Corsica et Sardinia
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|Provincia Corsica et Sardinia|
|Province of the Roman Empire|
|-||Roman annexation||238 BC|
|Today part of|| France
The Phoenicians were the first to establish several commercial stations in Corsica and in Sardinia. After the Phoenicians, there arrived the Greeks, who also established their colonies. The Carthaginians (Phoenician colony), with the help of the Etruscans, conquered the Greek colony of Alalia, on Corsica in 535 BC. After Corsica, Sardinia also came under control of the Carthaginians.
Obtaining the province
Even though Rome had drawn up an earlier treaty with Carthage, a complete disregard to this agreement led them to forcibly annex Corsica and Sardinia during the First Punic War. In 238 BC, the Carthaginians, accepting defeat in the First Punic War, surrendered Corsica and Sardinia, which together became a province of Rome. This marked the beginning of Roman domination in the Western Mediterranean. The Romans ruled this area for 694 years.
Roman opinion of the province
Throughout this rule, Rome maintained an objective relationship with the province. The coastal regions of both islands were settled by Romans and adopted the Latin language and culture; however, the interior areas of Corsica and Sardinia resisted the Romans. A variety of revolts and uprisings occurred: however, since the interior areas were densely forested, the Romans avoided them and set them aside as the “land of the barbarians”. Overall, Corsica and Sardinia became trivial gains compared to the Roman Empire’s Eastern gains. From Corsica, the Romans did not receive much spoil nor were the prisoners willing to bow to foreign rule, and to learn anything Roman. It was said that “whoever has bought one [Corsican] regrets the waste of his money”. The Romans regarded the islands and their people as backward and unhealthy.
Relationship to Rome
Even though the Romans considered them trivial, Corsica and Sardinia ended up playing an important role in the happenings of the Empire. Sardinia provided much of the grain supply during the time of the Roman Republic. Corsica provided wax to the empire, as that was all that could be found on the island.
The islands also indirectly contributed to the demise of the Roman Republic. Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix settled their veterans on Corsica and used the islands' grain supply to support their war efforts. Julius Caesar had Sardinia occupied by his delegates and gained control of the grain supply. This supply of grain fed his army and ensured their victory in the civil war of 49 BC. Within the second triumvirate, Octavian received the islands as part of his share and used its grain supply to feed his armies against Brutus and Cassius.
Corsica and Sardinia also came to be recognized as a place of exile. C. Cassius Longinus, the lawyer accused of conspiracy by Nero was sent to the province as was Anicentus, murderer of the first Agrippina. Many Jews and Christians were also sent to the islands under Tiberius.
- Caven, Brian (1980). The Punic Wars. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
- Bagnall, Nigel (1990). The Punic Wars: Rome, Carthage, and the Struggle for the Mediterranean. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
- Chapot, Victor (2004). The Roman World. London: Kegan Paul. pp. 140–150.