Gallaecia, also known as Hispania Gallaecia, was the name of a Roman province in the north-west of Hispania, approximately present-day Galicia, northern Portugal, Asturias and Leon and the later Suebic Kingdom of Gallaecia. The Roman cities included the port Cale (Porto), the governing centers Bracara Augusta (Braga), Lucus Augusti (Lugo) and Asturica Augusta (Astorga) and their administrative areas Conventus bracarensis, Conventus lucensis and Conventus asturicensis.


The Romans gave the name Gallaecia to the northwest part of the Iberian peninsula after the tribes of the area, the Gallaeci or Gallaecians.[1]

The Gallaic Celts make their entry in written history in the first-century epic Punica of Silius Italicus on the First Punic War:

Fibrarum et pennae divinarumque sagacem
flammarum misit dives Callaecia pubem,
barbara nunc patriis ululantem carmina linguis,
nunc pedis alterno percussa verbere terra,
ad numerum resonas gaudentem plaudere caetras. (book III.344-7)
"Rich Gallaecia sent its youths, wise in the knowledge of divination by the entrails of beasts, by feathers and flames— who, now crying out the barbarian song of their native tongue, now alternately stamping the ground in their rhythmic dances until the ground rang, and accompanying the playing with sonorous caetrae" (a caetra was a small type of shield used in the region).

Gallaecia, as a region, was thus marked for the Romans as much for its Celtic culture, the culture of the castroshillforts of Celtic origin—as it was for the lure of its gold mines. This civilization extended over present day Galicia, the north of Portugal, the western part of Asturias, the Berço, and Sanabria and was distinctive from the neighbouring Lusitanian civilization to the south (although it was culturally Celtic as well), according to the classical authors Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder.[2]

At a far later date, the mythic history that was encapsulated in Lebor Gabála Érenn credited Gallaecia as the point from which the Gaels sailed to conquer Ireland, as they had Gallaecia, by force of arms.


Pre-Roman Gallaecia

Strabo in his Geography lists the people of the northwestern Atlantic coast of Iberia as follows:

...then the Vettonians and the Vaccaeans, through whose territory the Durius [Douro] River flows, which affords a crossing at Acutia, a city of the Vaccaeans; and last, the Callaicans, [Gallaicans] who occupy a very considerable part of the mountainous country. For this reason, since they were very hard to fight with, the Callaicans themselves have not only furnished the surname for the man who defeated the Lusitanians [meaning Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus, Roman general] but they have also brought it about that now, already, the most of the Lusitanians are called Callaicans.

Roman Gallaecia

Roman Gallaecia under Diocletian's reorganization, 293 AD

After the Punic Wars, the Romans turned their attention to conquering Hispania. The tribe of the Gallaeci 60,000 strong, according to Paulus Orosius, faced the Roman forces in 137 BC in a battle at the river Douro (Spanish: Duero, Portuguese: Douro, Latin: Durius), which resulted in a great Roman victory, by virtue of which the Roman proconsul Decimus Junius Brutus returned a hero, receiving the agnomen Gallaicus ("conqueror of the Gallaicoi"). From this time, Gallaic fighters joined the Roman legions, to serve as far away as Dacia and Britain. The final extinction of Celtic resistance was the aim of the violent and ruthless Cantabrian Wars fought under the Emperor Augustus from 26 to 19 BC. The resistance was appalling: collective suicide rather than surrender, mothers who killed their children before committing suicide, crucified prisoners of war who sang triumphant hymns, rebellions of captives who killed their guards and returned home from Gaul.

For Rome Gallaecia was a region formed exclusively by two conventus—the Lucensis and the Bracarensis—and was distinguished clearly from other zones like the Asturica, according to written sources:

  • Legatus iuridici to per ASTURIAE ET GALLAECIAE.

In the 3rd century, Diocletian created an administrative division which included the conventus of Gallaecia, Asturica and, perhaps, Cluniense. This province took the name of Gallaecia since Gallaecia was the most populous and important zone within the province. In 409, as Roman control collapsed, the Suebi conquests transformed Roman Gallaecia (convents Lucense and Bracarense) into the kingdom of Galicia (the Galliciense Regnum recorded by Hydatius and Gregory of Tours).

Roman governors

Later Gallaecia

On the night of 31 December 406 AD, several Germanic barbarian tribes, the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi, swept over the Roman frontier on the Rhine. They advanced south, pillaging Gaul, and crossed the Pyrenees. They set about dividing up the Roman provinces of Carthaginiensis, Tarraconensis, Gallaecia, and Baetica. The Suebi took part of Gallaecia, where they later established a kingdom. After the Vandals and Alans left for North Africa, the Suevi took control of much of the Iberian Peninsula. However, Visigothic campaigns took much of this territory back. The Visigoths emerged victorious in the wars that followed, and eventually annexed Gallaecia.

After the Visigothic defeat and the annexation of much of Hispania by the Moors, a group of Visigothic states survived in the northern mountains, including Gallaecia. In Beatus of Liébana (d. 798), Gallaecia became used to refer to the Christian part of the Iberian peninsula, whereas Hispania was used for the Muslim one. The emirs found it not worth their while to conquer these mountains filled with warlike tribes and lacking oil or wine.

In Charlemagne's time, bishops of Gallaecia attended the Council of Frankfurt in 794. During his residence in Aachen, he received embassies from Alfonso II of Asturias, according to the Frankish chronicles.

Sancho III of Navarre in 1029 refers to Vermudo III as Imperator domus Vermudus in Gallaecia.

See also


  1. ^ Luján, Eugenio R. (2000) "Ptolemy's 'Callaecia' and the language(s) of the 'Callaeci', in: David N. Parsons & Patrick Sims-Williams, editors (2000) Ptolemy; towards a linguistic atlas of the earliest Celtic place-names of Europe: papers from a workshop sponsored by the British Academy, Dept. of Welsh, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 11–12 April 1999, pp. 55–72.
  2. ^ Among them the Praestamarci, Supertamarci, Nerii, Artabri, and in general all people living by the seashore except for the Grovi of southern Galicia and northern Portugal: 'Totam Celtici colunt, sed a Durio ad flexum Grovi, fluuntque per eos Avo, Celadus, Nebis, Minius et cui oblivionis cognomen est Limia. Flexus ipse Lambriacam urbem amplexus recipit fluvios Laeron et Ullam. Partem quae prominet Praesamarchi habitant, perque eos Tamaris et Sars flumina non-longe orta decurrunt, Tamaris secundum Ebora portum, Sars iuxta turrem Augusti titulo memorabilem. Cetera super Tamarici Nerique incolunt in eo tractu ultimi. Hactenus enim ad occidentem versa litora pertinent. Deinde ad septentriones toto latere terra convertitur a Celtico promunturio ad Pyrenaeum usque. Perpetua eius ora, nisi ubi modici recessus ac parva promunturia sunt, ad Cantabros paene recta est. In ea primum Artabri sunt etiamnum Celticae gentis, deinde Astyres.', Pomponius Mela, Chorographia, III.7–9.


  • Coutinhas, José Manuel (2006), Aproximação à identidade etno-cultural dos Callaeci Bracari, Porto.

External links


The Arroni or Arrotrebi were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the north of modern Galicia, in the Ortigueira's county.


The Capori were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the west of modern Galicia, in the Padrón's county.

Celtici Praestamarici

The Celtici Praestamarici were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the west of modern Galicia, in the Barbanza's county.

Celtici Supertamarici

The Celtici Supertamarici were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the west of modern Galicia, in the Xallas's county.


The Celeni or Cileni were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the west of modern Galicia, as a civitas in the Caldas de Reis's county, with capital Aquae Celenae, which under Roman rule became a diocese and was part of the Conventus Lucensis (capital now Lugo).


The Coelerni were an ancient Celtic tribe of Gallaecia in Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula), part of Calaician or Gallaeci people, living in what was to become the Roman Province of Hispania Citerior, convent of Bracara Augusta (the modern Portuguese city of Braga), in what is now the southern part of the province of Ourense (in Galicia).

Some sources, like Alarcão, also state that the Coelerni lived in the north of modern Portugal, in the province of Trás-os-Montes, in the mountains between the rivers Tua and Sabor - this seems to be incorrect and predates the finding of the Tessera Hospitalis of Castromao.

However there was a lusitanian people of the Colarni (inscription of Alcantara) living near the Douro river in Lamego, that could have some link with the galician Coelerni.


The Gallaeci, Callaeci or Callaici were a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gallaecia, the north-western corner of Iberia, a region roughly corresponding to what is now northern Portugal, Galicia, western Asturias and western Castile and León in Spain, before and during the Roman period. They spoke a Q-Celtic language related to Northeastern Hispano-Celtic, usually called Gallaic, Gallaecian, or Northwestern Hispano-Celtic.The region was annexed by the Romans in the time of Caesar Augustus during the Cantabrian Wars, a war which initiated the assimilation of the Gallaeci into Latin culture.

Kingdom of the Suebi

The Kingdom of the Suebi (Latin: Regnum Suevorum), also called the Kingdom of Gallæcia (Latin: Regnum Gallæciae), was a Germanic post-Roman kingdom that was one of the first to separate from the Roman Empire. Based in the former Roman provinces of Gallaecia and northern Lusitania, the de facto kingdom was established by the Suebi about 409, and during the 6th century it became a formally declared kingdom identifying with Gallaecia. It maintained its independence until 585, when it was annexed by the Visigoths, and was turned into the sixth province of the Visigothic Kingdom in Hispania.


The Lapatianci were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the north of modern Galicia, in the Cedeira's county.


The Lemavi were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the center-east of the modern Galicia, in the Monforte de Lemos's county.


The Limici were an ancient Celtic tribe of Gallaecia, living in the swamps of the river Lima, in the border region between Minho (Portugal) and Galicia (Spain).


The Louguei were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the east of modern Galicia, in the Ancares's county.


The Namarini were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the north of modern Galicia, in the Foz's county.


The Narbasi were an ancient Celtic tribe of Gallaecia, living in the province of Minho (north of modern Portugal) and nearby areas of modern Galicia (Spain).


The Poemani were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the center-north of modern Galicia, in the Terra Chá's county.

It seems attractive to view a possible comparing with a gaulish tribe in the Ardennes forest. It can consult usefully a work of reference: Auguste BAILLET(1858) 'Etude de la division des Gaules' in Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes on the site


The Quaquerni were an ancient Celtic tribe of Gallaecia, living in the north of modern Portugal, province of Minho, in the mountains at the mouths of the rivers Tâmega and Cávado.


The Seurri were an ancient Gallaecian Celtic tribe, living in the center-east of modern Galicia, in the Sarria's county.


Theodemir, Theodemar, Theudemer or Theudimer was a Germanic name common among the various Germanic peoples of early medieval Europe. According to Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel (9th century), the form Theudemar is Frankish and Theudemir is Gothic.

Theodemer (Frankish king), early 5th century

Theodemir (Ostrogothic king) (died 475), Ostrogothic king

Theodemir (Suebian king) (died 570), Suevic King of Galicia

Theodemir (Visigoth) (died 743), Visigothic nobleman

Theodemir (saint) (died 851), Spanish saint

Theodemar of Monte Cassino (fl. late 8th century), abbot of Monte Cassino

Theodemir of Iria (died 847), bishop of Iria Flavia

Theodemir (bishop of Mondoñedo), flourished 972–77


The Turodi were an ancient Celtic tribe of Gallaecia, living in the north of modern Portugal, in the province of Trás-os-Montes and border areas in Galicia (Spain).

Late Roman provinces (4th–7th centuries AD)

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