Battle of Mevania, 308 BC

The battle of Mevania, 308 BC, was a final Roman victory in the Etruscan War, although it was fought against the Umbrians. The Etruscan campaign for 308 was entrusted to the consul P. Decius Mus. He advanced into Etruria, where he agreed to a new forty year truce with Tarquinii (on the coast), before capturing a number of fortresses belonging to the Volsinii (in the upper Tiber valley). Combined with their defeats in the previous year at Perusia and Lake Vadimo this convinced the Etruscans to sue for peace. Decius refused to offer them a peace treaty, but did agree to a one year truce, in return for which the Etruscans were to provide one year's pay for the army and two tunics for every soldier.

This Roman success clearly worried the Umbrians, the Etruscan's north-eastern neighbours, and they rose up in arms. A large army was formed, with some Etruscan support, and the Umbrians began to talk of advancing south to attack Rome, leaving Decius isolated in Etruria. In response to this he marched back into Roman territory, taking up a position in the area of Pupinia (north of the Anio, which flows into the Tiber north of Rome).

According to Livy, when news of the Umbria revolt reached Rome the senate decided to recall Q. Fabius Maximus Rullianus from Samnium (the other consul from the year, and the victor of the battles of the previous year), and ordered his to move against the Umbrians. A series of forced marches soon brought Fabius up to the main Umbrian force at Mevania, (an Umbrian city to the south-east of Perusia, and some way to the north of Pupinia).

The Umbrians attacked while the Romans were building their camp. According to Livy the Consul had time to give a brief speech, which was interrupted when his men charged the enemy (a more realistic version of this story might see the Umbrians reaching the Roman lines while Fabius was attempting to form up his army). Livy records the battle as ending in an easy Roman victory, with more Umbrians captured than killed. With the main Umbrian army gone the Umbrian cities were forced to submit, although most of the area remained outside Roman control. Only Ocriculan, at the southern end of Umbria, is records as having entered into an alliance with Rome at this point.

The battle of Mevania ended the Etruscan War. The Second Samnite War also soon came to an end, in 304 BC, and in the following year the Romans returned to Umbria, this time as conquerors.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 December 2009), Battle of Mevania, 308 BC ,

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