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Kingdom of Mauretania

110 BC–40
Capital Not specified
Language(s) Mauri
Government Monarchy
 - 110-80 BC Bocchus I
 - 23-40 AD Ptolemy of Mauretania
Historical era Classical Antiquity
 - Established 110 BC
 - Client state of the Roman Empire 33 BC
 - Became Roman Province 40
King Juba II of Numidia and Mauretania.
Mauretania Tingitana province (borders in 116 AD).
Mauretania Caesariensis province (borders in 116 AD).

In antiquity Mauretania was originally an independent Berber kingdom on the Mediterranean coast of north Africa (named after the Mauri tribe, after whom the Moors were named), corresponding to western Algeria, northern Morocco and Spanish Plazas de soberanía. The Mauri people were named for the Greek word mavros, black.[1] Some of the earliest recorded history relates to Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements such as Lixus, Volubilis, Mogador and Chellah.[2] The kingdom of Mauretania was not situated on the Atlantic coast south of Western Sahara, where modern Mauritania lies.


Roman Mauretania

After the defeat of Carthage by the Roman Empire Mauretania became a Roman client kingdom. 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 killed Ptolemy 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.[3] In the first 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 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.

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 Jay/Junky

See also

Line notes



1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MAURETANIA, the ancient name of the north-western angle of the African continent, and under the Roman Empire also of a large territory eastward of that angle. The name had different significations at different times; but before the Roman occupation, Mauretania comprised a considerable part of the modern Morocco i.e. the northern portion bounded on the east by Algiers. Towards the south we may suppose it bounded by the Atlas range, and it. seems to have been regarded by geographers as extending along the coast to the Atlantic as far as the point where that chain descends to the sea, in about 30 N. lat. (Strabo, p. 825). The magnificent plateau in which the city of Morocco is situated seems to have been unknown to ancient geographers, and was certainly never included in the Roman Empire. On the other hand, the Gaetulians to the south of the Atlas range, on the date-producing slopes towards the Sahara, seem to have owned a precarious subjection to the kings of Mauretania, as afterwards to the Roman government. A large part of the country is of great natural fertility, and in ancient times produced large quantities of corn, while the slopes of Atlas were clothed with forests, which, besides other kinds of timber, produced the celebrated ornamental wood called citrum (Plin. Hist. Nat. 13-96), for tables of which the Romans gave fabulous prices. (For physical geography, see MoRocco.) Mauretania, or Maurusia as it was called by Greek writers, signified the land of the Mauri, a term still retained in the modern name of Moors. The origin and ethnical affinities of the race are uncertain; but it is probable that all the inhabitants of this northern tract of Africa were kindred races belonging to the great Berber family, possibly with an intermingled fair-skinned race from Europe (see Tissot, Geographie comparee de la province romaine d'Afrique, i. 400 seq.; also Berbers). They first appear in history at the time of the Jugurthine War (110 -106 B.C.), when Mauretania was under the government of Bocchus and seems to have been recognized as organized state (Sallust, Jugurtha, 19). To this Bocchus was given, after the war, the western part of Jugurtha's kingdom of Numidia, perhaps as far east as Saldae (Bougie). Sixty years later, at the time of the dictator Caesar, we find two Mauretanian kingdoms, one to the west of the river Mulucha under Bogud, and the other to the east under a Bocchus; as to the date or cause of the division we are ignorant. Both these kings took Caesar's part in the civil wars, and had their territory enlarged by him (Appian, B.C. 4, 54). In 25 B.C., after their deaths, Augustus gave the two kingdoms to Juba II. of Numidia (see under Juba), with the river Ampsaga as the eastern frontier (Plin. 5.22; Ptol. 4.3. 1). Juba and his son Ptolemaeus after him reigned till A.D. 40, when the latter was put to death by Caligula, and shortly afterwards Claudius incorporated the kingdom into the Roman state as two provinces, viz. Mauretania Tingitana to the west of the Mulucha and M. Caesariensis to the east of that river, the latter taking its name from the city Caesarea (formerly Iol), which Juba had thus named and adopted as his capital. Thus the dividing line between the two provinces was the same as that which had originally separated Mauretania from Numidia (q.v.). These provinces were governed until the time of Diocletian by imperial procurators, and were occasionally united for military purposes. Under and after Diocletian M. Tingitana was attached administratively to the dioicesis of Spain, with which it was in all respects closely connected; while M. Caesariensis was divided by making its eastern part into a separate government, which was called M. Sitifensis from the Roman colony Sitifis.

In the two provinces of Mauretania there were at the time of Pliny a number of towns, including seven (possibly eight) Roman colonies in M. Tingitana and eleven in M. Caesariensis; others were added later. These were mostly military foundations, and served the purpose of securing civilization against the inroads of the natives, who were not in a condition to be used as material for town-life as in Gaul and Spain, but were under the immediate government of the procurators, retaining their own clan organization. Of these colonies the most important, beginning from the west, were Lixus on the Atlantic, Tingis (Tangier), Rusaddir (Melila, Melilla), Cartenna (Tenes), Iol or Caesarea (Cherchel), Icosium (Algiers), Saldae (Bougie), Igilgili (Jijelli) and Sitifis (Setif). All these were on the coast but the last, which was some distance inland. Besides these there were many municipia or oppida civium romanorum (Plin. 5.19 seq.), but, as has been made clear by French archaeologists who have explored these regions, Roman settlements are less frequent the farther we go west, and M. Tingitana has as yet yielded but scanty evidence of Roman civilization. On the whole Mauretania was in a flourishing condition down to the irruption of the Vandals in A.D. 429; in the Notitia nearly a hundred and seventy episcopal sees are enumerated here, but we must remember that numbers of these were mere villages.

In 1904 the term Mauretania was revived as an official designation by the French government, and applied to the territory north of the lower Senegal under French protection (see Senegal).

To the authorities quoted under AFRICA, ROMAN, may be added here Gobel, Die West-kiiste Afrikas im Alterthum. (W. W. F. *)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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See also Mauretánia





Proper noun




  1. An ancient Berber kingdom on the Mediterranean coast of north Africa which was annexed by the Romans.

Derived terms

See also



  • IPA: /mawrɛˈtaɲja/

Proper noun

Mauretania f.

  1. Mauritania


Singular only
Nominative Mauretania
Genitive Mauretanii
Dative Mauretanii
Accusative Mauretanię
Instrumental Mauretanią
Locative Mauretanii
Vocative Mauretanio

Derived terms

  • Mauretańczyk m., Mauretanka f.
  • adjective: mauretański


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