Masuna

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The Mausoleum of the Kings (called even "Tomb of the Christians") has been named as possible (or similar) burial site of king Masuna

Masuna (fl. 508) was a Romano-Moorish king in Mauretania Caesariensis (western Algeria).He ruled on the Regnum Maurorum et Romanorum (or "Mauro-Roman kingdom" in English), a Christian Berber kingdom that existed in the Maghreb from the 4th century AD until the Arab conquest of North Africa.

Biography[edit]

Masuna is known only from an inscription on a fortification in Altava (modern Ouled Mimoun, in the region of Oran), dated 508, describing him as "King of the Moorish and Roman peoples". He is known to have possessed Altava and at least two other cities, Castra Severiana and Safar, as mention is made of officials he appointed there.[1]

Although evidence is scant, it is presumed that Masuna (who was probably Christian) ruled over a Romano-Moorish kingdom that stretched (or had ambitions to stretch) over a substantial part of Mauretania Caesariensis. It may have been originally a successor state to the western Roman Empire (similar to Aegidius in Gaul) that managed to maintain its independence and resist occupation by the Vandals, or it may have been carved out later when Vandal rule weakened. It is almost certain Masuna was a Berber, possibly descended from a Romano-Berber family appointed as federate commanders in Roman times, who simply continued after the Vandal invasion, or a Berber warlord who extended his rule in the chaos of Vandal times beyond the pastoralist Berber tribes (contemporaneously known as "Mauri" or Moors), to also cover the Romanized cities of Mauretania.

Masuna may be the same person as the Berber chieftain called "Massonas" by Procopius in 535 AD, who allied with the Byzantines during the Vandalic War.[2] Massonas is said to have encouraged the Byzantine general Solomon, the Prefect of Africa, to launch an invasion of the Moorish kingdom of Numidia.

Masuna may have been succeeded as Moorish king of Altava by Mastigas in the late 530s (known from coinage), and the more famous Garmul in the 560s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ In full, the inscription reads: "Pro sal(ute) et incol(umitate) reg(is) Masunae gent(ium) Maur(orum) et Romanor(um) castrum edific(atum) a Masgivini pref(ecto) de Safar. Iidir proc(uratore) castra Severian(a) quem Masuna Altava posuit, et Maxim(us) pr(ocurator) Alt(ava) prefec(it). P(ositum) p(rovinciae) CCCLXVIIII". The three officials are Masgiven in Safar, Iidir in Castra Severiana (exact location uncertain) and Maximus in Altava. 469 is provincial founding date, meaning 508. From Graham (1902: p.281). See also Martindale (1980: pp. 536, 734) and Merrills (2004: p.299).
  2. ^ Martindale (1980: p.734)

Bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]