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Teuta (Ancient Greek: Τεύτα) was the queen regent[A] of the Ardiaei tribe in Illyria,[2] who reigned approximately from 231 BC to 227 BC.[1][better source needed]

Queen Teuta of Illyria
Statue of Queen Teuta and her stepson Pinnes in Tirana, Albania
Queen[A] of the Ardiaei
Reign231–227 BC[1]
Unknown, tomb undiscovered.



After the death of her husband Agron, (250–230 BC)[3] the former king of the Ardiaei, she inherited the Ardiaean kingdom, which included much of Illyria proper, though its exact extent remains unknown,[4] and she acted as regent for her young stepson Pinnes.[5] According to Polybius, she ruled "by women's reasoning".[6] Teuta started to address the neighbouring states malevolently, supporting the piratical raids of her subjects. She also gave the Romans their first pretext to cross the Adriatic with an army; this occurred as they started the conquest of the eastern Mediterranean.[7]

Illyrian land prior to Roman conquest

Illyrians soon captured and later fortified Dyrrachium (modern-day Durrës, Albania) and Phoenice (which was soon liberated with a truce and a fee).[8] While her ships were off the coast of Onchesmos, they intercepted and plundered[8] some Roman merchant vessels. Teuta's forces extended their operations further southward into the Ionian Sea, defeating the combined Achaean and Aetolian fleet in the battle of Paxos and capturing the island of Corcyra, which put them in position to breach the important trade routes between the mainland of Greece and the Greek cities in Italy.[1]

Because the Roman Republic felt threatened by the opposing side of the Adriatic in the very vicinity of its territories (where most of the raids occurred),[9] the senate was compelled to dispatch two ambassadors to the city of Scodra to solicit reparations and demand an end to all pirate expeditions. Queen Teuta told the ambassadors that according to the law of the Illyrians, piracy was a lawful trade and that her government had no right to interfere with this as a private enterprise. She also implied that "it was never the custom of royalty to prevent the advantage of its subjects they could get from the sea".[9] One of the envoys reportedly replied that Rome would make it her business to introduce better law among the Illyrians as "we have an excellent custom of punishing private wrongs by public revenge".[9] At any rate, one of the two present ambassadors expressed himself to the queen so disrespectfully that her attendants were ordered to seize the ambassadors' ship as it embarked back for Rome.[10] One of the ambassadors was killed and the other was put in captivity.[1]

War with RomeEdit

In 229 BC, Rome declared war[11][12][13] on Illyria and for the first time armies crossed the Adriatic to Illyria (the western regions of the Balkan Peninsula in modern usage). An army consisting of approximately 20,000 troops, 200 cavalry units and an entire Roman fleet of 200 ships was sent to conquer Illyria.[10] When the fleet showed up by Corcyra, Teuta's governor, Demetrius surrendered the city and sided with the Romans as their advisor for the remaining time of the war;[14] at the end of the war (228 BC) the Romans awarded him resulting in Demetrius’ becoming the governor of Pharos and the adjacent coasts.[15][14] The remainder of the Roman army in the meantime landed further north at Apollonia.[14] The combined army and navy proceeded northward together, subduing one town after another and eventually besieging the capital Scodra. Teuta herself was retreated to Rhizon, the principal base of the Illyrian fleet,[14] and finally surrendered in 227 BC, having to accept an ignominious peace. The Romans allowed her to continue her reign but restricted[16] her to a narrow region around Scodra, deprived her of all her other holdings, and forbade her to sail an armed ship south of Lissus.[13][17] They also required her to pay an annual tribute[1][18] and to acknowledge the final authority of Rome.

Her rule was finally ended by the politician Aulus Postumius, after she opted against Roman suppression.[13] Very little is known of the rest of her life. According to the folklore of the modern inhabitants of Risan, Teuta ended her life in grief by throwing herself from Orjen Peak.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ She was never referred to as a "queen" by Appian since she was a regent to Pinnes.[11][19]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jackson-Laufer 1999, "Teuta", pp. 382–383.
  2. ^ Polybius, Scott-Kilvert & Walbank 1979, pp. 114–122; Wilkes 1995, pp. 80, 129, 167.
  3. ^ Hammond 1993, p. 105.
  4. ^ Berranger, Cabanes & Berranger-Auserve 2007, p. 136.
  5. ^ Wilkes 1995, p. 167.
  6. ^ Arthur M. Eckstein (2 January 1995). Moral Vision in the Histories of Polybius. University of California Press. pp. 154–. ISBN 978-0-520-91469-8. Such is the case, of course, with his presentation of Queen Teuta, ruler of the Illyrian Ardiaei (2.4-1 1). Teuta succeeded her husband, Agron (himself a drunkard; cf. 2.4.6), in 231. Polybius sneers that she ruled "by women's reasoning” ...
  7. ^ Pennington, Reina (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots - A Biographical Dictionary of Military Woman (Volume Two). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 430. ISBN 0-313-32708-4.
  8. ^ a b Wilkes 1995, p. 158.
  9. ^ a b c Strickland & Strickland 1854, pp. 290–291.
  10. ^ a b Meijer 1986, p. 167.
  11. ^ a b Arnold 1846, p. 259.
  12. ^ Wilkes 1995, p. 160.
  13. ^ a b c Freeman 1863, pp. 418–419.
  14. ^ a b c d Ceka 2013, pp. 180.
  15. ^ Jacques 2009, pp. 121.
  16. ^ Wilkes 1995, p. 161.
  17. ^ Evans 2006, p. 277.
  18. ^ Polybius. Histories, 2.12.
  19. ^ Berranger, Cabanes & Berranger-Auserve 2007, p. 133.


Further readingEdit

Born: Unknown Died: Unknown
Preceded by
Queen of the Ardiaei (regent to Pinnes)
231–227 BC[citation needed]
Succeeded by