History of the Carnutes

Gaulish Druidism, Gaulish Polytheism

Livy cites The Carnutes among the Gaulish Tribes led by Bellovesos, who marched towards Italy at the time of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus (sixth century BC). Are the Carnutes related to the Carni as living in the northeast of Veneto and who have given their name to a territory (the Carniola) and the close-by mountains (the Carnic Alps)?

The Talons of Rome

In 57-56 BC, Caesar sent his troops to take their winter quarters in Carnutes territory. The Carnutes (or the aristocracy), who traded with the Romans, thought they would take advantage of the situation.

The Carnutes had an oligarchic republic replacing a former monarchy. Ceaser elected Tasgetios as King of the territory. He was a high-born whose family held high levels of power. He was very unpopular amongst the tribe, and in the Autumn of 54 Bc, he was murdered, which was supported by the Carnutes. They did not replace him as they needed no king. Ceaser then has Plancusl, one of his ranking soldiers, leave Belgium with his soldiers and arrest the assassins of Tasgetius. Around the same time, a neighboring tribe called The Senons rid themselves of their puppet king Cavarinos with a nobleman called Acco, who led the charge to take down Cavarinos. But Cavarinos managed to escape and find safety with Ceaser. Ceaser then Kills Acco.

As Acco was a respected person, word got out about his death which Caused the Gauls to gather. The Chiefs gathered in an unknown spot in the forest. Could this be the same spot the druids gathered? Is it related to the annual Druid gathering? The Carnutes, under the influence of the druids, took an Oath that they would not be stopped in the struggle for Salvation, and they will be the first to take up arms against the Romans.

Heroes Rise

The leading men of Gaul, having convened councils among themselves in the woods, and retired places, complain of the death of Acco: they point out that this fate may fall in turn on themselves: they bewail the unhappy fate of Gaul; and by every sort of promises and rewards, they earnestly solicit some to begin the war, and assert the freedom of Gaul at the hazard of their lives. They say that special care should be paid to this, that Caesar should be cut off from his army before their secret plans should be divulged. That this was easy, because neither would the legions, in the absence of their general, dare to leave their winter quarters, nor could the general reach his army without a guard; finally, that it was better to be slain in battle, than not to recover their ancient glory in war, and that freedom which they had received from their forefathers.

Caesar’s Gallic War, trans. W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1869. 7.1

While these things are in motion, the Carnutes declare that they will willingly go into danger to protect the greater good, and promise that they will be the first of all to begin the war. Since they cannot make immediate securities by giving and receiving hostages, because that would expose their plans, they require that a solemn oath be given that they should not be deserted by the rest of the Gauls after the war starts. This oath is given on their military symbols which are brought together, for this is the manner in which their most sacred obligations are bound.

Caesar’s Gallic War, trans. W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1869. 7.2

The Carnutes lead the way with our war leaders, Cotuatus (Gutruatus) and Conconnetodumnus.

Only a little is known about our heroes. We know more about Cotuatus (Gutruatus) than we do Conetodunus. A name for a Gaulish Religious Offical is Gutuatrus. Their function was to organize religious ceremonies. The Term may be interpreted as “master of Voice.” Perhaps associated with the Druids? Ceasers Lieutenant Hirtius wrote about a Gaul from the Carnutes tribe called Gutuatrus. He was a freedom fighter during the war. It is suggested that he was a priest, as he may have been a warrior priest. Or even a druid?

These two men and some of the Carnutes people storm into Cenabum and slaughter the Romans occupying their town. One of Ceasers trusted men was among the Slaughtered C. Fufius Cita. This rise rang through the clouds among Gaul as if Tarnis was bringing the storm. This inspired Neighboring tribes to uprise under the leadership of Our would Be Gaulish King Vercingetorix.

Ceaser, making his way into the heart of Gaul, is slaughtering the Gauls along his march. Meanwhile, the Carnutes send for more troops to defend Cenabum. Ceaser arrives before they get a chance to get more soldiers. Ceaser Burns, the town, then kills and enslaves the people. The Carnutes would have sent around 12,000 men to defend Alesia, where Vercingetorix was making the final Gaulish Stand. Unfortunately, he lost and knelt to Ceaser to save his People, which meant total defeat.

The Carnutes, having problems with other tribes and the Romans, are defeated in Cenabum. In the winter, weak from bitter cold and fear of the great Roman Army, they are helpless and give in to Roman demands.
Ceaser makes his way to Cenabum to find the one who was the Catalyst of the war which he seems hesitant to kill Cotuatus, although we do not know why. He eventually does, as he was the cause of the war, and for that, He is beaten and Decapitated, and Cenabum lies in ruins. Now under roman control, like the rest of Gaul, they are slowly stripped of who they once were.

In The Ashes

Following the aftermath of the war and the during the time of Augustus, the Carnutes are dominated by the Romans, but strangely they are never Romanised. They are allowed to mint their coins and go about self-governing, but the men must serve the Roman war machine. The Druides are outlawed, and it is the end of a free Gaul.

Let us remember those who have fallen and the heroes who gave their lives to live as free people, but in the end, the Talons of the Empire would rip apart the people’s souls. Cotuatus is the fire that started the war.

Livy. History of Rome, trans. Rev. Canon Roberts. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1912. 5.34

Caesar’s Gallic War, trans. W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1869. 5.25, 6.13, 7.2.