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Moesia Superior in the 4th century
Classical Mœsia and environs, from Alexander G.
Findlay's Classical Atlas to Illustrate Ancient Geography, New York, 1849.
Moesia ( , Moisía; , Miziya; ; , Mezija) was an ancient region and Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Northern Republic of Macedoniamarker, Southern Serbiamarker (Upper Moesia), Northern Bulgariamarker, South-Eastern Romaniamarker, Southern Moldovamarker, and Budjak (Lower Moesia).

In ancient geographical sources, Moesia was bounded to the south by the Balkansmarker (Haemus) and Šar mountainmarker (Scardus, Scordus, Scodrus) mountains, to the west by the Drinamarker river (Drinus), on the north by the Danube and on the east by the Euxinemarker (Black Sea). The region was inhabited chiefly by Thracian, Dacian and Illyrian peoples.

The region took its name from the Moesi, a Thraco-Dacian tribe that lived there before the Roman conquest 75 BC-c. 29 BC and formally became a Roman province of that name some years later (by 6 AD).

Moesia was re-organized personally by the Emperor Domitian in 87 AD into two provinces: Moesia Superior - Upper Moesia, (meaning up river)and Moesia Inferior - Lower Moesia, (from the Danube river's mouth and then upstream) during relief efforts for the province after the Dacian cross-Danube raids of 86 and early 87 AD).


In 75 BC, C. Scribonius Curio, proconsul of Macedonia, took an army as far as the Danube and gained a victory over the inhabitants, who were finally subdued by M. Licinius Crassus, grandson of the triumvir and later also proconsul of Macedonia during the reign of Augustus c. 29 BC. The region, however, was not organized as a province until the last years of Augustus's reign; in 6 AD, mention is made of its governor, Caecina Severus (Dio Cassius lv. 29).

Originally one province under an imperial consular legate (who probably also had control of Achaeamarker and Macedonia), it was divided by Domitian into Upper (Superior) and Lower (Inferior, also called Ripa Thracia) Moesia, the western and eastern portions respectively, divided from each other by the river Cebrus (Ciabrus; modern Cibritza or Zibru). Some, however, place the boundary farther west. Each was governed by an imperial consular legate and a procurator.

After the abandonment of Dacia to the Goths by Aurelian (270–275) and the transference of the Roman citizens from the former province to the south of the Danube, the central portion of Moesia took the name of Dacia Aureliani (later divided into Dacia ripensis and interior). The district called Dardania (in Upper Moesia), was formed into a special province by Diocletian, with the capital at Naissusmarker or Nissa (modern Nišmarker, Serbia), the birthplace of Constantine I in 272.

Later, Diocletian renamed Moesia Superior (less Dacia Aureliani) as Moesia Prima, and divided Moesia Inferior (less its westernmost portions) into Moesia Secunda and Scythia Minor. Moesia Secunda's main cities included Marcianopolis (Devnyamarker), Odessus (Varnamarker), Nicopolis (Nikopol), Abrittus (Razgradmarker), Durostorum (Silistramarker), Transmarisca (Tutrakanmarker), Sexaginta Prista (Ruse) and Novae (Svishtovmarker), all in Bulgaria today. As a frontier province, Moesia was strengthened by stations and fortresses erected along the southern bank of the Danube, and a wall was built from Axiopolismarker to Tomimarker as a protection against the Scythians and Sarmatians. The garrison of Moesia Secunda included Legio I Italica and Legio XI Claudia, as well as independent infantry units, cavalry units, and river flotillas. The Notitia Dignitatum lists its units and their bases as of the 390s CE. Units in Scythia Minor included Legio I Iovia and Legio II Herculia.

Since 238, Moesia was constantly invaded or raided by the Carpi, and the Goths, who had already invaded Moesia in 250. Hard pressed by the Huns, the Goths again crossed the Danube during the reign of Valens (376) and with his permission settled in Moesia.

After their settlement quarrels soon took place, and the Goths under Fritigern defeated Valens in a great battle near Adrianoplemarker. These Goths are known as Moeso-Goths, for whom Ulfilas made the Gothic translation of the Bible.The Bulgarian under different names Onogurs Kutigurs Honogondurs attack it during all 6th century. In the 7th century, Bulgars founded the Empire of Bulgaria in 681 and the Serbian principality of Rascia in 825.

The chief towns of Upper Moesia in the Principate were: Singidunummarker (Belgrademarker), Viminaciummarker (sometimes called municipium Aelium; modern Kostolacmarker), Remesiana (Bela Palankamarker), Bononia (Vidinmarker), Ratiaria (Archarmarker) and Skupi (modern Skopjemarker); of Lower Moesia: Oescusmarker (colonia Ulpia, Gigen), Novae (near Svishtovmarker, the chief seat of Theodoric the Great), Nicopolis ad Istrummarker (Nikup; really near the river Yantramarker), Marcianopolis (Devnyamarker), Odessus (Varnamarker) and Tomimarker (Constanţamarker; to which the poet Ovid was banished). The last two were Greek towns which formed a pentapolis with Istrosmarker, Mesembria and Apollonia.

The area remained part of the Byzantine empire until the 7th century, when it was conquered by the Bulgarian Empire.

See also


  1. the regions around Skupi and Kumanovo
  2. Map of Moesia Superior and Inferior

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