Arverni

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For the hazardous lakes, see Avernus.
A map of Gaul in the 1st century BC, showing the relative position of the Arverni tribe.
Arverni coin depicting warrior, 5th-1st century BCE.

The Arverni were a Gallic tribe living in what is now the Auvergne region of France during the last centuries BC.[1] One of the most powerful tribes in ancient Gaul, they opposed the Romans on several occasions. Their most important stronghold was Gergovia, near the present-day commune of Clermont-Ferrand.

Early history[edit]

The Arverni had once been the most powerful tribal hegemony in Gaul during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC under their king, Luernios, but when his son (or grandson) Bituitus was defeated by the Romans in 121 BC, their ascendancy passed to the Aedui and Sequani. Unlike the Allobroges, who were brought under direct Roman rule as a result of the Celtic wars of the 120s, the Arverni negotiated a treaty that preserved their independence, though their territory was diminished. No further Arvernian kings are mentioned in the historical record, and they may have adopted a constitutional oligarchy at this time. However, there were at least two later attempts to re-establish rulership. The defeat of the Arverni led directly to the establishment of Gallia Narbonensis as a Roman province, referred to simply as the Provincia so often that a part of the ancient region is today known as Provence.

The King Luernios was mentioned in writing by the Greek ethnographer Posidonius. Luernios was known to have scattered gold and silver coins to his followers while riding in his chariot. Under Luernios, the Arverni were at the head of a formidable Gallic military hegemony which stretched from the Rhine to the Atlantic coast.

Gallic Wars[edit]

The Arverni later played an important role in the Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar from 58 BC to 51 BC. At first the Arvenian nobles tried to avoid confronting Caesar during his early incursions. They executed the leader Celtillus, evidently for trying to gain sovereignty over all the Gauls.[2] In 52 BC, Celtillus' son Vercingetorix rallied his supporters to fight the Romans, but was expelled from Gergovia by the nobles, including his uncle Gobanitio. He then raised a great army in the country, and returned to the city where he ejected his opponents and was declared king.[2] This accomplished, Vercingetorix forged an alliance with many other Gallic tribes, and led them in the last significant Gallic offensive against the Romans. Vercingetorix was defeated by Caesar at the Battle of Alesia, after which he surrendered.[3] The Arverni territories were subsequently incorporated into the Roman imperium.

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References[edit]