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European Kingdoms



Salyes / Salluvii (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, but generally they belonged to one or the other of these, 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.

FeatureThere were many groups in Southern Europe which formed the Ligurian people, with not even a confederation uniting them all. In fact, many Ligurian groups formed confederations in their own right, with the Salyes being no different. They were otherwise recorded as the Sallyes, and perhaps as the Salluvii, if indeed the latter referred to the same confederation, although some doubt seems to exist (see feature link for more on the Ligurians in general).

By the middle of the first century BC the Sayles confederation was located on the east bank of the Rhodanus (the modern River Rhône), immediately to the north of the ancient Greek port of Messalina (modern Marseille), and between that and Arelate (modern Arles) on the western side of the Alps. They were neighboured to the north by the Albici confederation, the Reii, the Vocontii and the Cavari, along the coast to the east by the Commoni, and across the Rhodanus to the west by the Volcae Arecomisci.

As inferred above, despite the Salyes being classified as being Ligurians, the Salluvii are listed by Livy as being one of those Gaulish tribes which crossed the Alps into Italy during the early fourth century BC. That migration, seemingly starting around 600 BC and becoming a torrent by around 400 BC, initially involved the Bituriges, Insubres, and several other tribes.

It was instrumental in greatly squeezing Ligurian territory to the north and east, and also in adding a layer of Celticisation to Ligurian existence (forming Celto-Ligurians). It is entirely possible that the Salyes started out as Ligurians and ended up as the Salluvii following a takeover by Celts and a process of Celticisation (which could have taken as little as a couple of generations to complete). Certainly Strabo by the first century AD considered the Salyes to be Celto-Ligurians. They were the head of a confederation which also included the aforementioned Reii, possibly along with the Agesinates.

The Alps

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, Maurizio Puntin, and Trish Wilson, from Res Gestae, Livy (Titus Livius Patavinus), from Ligustica, Albert Karl Ernst Bormann (in three parts, 1864-1868), from Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, Harry Thurston Peck (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1898), from the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith, from Geography, Ptolemy, from The History of Rome, Volume 1, Titus Livius, translated by Rev Canon Roberts, and from External Links: Indo-European Chronology - Countries and Peoples, and Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny, and Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition).)

c.600 BC

Bellovesus and his massed horde of people from the Bituriges, Insubres, and several other tribes begin a migration across the Alps and into northern Italy. This barrier is one that has apparently not previously been breached by Celts, but they are also deterred by a sense of religious obligation, triggered by news reaching them that another group looking for territory, a force of Massalians, are under attack by the Salyes (Ligurians).

Map of the Etruscans
This map shows not only the greatest extent of Etruscan influence in Italy, during the seventh to fifth centuries BC, but also Gaulish intrusion to the north, which compressed Etruscan borders there (click or tap on map to view on a separate page)

Seeing this as an omen of their own fortunes, the Celts briefly go to the assistance of the Massalians to help them secure their position. Then they make the crossing with some trepidation, heading through the passes of the Taurini and the valley of the Douro.

It is possible that the Salyes subsequently become part of the southwards migration themselves, at least to an extent and possibly not entirely willingly. Livy at least states that they join Bellovesus. Following their reaching of the Douro they defeat Etruscans in battle not far from the Ticinus. Bellovesus and his people settle around the Ticinus and build a settlement called Mediolanum (modern Milan).

? - 123 BC

Tuto-Motulus / Tutomotulus

Deposed by the Roman conquest of the tribe.

123 - 121 BC

The Allobroges come into direct conflict with Rome following the latter's defeat of the Salluvii. The battle seemingly takes place at the archaeological site of Entremont, at the foot of the Puyricard, principal oppidum of the Sayles/Salluvi. The Salluvi king, Tuto-Motulus (otherwise recorded as Tutomotulus or Teutomalius), flees northwards and seeks shelter with the Allobroges. Entremont is abandoned, to be replaced by the Roman town of Aquae Sextiae.

Map of Alpine and Ligurian tribes, c.200-15 BC
Western Alps
The Celtic tribes of the Western Alps - including the Allobroges - were relatively small and fairly fragmented, but they made up for that with a level of belligerence and fighting ability which often stunned their major opponents, including the Romans, while above that is a map showing the post-Celtic, but pre-Roman, occupancy of the Alps and surrounding regions (click or tap on map to view full sized)

His name starts with 'tuto', possibly a variation on the 'teut' of the Teutones name, meaning 'family, tribe'. While this appears to be its meaning in Celtic usage, its origins go much farther back and it has a good many variations.

In Old Indian/Vedic it means 'strong'. In Latin (Q-Italic) it means 'all, everyone' when applied to people. In Old Prussian (Baltic dialect), 'tulan' means 'much, a lot of'. Even so, the meaning of 'the people' is found in Celtic and P-Italic tongues and, of the variants listed above, the double 't' of 'teut' is the Celtic/Italic form alone. It only means 'tribe, family' in those two groups, not in other Indo-European tongues.

The Allobroges welcome him in and, when Rome demands that he is handed over, they refuse. Having declared war, Rome sends Quintus Fabius Maximus to attack them in 121 BC. He is the son of Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus, consul of 145 BC, and is consul himself during this year.

River Rhone
The Rhodanus (the modern River Rhône) formed the western border of the territory which belonged to the Salyes confederation by the time the Romans were able to note their existence

He campaigns in Gallia Transalpina (the modern Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes regions) with Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, fighting the Allobroges and Arverni. They are defeated and the consul is awarded the honour of a triumph which is famous for its spectacle, with the Arverni ruler, Bituitus, being displayed in his silver battle armour. The Salyes/Salluvii have been subjugated and they subsequently disappear from history.

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