Hispania Balearica

Hispania Balearica

Hispania Balearica

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Hispania Balearica was a Roman province encompassing the Balearic Islands off the east coast of modern Spain. Formerly a part of Hispania Tarraconensis, Balearica gained its autonomy due to its geographic separation and economic independence from the mainland.


Prior to the Roman occupation, the island was settled by the native Spanish and then by Greeks. The islands, because of there being two excellent harbors on the largest island, Majorca, were a base for pirates from Sardinia and southern Gaul. In 123 BC, a consul for that year, Q. Caecilius Metellus conquered the islands, easily routing and subduing the population. While not being a great victory militarily, Metellus received a triumph (parade) in 121 BC, and the surname Balearicus for bringing the islands into the Roman fold.

The Roman historians Florus, Orosius and Strabo provide good accounts of Balearicus’ activities in 123–122. Most importantly, they describe why the islands were invaded and why it happened in 123 BC. The answer is that the islands were suddenly overrun by pirates escaping the Roman campaigns in Transalpine Gaul in 126 and Sardinia in 125 BC. The Baleares were the last place for them to hide in the western Mediterranean. Control of the islands...
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