Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Roman Empire in South-Eastern Europe – part I

Sacred places in Bulgaria (to my daughter Elizara Dimitrova): Roman Empire in South-Eastern Europe – part I

Roman presence in Bulgarian lands 3rd-1st century BC and Moesie province during 1st-2nd AD Roman armies landed on the coast of Illyria in 229 BC looking for new territories on the Balkans and far to the East. They gave an ultimatum to Macedonia to leave all of its colonies on the Aegaean shore. After the refusal of Macedonia Rome felt free to invade its land with the support of its enemies – Pergam, Rhodos and Athens. As a result of the Second Macedonian war (200-197 BC) Phillip V of Macedonia was defeated and lost most of the lands that he previously conquered. The Roman armies expel the invasion of the Seleucid fleet led by king Antioch III near the Thermopylae in 191 BC and next year near Magnesia on the south shore of the Black sea. During their return from Asia Minor the army of Gney Manlii Vulzon was crushed by the united tribes of the Thracians near Hebros delta and city of Cypsela (188 BC). The third war of Rome against Macedonia began in 171 BC. The successor of Philip V – Perseus with his allies – illyricum king – Gencii and odryssian king Kotis were defeated by the Roman army led by L. Emilius Paulus near Pidna and a peace contract was signed in 167 BC. The lands of Perseus in Macedonia were divided into four Roman administrative areas. Macedonia Prima included lands of the Strimon valley (south of present day Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria). The establishment of Roman province Macedonia (148 BC) led to the building of the great highway called Via Egnatia (146-5 BC) on which the Roman legions were easily brought from Dyrachion and Apollonia on the Adriatic coast to Thrace and Asia Minor. In 89 BC there was a huge rival against Roma by many Thracian tribes and Macedonians even fough fo their independence (Cicero. In Pis. 84; Oros. 5. 18. 30; Diod. 37.5a ). Sapean king Kotis and Odryssean king Sadala joined Roman forces led by Sula (Syll 3, 756) against the tribes of skordisci, medi, denteleti and others. There were military campaigns against the population of Thrace also in 78 AD according to Ammianus Marcellinus (27.4.5). In 75-73 BC the Roman military leader Scribonius Curionus fought against dardani and geti in Thrace and was the first Roman warrior to get to the Danube River and dakian tribes north of it. In 72-71 BC the Roman governor of Macedonia – M. Terencii Varon Luculus fought against odryssi and bessi tribes and conquer their cities – Kabyle and Philippopolis along with sea colonies on the west Pontus Euxinos (Black sea) coast from Apollonia on the south all the way to Tanais River (Don). The lates were once again free from Rome during the uprising of getic king Burebista (55-48 BC).
Marc Licinius Crassus led an devastating invasion in present day lands of Northern Bulgaria in 29-27 BC. The province of Moesie was established in these lands in 15AD. In 61-62 AD the ruler of the province – Silvanus Aelianus ordered the transportation of 100.000 people who lived on the northern side of Danube River to Moesie. Whole villages with their ruling elite and entire population were forced to cross the Danube and found their new homes in the lands that Crassus made look like desert. And so Aelianus became the first governor of Moesie who sent wheat and taxes to the population of the Roman Empire.
In 86 AD Moesie was divided into two new provinces – Upper Moesie featured the lands of present day western Bulgaria and western part of the Haemus mountain (Stara planina, Bulgaria). The border between two provinces was the river Ciabrus (Tzibritza) which floats to the Danube east of Almus (Lom, Bulgaria). Lower Moesie included lands north of Danube River and existed until 118-119 AD when it was transformed by the Emperor Hadrianus.