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Celtic Kingdoms

 

 

 

MapGalacia / Galatia (Gauls/Belgae?)
Incorporating the Ambitouti, Tectosages, Teutobodiaci, Tolistoboges, Trocmes, & Voturi

Galatia was a Celtic kingdom which was founded in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in the third century BC. A massive band of Celts formed into a loose confederation and migrated through the Balkans into Thrace, causing chaos within the Macedonian kingdom before they moved on to enter Anatolia (Asia Minor). There they were finally defeated by Pergamum and retreated into the territory of ancient Phrygia in the centre of Anatolia to settle a swathe of land that became known by their collective name, Galatia, meaning 'land of the Gauls'.

FeatureThat name, 'Galatia' (with the 't' of this and the 'c' in Galacia being interchangeable), is a form of the most ancient name of the Celts as we understand it today. This was reported variously as beginning with a 'g' or 'k' sound, followed by an 'a' or 'e', followed always by an 'l', and followed by either a vowel or not, and finally by a 'd' or 't'. So Kelt, Caled (as in the Caledonians of Pictland), Galicia (in central Europe), or in this case, Galat, all mean the same thing, 'Celt'.

Given the consonant shift proposed for the Belgae, then 'Belgae' would indicate that its 'b' replaced an older (?) form of a 'w' sound. This supplies 'Welgae' as a possible older form of Belgae, and rather astonishingly that 'wel-' sounds incredibly similar to what the Germans call Celts! So the possibility is raised that the original ethnic name was 'Wel', and while the Belgae were in northern Central Europe this mutated into 'vel' and then 'bel'; while in the west and south the 'w' of 'wel' acquired a hard 'k' or 'g' in front of it, to form 'kwel' or 'gwel', therefore giving rise to words such as 'celtae' and 'galati'. Curiously, a Belgic origin is often claimed for the Galatian Celts. Given the marked Belgic features found in names for the Taurisci and Scordisci, could the entire Balkans settlement by Celts have been of a Belgic origin? Ritual death practices by the Galatians also appears to provide backup for this.

The Tolistoboges (or Tolostobogi), who seem to have been entirely anonymous before the migration, were said by Strabo to have taken their name from their leaders. This indicates a mixed group from several tribes that needed to find its own identity, which explains the tribe's previous anonymity. Other sources claim the Tolistoboges as the Tolistoboii, a division of the greater Boii. The 'g' in 'boges' is pronounced as a 'gh', a guttural 'h'. So the tribe would be Tolisto-boii ('bo-hee' with a strong 'h'), thereby supporting both versions of the name - it's simply down to pronunciation. As far as breaking down the name goes, 'tolisto-' is probably a man's name, a leader named Tolistos or Tolistorix (a 'King Tolistos', possibly the father or grandfather of Brennus?). The proto-Celtic word list has 'listo' defined as a nickname without any further explanation, but another section indicates that it might mean an adopted or fostered relative: *(φ?)listo-makʷ(kʷ)o- (?), meaning 'stepson'. The initial 'to-' is probably the pronoun, 'you'. The tribe were the 'Boii of Tolistos', thereby affirming their link to this large collective.

The Trocmes (or Trocmi, Trogmi) were equally unknown before their migration. Trogmi or Trocmi appears to have some very strange possibilities when it comes to breaking it down. On the one hand it might derive from 'trougos', meaning 'misery'. Or it is more likely to be 'trokkos', meaning 'to bathe'. The 'm-' on the end appears to be a personal pronoun, 'me' or 'mi'. So the most likely meaning is 'I bathe', which is good to know! The alternative may mean 'I am miserable' or something similar - hardly an inspiring tribal name.

Pliny the Elder mentions the Ambitouti and Voturi, apparently as divisions of the Tolistoboges. The Ambitouti name can be broken into two parts, staring with an old friend, 'ambi-', meaning on both sides, or providing an extended meaning of universally, which is also used by tribes such as the Ambarri, Ambidravi, and Ambisontes. The second part of the name, 'touti', means the 'tribe or folk'. They were probably 'all of the people', possibly in the same sense as the Celtic 'combrogi', meaning 'people of the same land' or more specifically 'brothers-in-arms, compatriots', which was used by the Sicambri and others. As for the Voturi, the closest option in proto-Celtic seems to be *wor-tero- < *wer-tero-, meaning 'noble'. They were 'the nobles' or similar.

The Teutobodiaci are another apparent splinter group that is mentioned by Pliny the Elder. Breaking it down, 'teuto' is 'people or tribe', while 'bodiaci' appears to be the name Boudicca (which was also used by the famous queen of the Insular Iceni). The female form is Boudicca, while the male form is Boudiccos. The were 'the people of Boudiccos', possibly one of their founding tetrarchs.

The Arecomisci tribe settled a wide swathe of what is now south-eastern France, occupying the entire central and western parts of the later Roman province of Narbonensis. They appear to have been a branch of the widely-travelled Volcae collective, some of which, elements of the Volcae Tectosages, moved to Anatolia. Once there, they and the other Gauls formed capitals for each of their various divisions. The Tectosages were centred on Ancyra (modern Ankara, the Turkish capital). The Tolistoboges located themselves at ancient Gordion (resting place of, arguably, Gordios III of Phrygia). The Trocmes based themselves at Tauion (Tavium, location uncertain). They organised a system of four 'tetrarchies' to each tribe, each of which sent twenty-five representatives to a great council that would handle matters of national importance. The heavily-Hellenicised descendants of these tribes formed a kingdom in the first century BC which quickly became a Roman client state.

(Information co-authored by Edward Dawson, and additional information from The La Tene Celtic Belgae Tribes in England: Y-Chromosome Haplogroup R-U152 - Hypothesis C, David K Faux, from Commentarii in Epistulam ad Galatas II, 3 = Patrologia Latina 26, 357, St Jerome, from Guide for Greece, Pausanias, and from External Links: Journal of Celtic Studies in Eastern Europe and Asia-Minor and The Works of Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars. Other major sources listed in the 'Barbarian Europe' section of the Sources page.)

c.300 BC

The last stages of Hallstatt culture sees Celts involved in a great expansion into southern and eastern Europe. Tribes infiltrate across the Danube to enter the land on the southern edge of the Eastern Alps, in the form of the Latovici, Serapili, Sereti, and Taurisci. The native communities in the hinterland of the Adriatic between Carinthia and Carniola are relatively rapidly assimilated by the Celtic newcomers, soon losing their identity completely. The migration turns into a powerful juggernaut as it enters the Balkans to come up against the Thracian and Greek kingdoms. It is unclear whether later La Tène elements of Celtic culture are also involved, but it is entirely possible.

Carinthia
The modern southern Austrian region of Carinthia marked the upper edge of the Adriatic hinterland which was first occupied by Celts towards the end of the fourth century BC, and it is from these early arrivals that the Galatians and Scordisci seem to have sprung

fl 281 BC

Cambaules

Confederation leader who entered Thrace.

c.282 - 281 BC

Gauls who are settled in Pannonia begin a series of campaigns southwards towards Thrace under the leadership of Cambaules. The first two campaigns see Cambaules and his leading veterans divide their followers, sending one part against the Thracians and Triballi under Cerethrius, a second against Paeonia under Brennus and Acichorius, and a third against the Macedonians and Illyrians under Bolgios.

281 - 277? BC

Cerethrius

Confederation leader.

281 - 277 BC

Brennus / Brennos

Tolistoboges leader? (Not Brennus of the Senones.) Died 277 BC.

281 - ? BC

Acichorius

Confederation leader.

281 - ? BC

Bolgios / Belgius

Confederation leader.

279 BC

Despite ruling both the Lysimachian empire and Macedonia, and having his main rival, the Antigonid King Antigonus II Gonatas bottled up in his own capital, Ptolemy II Ceraunus is killed in the invasion of Greece by the contingent under Bolgios. The kingdom is plunged into anarchy as the Celts invade further into Greece, and only the Aetolians seem to be able to take the lead in defending Greek territory.

278 - 277 BC

Brennus and Acichorius lead the third campaign by the Celts, although this is eventually defeated by a force led by the Aetolians. Following victory at Thermopylae, they advance to Delphi in 278 BC where they are routed by the Greek army, and then suffer a crushing defeat (under Cerethrius) at the hands of the Antigonid King Antigonus II in 277 BC. With Brennus dead, they retreat from Greece and pass through Thrace to enter into Asia Minor, although a small contingent (around 20,00 people, half of whom are warriors) under the leadership of Liutarius and Leonnarius already seems to have made the journey in 278 BC, with the rest merely following a now-established route in their wake.

These Celts in Anatolia (centred on lands that are taken from Antigonid Phrygia) form tribal regions that are based around each of the three main constituents of the confederation. The Tectosages base themselves at Ancyra (modern Ankara, with their leaders shown below in black), while the Tolistoboges settle at Gordion (to the west of Ankara, shown in green), and the Trocmes concentrate themselves at Tauion (shown in red), all in Anatolia. A separate kingdom is established in Thrace, at the city of Tilis (shown in light grey).

Hittite tablet mentioning Arzawa
The Gauls moved into an Anatolian landscape that was littered with remnants of previous kingdoms, notably that of Arzawa, which formerly dominated the Phrygian lands

The far larger remnant of Gauls who remain in the Balkans join together to form a confederation that finally settles at the junction of the rivers Savus and Danube in the Balkans. They adopt a name which highlights their acceptance of this territory as their new home, taking the mountain's name itself as the 'people of the Scord' - the Scordisci. They probably pick up elements of many of the local peoples along the way, Dacians, Illyrians, and Thracians. From there they raid into Macedonia, weakening the kingdom and later forcing a good many of the Roman governors there to campaign against them during the late second and early first centuries BC.

278 - ? BC

Liutarius

Galatian kingdom of the Tectosages.

278 - ? BC

Leonnarius

Co-ruler.

c.278 BC

Outside of Anatolia, the westernmost portion of Galatia is the Celtic kingdom that is established at Tilis (or Tylis, Tyle). This city in eastern Thrace and its Celtic occupiers are both mentioned by Polybius in relation to Commontorios setting up his own kingdom in the wake of the Celtic rampage through the Balkans. The city of Tilis is located near the eastern edge of the Haemus (Balkan) Mountains in what is now eastern Bulgaria (the modern Bulgarian village of Tulovo in Stara Zagora province now occupies the site).

c.278 - c.250 BC

Commontorios / Kommotorios

Galatian kingdom of Tilis (Eastern Thrace).

275 BC

The Galatians seem to be expanding the territory they command, presenting a growing threat to the eastern kingdoms in Anatolia. The Seleucid king in Syria, Antiochus I, attacks the Galatians from the east. Defeating them at the Battle of the Elephants, he pushes back their borders and, allegedly, gains the title 'soter' (meaning 'saviour') thanks to his victory.

273 BC

The Celts invade Thrace again, destroying the Thracian kingdom and forcing the Greek aristocracy to escape to the colonies bordering the Black Sea. The kingdom of Galatia now covers territory from the lower Balkans to Anatolia. Its victorious creators settle down to life that is fairly traditional, although they have adopted an internal organisation that is much enhanced, with separate judges and military commanders who are all subject to the regional tetrarch. Some Celts at least learn to read Greek, although whether any records are kept by the Celts themselves in any language, Greek or otherwise, is doubtful.

fl 235 BC

Ariopharn

Galatian kingdom of Tilis (Eastern Thrace).

230 BC

The city of Pergamum has been ruled as an Hellenic domain of the Lysimachian empire (during the lifetime of Satrap Philetaerus), with the city being turned into a fortress to house many of the Lysimachian riches. It is only with the success now of Attalus against the Galatian Celts that an independent kingdom is proclaimed in 230 BC, although it still remains within Greece's sphere of influence.

? - c.218 BC

Kavaros

Galatian kingdom of Tilis (Eastern Thrace).

214 BC

The Thracians eject the Celtic kingdom of Galatia from Greece and fully restore Thracian rule. Only the Celtic kingdom at Tilis in eastern Thrace remains in Celtic hands. The early Galatian kingdom (or rather, confederation) has over-extended itself by claiming too much territory. Now it faces pressure from east and west and its borders contract.

212 BC

The Celtic kingdom that is based at the city of Tilis (or Tylis) in eastern Thrace is attacked by Pleuratus, would-be king of Thrace who may reign in opposition to the already-established Seuthes IV. The kingdom is apparently destroyed by the action, as is the city itself.

c.200 BC

By now Galatia has been settled for almost a century around the River Halys and the Phrygian plain - the poorest parts of Anatolia. According to Pliny the Elder, it lies 'above' Phrygia and includes the greater part of the territory taken from that province, along with its former capital at Gordion (Gordium). The Gauls of these parts are called the Tolistobogi (Tolistoboges), the Voturi and the Ambitouti. The latter seem to be divisions of the Tolistoboges, never apparently having been mentioned in history at any time prior to this appearance.

The Gauls of Maeonia and Paphlagonia are called the Trocmi (Trocmes). Cappadocia stretches along to the north-west of Galatia, with its most fertile regions being in the possession of the Tectosages and Teutobodiaci. The latter is another new group, or division, presumably from the main host of Tectosages.

Southern coast of the Black Sea
Like the Kaskans and Paphlagonians before them, the Gauls would have struggled to survive in the somewhat hard conditions of the Black Sea's southern coast

All of these Gauls are divided into people and tetrarchies, totalling 195 in all. Each tribe is split into four groups, which effectively form a total of twelve sub-tribes (which accounts for the new names appearing in the text above). The Tectosages are centred on Ancyra (modern Ankara), while the Trocmi at at Tavium, and the Tolistobogi have Pessinius, and all of them are gradually absorbing the native population into their ranks. Ancient sources disagree about whether the Gauls found these towns or have merely taken them out of the hands of the previous owners. Pausanias for one makes it clear that Ancyra had been a Phrygian settlement before the Celts arrived, so the truth seems to depend on each writer's level of knowledge about the region.

192 - 191 BC

Antiochus III the Great of Seleucid Syria invades Greece, and is elected commander-in-chief of the Aetolian League. He declares himself to be the 'champion of Greek freedom against Roman domination', and wages war against the Roman republic in mainland Greece. Ultimately he is defeated by Roman troops under the command of Manius Acilius Glabrio at Thermopylae in 191 BC, which forces him to withdraw to Asia Minor. Rome is subsequently drawn into Asia as an ally of Pergamum where it opposes the armies of Antiochus and his allies, the Galatian Celts. Antiochus appears to have enlisted the support of the Galatians through a mixture of threats and promises and he makes extensive use of Celtic troops.

190 - 189 BC

Antiochus and Rome fight each other at the Battle of Magnesia ad Sipylum in 190 BC. The Seleucids rely heavily on the Galatians, especially their cavalry, but the Romans under Scipio Asiaticus win a resounding victory at Magnesia, ending the war.

The newly appointed commander of Roman forces in Asia Minor is Gnaeus Manlius Vulso. He ensures that the entire region knows about Rome's arrival by looting, robbing and extorting plunder from the local population, and destroying those who resist (so says Livy). Even worse, he views the Galatian Celts as a mongrel race and is determined to exterminate them, despite receiving no such instructions from Rome. He exhibits an extreme degree of the general Roman dislike of Celts due to their sack of Rome under Brennus of the Senones in 387 BC.

Vulso begins his genocidal campaign when he crosses the River Sangarius, arriving at the Galatian settlement of Gordion, only to find that it has been abandoned by its inhabitants. Envoys arrive from a chieftain called Eposognatus, the only one not to take up arms against Rome in the recent war, while the Tolistoboges tribe abandons its villages and farms and heads towards the defendable site of Mount Olympus. Unfortunately Vulso is not to be stopped by mere defences, and the site is taken by force, with its defenders, men woman and children, being massacred.

fl c.189 BC

Eposognatus

Tetrarch of the Tolistoboges.

fl c.189 BC

Ortagion / Ortiagon

Tetrarch of the Tolistoboges. At Mount Olympus.

189 BC

Roman sources agree that 40,000 prisoners are taken, while the number of dead varies between 10,000 and 40,000, the higher figure shocking many Romans. Plutarch recounts a story about one of the few survivors - Chiomara (Χιομάρα), wife of the chieftain Ortiagon who himself has managed to escape capture. Chiomara is captured and raped by a Roman centurion, who then offers her back to her relatives for a ransom. Keeping the arrangement from his men, the centurion collects the gold at a pre-agreed location at night. He is saying his rather over-affectionate goodbyes to Chiomara when she signals to the Celt who brought the gold - and he promptly decapitates the centurion. Chiomara returns to her husband's side in the safety of the Tectosages camp and presents the Roman's head to him as her trophy.

Other Galatians are not so lucky. One chieftain commits suicide after sending his wife on her way before him, an act that is latter commemorated on a monument that had been erected in 227 BC at Pergamum by Attalus I Soter to commemorate his own victory over the Galatians.

Mount Olympus in Anatolia
Mount Olympus (or Olympos) in Phrygia was the scene of one of Rome's most unforgivable atrocities - the massacre of as many as 40,000 Gauls

Vulso's next target are the Tectosages. Reaching Ancyra, he finds the Galatians encamped sixteen kilometres (ten miles) away. He attacks a somewhat fragile Gaulish defence which quickly crumbles in the centre, unnerved probably by events at Mount Olympus. The subsequent pursuit sees around 8,000 men killed, with little attempt by the Gauls to fight. However, the Gauls at Ancyra have delayed the Romans long enough so that the remnants of the Trocmes and Tectosages have been able to cross the Halys, escaping the grasp of Vulso's murderous campaign.

Perhaps the most notable fact is that the Galatian numbers have increased so markedly from the entry into Anatolia of just 20,000 men, women, and children in 278/277 BC. Doubtless a large number of this expanded population is made up of absorbed natives, but the Gauls have clearly been thriving. Until now.

100s? BC

The tragedy (and revenge) of Camma is told by Plutarch, On the Bravery of Woman. While undated, it clearly tells a story of the Galatians when they are independent, but they are also clearly sophisticated and at least semi-civilised, so the story must date from the latter period of Galatian independence, most probably the late second century BC or during the first century BC.

Camma is born a princess of the Tolistoboges and she marries someone equal to her station, a tetrarch named Sinatus, one of the most powerful men in Galatia. She attains the highest position available to a woman, high priestess of the Mother Goddess (Cybele-Artemis). Her husband's cousin, another tetrarch called Sinorix, becomes obsessed with her, so much so that he murders his rival and immediately attempts to woo Camma. Apparently persuaded by his efforts to persuade her family to support him, a wedding is soon arranged at the temple of the Mother Goddess. Instead of giving herself willingly to her new husband, Camma poisons them both, drinking the liquid herself to disguise her intent. Sinorix dies slowly and in agony, but Camma refuses to yield to death until she has heard the news that her husband's murderer has preceded her.

Sinatus

Tetrarch of the Tolistoboges?

Sinorix

Tetrarch of the Tolistoboges?

1st century BC

The Galatians begin to mint their own coins in the first century BC. Perhaps this is a little late considering the level of civilisation that they have been living alongside - primarily Phrygian and Hellenic - but coin production amongst Gauls farther west begins relatively late as well. Galatian coins largely reflect regional influences, and are mostly bronze issues, perhaps limited by Roman domination.

86 - 85 BC

Staunch enemies of Rome since the massacres of Vulso in 189 BC, the Galatians are now a powerful regional force. They have been resisting Rome's expansion in Asia Minor, siding with Mithradates the Great of Pontus in his matching endeavours, along with the Bastarnae and Scordisci. Defeat for the combined forces at the Battle of Chaeornea in 86 BC causes Mithradates to begin to suspect his allies of treachery. This increasing paranoia culminates in a bloody pogrom in which Galatian leaders are massacred at a banquet.

Tetradrachm of Pontus
A tetradrachm issued by Mithradates VI of Pontus and Bithynia around 86-85 BC, towards the end of his dominance in Anatolia and the beginning of true Roman dominance

The murder provokes a swift and brutal backlash from the Gauls. One of the few surviving leaders, Deiotarus, raises an army, expels Mithradates and his garrisons, and drives them out of Galatia. Gaulish revenge subsequently escalates beyond Galatia, with Pontic garrisons in Phrygia and Cilica being attacked. Roman General Lucullus had been on the verge of suspending the war due to a lack of supplies for his army, but Galatian support has solved the problem. Now Lucullus advances with 30,000 Galatians following in his train, successfully terminating the First Mithridatic War in 85 BC.

fl 86 - 40 BC

Deiotarus Philoromaeus

Tetrarch of the Tolistoboges. Roman-supported 'King of Galatia'.

85 - 70s BC

For his help in the Mithridatic conflict, Deiotarus receives the title 'king', and his territory is greatly extended by the addition of Armenia Minor. Strabo points out that Deiotarus then maintains two main fortresses, one at Blucium which is his royal residence, and one at Peium which is used as his treasury. Subsequently, Pompey effectively divides Galatia along its principal lines, with emphasis on the two tetrarchs who have been striking their own coins, Deiotarus of the Tolistoboges and Brogitarus of the Trocmes.

69 BC

General Lucullus fights Tigranes the Great of Armenia at the River Taurus, again supported by Galatian cavalry.

62 - 44 BC

Brogitarius / Brogitarus / Brogitarix

Tetrarch of the Trocmes. Son-in-law of Deiotarus. 'King of Galatia'.

c.50s - 40s BC

Brogitarius and his son, Amintas, issue the only known silver Galatian coins. Gold coins bearing Amintas' name are now thought to be forgeries, although by far the majority of Galatian coins to have been discovered are issues in his name.

fl 48 BC

Mithradates of Pergamum

Tetrarch of the Trocmes. Son of Mithradates VI of Pontus.

47 BC

Julius Caesar has already realised the usefulness of Mithradates of Pergamum, son of Mithradates VI of Pontus by his Galatian wife (a cousin of Deiotarus Philoromaeus, tetrarch of the Tolistoboges). Following victory at Zela, Caesar commands him to attack and assume control of the Bosporan kingdom. This he does, no doubt with the support of Roman troops. Records refer to him both as Mithradates I and Mithradates II of the Bosporan kingdom.

c.40 - 25 BC

Amintas / Amyntas

Son of Brogitarius. Tetrarch of the Trocmes. 'King of Galatia'.

37 BC

Amintas already possesses Lycaonia, where Strabo relates that he 'maintained more than 300 flocks'. The territory of Derbe in Lycaonia is added to this, allegedly through the murder of its prince, Antipater of Derbe, the friend of Cicero (with the deed being alleged by Cicero himself). Isaura and Cappadocia are added as gifts from Rome. With Deiotarus now deceased, Amintas is made king of Cappadocia in 37 BC as a client ruler of Mark Anthony, and he subsequently bases himself in Pamphylia, which remains a possession only during his lifetime.

31 - 25 BC

Probably wisely, Amintas deserts Mark Antony to join Octavian just before the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, according to Plutarch in Parallel Lives. Whilst gradually expanding his territories, Amyntas has conquered the Homonada region, killing the local chieftain to achieve this aim. However, the death is avenged by his widow, and Amintas is killed in an ambush in 25 BC. With the last Roman-supported Galatian client king now dead, Galatia's client status is ended and it becomes a Roman province.

Homonada region
The conquest of the arid, mountainous Homonada region and the killing of its chieftain by Amintas led directly to the end of Galatian independence

c.AD 50s

The Galatians may be on their way to becoming eastern Romans, but they have not entirely forgotten their Gaulish roots. They initially receive St Paul as an angel from heaven but perhaps fail fully to understand the Christian message. Acts (xiii-xiv) indicates that they have to be restrained at Lystra from sacrificing to St Paul, and shortly afterwards they stone 'the Angel of God', and leave him for dead.

AD 63

Polemon II of Pontus is persuaded to abdicate the throne by the Roman Emperor Nero, and Pontus becomes part of the Roman province of Galatia. As a satellite state of Pontus, the Georgian kingdom of Kolkis is also drawn into the Galatian province.

386/387

Remarkably, the Treveri still exist as a recognisable group of Celts. The best-known piece of evidence for Late Gaulish is found in St Jerome's (331-420) commentary on St Paul's letter to the Galatians, written in the year 386/387 (the calculation is somewhat imprecise). In it he says that the language of the Treveri in the Belgica is similar to that of the Galatians. Apart from the Greek language, which is spoken throughout the entire east of the empire, the Galatians have their own language which is almost the same as that of the Treveri. This also serves to prove the continued existence of the Galatian Celts themselves, four hundred years after their incorporation into the Roman empire.