Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hippo Regius - From Carthage & Rome to Islam

Birthplace of Augustine: the site of Hippo Regius in north-east Algeria.

Hippo Regius  -  North Africa
  • City of the Roman Empire from 146 BC to 431 AD.
  • City of the Eastern Roman Empire from 534 AD to 700 AD.

Hippo Regius (Hippone) is the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba, in Algeria. Under this name, it was a major city in Roman Africa, hosting several early Christian councils, and was the home of the philosopher and theologian Augustine of Hippo. In even earlier days, the city was a royal residence for Numidian kings.

Hippo was a Tyrian colony on the west coast of the bay to which it gave its name: Hipponensis Sinus, first settled by the Phoenicians probably in the 12th century BC; the surname Regius 'of the King' was bestowed on it as one of the places where the Numidian kings resided.

Hippo Regius was part of the Roman province of Africa which was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War about 146BC.

The land acquired for the province of Africa was the site of the ancient city of Carthage. Other large cities in the region included Hadrumetum, capital of Byzacena, Hippo Regius.

Rome established its first African colony, Africa Proconsularis or Africa Vetus (Old Africa), governed by a proconsul, in the most fertile part of what was formerly Carthaginian territory. Utica was formed as the administrative capital.

A maritime city near the mouth of the river Ubus, it became a Roman colonia which prospered and became a major city in Roman Africa. It is perhaps most famous as the bishopric of Saint Augustine of Hippo in his later years.

Modern Annaba in Algeria was called Hippo Regius during Roman and Byzantine times.  The city was probably founded by the Phoenicians in the 12th century BC. It was a center of early Western Christianity and was the site of many Christian synods.

Algeria in HD - Roman ruins المدينة الاثرية بتيبازة 5 

Hippo Regius Roman Ruins and the sea

Hippo Regius

Basicallia, Hippo Regius

Advancing eastwards along the North African coast, the Vandals laid siege to the walled city of Hippo Regius in 430.

Inside, Saint Augustine and his priests prayed for relief from the invaders, knowing full well that the fall of the city would spell conversion or death for many Roman Christians. On 28 August 430, three months into the siege, St. Augustine (who was 75 years old) died, perhaps from starvation or stress, as the wheat fields outside the city lay dormant and unharvested. Augustine died 28 August, 430.

After 14 months, hunger and the inevitable diseases were ravaging both the city inhabitants and the Vandals outside the city walls. The city fell to the Vandals and King Geiseric made it the capital of the Vandal kingdom until the capture of Carthage in 439.

In the Vandalic War (533 - 534) North Africa was re-conquered from the Vandal Kingdom by the Roman Army of Belisarius sent by Emperor Justinian. Once the Vandals were defeated, Roman troops moved across North Africa taking control of old Roman cities such as Hippo Regius.

6th Century
Eastern Roman Infantry Officer

In April 534, the old Roman provincial system along with the full apparatus of Roman administration was restored, under a praetorian prefect.

During the following years, under Solomon, who combined the offices of both magister militum and praetorian prefect of Africa, Roman rule in Africa was strengthened, but fighting continued against the Moorish tribes (Mauri) of the interior.

It was conquered by the Eastern Roman Empire in 534 and was kept under Byzantine rule until 698, when it fell to the Muslims; the Arabs rebuilt the town in the eighth century. The city's later history was under its modern name.

Northwestern Africa, along with Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearics were reorganized as the Praetorian prefecture of Africa by Justinian I. It included the provinces of Africa Proconsularis, Byzacena, Tripolitania, Numidia, Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Sitifensis, and was centered at Carthage.

In the 560s, a Roman expedition succeeded in regaining parts of southern Spain, which were administrated as the new province of Spania. After the death of Justinian, the Empire came into increasing attacks on all fronts, and the remoter provinces were often left to themselves to cope as best as they could, with Constantinople unable to provide assistance.

The Visigothic kingdom in Spain was a continuous threat. The African exarch was in possession of Mauretania II, which was little more than a tiny outpost in southern Spain. The conflict continued until the final conquest of the last Spanish strongholds in c. 624 by the Visigoths. The Byzantines retained only the fort of Septum (modern Ceuta), across Gibraltar.

The Romans continued to rule Hippo Regius and the other Roman cities that dotted the North African coast from Morocco to Libya.

In 647 Muslim armies made their first attack into Roman Tripolitania.  The Roman armies hotly resisted the Muslim advances over the next 50+ years.  But slowly ground was permanently lost.

With the final fall of Carthage in 698 the Arabs captured all the remaining Roman cities on their march into Morocco.  Hippo Regius was no more.  It was re-founded as the Arab city of Annaba.

Carthage  -  After multiple battles between Romans and Arabs, Carthage permanently fell to Islam.  Arab troops then moved along the coast capturing Hippo Regius and all the other Roman towns in North Africa.

St. Augustine

Ecclesiastical History

Hippo was an ancient bishopric and still is the name of a Catholic titular see in the former Roman province of Numidia, since French colonial rule a part of the residential see of Constantine. It contains some ancient ruins, a hospital built by the Little Sisters of the Poor, and a fine basilica dedicated to St. Augustine.

We know seven bishops of Hippo, among them Saints Theogenes and Fidentius, martyrs, St. Leontius Valerius, who ordained St. Augustine, and the great "Doctor of Grace", Augustine himself (354-28 August, 430). Under St. Augustine there were at least three monasteries in the diocese besides the episcopal monastery.

Three councils were held at Hippo (393, 394, 426) and more synods - also in 397 (two sessions), June and September and 401, all under Aurelius.

The synods of the Ancient (North) African church were held, with but few exceptions (e.g. Hippo, 393; Milevum, 402) at Carthage. We know from the letters of St. Cyprian that, except in time of persecution, the African bishops met at least once a year, in the springtime, and sometimes again in the autumn. Six or seven synods, for instance, were held under St. Cyprian's presidency during the decade of his administration (249-258), and more than fifteen under Aurelius (391-429).

The Synod of Hippo of 393 ordered a general meeting yearly, but this was found too onerous for the bishops, and in the Synod of Carthage (407) it was decided to hold a general synod only when necessary for the needs of all Africa, and it was to be held at a place most convenient for the purpose.

Hippo Regius St. Augustus Basilica Floor Inscription


(humweb.ucsc.edu)        (georgetown.edu)        (sacred-destinations.com/algeria/annaba)

(mmdtkw.org - Christian Carthage)        (Hippo Regius)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretty nice work on Hippo. Many thanks.