The Info List - Gaul

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(Latin: Gallia) was a region of Western Europe
Western Europe
during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands
and Germany
on the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi).[1] According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul
was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls
were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia
and southwestern Germania
during the 5th to 1st centuries BC.[citation needed] During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul
fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina
Gallia Cisalpina
was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis
Gallia Narbonensis
in 123 BC. Gaul
was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri
and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul
in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC. Roman control of Gaul
lasted for five centuries, until the last Roman rump state, the Domain of Soissons, fell to the Franks
in AD 486. While the Celtic Gauls
had lost their original identities and language during Late Antiquity, becoming amalgamated into a Gallo-Roman culture, Gallia remained the conventional name of the territory throughout the Early Middle Ages, until it acquired a new identity as the Capetian Kingdom of France
in the high medieval period. Gallia remains a name of France
in modern Greek (Γαλλία) and modern Latin
(besides the alternatives Francia
and Francogallia).


1 Name 2 History

2.1 Pre-Roman Gaul 2.2 Initial contact with Rome 2.3 Conquest by Rome 2.4 Roman Gaul 2.5 Frankish Gaul

3 Gauls

3.1 Social structure, indigenous nation and clans 3.2 Religion

4 See also 5 References 6 Sources 7 External links

Name[edit] Further information: Names of the Celts
§ Galli, Galatai The Greek and Latin
names Galatia
(first attested by Timaeus of Tauromenium in the 4th century BC) and Gallia are ultimately derived from a Celtic ethnic term or clan Gal(a)-to-.[2] The Galli of Gallia Celtica were reported to refer to themselves as Celtae by Caesar. Hellenistic folk etymology connected the name of the Galatians (Γαλάται, Galátai) to the supposedly "milk-white" skin (γάλα, gála "milk") of the Gauls.[3] Modern researchers say it is related to Welsh gallu,[4] Cornish galloes,[5] "capacity, power",[6] thus meaning "powerful people". The English Gaul
is from French Gaule and is unrelated to Latin Gallia, despite superficial similarity. The name Gaul
is derived from the Old Frankish
Old Frankish
*Walholant (via a Latinized form *Walula)[7] literally "Land of the Foreigners/Romans", in which *Walho- is reflex of Proto-Germanic *walhaz, "foreigner, Romanized person", an exonym applied by Germanic speakers to Celts
and Latin-speaking people indiscriminately, making it cognate with the names Wales
and Wallachia.[8] The Germanic w- is regularly rendered as gu- / g- in French (cf. guerre "war", garder "ward"), and the historic diphthong au is the regular outcome of al before a following consonant (cf. cheval ~ chevaux). French Gaule or Gaulle cannot be derived from Latin Gallia, since g would become j before a (cf. gamba > jambe), and the diphthong au would be unexplained; the regular outcome of Latin Gallia is Jaille in French, which is found in several western placenames, such as La Jaille-Yvon
La Jaille-Yvon
and Saint-Mars-la-Jaille.[9][10] Proto-Germanic *walha is derived ultimately from the name of the Volcae,[11] Also unrelated in spite of superficial similarity is the name Gael.[12] The Irish word gall did originally mean "a Gaul", i.e. an inhabitant of Gaul, but its meaning was later widened to "foreigner", to describe the Vikings, and later still the Normans.[13] The dichotomic words gael and gall are sometimes used together for contrast, for instance in the 12th-century book Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib. As adjectives, English has the two variants: Gaulish and Gallic. The two adjectives are used synonymously, as "pertaining to Gaul
or the Gauls", although the Celtic language or languages spoken in Gaul
is predominantly known as Gaulish. History[edit] Pre-Roman Gaul[edit] Further information: Prehistoric France, Celts, La Tène culture, and Greeks
in pre-Roman Gaul

Map of Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul
(Droysens Allgemeiner historischer Handatlas, 1886)

The early history of the Gauls
is predominantly a work in archaeology—there being little written information (save perhaps what can be gleaned from coins) concerning the peoples that inhabited these regions—and the relationships between their material culture, genetic relationships (the study of which has been aided, in recent years, through the field of archaeogenetics) and linguistic divisions rarely coincide. Before the rapid spread of the La Tène culture
La Tène culture
in the 5th to 4th centuries BC, the territory of eastern and southern France
already participated in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture
Urnfield culture
(c. 12th to 8th centuries BC.) out of which the early iron-working Hallstatt culture (7th to 6th centuries BC) would develop. By 500 BC, there is strong Hallstatt influence throughout most of France
(except for the Alps and the extreme north-west). Out of this Hallstatt background, during the 7th and 6th century presumably representing an early form of Continental Celtic
Continental Celtic
culture, the La Tène culture
La Tène culture
arises, presumably under Mediterranean influence from the Greek, Phoenician, and Etruscan civilizations, spread out in a number of early centers along the Seine, the Middle Rhine
and the upper Elbe. By the late 5th century BC, La Tène influence spreads rapidly across the entire territory of Gaul. The La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age
Iron Age
(from 450 BC to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC) in France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, southwest Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia
and Hungary. Farther north extended the contemporary pre-Roman Iron Age
Iron Age
culture of northern Germany
and Scandinavia. The major source of materials on the Celts
of Gaul
was Poseidonios of Apamea, whose writings were quoted by Timagenes, Julius Caesar, the Sicilian Greek Diodorus Siculus, and the Greek geographer Strabo.[14] In the 4th and early 3rd century BC, Gallic clan confederations expanded far beyond the territory of what would become Roman Gaul (which defines usage of the term "Gaul" today), into Pannonia, Illyria, northern Italy, Transylvania and even Asia Minor. By the 2nd century BC, the Romans described Gallia Transalpina
Gallia Transalpina
as distinct from Gallia Cisalpina. In his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
distinguishes among three ethnic groups in Gaul: the Belgae
in the north (roughly between Rhine
and Seine), the Celtae in the center and in Armorica, and the Aquitani
in the southwest, the southeast being already colonized by the Romans. While some scholars believe the Belgae
south of the Somme were a mixture of Celtic and Germanic elements, their ethnic affiliations have not been definitively resolved. One of the reasons is political interference upon the French historical interpretation during the 19th century. In addition to the Gauls, there were other peoples living in Gaul, such as the Greeks
and Phoenicians who had established outposts such as Massilia (present-day Marseille) along the Mediterranean coast.[15] Also, along the southeastern Mediterranean coast, the Ligures
had merged with the Celts
to form a Celto-Ligurian culture. Initial contact with Rome[edit] In the 2nd century BC, Mediterranean Gaul
had an extensive urban fabric and was prosperous, while the best known cities in northern Gaul
include the Biturigian capital of Avaricum
(Bourges), Cenabum (Orléans), Autricum
(Chartres) and the excavated site of Bibracte near Autun
in Saône-et-Loire, along with a number of hillforts (or oppida) used in times of war. The prosperity of Mediterranean Gaul encouraged Rome to respond to pleas for assistance from the inhabitants of Massilia, who were under attack by a coalition of Ligures
and Gauls.[16] The Romans intervened in Gaul
in 154 BC and again in 125 BC.[16] Whereas on the first occasion they came and went, on the second they stayed.[17] In 122 BC Domitius Ahenobarbus managed to defeat the Allobroges
(who were allied to the Salluvii), while in the ensuing year Quintus Fabius Maximus "destroyed" an army of the Averni
led by their king Bituitus, who had come to the aid of the Allobroges.[17] Massilia was allowed to keep its lands, but Rome added to its territories the lands of the conquered tribes.[17] The direct result of these conquests was that by now, Rome controlled an area extending from the Pyrenees
to the lower Rhône
river, and in the east up to the Rhône
Valley to Lake Geneva.[17] By 121 BC, they had conquered the Mediterranean region called Provincia (later named Gallia Narbonensis). This conquest upset the ascendancy of the Gaulish Arverni
peoples. Conquest by Rome[edit]

in Rome

Main article: Gallic Wars The Roman proconsul and general Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
pushed his army into Gaul
in 58 BC, on the pretext of assisting Rome's Gaullish allies against the migrating Helvetii. With the help of various Gallic clans (e.g. the Aedui) he managed to conquer nearly all of Gaul. While militarily just as strong as the Romans, the internal division between the Gallic tribes guaranteed an easy victory for Caesar, and Vercingetorix's attempt to unite the Gauls
against Roman invasion came too late.[18][19] Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
was checked by Vercingetorix
at a siege of Gergovia, a fortified town in the center of Gaul. Caesar's alliances with many Gallic clans broke. Even the Aedui, their most faithful supporters, threw in their lot with the Arverni, but the ever-loyal Remi (best known for its cavalry) and Lingones sent troops to support Caesar. The Germani of the Ubii also sent cavalry, which Caesar equipped with Remi horses. Caesar captured Vercingetorix
in the Battle of Alesia, which ended the majority of Gallic resistance to Rome. As many as a million people (probably 1 in 5 of the Gauls) died, another million were enslaved,[20] 300 clans were subjugated and 800 cities were destroyed during the Gallic Wars.[21] The entire population of the city of Avaricum
(Bourges) (40,000 in all) were slaughtered.[22] Before Julius Caesar's campaign against the Helvetii (present-day Switzerland), the Helvetians had numbered 263,000, but afterwards only 100,000 remained, most of whom Caesar took as slaves.[23] Roman Gaul[edit]

Soldiers of Gaul, as imagined by a late 19th-century illustrator for the Larousse dictionary, 1898

Main articles: Roman Gaul, Gallo-Roman culture, and History of France The Gaulish culture then was massively submerged by Roman culture, and Latin
was adopted by the Gauls; Gaul, or Gallia, was absorbed into the Roman Empire, all the administration changed, and Gauls
eventually became Roman citizens.[24] From the third to 5th centuries, Gaul
was exposed to raids by the Franks. The Gallic Empire, consisting of the provinces of Gaul, Britannia, and Hispania, including the peaceful Baetica in the south, broke away from Rome from 260 to 273. Frankish Gaul[edit] Main articles: Neustria, Frankish Aquitaine, Frankish Burgundy, and Frankish Gascony Further information: Visigothic Kingdom, Christianity in Gaul, and List of Frankish synods Following the Frankish victory at the Battle of Soissons in 486 AD, Gaul
(except for Septimania) came under the rule of the Merovingians, the first kings of France. Gallo-Roman culture, the Romanized culture of Gaul
under the rule of the Roman Empire, persisted particularly in the areas of Gallia Narbonensis
Gallia Narbonensis
that developed into Occitania, Gallia Cisalpina and to a lesser degree, 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 Visigoths
largely inherited the status quo in the early 5th century. 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
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.

Massalia (modern Marseille) silver coin with Greek legend, 5th–1st century BC.

Gold coins of the Gaul
Parisii, 1st century BC, (Cabinet des Médailles, Paris).

Roman silver Denarius
with the head of captive Gaul
48 BC, following the campaigns of Julius Caesar.


A map of Gaul
in the 1st century BCE, showing the relative positions of the Celtic ethnicites: Celtae, Belgae
and Aquitani.

Expansion of the Celtic culture in the 3rd century BC.

Main article: Gauls

Social structure, indigenous nation and clans[edit]

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The Druids
were not the only political force in Gaul, however, and the early political system was complex, if ultimately fatal to the society as a whole. The fundamental unit of Gallic politics was the clan, which itself consisted of one or more of what Caesar called pagi. Each clan had a council of elders, and initially a king. Later, the executive was an annually-elected magistrate. Among the Aedui, a clan of Gaul, the executive held the title of Vergobret, a position much like a king, but his powers were held in check by rules laid down by the council. The regional ethnic groups, or pagi as the Romans called them (singular: pagus; the French word pays, "region" [a more accurate translation is 'country'], comes from this term), were organized into larger multi-clan groups the Romans called civitates. These administrative groupings would be taken over by the Romans in their system of local control, and these civitates would also be the basis of France's eventual division into ecclesiastical bishoprics and dioceses, which would remain in place—with slight changes—until the French Revolution. Although the individual clans were moderately stable political entities, Gaul
as a whole tended to be politically divided, there being virtually no unity among the various clans. Only during particularly trying times, such as the invasion of Caesar, could the Gauls
unite under a single leader like Vercingetorix. Even then, however, the faction lines were clear. The Romans divided Gaul
broadly into Provincia (the conquered area around the Mediterranean), and the northern Gallia Comata ("free Gaul" or "long haired Gaul"). Caesar divided the people of Gallia Comata into three broad groups: the Aquitani; Galli (who in their own language were called Celtae); and Belgae. In the modern sense, Gaulish peoples are defined linguistically, as speakers of dialects of the Gaulish language. While the Aquitani
were probably Vascons, the Belgae would thus probably be a mixture of Celtic and Germanic elements. Julius Caesar, in his book, The Gallic Wars, comments:

All Gaul
is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae
inhabit, the Aquitani
another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The Belgae
are the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilization and refinement of [our] Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind; and they are the nearest to the Germans, who dwell beyond the Rhine, with whom they are continually waging war; for which reason the Helvetii
also surpass the rest of the Gauls
in valor, as they contend with the Germans in almost daily battles, when they either repel them from their own territories, or themselves wage war on their frontiers. One part of these, which it has been said that the Gauls
occupy, takes its beginning at the river Rhone; it is bounded by the river Garonne, the ocean, and the territories of the Belgae; it borders, Garonne separates the Gauls from the Aquitani; the Marne and the Seine
separate them from the Belgae. Of all these, the Belgae
too, on the side of the Sequani and the Helvetii, upon the river Rhine, and stretches toward the north. The Belgae
rises from the extreme frontier of Gaul, extend to the lower part of the river Rhine; and look toward the north and the rising sun. Aquitania
extends from the river Garonne to the Pyrenaean mountains and to that part of the ocean which is near Spain: it looks between the setting of the sun, and the north star.[25]

Religion[edit] Main article: Celtic polytheism The Gauls
practiced a form of animism, ascribing human characteristics to lakes, streams, mountains, and other natural features and granting them a quasi-divine status. Also, worship of animals was not uncommon; the animal most sacred to the Gauls
was the boar[26] which can be found on many Gallic military standards, much like the Roman eagle. Their system of gods and goddesses was loose, there being certain deities which virtually every Gallic person worshipped, as well as clan and household gods. Many of the major gods were related to Greek gods; the primary god worshipped at the time of the arrival of Caesar was Teutates, the Gallic equivalent of Mercury. The "ancestor god" of the Gauls
was identified by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico with the Roman god Dis Pater.[27] Perhaps the most intriguing facet of Gallic religion is the practice of the Druids. The druids presided over human or animal sacrifices that were made in wooded groves or crude temples. They also appear to have held the responsibility for preserving the annual agricultural calendar and instigating seasonal festivals which corresponded to key points of the lunar-solar calendar. The religious practices of druids were syncretic and borrowed from earlier pagan traditions, with probably indo-European roots. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
mentions in his Gallic Wars that those Celts
who wanted to make a close study of druidism went to Britain to do so. In a little over a century later, Gnaeus Julius Agricola mentions Roman armies attacking a large druid sanctuary in Anglesey
in Wales. There is no certainty concerning the origin of the druids, but it is clear that they vehemently guarded the secrets of their order and held sway over the people of Gaul. Indeed, they claimed the right to determine questions of war and peace, and thereby held an "international" status. In addition, the Druids monitored the religion of ordinary Gauls
and were in charge of educating the aristocracy. They also practiced a form of excommunication from the assembly of worshippers, which in ancient Gaul
meant a separation from secular society as well. Thus the Druids were an important part of Gallic society. The nearly complete and mysterious disappearance of the Celtic language from most of the territorial lands of ancient Gaul, with the exception of Brittany France, can be attributed to the fact that Celtic druids refused to allow the Celtic oral literature or traditional wisdom to be committed to the written letter.[28] The Celts
practiced headhunting as the head was believed to house a person's soul. Ancient Romans and Greeks
recorded the Celts' habits of nailing heads of personal enemies to walls or dangling them from the necks of horses.[29] See also[edit]

Ambiorix Asterix—a French comic about Gaul
and Rome, mainly set in 50 BC Bog body Braccae—trousers, typical Gallic dress Cisalpine Gaul Galatia Lugdunum Roman Republic Roman Villas in Northwestern Gaul


^ Arrowsmith, Aaron (3 April 2006). A Grammar of Ancient Geography,: Compiled for the Use of King's College School. Hansard London 1832. p. 50. Retrieved 21 September 2014.  ^ Birkhan 1997:48 ^ "The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville" p. 198 Cambridge University Press 2006 Stephen A. Barney, W. J. Lewis, J. A. Beach and Oliver Berghof ^ "Google Translate". google.com. Retrieved 31 December 2016.  ^ "Gerlyver Sempel". howlsedhes.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 January 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2016.  ^ Pierre-Yves Lambert, La langue gauloise, éditions Errance, 1994, p. 194. ^ Ekblom, R., "Die Herkunft des Namens La Gaule" in: Studia Neophilologica, Uppsala, XV, 1942-43, nos. 1-2, p. 291-301. ^ Sjögren, Albert, Le nom de "Gaule", in Studia Neophilologica, Vol. 11 (1938/39) pp. 210–214. ^ Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology (OUP 1966), p. 391. ^ Nouveau dictionnaire étymologique et historique (Larousse 1990), p. 336. ^ Koch, John Thomas (2006). Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 532. ISBN 1-85109-440-7.  ^ Gael
is derived from Old Irish Goidel (borrowed, in turn, in the 7th century AD from Primitive Welsh Guoidel—spelled Gwyddel in Middle Welsh and Modern Welsh—likely derived from a Brittonic root *Wēdelos meaning literally "forest person, wild man"): John Koch, "Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia", ABC-CLIO, 2006, pp. 775–76 ^ Linehan, Peter; Janet L. Nelson (2003). The Medieval World. 10. Routledge. p. 393. ISBN 978-0-415-30234-0.  ^ Berresford Ellis, Peter (1998). The Celts: A History. Caroll & Graf. pp. 49–50. ISBN 0-7867-1211-2.  ^ Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France
by Michael Dietler, 2010, University of California Press, books.google.com ^ a b Drinkwater 2014, p. 5. ^ a b c d Drinkwater 2014, p. 6. ^ "France: The Roman conquest". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 6, 2015. Because of chronic internal rivalries, Gallic resistance was easily broken, though Vercingetorix’s Great Rebellion of 52 bc had notable successes.  ^ "Julius Caesar: The first triumvirate and the conquest of Gaul". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 15, 2015. Indeed, the Gallic cavalry was probably superior to the Roman, horseman for horseman. Rome’s military superiority lay in its mastery of strategy, tactics, discipline, and military engineering. In Gaul, Rome also had the advantage of being able to deal separately with dozens of relatively small, independent, and uncooperative states. Caesar conquered these piecemeal, and the concerted attempt made by a number of them in 52 BC to shake off the Roman yoke came too late.  ^ Plutarch, Caesar 22 ^ Tibbetts, Jann (2016-07-30). 50 Great Military Leaders of All Time. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. ISBN 9789385505669.  ^ "Julius Caesar, Romans [The Conquest of Gaul
- part 4 of 11] (Photo Archive)". seindal.dk. Retrieved 31 December 2016.  ^ Serghidou, Anastasia (2007). Fear of slaves, fear of enslavement in the ancient Mediterranean. Besançon: Presses Univ. Franche-Comté. p. 50. ISBN 978-2848671697. Retrieved 8 January 2017.  ^ Helvetti Archived 2007-08-24 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Caesar, Julius; McDevitte, W. A.; Bohn, W. S., trans (1869). The Gallic Wars. New York: Harper. p. 9. ISBN 978-1604597622. Retrieved 8 January 2017.  ^ MacCulloch, John Arnott (1911). The Religion of the Ancient Celts. Edinburgh: Clark. p. 22. ISBN 978-1508518518. Retrieved 8 January 2017.  ^ Warner, Marina; Burn, Lucilla (2003). World of Myths, Vol. 1. London: British Museum. p. 382. ISBN 978-0714127835. Retrieved 8 January 2017.  ^ Kendrick, Thomas D. (1966). The Druids: A study in Keltic prehistory (1966 ed.). New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc. p. 78.  ^ see e.g. Diodorus Siculus, 5.2


Birkhan, H. (1997). Die Kelten. Vienna.  Drinkwater, John (2014). Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul
(Routledge Revivals): The Three Provinces, 58 BC-AD 260. Routledge. ISBN 978-1317750741. 

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