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European Kingdoms



Celto-Veneti Tribes

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 from beyond the southern foothills), 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.

Veneti origins are obscure and, even today, cannot fully be agreed upon. This is because they appear to have migrated to their homeland at the top of the Adriatic from somewhere to the east, while not leaving behind quite enough traces of their language for modern scholars to be precisely able to pinpoint their origins through linguistics.

However, what appears to be the best possibility involves them having been located on the north-western edge of the South-West Indo-European proto-Illyrian groups which occupied the western Balkans coast in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries BC.

Once settled in northern Italy, and now dominating the eastern Euganei tribes, the Adriatic Veneti prospered. They were known for their high quality horse-rearing skills while seemingly being involved in few wars. Their situation seem not to have changed much even after the large-scale breakthrough of Celts across the western Alps between about 600-400 BC. Nor did the increasing presence in the eastern Alps of further Celts seem to impinge much upon them.

However, sophisticated as they were in their permanent home, they do seem to have provided an influence to some of these new arrivals. The Tarvisii especially would seem to be a Celto-Veneti mix between Celtic settlers on the southern edge of Veneti territory and Veneti themselves.

The much larger and more powerful Carni on their northern flank are now accepted as also having a Celto-Veneti mix to explain some of the oddities in their make-up. Other Gaulish tribes which may also have been influences include the Cenomani and Eravisci.

The Alps

(Information by Peter Kessler, Trish Wilson, & Edward Dawson, 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).)

474 BC

It seems that the Celtic arrival in northern Italy over the past century-or-so has not been entirely welcomed. The Etruscans, who themselves have been migrating northwards to the River Po from central Italy, have been clashing increasingly with the Celts for domination of the region.

Western Alps
The Celtic tribes of northern Italy were large and dangerous to the Romans, unlike their fellow Celts in the Western Alps, who were relatively small in number and fairly fragmented, although they made up for that by being even more belligerent than their easterly cousins

A pivotal showdown takes place at the Battle of Ticinum in this year. The Etruscan force, which is little more than a well-armed militia, is butchered by the Celts in a ferociously fought battle.

This victory confirms Celtic domination of the region for the next couple of centuries, so that it is called Gallia Cisalpina (Gaul on 'our' side of the Alps, 'ours' being the Latin and Italic side).

From this conquest it is likely that Celtic groups fan out in search of their own slice of territory, all the while being under the protection of Mediolanum. This is the most likely period for the Tarvisii finding a home near the Adriatic and soon intermixing with nearby Veneti locals to produce a Celto-Veneti hybrid group (if indeed that is what the Tarvisii are).

186 BC

The Celtic Encyclopaedia states that the Carni now become neighbours of the Adriatic Veneti after descending from the Noricum. As the first historical date given for the Carni, this would seem to be the point at which they gain their independence from the core Taurisci confederation of which they must have been a part since their arrival in the Noricum.

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

Already used to wintering on the Veneti plains, around fifty thousand armed men, women, and children descend towards the plains, founding a permanent defensive settlement on a hill which they name Akileja (surprisingly close in name form to the famed Alesia of Gaul itself).

Their Celto-Veneti influences may date from this point onwards, although the tribes of the Noricum themselves also exhibit several strange characteristics which seem to be the rest of non-Gaulish influences.

49 BC

In the same year that the peoples of Gallia Transalpina are granted Roman citizenship (including the Cenomani and Veneti - and presumably the Tarvisii too), civil war erupts between Julius Caesar and Pompey as the former crosses the Rubicon.

Rome's various allies and subject peoples take sides, but the days of the Veneti as a readily-identifiable people are coming to an end. They are now Romans, and they share the soon-to-be empire's highs and lows.

Map of Barbarian Europe 52 BC
This vast map covers just about all possible tribes which were documented in the first centuries BC and AD, mostly by the Romans and Greeks, and with an especial focus on 52 BC (click or tap on map to view at an intermediate size)

In the fifth century AD, increasing turbulence in the now-rapidly-declining empire sees refugees from Aquileia and other nearby cities (including Altinum) escape into the lagoon marsh islands for mutual protection, forming a settlement there which will become the republic of Venice.

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