The cities of Veii and Rome (both on the peninsula now known as Italy) were centralized city-states by the 5th century B.C. For political as well as economic reasons, both wanted control of the routes along the river valley of the Tiber. The Romans wanted Veii-controlled Fidenae, which was on the left bank, and the Fidenae wanted the Roman-controlled right bank. As a result, they went to war against each other 3 times during the 5th century B.C. The conflict only ended, like the Punic Wars, when Rome definitively won.
Coming from a period of Roman history still more legendary than historical (since Romans didn't write history until the late 3rd century), some of the details about the Veientine Wars are suspect -- like a siege lasting 10 years that is too reminiscent of the Trojan War. Here are the basics:
Veientine War I (483-474)
The Veientines came out ahead in the first war. One memorable battle was at the Cremera (a stream in Etruria north of Rome) in 479, where the entire Fabian clan of 306 people, save one, was wiped out. A treaty was written in 474, but Veii still controlled Fidenae.
Veientine War II (437-435)
The second Veientine War began when the tyrant of Veii, Lars Tolumnius, ordered the murder of 4 Roman ambassadors (C. Fulcinius, Cloelius, or Cluilius Tullus, Sp. Aritius, and L. Roscius)*. In retaliation, the Roman Aulus Cornelius Cossus killed Lars. He was awarded the singular honor of the spolia opima, previously awarded only to Romulus. In 435, Rome entered Fidenae through a tunnel and took it, ending the second Veientine War.
Veientine War III (406-396)
Rome lay siege to Veii for a decade. Eventually, Veii was taken by Roman dictator Marcus Furius Camillus. There were miraculous prodigies, like a rising of the Alban Lake and the persuasion of the Veiian goddess Juno Regina to switch sides, that presaged the Roman victory. After Veii was taken by means of a tunnel, again, it was incorporated into the Roman territory (396 B.C.).
Roman historian T.J. Cornell suggests that in the 5th century, Rome's territory had increased by 75% making it the largest city in Latium. Rome gave some of the conquered territory of Veii to Romans (increasing the base from which to recruit soldiers, since the military at the time was composed only of propertied individuals) and then, after the Gallic sack of 390, Rome granted Roman citizenship to the population of Veii (and the Capenates and Faliscans), in 389. Cornell also thinks the enfranchisement was to block rebellion while Rome was in a weakened condition after the Gauls.
Four new rustic tribes were created of the Veientines:
- Sabatina, and
Source: T.J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome
* [URL = <www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/3495.html>]More on the History of the Roman Republic