In classical antiquity,
Illyria (Ancient Greek: Ἰλλυρία,
Illyría or Ἰλλυρίς, Illyrís; Latin: Illyria, see
also Illyricum) was a region in the western part of the Balkan
Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians.
The prehistory of
Illyria and the
Illyrians is known from
archaeological evidence. The Romans conquered the region in 168 BC in
the aftermath of the Illyrian Wars.
The Roman term Illyris (distinct from Illyria) was sometimes used to
define an area north of the
Aous valley, most notably Illyris
3 Roman and Byzantine rule
5 In popular culture
6 See also
8 External links
In Greek mythology, the name of
Illyria is aetiologically traced to
Illyrius, the son of
Cadmus and Harmonia, who eventually ruled Illyria
and became the eponymous ancestor of the Illyrians. A later version
of the myth identifies
Polyphemus and Galatea as parents of Celtus,
Galas and Illyrius.
Ancient Greek writers used the name "Illyrian" to describe peoples
Liburnians and Epirus. Fourth-century BC Greek writers
clearly separated the people along the Adriatic coast from the
Illyrians, and only in the 1st century AD was "Illyrian" used as a
general term for all the peoples across the Adriatic. Writers also
spoke of "
Illyrians in the strict sense of the word"; Pomponius Mela
(43 AD) the stricto sensu
Illyrians lived north of the
Enchele, on the Adriatic shore;
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder used "properly
named Illyrians" (Illyrii proprii/proprie dicti) for a small
people south of Epidaurum, or between
Epidaurum (now Cavtat) and
Lissus (now Lezhë). In the Roman period, Illyricum was used for
the area between the Adriatic and Danube. 
List of rulers of Illyria
List of rulers of Illyria and Dardanian Kingdom
The earliest recorded Illyrian kingdom was that of the
Enchele in the
8th century BC. The era in which we observe other Illyrian
kingdoms begins approximately at 400 BC and ends at 167 BC. The
Pleurias (337 BC) were considered to have been a
kingdom. The Kingdom of the
Ardiaei began at 230 BC and ended at
167 BC. The most notable Illyrian kingdoms and dynasties were
Bardyllis of the
Dardani and of Agron of the
created the last and best-known Illyrian kingdom. Agron ruled over
Ardiaei and had extended his rule to other tribes as well. As
for the Dardanians, they always had separate domains from the rest of
The Illyrian kingdoms were composed of small areas within the region
of Illyria. Only the Romans ruled the entire region. The internal
organization of the south Illyrian kingdoms points to imitation of
their neighbouring Greek kingdoms and influence from the Greek and
Hellenistic world in the growth of their urban centres. Polybius
gives as an image of society within an Illyrian kingdom as peasant
infantry fought under aristocrats which he calls in Greek Polydynastae
(Greek: Πολυδυνάστες) where each one controlled a town
within the kingdom. The monarchy was established on hereditary
lines and Illyrian rulers used marriages as a means of alliance with
other powers. Pliny (23–79 AD) writes that the people that
formed the nucleus of the Illyrian kingdom were '
Illyrians proper' or
Illyrii Proprie Dicti. They were the Taulantii, the Pleraei, the
Grabaei and the Labeatae. These later joined to
form the Docleatae.
Roman and Byzantine rule
Illyricum (Roman province)
Illyricum (Roman province) and Praetorian prefecture of
The Romans defeated Gentius, the last king of Illyria, at
present-day Albania) in 168 BC and captured him, bringing him to Rome
in 165 BC. Four client-republics were set up, which were in fact ruled
by Rome. Later, the region was directly governed by Rome and organized
as a province, with
Scodra as its capital.
The Prefecture of Illyricum 375-379 (light green).
Roman province of Illyricum replaced the formerly independent
kingdom of Illyria. It stretched from the Drilon river in modern
Istria (Croatia) in the west and to the
Sava river (Bosnia
& Herzegovina) in the north.
Salona (near modern Split in Croatia)
functioned as its capital.
After crushing a revolt of
Pannonians and Daesitiates, Roman
administrators dissolved the province of Illyricum and divided its
lands between the new provinces of
Pannonia in the north and Dalmatia
in the south. Although this division occurred in 10 AD, the term
Illyria remained in use in
Late Latin and throughout the medieval
period. After the division of the Roman Empire, the bishops of
Thessalonica appointed papal vicars for Illyricum. The first of these
vicars is said to have been Bishop
Acholius or Ascholius (died 383 or
384), the friend of St. Basil. In the 5th century, the bishops of
Illyria withdrew from communion with Rome, without attaching
themselves to Constantinople, and remained for a time independent, but
in 515, forty Illyrian bishops renewed their loyalty to Rome by
declaring allegiance to Pope Hormisdas. The patriarchs of
Constantinople succeeded in bringing
Illyria under their jurisdiction
in the 8th century.
Fictional "coat of arms of Illyria" in the 17th-century Fojnica
Illyria only disappears from the historical record after the
Ottoman invasion of the Balkans
Ottoman invasion of the Balkans in the 15th century, and re-emerges in
the 17th century, acquiring a new significance in the
Ottoman–Habsburg Wars, as Leopold I designated as the "Illyrian
nation" the South Slavs in Hungarian territory. Several armorials
of the Early modern period, popularly called the "Illyrian Armorials",
depicted fictional coats of arms of Illyria.
Illyria was revived by
Napoleon for the Illyrian Provinces
that were incorporated into the French Empire from 1809 to 1813, and
Kingdom of Illyria (1816–1849)
Kingdom of Illyria (1816–1849) was part of
Austria until 1849,
after which time it was not used in the reorganised Austro-Hungarian
Illyrian movement was a pan-South Slavist (Yugoslavism) cultural
and political campaign by a group of young Croatian and Serbian
intellectuals during the first half of the 19th century.
In popular culture
William Shakespeare chose a fictionalized
Illyria as the setting for
Twelfth Night (In the modernised film spoof She's the Man,
this function is served by "
Illyria High School" in California). An
extensive history of
Illyria by Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange, was
published by Joseph Keglevich in 1746. Shakespeare also mentioned
the region in the Part 2 of the play Henry VI.
The land of
Illyria is the setting for Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Mains
Sales and in Lloyd Alexander's The Illyrian Adventure.[citation
John Hawkes 1970 novel The Blood Oranges is set in a fictionalized
In the Television show Angel,
Illyria was the name of an Old One (an
ancient and powerful demon) who was resurrected in the final season.
In Jacqueline Carey's book Kushiel's Chosen,
Illyria is featured as a
vassal nation to La Serenissima (Venice).
Diocese of Illyricum
History of the Balkans
Origin of the Albanians
Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum
Illyricum (Roman province)
Timeline of Illyrian history
^ Illyría and Illyrís respectively
^ Polybius. Histories, 1.13.1[permanent dead link].
^ Lewis, Charlton T.; Short, Charles. "Illyria". A Latin
^ Boardman 1982, p. 623.
^ Grimal & Maxwell-Hyslop 1996, p. 230.
^ Grimal & Maxwell-Hyslop 1996, p. 168
^ a b Wilks 1969, p. 5.
^ a b c d Wilks 1969, p. 161.
^ a b Radoslav Katicic (1 January 1976). Ancient Languages of the
Balkans. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 158–.
^ Marjeta Šašel Kos (2005). Appian and Illyricum. Narodni Muzej
Slovenije. p. 231. ISBN 978-961-6169-36-3.
^ Stipčević 2002, pp. 46–47.
^ Wilkes 1995, p. 298.
^ Lewis & Boardman 1994, p. 785.
^ Wilkes 1969, p. 13.
^ Kipfer 2000, p. 251.
^ Hammond 1993, p. 104.
^ Papazoglu 1978, p. 216.
^ Wilkes 1995, p. 237.
^ Wilkes 1995, p. 127.
^ Wilkes 1995, p. 167.
^ Wilkes 1995, p. 216.
^ a b Lins 1910, "Illyria".
^ du Fresne 1746, p. 1.
^ "Henry VI, part 2: Entire Play". shakespeare.mit.edu.
^ Hawkes, John; Scholes, Robert (1972). "A Conversation on "The Blood
Oranges" between John Hawkes and Robert Scholes". NOVEL: A Forum on
Fiction. 5 (3): 203–204, 197–207. doi:10.2307/1345277.
Berranger, Danièle; Cabanes, Pierre; Berranger-Auserve, Danièle
(2007). Épire, Illyrie, Macédoine: Mélanges Offerts au Professeur
Pierre Cabanes. Clermont-Ferrand, France: Presses Universitaires
Blaise Pascal. ISBN 2-84516-351-7.
Boardman, John (1982). The Prehistory of the Balkans and the Middle
East and the Aegean World, Tenth to Eighth Centuries B.C. Cambridge,
United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
du Fresne, Charles (1746). Illyricvm Vetvs & Novum: Sive Historia
Regnorvm Dalmatiae, Croatiae, Slavoniae, Bosniae, Serviae, atqve
Bvlgariae. Posonii: Typis Haeredvm Royerianorvm.
Grimal, Pierre; Maxwell-Hyslop, A. R. (1996). The Dictionary of
Classical Mythology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing
Limited. ISBN 0-631-20102-5.
Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1993). Studies concerning
Epirus and Macedonia before Alexander. Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
Adolf M. Hakkert.
Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology.
New York, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Lewis, David Malcolm; Boardman, John (1994). The Cambridge Ancient
History, Volume 6: The Fourth Century BC. Cambridge, United Kingdom:
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23348-8.
Lins, Joseph (1910). "Illyria". The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7.
New York, New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Papazoglu, Fanula (1978). The Central Balkan Tribes in Pre-Roman
Times: Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Adolf M. Hakkert.
Stipčević, Aleksandar (2002). Ilirët: Historia, Jeta, Kultura,
Simbolet e Kultit. Tirana, Albania: Toena.
Wilkes, John J. (1969). History of the Provinces of the Roman Empire.
London, United Kingdom: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Wilkes, John J. (1995). The Illyrians. Oxford, United Kingdom:
Blackwell Publishers Limited. ISBN 0-631-19807-5.
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