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Provincia Pannonia
Province of the Roman Empire
20 AD–107 AD
Pannonia SPQR.png

Province of Pannonia highlighted (red) within the Roman Empire (pink)
CapitalCarnuntum,[1] Sirmium,[2] Savaria,[3] Aquincum,[4] Poetovio[5] or Vindobona[6]
• Established
20 AD
• Division of Pannonia
Between the years 102 and 107, Trajan divided Pannonia into Pannonia Superior (western part with the capital Carnuntum), and Pannonia Inferior (eastern part with the capitals in Aquincum and Sirmium) 107 AD
Succeeded by
Pannonia Superior
Pannonia Inferior

Pannonia (/pəˈnniə/) was a province of the Roman Empire bounded on the north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia. Pannonia was located in the territory of present-day western Hungary, eastern Austria, northern Croatia, north-western Serbia, northern Slovenia and northern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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  • ✪ Roman Pannonia
  • ✪ Pannonia
  • ✪ English and American Studies Institute, University of Pannonia, Veszprem, Hungary (English)
  • ✪ University of Pannonia, The University of Opportunities
  • ✪ Faculty of Modern Philology and Social Sciences, University of Pannonia, Veszprem (English)


Welcome to Project Pannonia, a collaboration involving 11 History YouTubers all doing videos on various events in the History of the Pannonian basin. From the Roman era all the way to Hungary's involvement in WW2. And what better way to start off this colab then with the people that created the province that gave these grasslands the name of Pannonia, the Romans. Prior to the Roman conquest of Pannonia, we don’t really know much about the area or the people living in it. However looking through archeology and “very” brief mentions of the area in Latin and Greek sources we can gather small clues as to what happened. At the beginning of the 4th century BCE there was a big Celtic invasion of Pannonia which coincided with the Celtic invasion of Italy. This invasion was mostly centered around going down the Danube and Drava rivers. The people that inhabited the area before the Celts were mostly the illyrian tribe of Pannonii. When they got pushed out by the Celts this tribe moved south settling around the Sava river. However despite this resettlement in the 3rd century BCE the Pannonii eventually succumbed to a celtic invasion by a tribe called Scordisci. During this time eastern Panonnia and Transilvania was mostly controlled by the Dacians a subgroup of Threcians but that didn’t stop the Celts migrating there as well. For the next couple of centuries the Pannonian area underwent large celticization with the Dacian lands having mixed Dacian/Celtic culture and the Scordisci controlled Pannonii having a mixed Illirian/Celitc culture. However even though the entire area was under the celtic influence, this is not to say it was all unified. There where many bickering celtic tribes that didn’t seem to be the best of friends. Some of the most notable ones where the Boii tribal alliance who were driven out of northern Italy by the Romans in 193 and settled in Northern Pannonia, the Taurisci inhabiting western Pannonia, the Scordisci around the Sava river, and of course the celtic Dacians in Eastern Pannonia and Transilvania. In around 88 to 81 BCE the Scordisci which were struggling to keep control over the Pannonii for several decades now where decisively defeated by a Roman general Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, no not that one, his grade grandson, yeah that one. How unimaginative where the romans, It is a freaking 4 part name and yet there still manages to be two of them with the exact same name, But I digress. After this defeat the Scordisci disappear being replaced by their captives the Pannonii. Also starting during this time until around 45 BCE the Thracian king Burebista solidified the dacian lands and conquered all of pannonia east of the Danube. This Dacian pressure from the East, newly liberated Illirian pressure from the South and Roman pressure from the west destroyed the larger celtic political entities that existed up until now and the celtic control of Pannonia became very fragmented. When exactly the basin became part of the Roman empire is very much debated, but most likely due to the now fragmented political nature of the area it was a gradual process done under the reign of Agustus from around 35 to 9 BCE. It was also during this time that the Dacian control of Eastern pannonia slowly withered away as the kingdom struggled to keep together after the death of Burebista. In 11 BCE the frontier of the Roman Empire was officially set all the way to the Danube river and then 2 years later this new land was incorporated to the provinc of Illiricum. However certain areas of this frontier weren’t very loyal to the Empire and the Romans didn’t really have any major control in the countryside. This along with the local resentment against the Romans resulted in the Great Illirian revolt in 6 CE. However this mainly involved just the Illirians in southern Pannonia as the Celts further north seemed to have been content with the Roman rule. When the revolt was finally subdued by Tiberius and Germanicus three years later, illiricum was deemed to be too large to govern effectively and so it was divided up. One of these newly created provincies was the province of Pannonia. It was also in the early 1st century that the Sarmantian tribe of Iazyges migrated in to the area east of the Danube. Whether the Romans invited them to come here and act as a buffer between them and the Dacians or they migrated on their own using the fracturing of the Dacian kingdom to their benefit, is still debated. What’s also debated is the origin of the name Pannonia but in my opinion it most likely comes from an Illirian word which meant swampy land or wetland, which makes since as the pannonian basin is just a giant tributary for the Danubian river and Illirians were the original inhabitants of this area. Now Roman Pannonia didn’t stretch across the entire pannonian basin, it encompassed only the areas of the basin West and South of the Danube. However with that said this Roman province name started to be used to refer to the entire geographical location of the basin in the medieval period, hence why we call this entire area the Pannonian Basin or plain today. When it came to administrative matters Pannonia actually underwent several changes throughout the Roman period. First being the province of Pannonia then dividing in to two Pannonias then in to four then back again in to one, etc. However I am going to be mostly skipping over these divisions referring to Pannonia as a whole. So from the year 9 at the end of the Illirian revolt Pannonia was finally firmly under Roman control and it will stay like this until the 5th century. To put this in to perspective, Romans controlled Pannonia for longer than USA has been a country plus about 200 years more. With this much time of Roman rule in the area it is undeniable that they left their mark on these lands. The first major change that came with the Romans was the creation of cities. Yes there where population establishments like celtic oppidums before the Roman arrival but the majority of these were more of a “fortified village” rather than an actual city. However as Roman colonists arrived combined with the slow latinization of the native population, Pannonia gradually became more urbanized. This urbanization was also helped in part by the creation of the Roman road network which the Romans build mainly for an ease of supply to the legions stationed in Pannonia. Along with building up these major roads and cities, 3 of which are capital cities today the Romans also did some engineering work on the Danube. This is because some parts of the Danube back then where very treacherous for boats and sailing on it could be very costly for supply fleets. But the Romans remedied this making the river much more safer to sail on and also established the first known Danubian fleet station in Carnuntum. This fleet was used to not only supply the cities along the river but also to protect the border, as the Danube was the border. The Romans also brought wine making to the region, established numerous bath houses, and over all brought drastic economic development to the area. When it came to legions stationed in Pannonia the amount and type of legions changed over time but from the Hadrian era all the way to late antiquity there were roughly 6 main ones. The 10th Legion Gemina stationed in Vindobona todays Vienna The 14th Legion Gemina stationed in Carnuntum todays Petronell Carnuntum The 1st Legion Adiutrix stationed in Brigetio todays Komarom The 2sc Legion Adiutrix stationed in Aquincum today’s Budapest The 4th Legion Flavia stationed in Singidunum today’s Belgrade And lastly The 7th Legion Claudia stationed in Viminacium As you may have noticed the area between Budapest and Belgrade had a very large empty border without any Legione protecting it. This was mainly due to the very ineffective way that legiones where assigned to various Roman provinces but since its very boring to talk about bureaucracy we can just conclude that the Romans made a mistake. Due to this mistake however the 2sc and 4th legione had to protect a much larger border then for example the 10th, 14th and 1st legiones. This resulted in the fact that the Second legione was by far the most active legion in Pannonia having to go on many expeditionary campaigns within and outside of the Roman borders, to secure peace in the regione. While this was happening the 4th legion was always transferred to Budapest to protect from any rear attacks. This high activity of the Second legion in Pannonia along with that fact that it was stationed in today's Budapest where some of the reasons why we decided to go with the symbol of the second legion the pegasus for our Project Pannonia colab. The relative peace that was had by the Romans in Pannonia was broken in 85. This was because at this point the Dacian kingdom which was fragment ever since the death of Burebista finally united again and started to hold raiding expeditions across the Danube. Most of these weren’t held in Pannonia but in Moesia more south, however Pannonian legions did play a vital role in this conflict. The Romans eventually brokered a peace with the Dacians but Romans being Romans knowing this won't last started to built up many auxiliary fortifications along the Danube, getting ready for the eventual second war with the Dacians. This war came in 101 ending with a Roman victory in 102 but peace didn’t last as the third Dacian war started in 105 with the Romans again winning in 106 but this time they made sure there won't be a 4th Dacian war. They subdued the entire area and incorporated in to the Roman Empire as a new province. The Iazyges during this time where doing a bit of flip flopping with their alliances between the Dacians and Romans, however in the end these wars resulted in a much more direct control by the Romans over them, becoming a client state between 117 and 123. From there for about 50 plus years Pannonians lived in relative peace, making wine, bathing, socializing, trading, and whatever else the Romans do. However this all came to an end during the outbreak of the Marcomannic Wars in 162. These wars were the first signs of a large scale migrations happening outside of the Roman borders and many tribes that were already living near the Roman border had nowhere to go but across that border. And so Panonnia got invaded first by Germanic tribes from north and then by the Iazyges from the east. However these invasions managed to be repelled by the Romans, after which the Romans launched a counterattack against the Iazyges all while yet another Germanic army crossed from the north devastating Vienna and marching all the way south to northern Italy before being defeated. After this the Romans undertook a large scale offencive North which proved successful and the Roman Emperor Marcu Aurelius even considered creating buffer provinces north of Pannonia to protect from any other future attacks, but this did not happen as he died in 180 and his successor Commodus didn’t follow through on these victories. Commodus however did set out on another campaign against Iazyges scoring a quick victory. At this point it is safe to say that the Iazyges where firmly under Roman control, however what kind of control this was is unknown. This combined with frequent small rebellions and wars by the Iazyges throughout the next century or so means that even though they surely where controlled by the Romans the area east of the Danube was never fully incorporated in to the Empire as for example Dacia was. However one argument against this could be the fact that the construction of the Devil’s Dyke started around the later half of the second century probably used as part of the Roman Limes. Hence we can conclude the Romans did consider this area as part of their Empire, even with all the frequent Iazyges rebeliones. After the Marcomannic wars the Pannonian area became settled by a lot of Germanic people that where either allowed to settle here or used the confusion of the wars to cross the border or even where the remnants of the defeated Germanic armies. These germanic settlers probably numbered as much as the latin people living in it Pannonia at this point. However as it often does, during the next couple of decades of “roughly” peace these germanic people got slowly latinized just as the Celts had before them. The next major step in Roman Pannonian history came during the Christianization of the Roman Empire. It seems that outside of Sirmium most of Pannonia was very much starchly pagan until Constantine came to power. After which almost comically quickly the Pannonian people, especially the higher class converted to christianity, with pagan burials being found increasingly rarely after early 4th century. It was also during Constantine's era that the Vandals showed up on the fringes of the Pannonian border being pushed their by the Goths. Constantine allowed the Vandals to settle on the right bank of the Danube most likely to control the troublesome Iazyges. It was also at this point that the Devils Dyke reached its highest extend meaning that Romans were probably hoping to keep control of the entire Pannonian plain for a while. However all things must come to an end, and the roughly 440 year long Roman control of Pannonia was no different. By the late Roman Period the border regions had a constant activity of intertribal wars, migrations, alliances, etc. This combined with wavering internal Roman politics meant that it was clear the Roman hold on Pannonia wasn’t going to last. There were several tribes like the Vandals, Goths, etc. that attacked Pannonia in the late 4th and early 5th century but the Romans still managed to keep hold of the area until the arrival of the Huns. It is known that the Huns controlled much of Pannonia by 437 but how and when exactly did they conquered it is unknown but most likely starting in around 420. They probably did it the same way the Romans conquered Pannonia well over 400 years earlier, it was a gradual taking of control by the Huns with interspersed Roman expeditions trying to hold on to whatever they could. It is also interesting to learn that the area of specially southern Pannonia and Moesia was given back and forth between the Western and Eastern Roman Empires as both sides clearly didn’t want to deal with the Hunnic raids. The official Roman control of Pannonia is dated to be until 447 when the Eastern Roman empire finally gave up the claims to the Pannonian lands but as we discussed, the Romans didn’t really control the area for decades at this point. That is where I will conclude my video about Roman pannonia because it’s time for Epimetheus to take the torch and talk about the Huns. Also check out the last video in the Project Pannonia colab done by Historigraph who’s talking about Hungarian involvement in WW2. If you liked my videos please consider subscribing and stick around for history.



Julius Pokorny believed the name Pannonia is derived from Illyrian, from the Proto-Indo-European root *pen-, "swamp, water, wet" (cf. English fen, "marsh"; Hindi pani, "water").[7]

Others[who?] believe that the name is related to the god of the nature, goats and shepherds Pan and/or pan, the Proto-Indo-European word for lord/master, which could mean Pan's Land or Land of the Master(s), which is more probable due the fact the Ionian fleet supplied Pannonia via the Black Sea and Danube, and Panionium festivities were also well known in the region to its Celtic, Adriatic Veneti and Scythian inhabitants.

Pliny the Elder, in Natural History, places the eastern regions of the Hercynium jugum, the "Hercynian mountain chain", in Pannonia (present-day Hungary) and Dacia (present-day Romania).[8] He also gives us some dramaticised description[9] of its composition, in which the close proximity of the forest trees causes competitive struggle among them (inter se rixantes). He mentions its gigantic oaks.[10] But even he—if the passage in question is not an interpolated marginal gloss—is subject to the legends of the gloomy forest. He mentions unusual birds, which have feathers that "shine like fires at night". Medieval bestiaries named these birds the Ercinee. The impenetrable nature of the Hercynian Silva hindered the last concerted Roman foray into the forest, by Drusus, during 12–9 BC: Florus asserts that Drusus invisum atque inaccessum in id tempus Hercynium saltum (Hercynia saltus, the "Hercynian ravine-land")[11] patefecit.[12]


Prior to Roman conquest

The first inhabitants of this area known to history were the Pannonii (Pannonians), a group of Indo-European tribes akin to Illyrians. From the 4th century BC, it was invaded by various Celtic tribes. Little is known of Pannonia until 35 BC, when its inhabitants, allies of the Dalmatians, were attacked by Augustus, who conquered and occupied Siscia (Sisak). The country was not, however, definitively subdued by the Romans until 9 BC, when it was incorporated into Illyricum, the frontier of which was thus extended as far as the Danube.

Under Roman rule

Seuso and his wife at Lacus Pelso (today Lake Balaton)
Seuso and his wife at Lacus Pelso (today Lake Balaton)
The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117-138 AD), showing, on the middle Danube river, the imperial provinces of Pannonia Superior and Pannonia Inferior and the 2 legions deployed in each in 125
The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117-138 AD), showing, on the middle Danube river, the imperial provinces of Pannonia Superior and Pannonia Inferior and the 2 legions deployed in each in 125
Map showing Constantine I's conquests of areas of present-day eastern Hungary, western Romania and northern Serbia, in the first decades of the 4th century (pink color).
Map showing Constantine I's conquests of areas of present-day eastern Hungary, western Romania and northern Serbia, in the first decades of the 4th century (pink color).

In AD 6, the Pannonians, with the Dalmatians and other Illyrian tribes, engaged in the so-called Great Illyrian Revolt, and were overcome by Tiberius and Germanicus, after a hard-fought campaign, which lasted for three years. After the rebellion was crushed in AD 9, the province of Illyricum was dissolved, and its lands were divided between the new provinces of Pannonia in the north and Dalmatia in the south. The date of the division is unknown, most certainly after AD 20 but before AD 50. The proximity of dangerous barbarian tribes (Quadi, Marcomanni) necessitated the presence of a large number of troops (seven legions in later times), and numerous fortresses were built on the bank of the Danube.

Some time between the years 102 and 107, between the first and second Dacian wars, Trajan divided the province into Pannonia Superior (western part with the capital Carnuntum), and Pannonia Inferior (eastern part with the capitals in Aquincum and Sirmium[13]). According to Ptolemy, these divisions were separated by a line drawn from Arrabona in the north to Servitium in the south; later, the boundary was placed further east. The whole country was sometimes called the Pannonias (Pannoniae).

Pannonia Superior was under the consular legate, who had formerly administered the single province, and had three legions under his control. Pannonia Inferior was at first under a praetorian legate with a single legion as the garrison; after Marcus Aurelius, it was under a consular legate, but still with only one legion. The frontier on the Danube was protected by the establishment of the two colonies Aelia Mursia and Aelia Aquincum by Hadrian.

Under Diocletian, a fourfold division of the country was made:

Diocletian also moved parts of today's Slovenia out of Pannonia and incorporated them in Noricum. In 324 AD, Constantine I enlarged the borders of Roman Pannonia to the east, annexing the plains of what is now eastern Hungary, northern Serbia and western Romania up to the limes that he created: the Devil's Dykes.[citation needed]

In the 4th-5th century, one of the dioceses of the Roman Empire was known as the Diocese of Pannonia. It had its capital in Sirmium and included all four provinces that were formed from historical Pannonia, as well as the provinces of Dalmatia, Noricum Mediterraneum and Noricum Ripense.[citation needed]


Gerulata- a Roman military camp located near today's Rusovce, Slovakia.
Gerulata- a Roman military camp located near today's Rusovce, Slovakia.

During the Migrations Period in the 5th century, some parts of Pannonia was ceded to the Huns in 433 by Flavius Aetius, the magister militum of the Western Roman Empire.[14] After the collapse of the Hunnic empire in 454, large numbers of Ostrogoths were settled by Marcian in the province as foederati. The Eastern Roman Empire controlled it for a time in the 6th century, and a Byzantine province of Pannonia with its capital at Sirmium was temporarily restored, but it included only a small southeastern part of historical Pannonia.

Afterwards, it was again invaded by the Avars in the 560s, the Slavs, who first settled c. 480s but became independent only from the 7th century, and the Franks, who named a frontier march the March of Pannonia in the late 8th century. The term Pannonia was also used for a Slavic duchy that was vassal to the Franks.

Between the 5th and the 10th centuries, the romanized population of Pannonia developed the Romance Pannonian language, mainly around Lake Balaton in present-day western Hungary, where there was the keszthely culture. This language and the related culture became extinct with the arrival of the Magyars.

Cities and auxiliary forts

Aerial photography: Gorsium - Tác - Hungary
Aerial photography: Gorsium - Tác - Hungary
Aquincum, Hungary
Aquincum, Hungary
Ruins of Imperial Palace in Sirmium
Ruins of Imperial Palace in Sirmium

The native settlements consisted of pagi (cantons) containing a number of vici (villages), the majority of the large towns being of Roman origin. The cities and towns in Pannonia were:

Now in Austria:

Now in Bosnia and Hercegovina:

Now in Croatia:

Now in Hungary:

Now in Serbia:

Now in Slovakia:

Now in Slovenia:

Economy and country features

Ancient peoples in Pannonia
Ancient peoples in Pannonia

The country was fairly productive, especially after the great forests had been cleared by Probus and Galerius. Before that time, timber had been one of its most important exports. Its chief agricultural products were oats and barley, from which the inhabitants brewed a kind of beer named sabaea. Vines and olive trees were little cultivated. Pannonia was also famous for its breed of hunting dogs. Although no mention is made of its mineral wealth by the ancients, it is probable that it contained iron and silver mines. Its chief rivers were the Dravus, Savus, and Arrabo, in addition to the Danuvius (less correctly, Danubius), into which the first three rivers flow.


The ancient name Pannonia is retained in the modern term Pannonian plain.

See also


  1. ^ Vienna, Anthony Haywood, Caroline (CON) Sieg, Lonely Planet Vienna, 2010, page 21.
  2. ^ The third book of history: containing ancient history in connection with ancient geography, Samuel Griswold Goodrich, Jenks, Palmer, 1835, page 111.
  3. ^ The Archaeology of Roman Pannonia, Alfonz Lengyel, George T. Radan, University Press of Kentucky, 1980, page 247.
  4. ^ People and nature in historical perspective, Péter Szabó, Central European University Press, 2003, page 144.
  5. ^ Historical outlook: a journal for readers, students and teachers of history, Том 9, American Historical Association, National Board for Historical Service, National Council for the Social Studies, McKinley Publishing Company, 1918, page 194.
  7. ^ J. Pokorny, Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, No. 1481 Archived 2011-06-12 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Pliny, iv.25
  9. ^ The threatening nature of the pathless woodland in Pliny is explored by Klaus Sallmann, "Reserved for Eternal Punishment: The Elder Pliny's View of Free Germania (HN. 16.1–6)" The American Journal of Philology 108.1 (Spring 1987:108–128) pp 118ff.
  10. ^ Pliny xvi.2
  11. ^ Compare the inaccessible Carbonarius Saltus west of the Rhine
  12. ^ Florus, ii.30.27.
  13. ^ The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation, Taylor & Francis, page 381.
  14. ^ Attila, the Hun – Google Knihy. 2003. ISBN 0-7910-7221-5. Retrieved 2018-10-17.


External links

This page was last edited on 2 December 2019, at 00:54
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