The Construction of Communities in the Early Middle Ages: Texts, Resources and Artefacts

By Richard Corradini; Max Diesenberger et al. | Go to book overview

CHANGES IN THE TOPOGRAPHY OF POWER:
FROM CIVITATES TO VRBES REGIAE IN HISPANLA

Gisela Ripoll


The civitates of late Antiquity in the Iberian peninsula

The study of the changes in the topography of power in late Antiquity is directly linked to our knowledge of the period that immediately preceded it, that is the Roman World, and of the one which immediately followed it, in other words the Middle Ages.1 During late Antiquity, the dioecesis Hispaniarum was dependent on the prefecture of the Gauls and, in administrative terms, was organised as had been laid down in the last reorganization of Diocletian's age.

In his Etymologiae Isidore of Seville ratifies the information given by the Laterculus Veronensis, the Breviarium of R. Festus, the Laterculus Polemii Silvii, the Notitia Dignitatum and the Iulii Honorii Cosmographia,2 although very succinctly and without considering the Balearics as a separate province or as belonging to Hispania.3

The ciuitates that had been provincial capitals4 continued to be centres of prestige, containing a considerable urban area, from the 6th to the 8th centuries. Nearly all of them held the rank of metropolitan see, with the exception of Carthago Spartaria, which was replaced by Toletum, as will be seen below.

1 I would like to express my thanks to Dr. P. Banks for translating this text from
Spanish into English. I would also like to thank Dr. Isabel Velázquez of the
Gomplutense University, Madrid for the suggestions she has made. Similarly, my
thanks go to S. Margenat who provided help in the preparation and composition
of the text.

2 E. Albertini, Les divisions administratives de lEspagne romaine (Paris 1923) pp. 118–126;
J. Arce, El último siglo de la España romana, 284–409 (Madrid 1982) pp. 31–52, with
ample bibliography.

3 The text reads: (Hispania) habet prouincias sex: Tarraconensem, Cartaginensem, Lusitaniam.
Galliciam, Baeticam, et trans freta in regione Africae Tingitaniam
(San Isidore de Sevilla.
Etimologías XW, 4, 29, ed. J. Oroz and M.A. Marcos [Madrid 1982] p. 186).

4Tarraconensis with its capital in Tarraco; Carthaginensis with its capital in Carthago
Spartaria; Insulae baleares
with their capital in Palma./ Pollentia Baetica with its capital
in Corduba; Lusitania with its capital in Emerita; Gallaecia with its capital in Bracara
and finally Tingitana with its capital in Tingis.

-123-

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