Illyro-Roman is a term used in historiography and anthropological studies for the Romanized Illyrians within the ancient Roman provinces of Illyricum, Moesia, Pannonia and Dardania. The term 'Illyro-Roman' can also be used to describe the Roman settlers who colonized Illyricum.

Before RomeEdit

The Illyrian tribes were considered barbarians by both the Romans and the Hellenic peoples in the southern Balkans. The term Illyrian originally denoted one tribe that lived around Lake Scutari situated along the border of Albania and Montenegro.[1] They were considered among the vast group of barbarian peoples such as the Gauls, Germans, and Dacians. The conquest of Illyria in 168 BC, along with that of Epirus, consolidated the Roman domain over the Adriatic Sea. The mountainous geography of the region meant that the region was hard to subdue, but by 9 CE the Great Illyrian Revolt had been quelled and from then on the region would supply large numbers of non-citizen soldiers to the Roman Auxilia.

During the EmpireEdit

The Romanization of these barbarian peoples eventually transformed them into the most valuable soldiers of the Late Roman Army, with a substantial portion of the officials and generals coming from a northern balkanic background, such as Illyria, Dalmatia, Pannonia and Moesia. One emperor, Decius, several usurpers and during the reign of Gallienus, who started the professionalization of the high command of the army, large numbers of soldiers achieved high rank within the army. They took the place which the Senatorial order had had the privilege of holding since the time of Augustus, 250 years earlier, the command of the legions and armed provinces.

Roman colonizationEdit

Illyricum was heavily colonized by the Romans beginning in the third century BC. The Romans founded the cities of Acruvium, Cibalae, Mursa, Narona, Siscia, and established colonies at Salona, Sirmium, Epidaurum, Aequum, Iader, Rhizon, and in many other cities. These cities were colonized by Roman war veterans.

The Illyrian emperorsEdit

It was from this group that the most successful emperors of the time came from and it was they who brought the Crisis of the Third Century to an end. Examples include Claudius II Gothicus, Aurelian, and Probus. There was also the case of Justinian, who was noted for undertaking large-scale political and legislative reform that restructured the Roman empire. He was born in 483 near Skopje to an obscure Illyro-Roman family and became an associate emperor to his uncle, Justin I, who adopted him.[2] However, other sources note that Justinian came from a Thraco-Roman background.[3][4] The creator of the Tetrarchy Diocletian and his fellow Tetrarchs Maximian, Constantius Chlorus (father of the first Christian emperor Constantine) and Severus II were also of Illyro-Roman background.

There are scholars who note that the military spirit and Latin education of the Roman emperors with Illyrian stock often conflicted with the contemporary ideals of an ancient culture, which is based on classical Greek.[5]

Middle AgesEdit

During the Middle Ages, the descendants of the Illyro-Romans have influenced the growth of the Balkan peninsula.[6] It is said that their wandering enterprise facilitated commerce and opened ancient trade routes. These people had access to old Roman road network, which seemed to be known only among themselves.[6] Artifacts excavated (e.g. sepulchral slabs) in Serbia showed Illyro-Roman workmanship that favored decoration that were rude almost to grotesqueness.[7] It is believed that Illyro-Roman inhabitants of this particular site copied the style from their ancient Illyro-Roman predecessors.[7]

Romance linguistical remnantsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ World and Its Peoples. New York: Marshall Cavendish. 2010. p. 1602. ISBN 9780761479031.
  2. ^ Rapelli, Paola (2011). Symbols of Power in Art. Los Angeles: Getty Publications. p. 102. ISBN 9781606060667.
  3. ^ Mócsy, András. (2014). Pannonia and Upper Moesia (Routledge Revivals) : a History of the Middle Danube Provinces of the Roman Empire. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 978-1-317-75425-1. OCLC 876513010.
  4. ^ Geoffrey Greatrex; Hugh Elton; Lucas McMahon (2014). Shifting genres in late antiquity. Farnham, Surrey. ISBN 978-1-4724-4349-6. OCLC 896872962.
  5. ^ Mayer, Wendy; Trzcionka, Silke (2017). Feast, Fast or Famine: Food and Drink in Byzantium. Leiden: BRILL. pp. 67–68. ISBN 9781876503185.
  6. ^ a b Evans, Sir Arthur (1883). Antiquarian Researches in Illyricum. London: Nichols and Sons. pp. 33–34.
  7. ^ a b Evans, Arthur (2006). Destani, Bejtullah (ed.). Ancient Illyria: An Archaeological Exploration. London: I.B.Tauris. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-84511-167-0.