'UMBRIA, one of the ancient divisions of Italy, w. of Etruria, and n, of the country of the Sabines. It is usually described as extending from the Tiber eastward to the Adriatic; but while this was probably the case in pre-historic times, it was not so during any part of the period of which we have authentic knowledge. Tradition, indeed, leads us to believe that at one time the Umbrian territory extended from sea to sea, embracing much, if not the whole, of the country subsequently occupied by the Etruscans; but when the Umbrians first come before us as a distinct people, we find them restricted to the ridges of the Apennines, the low-land region bordering on the Adriatic from the YEsis (mod. Esino) to the Rubicon, being held by a race of Gallic invaders, know as the Senones. The most notable towns of Umbria were Narnia, Interamna, Acriculum, Spoletium, Mevania, Fulginium, Assisium, Tifernum, Nuceria, Camerinum, Sentinum, T.Trbinum, Sena Gallica, Fannin, Fortunes, and Ariminum.
The Umbrians were considered in ancient times to be the oldest people of Italy, and were in consequence, vaguely spoken of as "aborigines;" but neither the knowledge of the ancients, nor the methods of investigation which they pursued, allowed them to arrive at any trustworthy ethnological results. Modern researches into their language (of which we possess one important memorial in the tables of Iguvium; see ETIGIIBINE TABLES) have. demonstrated that they spoke a tongue closely allied to the Oscan (see Om), and were therefore, in all probability, members of the Latino-Italian race. These
researches further tend to confirm the tradition of their antiquity, for an analysis of the structure of the Umbrian language proves it to be the oldest of the Italian dialects.
The Umbrians make their first authentic appearance in the wars between the Romans and the Etruscans. They would seem to have been destitute of any political organiza tion or unity, for we find that some of their tribes took part with the Romans, and others—probably the majority—with the Etruscans. At any rate, they were subjugated. along with the latter people; and we do not read of them again until the third Samnite war, when in conjunction with the Etruscans and Gauls, they joined the Samnites in their last gallant struggle against the imperious supremacy of Rome (q.v.). The con federtiey was utterly vanquished in the great battle of Sentinum (295 B.G.), and the Umbrians were again reduced to submission. The establishment of Roman colonies in the Gallicus Ager, or territory of the Senonian Gauls, seems to have completely over awed, and gradually even to have Romanized them. They stood faithfully by Rome in the dark years of the Hannibalic war, and were among the first to funish Scipio with volunteers for the invasion of Africa. In 90 B.C., they obtained the Roman franchise, and thenceforth disappear from history as a distinct people.