Hispania Ulterior

During the Roman Republic, Hispania Ulterior (English Further Spain) was a region of Hispania roughly located in Baetica and in the Guadalquivir valley of modern Spain and extending to all of Lusitania (modern Portugal south of the Douro River) and Gallaecia (modern Northern Portugal and Galicia (Spain)).

The Term

Hispania is the Latin term given to the Iberian peninsula. The term can be traced back to at least 200 BC by the poet Quintus Ennius. The word can be traced to Punic, the Phoenician language of Carthage, and was eventually Romanized to Hispania. The people of the region came from many different tribes, not sharing a common language nor a common government.


After losing control of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica in the 1st Punic War, Carthage began to expand into the south of the Iberian peninsula. Soon afterwards, the 2nd Punic War began. Much of the war involved Hispania until Scipio Africanus seized control from Hannibal and the Carthagians in the Battle of Ilipa in 206 BC; four years later, Carthage surrendered and ceded its control of the region to Rome after Carthage’s defeat in 201 BC.

In 197 BC, the peninsula was divided into two provinces because of the presence of two military forces during its conquest. These two regions are Hispania Citerior (Nearer Hispania) and Hispania Ulterior (Further Hispania). The boundary was generally along a line passing from Carthago Nova to the Cantabrian Sea. Hispania Ulterior consisted of what are now Andalusia, Portugal, Extremadura, León, much of Castilla la Vieja, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, and the Basque Country.

There was peace in the region until 155 BC when the Lusitani attacked Hispania Ulterior. Twice defeating Roman praetors, their success soon sparked multiple other rebellions in the peninsula. The Iberian peninsula became a center of military activity and an opportunity for advancement. As Appian claims, “[the consuls] took the command not for the advantage of the city [Rome], but for glory, or gain, or the honour of a triumph.” War continued in Hispania until 19 BC, when Agrippa defeated the Cantabrians in Hispania Citerior, and Hispania had finally been completely conquered.

In 27 AD, when Augustus had become emperor, Hispania Ulterior was divided into Baetica (modern Andalusia) and Lusitania (modern Portugal, Extramadura, and part of Castilla-Leon). Cantabria and Basque country were also added to Hispania Citerior.

In the early fifth-century AD, the Vandals invaded and took over the south of Hispania. The Roman Emperor Honorius commissioned his brother-in-law, the Visgoth king, to defeat the Vandals. The Visgoths seized control of Hispania and made Toledo the capital of their country.

Roman Effects on Hispania

Each province was to be ruled by a praetor. Members of the tribal elite of Hispania were introduced into the Roman aristocracy and allowed to participate in their own governance. Roman emperors Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius were all born in Hispania. Roman latifundia were granted to aristocracy throughout the region. Cities in Hispania Ulterior such as Valencia were enhanced, and irrigation aqueducts were introduced. The economy thrived as a granary as well as by exporting gold, olive oil, wool, and wine.


  • Strabo. The Geography of Strabo. Volume II. Loeb Classical Library Edition, 1923.

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