Egypt (Roman province)

Aegyptus, Latin for Egypt, was from 30 BC to 642 AD the Muslim expansion, a province of the Roman or Byzantine Empire. Because of the great wealth of Egypt took them under the Roman provinces a certain, but formerly often overestimated special position: Egypt was considered the breadbasket of the empire.


Since 273 BC there were friendly relations between the Roman Republic and the Ptolemies. At the latest when the middle of the second Punic War in 210 BC, a famine broke out in Italy, which was only alleviated by a large supply of grain King Ptolemy IV of Egypt, the Romans the importance of the Kingdom of the Nile was conscious.

The decline of the Ptolemäerreichs culminated by 80 BC that Ptolemy XI. should have considered to inherit the Romans after his death the rule in Egypt. Already in the days of Caesar tried increasingly to exercise political power, the empire in Egypt. Rome intervened in the succession disputes by the governor of Syria, Aulus Gabinius, Ptolemy XII previously sold. Neos Dionysos attributed to the throne. Since Roman military was stationed on the Nile, and the great romance between Caesar and Cleopatra VII had no doubt a strong political background. After the assassination of Caesar ( 44 BC) succeeded Marcus Antonius to win the favor of Cleopatra, and with their support, he fought for the inheritance of Caesar against his rival C. Octavius ​​, the grand-nephew of Caesar and later Emperor Augustus. After their defeat in the naval battle of Actium in 31 BC Cleopatra and Antony managed to still the Flight into Egypt, but to organize in the face of hopelessness, military resistance against the approaching pursuers, both retired from the life. Egypt was thus in the hands of C. Octavius ​​, and thus was also the struggle for succession Caesars in the autocracy ruled in its favor.

30 BC Egypt was finally conquered by Rome. It was in a managed by imperial officers province of the Roman people, so-called imperial province ( in contrast to the Senate subordinate senatorial provinces ), converted, already since the first incumbent, the Roman knight C. Cornelius Gallus, a close confidant of the C Octavius ​​., was administered by one belonging to the equestrian order Praefectus aegypti. This was an important signal of C. Octavius ​​to the equestrian order to its loyal cooperation he relied to a certain degree, that under his rule and knights could achieve the highest political and military functions, when them the access to traditional Republican offices of Cursus honorum remained denied with regard to the privileged position of senators. This was initially even entering Egypt strictly prohibited, since Emperor Augustus the political potential of Egypt knew: 150,000 tons of grain were shipped under his reign annually to Rome. Above all, the Ptolemaic empire was a great power in the eastern Mediterranean and the most important power base of his rival Mark Antony. Older, declining mainly due to Theodor Mommsen research opinions, according to which Egypt was said to be private property of the emperor and the status of a Crown Colony, the Praefectus aegypti to have possessed a kind of viceroy, are outdated when they are also occasionally found even in recent literature. The transfer of competence of the Emperor against the Praefectus aegypti differed in no way from the opposite province governors of senatorial rank, be it the Legato Augusti in the provinces of the Roman people, the so-called imperial provinces, or the Promagistrate in the senatorial provinces. Except in the cultic area where the emperor had to represent in the role and iconography of the Pharaoh, was not continued the tradition of the Ptolemaic kingdom, the rule of Rome was based legally on the victory over the enemy of the state Antony and his assistant Cleopatra and on the following conquest, but is not legitimized as an extension of the Ptolemaic dynasty. First three legions (later two and last only a single legion ) were stationed in the province of Aegyptus. At various times, the Legio II Traiana are detectable, the Legio III Cyrenaica, the Legio XII Fulminata and Legio XXII Deiotariana.

AD 69 was proclaimed in Alexandria Vespasian emperor. Beginning of the second century there was in Egypt to an uprising of the Jews, which ended in 117 AD with the destruction of the Jews in Egypt. In the 3rd century Egypt was temporarily for special Palmyrene kingdom of Zenobia ( 270-272 ). Under Emperor Diocletian, the province of Egypt was in the provinces of Aegyptus Iovia (north), Aegyptus Herculea (center) and the Thebaid (South) split. Under the Constantinian dynasty, the province experienced a re- allocation. After the division of the Empire 395 AD Egypt became part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, and initially consisted of four, later six provinces.

619 AD Egypt was temporarily lost to the Sassanids. Emperor Heraclius was able to reclaim 629 AD Ostrom for the province. Since 640 AD, the Arabs conquered Egypt; with the fall of Alexandria 642 AD begins the Islamic history of Egypt.