Corsica et Sardinia

Corsica et Sardinia
The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117-38 AD), showing the senatorial province of Corsica et Sardinia, two islands in the central Mediterranean Sea
Province of Corsica et Sardinia highlighted

Corsica et Sardinia was an ancient Roman province including the islands of Corsica and Sardinia.


Pre-Roman times

The Phoenicians were the first to establish several commercial stations in Corsica and in Sardinia. After the Phoenicians, there arrived the Greeks, who also established their colonies. The Carthaginians, with the help of the Etruscans, conquered the Phoenicians in Alalia, a colony on Corsica, in 535 BC. After Corsica, Sardinia also came under control of the Carthaginians.

Obtaining the province

Even though Rome had drawn up an earlier treaty with Carthage, a complete disregard to this agreement led them to forcibly annex Corsica and Sardinia during the First Punic War[1]. In 238 BC, the Carthaginians, accepting defeat in the First Punic War, surrendered Corsica and Sardinia, which together became a province of Rome[2]. This marked the beginning of Roman domination in the Western Mediterranean. The Romans ruled this area for 694 years.

Roman opinion of the province

Throughout this rule, Rome maintained an objective relationship with the province. The coastal regions of both islands were settled by Romans and adopted the Latin language and culture. However, the interior areas of Corsica and Sardinia resisted the Romans. A variety of revolts and uprisings occurred. However, since the interior areas were densely forested, the Romans avoided them and set them aside as the “land of the barbarians”.[3] Overall, Corsica and Sardinia became trivial gains compared to the Roman Empire’s Eastern gains. From Sardinia, the Romans did not receive much spoil nor were the prisoners willing to learn anything Roman. A similar situation occurred in Corsica. It was said that “whoever has bought one [Corsican] regrets the waste of his money”.[3] The Romans regarded the land and people as backward and unhealthy.

Relationship to Rome

Even though the Romans considered them trivial, Corsica and Sardinia ended up playing an important role in the happenings of the Empire. Sardinia provided much of the grain supply during the time of the Roman Republic. Corsica provided wax to the empire, as that was all that could be found on the island.

The islands also indirectly contributed to the demise of the Roman Republic. Gaius Marius and Lucius Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix settled their veterans on Corsica and used the islands' grain supply to support their war efforts. Julius Caesar had Sardinia occupied by his delegates and gained control of the grain supply. This supply of grain fed his army and ensured their victory in the civil war of 49 BC. Within the second triumvirate, Octavian received the islands as part of his share and used its grain supply to feed his armies against Brutus and Cassius[3].

Corsica and Sardinia also came to be recognized as a place of exile. C. Cassius Longinus, the lawyer accused of conspiracy by Nero was sent to the province as was Anicentus, murderer of the first Agrippina. Many Jews and Christians were also sent to the islands under Tiberius[3].


  1. ^ Caven, Brian (1980). The Punic Wars. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 
  2. ^ Bagnall, Nigel (1990). The Punic Wars: Rome, Carthage, and the Struggle for the Mediterranean. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 
  3. ^ a b c d Chapot, Victor (2004). The Roman World. London: Kegan Paul. pp. 140–150. 

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