Unfortunately, because of the many North African revolts against Roman authority, historians tend to mention only those that were of exceptional violence and intensity.
One such rising, known as the Jugurthine War (112-105 B.C.) was initiated by the nationalist fervor of the North African patriot Jugurtha. Directing an unrelenting guerrilla war, Jugurtha became a formidable adversary to his enemies, inflicting embarrassing defeats upon the Roman legions.
"The wars of Jugurtha," writes Graham Webster, demonstrated the value of the nimble Moorish horsemen who Trajan later found so useful against the Dacians. During the Dacian Wars of Eastern Europe (101-105), the Roman military relied heavily upon highly mobile units of Moorish cavalry. On a Roman coloumn dedicated to the wars of Trajan in Dacia, there is a special relief devoted to a large body of galloping horsemen easily recognizable as Moors. They are depicted with tiered and plaited rows of curled hair, short tunics, and saddle-less with only a single bridle. Another work dated to the same period is terracotta human head found in the Dacian city of Suicidava.
Described by archeologists as the head of a "Negro or Moor," it is in many respects similar to the horse cavalry depicted on the Roman column. Black soldiers, specifically identified as Moors, were actively recruited by Rome and served tours of duty in Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Romania, etc.
An original brass military diploma which dates from the middle of the second century A.D. mentions Moorish soldiers in Moesia, which is modern Serbia. Another military diploma of A.D. speaks of Moorish soldiers from Africa in Dacia, or modern Romania, and also of auxiliary troops of the Dacian Moors. A Roman document, Notitia Dignitatum dates from the beginning of the fifth century A.D., mentions several Moorish battalions in the Balkans and the Moorish military colony Ad Mauros was located on the Inn River near Vienna; and in what modern Besarabia, there is was a city called Maurocastrum.
According to the document Notitia Dignitatum, 2500to 5000 illyrian Moorish soldiers, in five separate military units, had served in the Near East. From this document we must deduce that at the beginning of the fifth century at least 100,000 descendants of Moors lived in Illyricum, which was located in the present-day Balkans.
Regarding specific military men of Moorish extraction, there were several Rome honourably, or had ancestors that participated in Rome’s foreign wars. In 253 A.D., for example, "After his departure, the governor of Lower Moesia (modern Serbia), M. Aemilius Aemilianus, a Moor born Mauritania, in defeating the Goths and was proclaimed emperor by his troops. In another case, Zenophilus, Consul of Numidia, boasts that my grandfather is a soldier; he had served in the Commitatus, for our family is of Moorish origin. To the Commitatus belonged the renowned Equites Mauri, a Black horse cavalry of North Africa.
For example, the city of Osuna, in southern Spain, has yielded several archaeological works depicting Blacks with tightly curled hair which archaeologists have labeled "Negroid." As long ago as 170 A.D., writes Durant, "the Mauri Moors invaded Spain from Africa." Even earlier, according to Laroui, "The Berbers of that region [North Africa] made incursions into Baetica, Spain. But the use of the term "Berber" perhaps camouflages the issue here. Regarding the same event, W.T. Arnold' speaks of "Moorish incursions in Baetica as early as the first century. Interestingly enough, many of these Moors were Christians. During the sixth century, the Byzantine historian Procopius and the Latin poet Corippus compiled precious documents regarding the Moors in post Roman North Africa.
During this period the dominance of the Vandals, Germanic tribes who had invaded North Africa in 429 and seized several provinces (including Mauretania), was challenged politically and militarily. In providing a veritable war correspondent's view, Procopius chronicled the vicious assaults and ultimate victories of the Moorish rebels.
This was recorded in his volume, appropriately entitled The Wars: When the Moors wrested Aurasium from the Vandals, not a single enemy had until now ever come there or so much as caused the barbarians to be afraid that they would come. And the Moors of that place also held the land west of Aurasium, a tract both extensive and fertile.
And beyond these dwelt other nations of the Moors, who were ruled by Ortaias.
This statement shows that the Moors were not only perceived by Procopius as numerically significant, but demonstrates that they occupied an extensive portion of northwest Africa.
During this same period Byzantine arms began moving into Africa.
With them came strong efforts to renew the grip of Roman dominance.
The Empror Justinian sent in General Johannes Troglita to quell the challenge to Byzantine authority, but was forced to face a full-scale war.
There was a great slaughter and taking of prisoners, as recounted by Corippus in the military epic Iohannis. Corippus recorded not only the slaying of several Moorish chieftains; he also mentioned a number of captives that were as "black as crows.
One Moorish ruler, Garmu (king of Mauretania), engineered the crushing of the Bvzantine army in 571 A.D.
Such events established the situation in North Africa prior to the Arab invasions late in the seventh century.
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