Roman Era: There is evidence that the population of the area corresponding to modern Austria came into contact with the Romans in 186 B.C., when Celtic tribes from the Alpine region wanted to found a city in northern Italy but were repulsed by the Romans. The subsequently established Roman colony of Aquileia (181 B.C.) played an important role in both the economic and cultural penetration of Austrian territory during the entire Roman era. Rome and the Regnum Noricum maintained "hospitium publicum" ("public hospitality") from 170 B.C.; diplomatic and trade relations were secured and Rome´s influence increased steadily ( Noreia). In the year 15 B.C. the area corresponding to modern Tyrol and Vorarlberg was conquered in heavy fights ( Raetia) while the Regnum Noricum as far as the Danube was annexed by Rome, apparently without much bloodshed. In the year 6 A.D. a campaign against the Marcomanni, led from Carnuntum, had to be stopped because of civil unrest in Pannonia. The Vienna Basin, originally part of Noricum, was soon integrated into Pannonia for strategic reasons. Raetia and Noricum did not obtain their provincial status until the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.). The territories north of the Danube remained Celtic at first, Germanic settlements developed from the 1st century A.D. The extension of the Roman frontier defence ( Limes) along the Danube did not start until the 1st century A.D. Two legions of 6,000 soldiers each were deployed in Carnuntum and Vindobona; smaller forts designed for 500 or 1,000 soldiers of the Roman infantry legion or the Roman cavalry existed at Linz, Wallsee, Mauer, Poechlarn, Mautern, Traismauer, Zwentendorf, Tulln, Zeiselmauer, Klosterneuburg, Vienna, Schwechat and Carnuntum. In addition, small forts and siege towers were built. A system of Germanic client states was created to keep the Roman borders safe. From 100 A.D., the original forts with ditches, earth walls, wooden structures and internal wooden buildings were gradually being replaced by stone-walled structures. The local population readily adopted Roman culture (= Romanization), the settlements of Aguntum, Aelium Cetium (St. Poelten), Brigantium (Bregenz), Carnuntum, Flavia Solva, Iuvavum (Salzburg), Ovilava (Wels), Teurnia and Virunum became autonomous cities; ( Lauriacum received autonomy under Caracalla in 212 A.D.). The long period of peace, a time of economic and cultural prosperity, ended in 167 A.D. when the Marcomanni and their allies, Germanic tribes, broke through the Roman frontier defences on the Danube and advanced as far as northern Italy, plundering and destroying Roman settlements. Emperor Marcus Aurelius was engaged in prolonged defensive action from Carnuntum. The newly established second Italian legion was transferred to Albing, where the River Enns empties into the Danube, and where the largest Austrian legionary camp of some 23 hectares was erected (and perhaps never completed). On April 9, 193 A.D. the governor of Upper Panonnia, Septimius Severus, was proclaimed Emperor at Carnuntum; he particularly promoted the development of the Danube provinces. The 3rd century saw repeated incursions by Germanic tribes; Bregenz was destroyed by the Alemanni; Raetia, Noricum and Pannonia were devastated. Emperor Diocletian (284-305) restored efficient government to the Empire by dividing the provinces into smaller units and by separating the civil and military administration; Noricum Ripense was provided with a new legion, the required strength of troops was reduced, and a currency reform was initiated. During the last and largest persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire Florian, the only early Christian Austrian martyr known by name, was thrown into the River Enns on May 3 or 4, 304 A.D. Following Diocletian´s resignation in 307/308, four emperors participated in a conference held in Carnuntum to settle disputes over the succession to the throne. As, in late Antiquity, an ever increasing number of the Roman provincial population strove to be protected against foreign invasions in former legionary camps, the forts along the Danube gradually developed into fortified settlements; fortifications built on high ground flourished in the internal part of Noricum. Valentinian I (364-375) was the last Roman Emperor to initiate a vast building programme on the fortifications and to reorganize frontier defence at the Danube limes; the military campaign launched against the Quadi was the last Roman advance across the Danube. Around 396 A.D., Marcomannic tribes were settled as allies in the area of eastern Austria. At the beginning of the 5th century Germanic tribes embarked on numerous plundering expeditions through Austria and destroyed various towns, including Flavia Solva. In 433 A.D., parts of Pannonia had to be ceded to the Huns; a short period of peace followed. From the mid-5th century Raetia was under the rule of the Alemanni. In the troubled period following the death of Attila in 453, Saint Severinus started his religious, social and political activities in the Noric region ( Favianis, Vita Severini. The Rugi, with their centre on the northern bank of the River Danube near Krems, became an important local power. However, the Romans still maintained their far-reaching trade relations. In his last military action led from Italy Odoacer defeated the Rugi in two campaigns; in 488 he forced the majority of Romans living in Noricum Ripense east of the River Enns to withdraw to Italy, which saw the end of the Roman era north of the Alps. Relations between the internal part of Noricum and Italy were maintained for a longer period of time; at first, the area was part of the Ostrogothic Empire, later it was controlled by the Langobardi. In the year 600 A.D., the Roman era came to an end in southern Austria as a result of invasions by the Bavarians, Avars and Slavs, who destroyed the last remaining Roman structures. The economic, technical and cultural effects of the Roman era were of the greatest importance, including the development of mineral springs, stone and mortar building, bricks, underfloor heating systems, Roman baths, water-pipes, canals and roads; at least part of the provincial population was able to read and write. Archeological evidence indicates the high standard of living ( Archeology) of that period. Christianity was promoted in Austria by merchants, craftsmen and soldiers ( Christianity, Early).
Literature#G. Alfoeldy, Noricum, 1974; G. Winkler, Noricum und Rom, 1977; A. Lippert (ed.), Reclams Archaeologiefuehrer Oesterreichs und Sued-Tirols, 1985; M. Kandler and H. Vetters, Der roemische Limes in Oesterreich, 1986; K. Genser, Der oesterreichische Donaulimes in der Roemerzeit, 1986; P. Pleyel, Das roemische Oesterreich. Fundstaetten und Museen, 21994; H. Wolfram, Grenzen und Raeume, 1995.