrative division, but raised the overall governor at Carthage to the supreme administrative rank of praetorian prefect, thereby ending the Diocese of Africa''s traditional subordination to the Prefecture of Italy (then still under Ostrogoth rule).

Exarchate of Africa

The emperor Maurice sometime between 585 and 590 created the office of exarch, which combined the supreme civil authority of a praetorian prefect and the military authority of a magister militum, and enjoyed considerable autonomy from Constantinople. Two exarchates were established, one in Italy, with seat at Ravenna (hence known as the Exarchate of Ravenna), and one in Africa, based at Carthage and including all imperial possessions in the Western Mediterranean. The first African exarch was the patricius Gennadius.

Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Sitifensis were merged to form the new province of "Mauretania Prima", while Maretania Tingitana, effectively reduced to the city of Septum (Ceuta), was combined with the citadels of the Spanish coast (Spania) and the Balearic islands to form "Mauretania Secunda". The African exarch was in possession of Mauretania Secunda, which was little more than a tiny outpost in southern Spain, beleaguered by the Visigoths. The last Spanish strongholds were conquered by the Visigoths c. 624, reducing "Mauretania Seconda" across Gibraltar to only the fort of Septum.

Episcopal sees

Ancient episcopal sees of the late Roman province of Mauretania Sitifensis listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees:

  • Acufida (Cafrida)
  • Arae in Mauretania (Ksar-Tarmounth)
  • Assava (Hammam-Guergour)
  • Asuoremixta
  • Castellum in Mauretania (ruins of Aïn-Castellou?)
  • Cedamusa (near the Fdoulès mountains)
  • Cellae in Mauretania (Kherbet-Zerga)
  • Cova
  • Eminentiana
  • Equizetum (Lacourbe, Ouled Agla)
  • Ficus (in the region of El-Ksar or Djemâa-Si-Belcassem)
  • Flumenpiscense (ruins of Kherbet-Ced-Bel-Abbas?)
  • Gegi
  • Horrea (ruins of Sidi-Rehane?, ruins of Aïn-Zada?)
  • Horrea Aninici (ruins of Aïn-Roua)
  • Ierafi (in the valley of Bou-Sellam?)
  • Lemellefa (Bordj-Redir)
  • Lemfocta (between Tiklat and Mlakou)
  • Lesvi
  • Macri
  • Macriana in Mauretania
  • Maronana (ruins of Aïn-Melloud?)
  • Medianas Zabuniorum
  • Molicunza (ruins of Makou?)
  • Mons in Mauretania (ruins of Henchir-Casbalt?)
  • Mopta (ruins of El-Ouarcha?)
  • Murcona
  • Novaliciana (Kherbet Madjouba or Beni-Fouda)
  • Oliva (ruins of Drâa-El-Arba?, ruins of Tala, Mellal?)
  • Parthenia
  • Perdices (ruins of Aïn-Hamiet?)
  • Privata (near Safiet-El-Hamra Mountain)
  • Saldae
  • Satafis
  • Sertei (Kherbet-Guidra)
  • Sitifis
  • Socia
  • Surista
  • Tamagrista (mear Mount Magris)
  • Tamallula
  • Tamascani (Kerbet-Zembia-Cerez?)
  • Thibuzabetum (Aïn-Melloul?)
  • Thucca in Mauretania
  • Tinista
  • Vamalia (ruins of Biar-Haddada?)
  • Zabi (Bechilga)
  • Zallata
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Late Roman provinces (4th–7th centuries AD)
As found in the Notitia Dignitatum. Provincial administration reformed and dioceses established by Diocletian, c. 293. Permanent praetorian prefectures established after the death of Constantine I. Empire permanently partitioned after 395. Exarchates of Ravenna and Africa established after 584. After massive territorial losses in the 7th century, the remaining provinces were superseded by the theme system in c. 640–660, although in Asia Minor and parts of Greece they survived under the themes until the early 9th century.
  Western Empire (395–476)
Praetorian Prefecture of Gaul Praetorian Prefecture of Italy
Diocese of Gaul Diocese of Vienne1 Diocese of Spain Diocese of Britain
  • Alpes Poeninae et Graiae
  • Belgica I
  • Belgica II
  • Germania I
  • Germania II
  • Lugdunensis I
  • Lugdunensis II
  • Lugdunensis III
  • Lugdunensis IV
  • Maxima Sequanorum
  • Alpes Maritimae
  • Aquitanica I
  • Aquitanica II
  • Narbonensis I
  • Narbonensis II
  • Novempopulania
  • Viennensis
  • Baetica
  • Balearica
  • Carthaginensis
  • Gallaecia
  • Lusitania
  • Mauretania Tingitana
  • Tarraconensis
  • Britannia I
  • Britannia II
  • Flavia Caesariensis
  • Maxima Caesariensis
  • Valentia (369)
Diocese of Suburbicarian Italy Diocese of Annonarian Italy Diocese of Africa2 Diocese of Pannonia3
  • Apulia et Calabria
  • Campania
  • Corsica
  • Lucania et Bruttii
  • Picenum Suburbicarium
  • Samnium
  • Sardinia
  • Sicilia
  • Tuscia et Umbria
  • Valeria
  • Alpes Cottiae
  • Flaminia et Picenum Annonarium
  • Liguria et Aemilia
  • Raetia I
  • Raetia II
  • Venetia et Istria
  • Africa proconsularis (Zeugitana)
  • Byzacena
  • Mauretania Caesariensis
  • Mauretania Sitifensis
  • Numidia Cirtensis
  • Numidia Militiana
  • Tripolitania
  • Dalmatia
  • Noricum mediterraneum
  • Noricum ripense
  • Pannonia I
  • Pannonia II
  • Savia
  • Valeria ripensis
  Eastern Empire (395–c.640)
Praetorian Prefecture of Illyricum Praetorian Prefecture of the East
Diocese of Dacia Diocese of Macedonia
  • Dacia Mediterranea
  • Dacia Ripensis
  • Dardania
  • Moesia I
  • Praevalitana
  • Achaea
  • Creta
  • Epirus nova
  • Epirus vetus
  • Macedonia I
  • Macedonia II Salutaris
  • Thessalia
Diocese of Thrace5 Diocese of Asia5 Diocese of Pontus5 Diocese of the East5 Diocese of Egypt5
  • Europa
  • Haemimontus
  • Moesia II4
  • Rhodope
  • Scythia4
  • Thracia
  • Armenia I5
  • Armenia II5
  • Armenia Maior5
  • Armenian Satrapies5
  • Armenia III (536)
  • Armenia IV (536)
  • Bithynia
  • Cappadocia I5
  • Cappadocia II5
  • Galatia I5
  • Galatia II Salutaris5
  • Helenopontus5
  • Honorias5
  • Paphlagonia5
  • Pontus Polemoniacus5
  • Arabia
  • Cilicia I
  • Cilicia II
  • Cyprus4
  • Euphratensis
  • Isauria
  • Mesopotamia
  • Osroene
  • Palaestina I
  • Palaestina II
  • Palaestina III Salutaris
  • Phoenice I
  • Phoenice II Libanensis
  • Syria I
  • Syria II Salutaris
  • Theodorias (528)
  • Aegyptus I
  • Aegyptus II
  • Arcadia
  • Augustamnica I
  • Augustamnica II
  • Libya Superior
  • Libya Inferior
  • Thebais Superior
  • Thebais Inferior
  Other territories
  • Taurica
  • Quaestura exercitus (536)
  • Spania (552)
  • 1 Later the Septem Provinciae.
  • 2 Re-established after reconquest by the Eastern Empire in 534 as the separate Prefecture of Africa
  • 3 Later the Diocese of Illyricum.
  • 4 Joined the Quaestura exercitus in 536.
  • 5 Affected (i.e. boundaries modified, abolished or renamed) by Justinian I''s administrative reorganization in 534–536.

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