Cohors Secundae Vasconum

The Cohors Secundae Vasconum was an auxiliary unit of the Roman army, of the cohors quincuagenaria peditata type, active from the second half of the 1st century to the end of the 2nd century.

History of the Cohors Secundae Vasconum

The Romanization of the Basques was a peaceful process, with no recorded instances of violent conflict between the Basques and Romans. Interactions between these two cultures date back to at least the 2nd century BC.

During the Sertorian civil wars (80-70 BC) in the Roman Republic, which primarily unfolded in Hispania, Pompey led a faction and utilized Basque lands as a haven. Pompey’s father, Gnaeus Pompey Strabo, had earlier formed the Turma Salluitana, a unit comprising Basque soldiers who fought in Rome’s Social War of 90 BC, as noted in the Áscoli Bronze.

Roman geographers Pliny, Strabo, and Ptolemy define Basque territory in their list of cities. This area extended from the Pyrenees in the north, encompassing Jacetania, five towns, and Segia (Ejea de los Caballeros) to the east. To the south, it included areas on both sides of the Ebro, with cities like Calagurris (Calahorra) and Gracurris (Alfaro), and stretched west to the lands of the Várdulos, with coastal access at Oiasso (Irun).

Evidence for their presence in Britain

  • The first is from the year 105. It was discovered by chance in England itself, in Sydenham and is preserved today in the British Museum . Its full title appears in it as Cohors II Vasconum Civium Romanorum.
  • The second is only four years later, but this troop was no longer in garrison in Brittannia, but in Mauritania Tingitana . It is dated 109. It is followed by another that carries the date from the year 114 to 117.
  • The third document takes us to the year 122, when Hadrian occupied the imperial throne. From this testimony we know that the Vascon cohort was again in Brittannia. The diploma, which was found in 1925 in a Hungarian village on the banks of the Danuvium, not far from Budapest , bears the precise date of July 17, 122. The unit is cited with the title: Cohors II Vasconum Civium Romanorum. In the same diploma a good number of the auxiliary forces that Rome then had in the occupation army of Brittannia are listed.