Gallo-Roman describes the Romanized culture of
Gaul under the
rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish
adoption or adaptation of Roman morals and way of life in a uniquely
Gaulish context. The well-studied meld of cultures in
historians a model against which to compare and contrast parallel
developments of Romanization in other, less-studied Roman provinces.
Interpretatio romana offered Roman names for Gaulish deities such as
the smith-god Gobannus, but of
Celtic deities only the
Epona penetrated Romanized cultures beyond the
confines of Gaul.
The barbarian invasions beginning in the early fifth century forced
Gallo-Roman culture fundamental changes in politics, in the
economic underpinning, in military organization. The Gothic settlement
of 418 offered a double loyalty, as Western Roman authority
disintegrated at Rome. The plight of the highly Romanized governing
class is examined by R.W. Mathisen, the struggles of bishop
Hilary of Arles
Hilary of Arles by M. Heinzelmann.
Into the seventh century,
Gallo-Roman culture would persist
particularly in the areas of
Gallia Narbonensis that developed into
Occitania, Cisalpine Gaul, Orléanais, and to a lesser degree, Gallia
Aquitania. The formerly Romanized north of Gaul, once it had been
occupied by the Franks, would develop into Merovingian culture
instead. Roman life, centered on the public events and cultural
responsibilities of urban life in the res publica and the sometimes
luxurious life of the self-sufficient rural villa system, took longer
to collapse in the
Gallo-Roman regions, where the
inherited the status quo in 418.
Gallo-Roman language persisted in the
northeast into the
Silva Carbonaria that formed an effective cultural
barrier with the
Franks to the north and east, and in the northwest to
the lower valley of the Loire, where
Gallo-Roman culture interfaced
with Frankish culture in a city like
Tours and in the person of that
Gallo-Roman bishop confronted with Merovingian royals, Gregory of
Tours. Based on mutual intelligibility, David Dalby counts seven
languages descended from Gallo-Romance: Gallo-Wallon, French,
Franco-Provençal (Arpitan), Romansh, Ladin, Friulian, and Lombard.
However, other definitions are far broader, variously encompassing the
Rhaeto-Romance languages, Occitano-Romance languages, and Gallo-Italic
1.1 Gallic Empire
5 Sites, restorations, museums
6 See also
9 External links
Gaul "sou", 440-450, 4240mg. Hotel de la Monnaie.
Gaul was divided by Roman administration into three provinces, which
were sub-divided in the later third century reorganization under
Diocletian, and divided between two dioceses, Galliae and Viennensis,
under the Praetorian prefecture of Galliae. On the local level, it
was composed of civitates which preserved, broadly speaking, the
boundaries of the formerly independent Gaulish tribes, which had been
organised in large part on village structures that retained some
features in the Roman civic formulas that overlaid them.
Over the course of the Roman period, an ever-increasing proportion of
Gauls gained Roman citizenship. In 212 the Constitutio Antoniniana
extended citizenship to all free-born men in the Roman Empire.
Main article: Gallic Empire
A Gallic warrior dressed in Roman lorica hamata (chainmail) with a
cloak over it whilst wearing a torc around his neck; he also wields a
Celtic-style shield, although the proportions of the body and overall
realism are more in line with Classical and
Roman art than with Celtic
depictions of soldiers.
During the Crisis of the Third Century, from 260 to 274,
subject to Alamanni raids because of the civil war. In reaction to
local problems the Gallo-Romans appointed their own emperor Postumus.
The rule over Gaul, Britannia, and
Postumus and his
successors is usually called The
Gallic Empire although it was just
one set of many usurpers who took over parts of the
Roman Empire and
tried to become emperor. The capital was
Trier which was often used as
the northern capital of the
Roman Empire by many emperors. The Gallic
Empire ended when
Aurelian decisively defeated
Tetricus I at Chalons.
The pre-Christian religious practices of Roman
Gaul were characterized
by syncretism of Graeco-Roman deities with their native Celtic, Basque
or Germanic counterparts, many of which were of strictly local cult.
Assimilation was eased by interpreting indigenous gods in Roman terms,
such as with
Lenus Mars or Apollo Grannus. Otherwise, a Roman god
might be paired with a native goddess, as with Mercury and Rosmerta.
In at least one case – that of the equine goddess
Epona – a native
Gallic goddess was also adopted by Rome.
Eastern mystery religions penetrated
Gaul early on. These included the
cults of Orpheus, Mithras, Cybele, and Isis.
The imperial cult, centred primarily on the numen of Augustus, came to
play a prominent role in public religion in Gaul, most dramatically at
the pan-Gaulish ceremony venerating Rome and
Augustus at the Condate
Lugdunum annually on 1 August.
Gallo-Roman Christian sarcophagus,
Rignieux-le-Franc (Ain), end of
Tours recorded the tradition that after the persecution
under the co-emperors
Decius and Gratus (250-51 CE), future pope Felix
I sent seven missionaries to re-establish the broken and scattered
Christian communities, Gatien to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to
Narbonne, Saturninus to Toulouse,
Denis to Paris, Martial to Limoges,
Austromoine to Clermont.
In the fifth and sixth centuries,
Gallo-Roman Christian communities
still consisted of independent churches in urban sites, each governed
by a bishop; Christians experienced loyalties divided between the
bishop and the civil prefect, who operated largely in harmony within
the late-imperial administration. Some of the communities had origins
that predated the third-century persecutions. The personal charisma of
the bishop set the tone, as fifth-century allegiances, for pagans as
well as Christians, switched from institutions to individuals: most
Gallo-Roman bishops were drawn from the highest levels of society as
appropriate non-military civil roads to advancement dwindled, and they
represented themselves as bulwarks of high literary standards and
Roman traditions against the
Vandal and Gothic interlopers; other
bishops drew the faithful to radical asceticism. Bishops often took on
the duties of civil administrator after the contraction of the Roman
imperial administration due to the Barbarian invasions of the 5th
century, helping fund building projects and even acting as arbiters of
justice in the local community. Miracles attributed to both kinds of
bishops, as well as holy men and women, attracted cult veneration,
sometimes very soon after their death; a great number of locally
Gallo-Roman and Merovingian saints arose in the transitional
centuries 400 – 750. The identification of the diocesan
administration with the secular community, which took place during the
fifth century in Italy, can best be traced in the
Gaul in the career of Caesarius, bishop and Metropolitan of Arles
from 503 to 543. (Wallace-Hadrill).
The "Endymion sarcophagus", early third century, found in 1806 at
Saint-Médard-d'Eyrans, in Roman
Gallia Aquitania (Louvre)
City scape of
Gallo-Roman Divodurum Mediomatricum, ancestor of
Metz (second century AD.).
Roman culture introduced a new phase of anthropomorphized sculpture to
the Gaulish community, synthesized with Celtic traditions of
refined metalworking, a rich body of urbane
developed, which the upheavals of the second and fifth centuries
motivated hiding away in hoards, which have protected some pieces of
Gallo-Roman silver, from villas and temple sites, from the universal
destruction of precious metalwork in circulation. The exhibition of
Gallo-Roman silver highlighted specifically
Gallo-Roman silver from
the treasures found at Chaourse (Aisne), Mâcon (Saône et Loire),
Graincourt-lès-Havrincourt (Pas de Calais),Notre-Dame d'Allençon
(Maine-et-Loire), and Rethel (Ardennes, found in 1980).
The two more Romanized of the three
Gauls were bound together in a
network of Roman roads that linked cities.
Via Domitia (laid out in
118 BC), reached from
Nîmes to the Pyrenees, where it joined the Via
Augusta at the Col de Panissars.
Via Aquitania reached from Narbonne,
where it connected to the Via Domitia, to the Atlantic Ocean through
Toulouse to Bordeaux. Via Scarponensis connected
Sites, restorations, museums
Bust of a Gallo-Roman, from Lausanne, Switzerland, About 200 AD.
At Périgueux, France, a luxurious
Roman villa called the Domus of
Vesunna, built round a garden courtyard surrounded by a colonnaded
peristyle enriched with bold tectonic frescoing, has been handsomely
protected in a modern glass-and-steel structure that is a fine example
of archaeological museum-making (see external link).
Lyon, the capital of Roman Gaul, is now the site of the Gallo-Roman
Lyon (rue Céberg), associated with the remains of the
theater and odeon of Roman Lugdunum. Visitors are offered a clear
picture of the daily life, economic conditions, institutions, beliefs,
monuments and artistic achievements of the first four centuries of the
Christian era. The "Claudius Tablet" in the Museum transcribes a
speech given before the Senate by the
Emperor Claudius in 48, in which
he requests the right for the heads of the Gallic nations to
participate in Roman magistracy. The request having been accepted, the
Gauls decided to engrave the imperial speech on bronze.
In Metz, once an important town of Gaul, the Golden Courtyard Museums
displays a rich collection of
Gallo-Roman finds and the vestiges of
Gallo-Roman baths, revealed by the extension works to the museums in
In Martigny, Valais, Switzerland, at the Fondation Pierre Gianadda, a
modern museum of art and sculpture shares space with Gallo-Roman
Museum centered on the foundations of a Celtic temple.
Other sites include:
Arles - remains include the Alyscamps, a large Roman necropolis
Divodurum (modern Metz) - remains include the Basilica of
Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains and the thermae
Glanum, near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Nîmes - remains include the Maison Carrée
Tongeren (Belgium) -
Gallo-Roman Museum of Tongeren
Velzeke-Ruddershove (Belgium) - Provincial Archaeological Museum of
Wall fragment with fresco of a Gallo Roman man, from Evreux, 250-275
Gallo-Roman museum in the amphitheatre of Lugdunum
Arelate (modern Arles)
Lugdunum (modern Lyon)
Nemausus (modern Nîmes)
Lutetia (modern Paris): Arènes de Lutèce
Mediolanum Santonum (modern Saintes)
several Roman amphitheatres are still visible in France (see List of
Roman amphitheatres for a list)
Pont du Gard
Culture of Ancient Rome
Via Domitia, the first
Roman road built in Gaul
Pillar of the Boatmen
Loupian Roman villa
Hilary of Arles
Roman villas in northwestern Gaul
^ A recent survey is G. Woolf, Becoming Roman: The Origins of
Provincial Civilization in
Gaul (Cambridge University Press) 1998.
^ Modern interpretations are revising the earlier dichotomy of
"Romanization" and "resistance", especially as viewed, under the
increased influence of archaeology, through the material remains of
patterns of everyday consumption, as in Woolf 1998:169-205, who
emphasised the finds at Vesontio/Besançon.
^ J Pollini,
Gallo-Roman Bronzes and the Process of Romanization: The
Cobannus Hoard, in series Monumenta Graeca et Romana, 9 (Leiden:Brill)
^ L.S. Oaks, "The goddess Epona: concepts of sovereignty in a changing
landscape" in Pagan Gods and Shrines of the Roman Empire, 1986
^ F.D. Gilliard. "The Senators of Sixth-Century Gaul" Speculum 1979.
^ Mathisen, Roman Aristocrats in Barbarian Gaul: Strategies for
Survival in an Age of Transition (University of Texas Press) 1993.
^ M. Heinzelmann, "The 'affair' of
Hilary of Arles
Hilary of Arles (445) and
Gallo-Roman identity in the fifth century" in Drinkwater and Elton
^ David Dalby, 1999/2000, The Linguasphere register of the world’s
languages and speech communities. Observatoire Linguistique,
Linguasphere Press. Volume 2. Oxford.
^ See Roman provinces.
^ Ashton, Kasey. "The Celts Themselves." University of North Carolina.
Accessed 5 November 2017.
^ Historia Francorum, i.30. Later local traditions inserted locally
venerated bishops into this group, to establish parity with the seven
churches of Gaul.
^ A. N. Newell, "
Gallo-Roman Religious Sculpture" Greece & Rome
3.8 (February 1934:74-84) noted the esthetic mediocrity of early
Gallo-Roman sculpture in representations of Gaulish deities.
^ Exhibition "Trésors d'orfevrerie Gallo-Romaine", Musée de la
Civilisation Gallo-Romaine, Lyons, reviewed by Catherine Johns in The
Burlington Magazine 131 (June 1989:443-445).
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help
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Wallace-Hadrill, J.M. 1983. The Frankish Church (Oxford University
Press) ISBN 0-19-826906-4, 1983
Drinkwater, John,and Hugh Elton, eds. Fifth-Century Gaul: a crisis of
identity? (Cambridge University Press) 2002.
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Gallo-Roman Museum, Lyon
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