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European Kingdoms

Barbarians

 

Acitavones / Acitauones (Gauls? / Celto-Ligurians?)

Prior to domination by Rome, the Alpine region contained various populations which had a complex, obscure, and ethnically-multilayered history. Two major ethnic groups were recorded (aside from intrusions by the Etruscans and Veneti), these being the Euganei on the north Italian plain and the Alpine foothills, and the Raeti in the Trentino and Alto Adige valleys.

There were a great many more minor groups, all of which seem to have formed part of the initial phase of the Golasecca culture. Generally they belonged to one or the other of these though, or to the coastal Ligurians who had gradually penetrated the Alps from the south, but who also extended a considerable way westwards along the Mediterranean coast.

MapBefore and during the Roman republic period, Ligurians could be found across large areas of north-western Italy. They generally occupied territory which today forms the region of Liguria, extending west into Piedmont to the south of the River Po and even as far as the French Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. Prior to Roman pressure they may even have extended as far as northern Tuscany and across the Pyrenees into Catalonia (see map for more information on general tribal locations in Europe).

The Acitavones tribe (or Acitauones) presents something of a problem. Next nothing is known about them, and two possible locations are available for their tribal territory. The first is in France, along the upper reaches - and possibly the source - of the River Isere which flows through the Tarentaise Valley and the modern commune of Bourg St Maurice (Latin Bergintrum, as mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary).

This is very close to the French/Italian border, just south of Chamonix-Mont Blanc. The second option is in Italy, in the Val d'Aosta near the Little St Bernard Pass which is also on the French/Italian border, and just a short way to the north-east of Bourg St Maurice.

An Italian source has also placed them in the region of the mountain known as Gran Paradiso (Alpi Graiae), between Valle d'Orco near Turin, La Val di Rhêmes (above the Dora Baltea), and in Valsavarenche (Val D'Aosta again).

From what little information actually is available it seems that they were surrounded by the Medulli and Segusini to the south, the Veragri to the north, the Salassi to the east, and the Ceutrones to the west. The last of those tribes is especially interesting here.

The Ceutrones also lived in the Tarentaise Valley, and some interesting comments from L'Arbre Celtique (see sources, below) involve the two being one and the same tribe, bearing in mind they are noted as living in the same place and there is no mention of the Ceutrones on the great Augustinian memorial in Turbie. In fact, once anyone looks at the tribes of the Alpes Maritimes and the Haut-Alpes de Provence, it's some wonder that the Ceutrones were apparently left off the memorial at all, since none of their neighbours were.

Bergintrum was one of their major oppida and, according to The Celtic Tree (see sources), their major oppidum of Axima (now Aime-la-Plagne) was soon renamed Forum Claudii Ceutronorum Axima, which surely could not happen unless the Romans had actually moved in. There is even a suggestion (albeit an unlikely one) that the name Tarentaise derives from Terentius Varro, the Roman commander who finally conquered them.

Interestingly there is no mention of the Acitavones or Actiauones on the French list, Liste de peuples gaulois et acquitains. Finally, from the Swiss Lexicon, they were labelled the Ceutrones, located just to the west of the Little St Bernard, part of the route between Italy and Lyon (Lugdunum).

According to Pliny they produced a very delectable cheese there but, like Clark Kent and Superman, the Ceutrones and the Acitavones never seemed to be in the same room at the same time.

The Alps

(Information by Trish Wilson & Peter Kessler, with additional information from The History of Rome, Volume 1, Titus Livius (translated by Rev Canon Roberts), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from Les peuples préromains du Sud-Est de la Gaule: Étude de géographie historique, Guy Barruol (De Boccard, 1999), and from External Links: Indo-European Chronology - Countries and Peoples, and Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny, and Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith (1854, Perseus Digital Library), and The Natural History, Pliny the Elder (John Bostock, Ed), and Chiemgau Impact, and Chiemgau meteorite crater strewn field (Impact Structures), and L'Arbre Celtique (The Celtic Tree, in French), and Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz or Dictionnaire Historique de la Suisse or Dizionario Storico dell Svizzera (in German, French, and Italian respectively).)

25 - 15 BC

Augustus determines that the Alpine tribes need to be pacified in order to end their warlike behaviour, alternately attacking or extracting money from Romans who pass through the region, even when they have armies in tow.

He wages a steady, determined campaign against them during the Alpine Wars, and in a period of ten years he 'pacifies the Alps all the way from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian seas' (written by Augustus himself).

La Turbie and the Trophy of Augustus
The Tropaeum Alpium ('Trophy of the Alps') stands majestically in the commune of La Turbie on the French Riviera, overlooking the principality of Monaco, and marking the final victory over the Alpine tribes by Augustus

14 BC

Emperor Augustus creates the province of Alpes Maritimae (the maritime, or seaward, Alps). It has its capital at Cemenelum (modern Nice, although this is switched in 297 to Civitas Ebrodunensium, modern Embrun). The history of the Alpine region's population of Celts and Celto-Ligurians is now tied to that of the empire.

 
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