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European Kingdoms

Celtic Tribes


MapCatubrini (Gauls)

FeatureIn general terms, the Romans coined the name 'Gaul' to describe the Celtic tribes of what is now central, northern, and eastern France. The Gauls were divided from the Belgae to the north by the Marne and the Seine, and from the Aquitani to the south by the River Garonne, and they also extended into Switzerland, northern Italy, and along the Danube. By the middle of the first century BC, the Catubrini were a minor tribe that was located in north-eastern Italy, close to the Austrian border and perhaps centred on Belodunum (the modern town of Belluno). They were neighboured to the north by tribes of the Raeti, to the north-east by the Ambidravi and Ambilici, to the east by the Carni, and to the south and west by the Ligurian Euganei and further tribes of the Raeti.

The Catubrini tribal name seems to be a simple one to break down. Removing the plural suffix, '-i' leaves two parts, 'catu' and 'brin'. The first part is simple. It means 'battle'. The Catalauni used the same word in their name. The second part is most likely the proto-Celtic *brendo-, meaning 'hill' ('bryn' in modern Welsh). The tribe were probably 'battle hill', which speaks for itself, either with the tribe being the hill's defenders or its attackers, most likely the latter. Perhaps that's how they conquered their new home in Italy. Amusingly, when they reached western Somerset in Britain the West Seaxe conquerors asked the Celtic natives for the name of a range of hills. They were given the Brythonic word for hill, 'brendo', to which the Germans added their own word, 'hill'. The area became the Brendon Hills of Somerset.

The tribe seemed principally to occupy the Pieve di Cadore area, a comune (municipality) in the Italian region of Veneto and birthplace of Titian. The word 'pieve' means 'church' while 'cadore' may be a remembrance of the Catubrini name. Very little documentary evidence of their existence or actions seems to be available, however. Given their proximity to the Ambidravi and Carni, and beyond them the Taurisci confederation, it is likely that the Catubrini were dominated by the confederation (or perhaps were even part of it by choice).

(Information by Peter Kessler and Edward Dawson, with additional information from The La Tene Celtic Belgae Tribes in England: Y-Chromosome Haplogroup R-U152 - Hypothesis C, David K Faux, from A Genetic Signal of Central European Celtic Ancestry, David K Faux, from Celts and the Classical World, David Rankin, from The Civilisation of the East, Fritz Hommel (Translated by J H Loewe, Elibron Classic Series, 2005), from Europe Before History, Kristian Kristiansen, and from External Link: Pieve di Cadore.)

183 BC

Somewhat alarmed at the sudden arrival of such a large body of Celts in the form of the Carni (to the immediate east of the Catubrini), Rome sends a force under triumvirs Publius Scipio Nasica, Caius Flaminius, and Lucius Manlius Acidinus. The Carni are forced back to the mountains, their settlement is destroyed, and a defensive Roman settlement is founded at the north-eastern border of Roman influence. The Carni spend the subsequent years attempting to form alliances with the Histri, Iapydes, and Taurisci so that they might regain their prize. As a result there is probably skirmishing between the Carni and Rome along the frontier, but no further major clashes until 115 BC. All this disturbance happens along the Catubrini border, but they are not mentioned as being involved.

The modern southern Austrian region of Carinthia on the upper eastern edge of Catubrini territory marked the edge of the Adriatic hinterland which was first occupied by Celts towards the end of the fourth century BC

115 BC

During the year of his consulship in Rome, Marcus Aemilianus Scaurus succeeds in defeating the Carni and probably also the Taurisci. Cicero mentions this briefly in his Orations, but provides no additional depth. It seems that this final defeat of the Carni has been driven by their continued wish to settle the Veneti plains and Rome's equally strong desire to keep the rich, fertile plains for itself. Now the Carni, accepting their defeat, appear to submit to Rome.

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, 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). The Ambisontes are included in this defeat after throwing in their lot with the Raeti and Vindelici, so the Ambidravi may also be associated with this defeat. Given the fact that the Catubrini lie between Italy and these two tribes, they should also be included. Following this, the history of the Alpine region's population of Celts is tied to that of the empire.

2nd century AD

The Catubrini have been mastered by Rome, probably since the very end of the first century BC. But Roman troops only arrive in what is now the city of Pieve di Cadore in this century, setting up a garrison. On Montericco a temple is also consecrated, to Mars which, with the arrival of the Roman Church, is rebuilt as a church dedicated to St Peter the Apostle, Archaeologists later discover the remains of a Roman house of this period beneath the modern town hall of Pieve di Cadore.

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