History Files

European Kingdoms

Celtic Tribes


MapSegusini (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, there was a cluster of smaller tribes in the Alpine region of western Switzerland and the French/Italian border. This included the Segusini, who were located in the Cottian Alps. They were neighboured by the Ceutrones to the north, the Tricastii and Caturiges to the south, and by the Allobroges to the west.

The tribe's name has the same original basis as that of the Segusiavi, and is an easy one to break down. Remove the '-ini' plural suffixes to leave 'segus'. The root 'sego-' is common Celtic for 'victory' (and is also used in all German tongues). The tribe were 'the victors', a very Celtic boast of prowess and success in battle. Given their location, they may have had an earlier relation to the relatively close Segusiavi.

Segusini territory is something that can be pinpointed with certainty. They were based around the valley of Susa in Piedmont (from 'Segusio', the tribe's oppidum), in the Cottian Alps of Cisalpine Gaul. Ptolemy stated that Brigantium (modern Brianšon in France) formed the westernmost limit of the tribe.

(Information by Peter Kessler and Edward Dawson, with additional information from An Enquiry into the Ancient Routes between Italy and Gaul, Robert Ellis, from Research into the Physical History of Mankind, James Cowles Prichard, from Geography, Ptolemy, and from External Links: The Works of Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars, and Defeat of the Vocates and Tarusates, J Rickard.)

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).

Western Alps
The Celtic tribes of the Western Alps were relatively small and fairly fragmented, but they made up for that with a level of belligerence and fighting ability that often stunned their major opponents, including the Romans

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 AD 297 to Civitas Ebrodunensium, modern Embrun). Segusio becomes the capital of the province of Alpes Cottiae (the Cottian Alps). The history of the Alpine region's population of Celts is now tied to that of the empire.