800 BCE the Raetians started to colonize the area now known
as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and western Austria where
the Helvetians were already prominent.
The Romans began
incursions into Raetian territory in 107 BCE by way of the
St. Bernard Pass, but in light of the difficulty of the terrain,
their conquest of the area was never decisive.
By 52 BC, the
Germanic tribe assaults from the north caused the Helvetians
to attempt to abandon their homes and migrate towards southern
Gaul. Roman Legions, under the command of Julius Caesar,
blocked their way and forced their return.
By 15 BCE the Romans
had pushed north over the Alps under Tiberius and Drusus, stepsons of Emperor
Augustus. Their army defeated the Raetians,
and Raetia was formally incorporated as a Roman province. However, further to the north
and east the Germanic tribes had been steadily moving
toward this new Roman territory, forcing it to build a series of defense works
and continue to advance farther north.
The Romans built
a road from the south over the Mountain passes to the north
and along the east bank of the Rhine. Roman Villas and fortifications
were built at present day Schaanwald and Nendeln to protect
the road across the alpine passes from attack.
After the crushing
and legendary defeat of Publius Quintilius Varus, and 3 full
legions, by Arminius and the Cherusci in the Teutoburg Forest
in 9 AD, Rome did not try to expand any further across the
Rhine for some time. Later campaigns by Germanicus would bring
relative peace to the area for some time, but always uneasy
at best. To protect Roman colonies in Raetia, the Legions
built and garrisoned a series of fortifications called Limes.
The Limes to the
north and east in the Roman province of Germania Superior
were a high spiked wooden fence with a ditch or moat. Just
behind that was a thick stone wall with high wooden watch
towers. Smaller fortifications housing the Auxiliary, Cohorts,
and Alen, were established behind the wall. These troops called
out only in case of serious attack by the German tribes. The
Limes in Raetia was a single stone wall with manned watchtowers.
of the Liechtenstein valley and Raetia became quite romanized
during the Imperial years. Roman divinities were worshiped
instead of the old Celtic Gods. Commerce increased and agriculture
planted on the mountain slopes. Buildings were built with
under the floor heating, running water and sewer disposal.
Except for the occasional raid, life in the valley must have
been peaceful and prosperous.
From AD 98-117 Roman legions pushed the "Pax Romana" beyond the Rhine to the Main and Danube Rivers. For a time the Germanic tribes were held at bay and an uneasy peace would exist between Rome and these tribes upon the death of Marcus Aurelius. That peace, however, would always be tenuous at best. Legio III Italica, recruited by Marcus Aurelius for the war against those tribes between 166 and 174 CE, was permanently stationed in Raetia. Numerous Auxiliaries were garrisoned among the limes and fortifications as well. Despite their best efforts, though, the Romans would be overrun by the great migrations of Germanic tribes by the late 4th and early 5th centuries.
The land was very
mountainous, and the inhabitants, when not engaged in predatory
expeditions, chiefly supported themselves by cattle-breeding
and cutting timber, little attention being paid to agriculture.
Some of the valleys, however, were rich and fertile, and produced
corn and wine, the latter considered equal to any in Italy.
Augustus preferred Raetian wine to any other. Considerable
trade was also carried on in pitch, honey, wax and cheese.
Helvetii - The
major Celtic tribe living in Switzerland. Ariovistus' aid
to the Sequani prompted them to want to move, something which
Caesar didn't want to happen.
Tigurini - Neighbors
and fellow travelers with the Helvetii on their failed migration.
The Tigurini had joined the Cimbri and Teutones in the march
against northern Italia during the late 2nd century BCE, and
fled from Sulla after those tribes' defeat by Marius.
Are considered a possible Etruscan tribe from northern Italy.
They settled near several Alpine Lakes and the GraubŁnden
to the map of Raetia