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European Kingdoms



Euganei-Raeti Tribes
Incorporating the Camunes & Trumpilini

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.

MapThe Euganei and Raeti were not part of the West Indo-European migration into southern Central Europe between about 3500-2500 BC. Instead they may have borne a degree of relationship with the Etruscans of north-western Italy (although the Celtic Encyclopaedia lists them as Ligurians).

Later Celtic ingress into the north Italian plain from 600 BC onwards, along with Celtic domination to the north and east of the Alps, meant that earlier peoples were pushed to the margins (see map for more information). The Raeti entered the Alps to find a home there, while the Euganei were compressed between the south-eastern Alps and the Veneti on the Adriatic coast.

The tribe of the Camunes could be found in the Val Camonica, in the upper valley of the River Oglio in today's province of Brescia, seventy-two kilometres north-north-east of the city of Brescia itself. Their major oppidum was modern day Camuno, with today's town having grown from Rome's Civitas Camunorum. The Trumpilini (or Trumplini) occupied the Val Trompia in the upper valley of the River Mella, in today's province of Brescia, some thirty-two kilometres to the north of the city of Brescia. The tribe's major oppidum was Vobecum, modern day Bovegno.

Both tribes were identified by Pliny as Euganei, although they are more normally categorised as Raeti. However, they do seem to have moved into the southern foothills of the Alps - probably during the northwards Raeti migration following the arrival of the Celts - with a gap forming between themselves and the main Raeti collective.

They came to be much more closely neighboured by the Euganei, making it entirely possible that they exhibited increasing signs of Euganei influence and dominance, especially by Pliny's time. Pre-Roman inscriptions support the idea of the Raeti and Euganei being very close anyway in terms of language, and possibly even originally sharing a language before regional differences may have emerged, whilst being clearly differentiated from the Adriatic Veneti and probably from Ligurians too.

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 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), and Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

c.1183 BC

According to an often-repeated story by ancient writers, Antenor, ally of Aeneas of the Dardanians, sails into the furthest part of the Adriatic (the northern reaches), accompanied by a number of Enetians who have been driven from Paphlagonia by revolution following the death of their king, Pylaemenes, before the gates of Troy. They defeat the Euganei and occupy their lands near the coast, later to be known as the Adriatic Veneti.

Verona in Italy
Verona was initially the chief citadel of the Euganei, before they were forced out by the more powerful Celtic tribe of the Cenomani, probably in the sixth or fifth centuries BC

Whether or not the Trojan War actually is involved, the story would seem to describe the arrival of the Veneti (at around the time at which Italic tribes are also migrating into Italy proper) and with the Euganei being forced to occupy less fertile territory in the foothills of the Alps as a result.

Some of the more westerly Euganei eventually dominate outlying Raeti groups in turn, to form a Euganei-Raeti hybrid group. Perhaps not coincidentally, the early phase of the Villanova culture begins around the same time as all of this activity. Located in central and upper Italy, this is probably the first Iron Age culture in the peninsula.

600 - 500 BC

Mediolanum (modern Milan) is an Etruscan city at this time, the Golasecca I C period. The Lepontii to their immediate north now begin writing tombstone inscriptions using the Etruscan alphabet, one of several alphabets in the Alpine region, all of which are Etruscan-derived.

There is the possibility, given related inscriptions in Golasecca, that the ancestors of the Lepontii are the main drivers of this culture. Given their later positions in the Alps and a statement by Pliny, it is also likely that the Euganei and Raeti are also an important part of this culture.

Source of the Ticino
The mountainous Alpine country of the Raeti would have supplied a relatively tough tribal life during which it would seem that they never particularly thrived or expanded and which led to their easy absorption into Celtic and Latin cultures

The earliest stages of the Celtic breakthrough across the western Alps creates the conditions for subsequent Celtic domination of the plain. The existing Golasecca-infused population is gradually marginalised and compressed, forming the Ligurians, Celto-Ligurians, Euganei, Raeti, Euganei-Raeti, Liguro-Raeti, Lepontii, and Celto-Veneti groups which will be familiar to the later Romans.

91 - 89 BC

The Etruscans, Frentani, Hirpini, Iapyges, Lucani, Marrucini, Marsi, Paeligni, Picentes, Samnites, Umbri, and Vestini fight the Social War (Italian War, or Marsic War) against Rome. The war is the result of increasing inequality in Roman land ownership, and the spark for conflict is delivered by the assassination of the reforming Marcus Livius Drusus.

Map of Alpine and Ligurian tribes, c.200-15 BC
The origins of the Euganei, Ligurians, Raeti, Veneti, and Vindelici are confused and unclear, but in the last half of the first millennium BC they were gradually being Celticised or were combining multiple influences to create hybrid tribes (click or tap on map to view full sized)

The Euganei are conquered at the same time as the war ends in 89 BC. This marks a clear dividing line between the preceding Celtic dominance of the Alpine region and increasing Roman dominance.

Celticisation is replaced with Latinisation with the result that non-Indo-European elements in the Alpine region largely seem to lose their native language within a century or two.

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