Roman Provinces: A History Article


Aravind Acharya, Journalist/Editor

    The Roman Empire was a Gigantic place. Let’s face it: after the Senate was thrown out of power, there was only one person to govern all of Rome, the Emperor. The emperor needed people to keep track of different designated areas of the empire. Those areas were called provinces.


    The idea of provinces in Rome started when Augustus (a.k.a. Octavian) defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt. At this point, the Roman Empire was getting too big, so Augustus needed states. And thus, the 1st recorded province, Aegyptus, was born.


    As the empire expanded, there were more provinces created. Most were just plain old provinces, ruled by Roman governors. Some were client states (a.k.a. protectorates) that were ruled by a local chieftain, but the chieftain had to give tribute to the empire. Eventually, these chieftains all died and the protectorates got absorbed into the Roman Empire and became ordinary provinces.


    Each province had a provincial governor and a capital. Some notable capitals were Londinium, Britannia which later became London, Burdigala. Also, there were provincial capitals in the Roman vassals, like Tarraco in Tarraconensis, Syracuse in Sicily, and Alexandria in Aegyptus.


   Almost all the provinces had a legionary base. This served as the second capital if anything went wrong with the provincial one. It was a military hub to recruit new troops. Some of these bases, like Hierosolyma in Judaea, and Alexandria (the legionary base, not the provincial capital) in Aegyptus became the political and religious hubs in the future! Alexandria became the biggest city in modern-day Egypt, and Hierosolyma (later Jerusalem) became the capital of Israel and an important religious hub for 3 religions!


   So, folks, these are the provinces of Rome. We also learned about the 2 types of province capitals, the governor’s capital (provincial capital) and the legion’s capital (legionary base).