The estate owners

The creation of farming estates along the model of the villa may be ascribed to the arrival of newcomers in the Gallic countryside: Italians lured by the provinces' resources – like the protagonist in Cicero's Pro Quinctio – or the lucky beneficiaries of plots of land during the creation of coloniae. The Gallic upper classes once again played a leading role, as they already possessed sizeable estates and had economic and social ties with the rural populations. The success of the villa throughout Gaul and the regional adaptation of the villa model are proof of how quickly the indigenous aristocracy became Romanised.

The identity and rank of certain estate owners can be ascertained from funerary epigraphy and examination of the inscriptions on an estate's productions. Although some of them were from the upper classes of Roman society, a number were notables who had been appointed to municipal positions, and some were even freedmen who had benefited from the patronage of well-known local citizens. The Gallo-Roman dominus was perhaps an absentee owner taken up with business in the city, like those whom Columella called on to become more involved in managing the estate, rather than simply vacationing there. In late Antiquity, this way of life was still prevalent among the upper classes who, according to the Letters of Sidonius Apollinaris and the luxury of their residences, appeared to pay more attention to their leisure activities.

Medias

Interactive document - Glanum Mausoleum

Glanum Mausoleum

The Glanum Mausoleum (Saint-Rémy de Provence, Bouches du Rhône), also known as the Cenotaph of the Julii. View from the northwest. Funerary monuments, which varied in size depending on the wealth and rank of the deceased, were sometimes built on the owners' estates.
© Ministère de la Culture, Drac PACA, David Kirchthaler, March 2010.
Interactive document - Glanum Mausoleum

Glanum Mausoleum

The Glanum Mausoleum (Saint-Rémy de Provence, Bouches du Rhône), also known as the Cenotaph of the Julii. Detail of eastern bas-relief. The scene depicted here has been interpreted as a military episode, which would have bestowed Roman citizenship on one of the members of this Gallic family.
© Ministère de la Culture, Drac PACA, David Kirchthaler, March 2010.
Interactive document - An economic or tax seal ?

An economic or tax seal ?

This type of bronze seal most often bore the three-part name (tria nomina) of a Roman citizen. It has been shown that such seals played a role in the economies of rural estates.
© Michel Feugère,CNRS, UMR 5140 Archéologie des sociétés méditerranéennes
Interactive document - A coin hoard buried by a villa owner?

A coin hoard buried by a villa owner?

This group of more than 800 coins was buried in a pot around 303 CE. It was discovered in 2009 in the large Magny-Cours Villa (Nièvre). Along with another cache found in 2008, the total value of the coin hoards comes to more than 23,000 deniers, or 1.3 kg of silver.
© Maxence Segard, Archéodunum