The Insubres or Insubri were an ancient Celticpopulation settled in Insubria, in what is now the Italian region of Lombardy. They were the founders of Mediolanum (Milan). Though completely Gaulish at the time of Roman conquest, they were the result of the fusion of pre-existing Ligurian and Celtic population (Golasecca culture) with Gaulish tribes.
The Insubres are mentioned by Cicero, Polybius, Livy, Pliny the Elder, Strabo and Caecilius Statius.
Polybius called the Insubres the most important Celtic tribe of the Italian peninsula, while according to the Livy they were the first to inhabit Cisalpine Gaul, from the 7th century BC.
The Insubres were part of the Golasecca culture, which takes its name from a town near Varese, where Abbot Giovanni Battista Giani made the first findings of about fifty Celtic graves with pottery and metal objects. It is a culture that developed at the end of the Late Bronze Age, between the rivers Po, Serio and Sesia, and which has its counterpart in the Central European Hallstatt culture.
The Insubres culture followed then what was a slow end of its own evolution. Thanks to the cultural and commercial exchanges with neighboring areas, such as Etruria, Venetia and Transalpine Gaul, the Insubres made some advances and created a distinct society of their own. In the light of archaeological findings it can be also assumed that it was an oligarchic society, where power was in the hands of a few Lords.
The History of the Insubres, like that of other Gauls and of Italic peoples, was written by ancient Roman and Greek writers. Apart from Livy's section on the Gallic Invasion of northern Italy, their writings came in the context of their covering Roman history and concentrated on battles between the Romans and the Insubres and other Gallic tribes in northern Italy.
In 225 BC, the Insubres and the Boii, their Gallic neighbours to the south of the River Po, rebelled against Rome. This was prompted by developments that started in 283 BC, when unspecified Celts besieged Arretium (Arezzo in Tuscany) and defeated a Roman force that came to the aid of the city. The Romans sent envoys to negotiate the release of Roman prisoners, but the envoys were killed.
A Roman army was sent to the ager Gallicus, the name the Romans gave to an area on the Adriatic coast that had been conquered by the Senone Gauls. This army routed a Senone force, occupied their territory, killed most of the Senones and drove the rest out of their land. Afraid that the same fate might occur to them, the neighbouring Boii joined the Etruscans in a rebellion. Their combined force was defeated at the Battle of Lake Vadimo in the same year.
What prompted the Insubres to join the Boii in another rebellion was a law passed in Rome that provided for the subdivision of the ager gallicus into Roman administrative units. This created fears among the Boii and Insubres that the Romans were now fighting wars to exterminate and expel the enemy and annex their territory
In 225 BC, the Boii and Insubres paid large sums of money to Gaesatae mercenaries led by Aneroëstes and Concolitanus. The Gaesatae were Gauls from Gallia Transalpina, the Roman name for what is now southern France. A force of up to 70,000 men ravaged Etruria. The Gauls encountered Roman forces near Clusium (Chiusi); instead of engaging, they withdrew to Feasulae (Fiesole) at night. They then defeated the Romans at the Battle of Faesulae (225 BC). They were routed by the combined forces of the two Roman consuls, Lucius Aemilius Papus and Gaius Atilius Regulus, at the Battle of Telamon.
After the Battle of Telamon, the Romans attacked and defeated the Boii and forced them to submit to Rome.In 224 BC, the Romans attacked Insubre territory. In 223 BC, the Insubres sued for peace, but the Romans turned this down and attacked them. The Romans were now determined to be in control of Gallia Cisalpina, the Roman name for the area where the Gallic tribes of northern Italy lived.
In 222 BC, the Romans besieged Acerrae, an Insubre fortification on the right bank of the River Adda between Cremona and Laus Pompeia (Lodi Vecchio). The Insubres could not relieve Acerrae because the Romans controlled all the strategic points around it. Therefore, they hired 30,000 Gaesatae mercenaries and, led by Viridomarus (or Britomartus), they besieged Clastidium, an important and strategically well placed town of the Marici, a Ligurian people who were Roman allies, hoping that this would force the Romans to lift their siege.
Instead, the Romans split their forces. The consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus headed for Clastidium and his colleague Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus continued the siege of Acerrae. At the Battle of Clastidium, Marcus Claudius defeated the Gallic forces and killed Viridomarus in single combat. Meanwhile, Gnaeus Cornelius took Acerrae. With the fortress taken and the Insubre king dead, the Romans then easily took the capital of the Insubres, which they named Mediolanum (Milan).
The Insubres surrendered and were forced to become Roman allies. The Romans founded garrisoned colonies at Cremona and Placentia (Piacenza). The former was on the north bank of the River Po and the latter was close to its south bank (in Insubre and Boii territory respectively). This was done to secure the crossing of the river and the gateway to Liguria. They also established a garrison at Mutina (Modena), which was to become a colony in 182 BC.
In 218 BC, the Insubres and the Boii rebelled in anticipation of Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War (218-201 BC). They attacked Cremona and Placentia, forcing the settlers to flee to Mutina, which was besieged. The praetor Lucius Manlius Vulso set off from Ariminum with 20,000 infantry and 1,600 cavalry. He was ambushed twice on the way. He relieved the siege of Mutina, but was in turn besieged nearby. The consul Publius Cornelius Scipio was sent to support him with fresh troops. Meanwhile, Hannibal reached Italy. He defeated Publius Scipio at the Battle of Ticinus, in Insubre territoryand the other consul, Tiberius Sempronius Longus, at the Battle of the Trebia, near Placentia.
Hannibal wintered near Placentia and then moved on to central and southern Italy. Some Insubres joined him, among them Ducarius who killed Consul Gaius Flaminius at the Battle of Trasimene (217 BC). We next hear of the Gauls during the Second Punic War in relation to the Battle of the Metaurus (207 BC). Hannibal's brother, Hasdrubal Barca, was bringing reinforcements from Spain for his brother who was in southern Italy. He passed through northern Italy and recruited Gallic soldiers. Hasdrubal's forces, including his Gauls were routed at this battle in central Italy.At this point, Hannibal's campaign in Italy came to a dead end.
After several other clashes, the Insubres made an alliance with Rome in 194 BC, maintaining some autonomy. In 89 BC, they obtained Latin citizenship and, in 49 BC, Roman citizenship. The Romanisation of the Insubres was probably quick owing to the presence of Roman colonies and to Julius Caesar using Mediolanum as a staging post for his conquest of Gaul (58–50 BC). Caecilius Statius (c. 220 BC – c. 166 BC), a Roman comic poet, was born in Insubria, possibly in Mediolanum. He was originally a slave and was probably a war captive who was taken to Rome. Caecilius was the name of his patron, probably a member of the powerful Metelli clan. His work was greatly acclaimed.
The Boii were a Gallic tribe of the later Iron Age, attested at various times in Cisalpine Gaul, Pannonia (Hungary), parts of Bavaria, in and around Bohemia, parts of Poland, and Gallia Narbonensis.
Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus was a Roman general and statesman during the third century BC. He played a major part in the Second Punic War establishing Roman Rule in the east of the Iberian Peninsula and tying up several Carthaginian armies keeping them from reinforcing Hannibal.
The Battle of the Trebia was the first major battle of the Second Punic War, fought between the Carthaginian forces of Hannibal and a Roman army under Sempronius Longus on 22 or 23 December 218 BC. It took place on the flood plain of the west bank of the lower Trebia River, not far from the settlement of Placentia, and resulted in a heavy defeat for the Romans.
Cisalpine Gaul was the part of Italy inhabited by Celts (Gauls) during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC.
The Via Aemilia was a trunk Roman road in the north Italian plain, running from Ariminum (Rimini), on the Adriatic coast, to Placentia (Piacenza) on the river Padus (Po). It was completed in 187 BC. The Via Aemilia connected at Rimini with the Via Flaminia, which had been completed 33 years earlier, to Rome.
The Battle of Telamon was fought between the Roman Republic and an alliance of Celtic tribes in 225 BC. The Romans, led by the consuls Gaius Atilius Regulus and Lucius Aemilius Papus, defeated the Celts led by the Gaesatae kings Concolitanus and Aneroëstes. This removed the Celtic threat from Rome and allowed the Romans to extend their influence over northern Italy.
The Battle of Clastidium was fought in 222 BC between a Roman Republican army led by the Roman consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus and the Insubres, a Celtic people in northern Italy. Florus writes that the Insubres were led by Viridomarus, or Britomartus, as the name varies in translation. The Romans won the battle, and in the process, Marcellus earned the spolia opima, one of the highest honors in ancient Rome, by killing the king in single combat. It was also notable as one of the few battles won by the Roman cavalry without any aid by the legions.
The Battle of Arretium, which was probably fought in 284 BC, is a poorly documented event in the history of the Roman Republic because it occurred in a period for which some of the books of the History of Rome by Livy, the most thorough ancient historian for early Rome, have been lost. The battle is only explicitly referred to in a text by Polybius, the ancient Greek historian, which does not give much detail and puts it in the context of other events. A text by Appian talks about these events, but does not make any explicit reference to the Battle of Arretium. It was fought between the Romans and the Gauls of northern Italy, who may have been from the Senone tribe.
The second Battle of Lake Vadimo was fought in 283 BC between Rome and the combined forces of the Etruscans and the Gallic tribes of the Boii and the Senones. The Roman army was led by consul Publius Cornelius Dolabella. The result of the battle was a Roman victory.
The Battle of Placentia was fought in 194 BC, near Placentia, between the Roman Republic and the Boii. The Roman army won the battle. The following year, another battle with the Boii would take place in the same region; known as the Battle of Mutina, it would end the Boii threat.
The practice of entering combat without the use of clothing and armor has been documented on several occasions in history. The artistic convention of heroic nudity was established in the art of ancient Greece by the Archaic period.
Aneroëstes was one of the two leaders of the Gaesatae, a group of Gaulish mercenaries who lived in the Alps near the Rhône and fought against the Roman Republic in the Battle of Telamon of 225 BC. He and his colleague Concolitanus were hired by the Boii and Insubres in response to the Roman colonisation of the formerly Gallic region of Picenum. After some initial success in Etruria, when faced with the army of the consul Lucius Aemilius Papus, Aneroëstes persuaded the Gauls to withdraw, but they were cut off at Telamon by the other consul, Gaius Atilius Regulus, and forced to fight a pitched battle.
Brennus was a chieftain of the Senones. He defeated the Romans at the Battle of the Allia. Later that year, he led an army of Cisalpine Gauls in their attack on Rome and captured most of the city, holding it for several months. Brennus's sack of Rome was the only time in 800 years the city was occupied by a non-Roman army before the fall of the city to the Visigoths in 410 AD.
The Gaesatae or Gaesati were a group of Gallic mercenary warriors who lived in the Alps near the river Rhône and fought against the Roman Republic at the Battle of Telamon in 225 BC.
Bellovesus is a legendary Gallic chief of the Bituriges, said to have lived ca. 600 BC. According to a legend recounted by Livy, the king Ambigatus sent his sister's sons Bellovesus and Segovesus in search of new lands to settle because of overpopulation in their homeland. While Segovesus headed towards the Hercynian Forest, Bellovesus is said to have led the Gallic invasion of northern Italy during the legendary reign of the fifth king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus, where he allegedly conquered the Etruscans and founded the city of Mediolanum (Milan).
The Cenomani, was an ancient tribe of the Cisalpine Gauls, who occupied the tract north of the Padus, between the Insubres on the west and the Veneti on the east. Their territory appears to have extended from the river Addua to the Athesis.
The expression Ager Gallicus defines the territory of the Senone Gauls after it was devastated and conquered by Rome in 284 BC or 283 BC, either after the Battle of Arretium or the Battle of Lake Vadimon.
The Roman-Gallic Wars were a series of conflicts between the forces of ancient Rome and various groups identified as Gauls. Among these were the Senones, Insubres, Boii and Gaesatae.
Lucius Furius Purpureo was a Roman politician and general, becoming consul in the year 196 BC. Lucius Furius was from the gens Furia patrician family in Rome.
The Battle of Silva Litana was an ambush that took place in a forest 75 miles northwest of the Roman city of Ariminumduring the Second Punic War in 216 BC. The Gallic Boii surprised and destroyed a Roman army of 25,000 men under the consul-elect Lucius Postumius Albinus and destroyed the Roman army, with only ten men surviving the ambush, a few prisoners were taken by the Gauls and Postumius was killed, his corpse was decapitated and his skull was covered with gold and used as a ceremonial cup by the Boii. News of this military disaster, reaching Rome probably after the election of consuls for 215 BC in Spring 215 BC or after the defeat at Cannae in the fall of 216 BC, triggered a renewed panic in Rome and forced the Romans to postpone military operations against the Gauls until the conclusion of the Second Punic War. Rome decided to focus on defeating Hannibal and sent only two legions to guard against any possible Gallic attack, however, the Boii and Insubres did not attack the Romans to exploit their victory. Cisalpine Gaul remained in relative peace until 207 BC, when Hasdrubal Barca arrived in Cisapline Gaul with his army from Spain.