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Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...

Celtic
and
Aquitani The Aquitanians (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, i ...

Aquitani
tribes, encompassing present day
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
,
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...

Luxembourg
,
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the ...

Belgium
, most of
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
, and parts of
Northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, label=none or just it, Nord, label=none) is a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical cha ...
, the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
, and
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
, particularly the west bank of the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
. It covered an area of . According to
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
, Gaul was divided into three parts:
Gallia Celtica Gallia Celtica, meaning "Celtic Gaul" in Latin, was a cultural region of Gaul inhabited by Celts, located in what is now France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the west bank of the Rhine in Germany. According to the Roman ethnography and Julius Caes ...
,
Belgica Gallia Belgica ("Belgic Gaul") was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire located in the north-eastern part of Roman Gaul, in what is today primarily northern France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, along with parts of the Netherlands and Ge ...
, and
Aquitania Gallia Aquitania ( , ), also known as Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guyenne or Guienne ( oc, Guiana), is a historical region of southwestern France France ...
. Archaeologically, the
Gauls The Gauls ( la, Galli; grc, Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') were a group of peoples of in the and the (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD). The area they originally inhabited was known as . Their forms the main branch of th ...
were bearers of the
La Tène culture The La Tène culture (; ) was a culture. It developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from about 450 BCE to the in the 1st century BCE), succeeding the early Iron Age without any definite cultural break, under considerable influen ...
, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to
Raetia 250px, Province of Raetia highlighted. Raetia ( ; ; also spelled Rhaetia) was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire, named after the Rhaetian (''Raeti'' or ''Rhaeti'') people. It bordered on the west with the country of the Helvetii, ...

Raetia
,
Noricum Noricum () is the Latin name for the Celts, Celtic kingdom or federation of tribes that included most of modern Austria and part of Slovenia. In the first century AD, it became a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire. Its borders were the ...
,
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire bounded on the north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Roman Italy, Italy, and southward with Dalmatia (Roman province), Dalmatia and upper Moesia ...

Pannonia
, and southwestern
Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: ''Free Germania'') or Germanic Barbaricum Barbaricum (from the gr, Βαρβαρικόν, "foreign", "barbarian") is a geographical name used by ...

Germania
during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule:
Gallia Cisalpina Cisalpine Gaul ( la, Gallia Cisalpina, also called ''Gallia Citerior'' or ''Gallia Togata'') was the part of Italy inhabited by Celts (Gauls) during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. After its conquest by the Roman Republic in the 200s BC it was cons ...
was conquered in 204 BC and
Gallia Narbonensis Gallia Narbonensis can be seen in the south of modern-day France as a Roman province. Gallia Narbonensis (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin wa ...
in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the
Cimbri The Cimbri (Greek Κίμβροι, ''Kímbroi''; Latin ''Cimbri'') were an ancient tribe in Europe. Ancient authors described them variously as a Celtic people The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS loc ...
and the
Teutons The Teutons ( la, Teutones, , grc, Τεύτονες) were an ancient northern European tribe mentioned by Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th c ...
, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.
Roman control of Gaul
Roman control of Gaul
lasted for five centuries, until the last Roman
rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (n ...
, the
Domain of Soissons The Kingdom or Domain of Soissons was a rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger State (polity), state, left with a reduced territory in the wake of secession, annexation, military occupation, occupation, decolonization, or ...
, fell to the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
in AD 486. While the Celtic Gauls had lost their original identities and language during
Late Antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Inst ...
, becoming amalgamated into a
Gallo-Roman culture The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanization (cultural), Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, Roman culture, language, morals and way of ...
, ''Gallia'' remained the conventional name of the territory throughout the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
, until it acquired a new identity as the Capetian
Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France; frm, Royaulme de France; french: link=yes, Royaume de France) is the historiographical name or Hyponymy and hypernymy, umbrella term given to various political entities of France in the Middle Ages ...
in the high medieval period. ''Gallia'' remains a name of France in
modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the dialects of the Greek language spoken in the modern era, including the official standardized form of the l ...
(Γαλλία) and
modern Latin New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or Modern Latin) is the List of revived languages, revival of Latin used in original, scholarly, and scientific works since about 1500. Modern scholarly and technical nomenclature, such as in zoological and botan ...
(besides the alternatives ''Francia'' and ''Francogallia'').


Name

The Greek and Latin names ''
Galatia Galatia (; grc, Γαλατία, ''Galatía'', "Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally ...
'' (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-''. The ''Galli'' of ''
Gallia Celtica Gallia Celtica, meaning "Celtic Gaul" in Latin, was a cultural region of Gaul inhabited by Celts, located in what is now France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the west bank of the Rhine in Germany. According to the Roman ethnography and Julius Caes ...
'' were reported to refer to themselves as ''Celtae'' by Caesar. Hellenistic
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familia ...
connected the name of the Galatians (Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') to the supposedly "milk-white" skin (γάλα, ''gála'' "milk") of the Gauls. Modern researchers say it is related to Welsh ''gallu'', kw, galloes, "capacity, power", thus meaning "powerful people". Despite superficial similarity, the
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
term ''Gaul'' is unrelated to the Latin ''Gallia''. It stems from the French ''Gaule'', itself deriving from the
Old Frankish Frankish (language reconstruction, reconstructed endonym: *), also known as Old Franconian or Old Frankish, was the West Germanic language spoken by the Franks between the 4th and 8th century. After the Salian Franks settled in Roman Gaul, its ...
''*Walholant'' (via a Latinized form ''*Walula''), literally the "Land of the Foreigners/Romans". ''*Walho-'' is a reflex of the
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
''*
walhaz ''Walhaz'' is a reconstructed word meaning "Roman", "Romance-speaker" or "(romanized) Celt". The term was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former , who were largely and spoke Latin languages (cf. in ). Th ...
'', "foreigner, Romanized person", an
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
applied by Germanic speakers to Celts and Latin-speaking people indiscriminately. It is
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
with the names
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
,
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
,
Wallonia Wallonia (; french: link=no, Wallonie ; wa, link=no, Waloneye; german: link=no, Wallonien or ; nl, link=no, Wallonië ) is one of the three communities, regions and language areas of Belgium, regions of Belgium—alongside the Flemish Region a ...

Wallonia
, and
Wallachia Wallachia or Walachia (; ro, Țara Românească, lit=The Romanian Land' or 'The Romanian Country, ; : ', : ) is a and geographical region of . It is situated north of the and south of the . Wallachia is traditionally divided into two sections ...
. The Germanic ''w-'' is regularly rendered as ''gu-'' / ''g-'' in French (cf. ''guerre'' "war", ''garder'' "ward", ''Guillaume'' "William"), 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 place names, such as, La Jaille-Yvon and Saint-Mars-la-Jaille.''Nouveau dictionnaire étymologique et historique'' (Larousse 1990), p. 336. Proto-Germanic ''*walha'' is derived ultimately from the name of the
Volcae The Volcae () were a tribal confederation constituted before the raid of combined Gauls The Gauls ( la, Galli; grc, Γαλάται, ''Galátai'') were a group of Celts, Celtic peoples of Continental Europe in the Iron Age Europe, Iron Age and the ...
. Also unrelated, in spite of superficial similarity, is the name ''
Gael The Gaels ( ; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a group ...

Gael
''. The
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
word ''gall'' did originally mean "a Gaul", i.e. an inhabitant of Gaul, but its meaning was later widened to "foreigner", to describe the
Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In ...

Viking
s, and later still the
Normans The Normans (Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of N ...

Normans
. 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 Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all the known Celti ...
.


History


Pre-Roman Gaul

There is little written information concerning the peoples that inhabited the regions of Gaul, save what can be gleaned from coins. Therefore, the early history of the Gauls is predominantly a work in archaeology, and the relationships between their
material culture Material culture is the aspect of social reality Social reality is distinct from biological reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only Object of the mind, imaginar ...
, genetic relationships (the study of which has been aided, in recent years, through the field of
archaeogenetics Archaeogenetics is the study of ancient DNA Ancient DNA (aDNA) is DNA The structure of part of a DNA double helix Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of ...
) and linguistic divisions rarely coincide. Before the rapid spread of the
La Tène culture The La Tène culture (; ) was a culture. It developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from about 450 BCE to the in the 1st century BCE), succeeding the early Iron Age without any definite cultural break, under considerable influen ...
in the 5th to 4th centuries BC, the territory of eastern and southern France already participated in the Late
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
Urnfield culture The Urnfield culture ( 1300 BC – 750 BC) was a late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second princ ...
(c. 12th to 8th centuries BC) out of which the early iron-working
Hallstatt culture The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a loc ...

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 BC presumably representing an early form of
Continental Celtic The Continental Celtic languages is the now-extinct group of the Celtic languages that were spoken on the continent of Europe and in central Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor ...
culture, the La Tène culture arises, presumably under Mediterranean influence from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
,
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
n, and
Etruscan civilization The Etruscan civilization () of ancient Italy The history of Italy covers the Ancient Period, the Middle Ages and the modern era. Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Magna Graecia, Greeks, Etruscan civilization, Etruscans, and Celts ha ...
s, spread out in a number of early centers along the
Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''lati ...

Seine
, the
Middle Rhine Between Bingen am Rhein, Bingen and Bonn, Germany, the river Rhine flows as the Middle Rhine (german: Mittelrhein) through the Rhine Gorge, a formation created by erosion, which happened at about the same rate as an tectonic uplift, uplift in ...
and the upper
Elbe The Elbe (, ; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo), historically in English also Elve, is one of the major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake o ...

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 The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
(from 450 BC to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC) in
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
,
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
,
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...

Austria
, southwest
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
,
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, ...

Bohemia
,
Moravia Moravia ( , also , ; cs, Morava ; german: link=no, Mähren ; pl, Morawy ; szl, Morawa; la, Moravia) is a historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a cult ...

Moravia
,
Slovakia Slovakia (; sk, Slovensko ), officially the Slovak Republic ( sk, Slovenská republika, links=no ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to th ...

Slovakia
and
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a in . Spanning of the , it is bordered by to the north, to the northeast, to the east and southeast, to the south, and to the southwest and to the west. Hungary has a population of 10 million, mostl ...

Hungary
. Farther north extended the contemporary
pre-Roman Iron Age The archaeology of Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, whi ...
culture of
northern Germany Northern Germany (german: Norddeutschland) is the region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomen ...
and
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
. The major source of materials on the
Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: Celtic a collection of Indo-European peoples The Indo-European languages ar ...

Celts
of Gaul was Poseidonios of Apamea, whose writings were quoted by Timagenes,
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
, the
Sicilian
Sicilian
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern ...
, and the Greek geographer
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
. In the 4th and early 3rd century BC, Gallic clan confederations expanded far beyond the territory of what would become
Roman Gaul Roman Gaul refers to Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (n ...

Roman Gaul
(which defines usage of the term "Gaul" today), into Pannonia, Illyria, northern Italy, Transylvania and even
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...
. By the 2nd century BC, the Romans described
Gallia Transalpina Gallia Narbonensis can be seen in the south of modern-day France as a Roman province. Gallia Narbonensis (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin w ...
as distinct from
Gallia Cisalpina Cisalpine Gaul ( la, Gallia Cisalpina, also called ''Gallia Citerior'' or ''Gallia Togata'') was the part of Italy inhabited by Celts (Gauls) during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. After its conquest by the Roman Republic in the 200s BC it was cons ...
. In his ''
Gallic Wars The Gallic Wars were waged between 58 BC and 50 BC by the Roman general Julius Caesar against the peoples of Gaul (present-day France, Belgium, along with parts of Germany). Gauls, Gallic, Germanic peoples, Germanic, and Celtic Br ...
'',
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
distinguishes among three ethnic groups in Gaul: the
Belgae The Belgae () were a large confederation of tribes living in northern Gaul, between the English Channel, the west bank of the Rhine, and northern bank of the river Seine, from at least the third century BC. They were discussed in depth by Julius ...
in the north (roughly between the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
and the
Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''lati ...

Seine
), the Celtae in the center and in
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica ( br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. Name ...

Armorica
, and the
Aquitani The Aquitanians (Latin: ''Aquitani'') were a people living in what is now southern Nouvelle-Aquitaine and southwestern Midi-Pyrénées, France, called Gallia Aquitania by the Roman Empire, Romans in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic oce ...

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 The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has cer ...

Greeks
and
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
ns who had established outposts such as Massilia (present-day
Marseille Marseille ( , , ; also spelled in English as Marseilles; oc, Marselha ) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langua ...

Marseille
) along the Mediterranean coast. Also, along the southeastern French Mediterranean coast, the
Ligures The Ligures (singular Ligus or Ligur; English language, English: Ligurians; Ancient Greek, Greek: ) were an ancient people after whom Liguria, a region of present-day Northern Italy, north-western Italy, is named. File:Meyers b9 s0067b.jpg, Roman ...
had merged with the Celts to form a Celto-Ligurian culture.


Initial contact with Rome

In the 2nd century BC Mediterranean Gaul had an extensive urban fabric and was prosperous. Archeologists know of cities in northern Gaul including 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 hill forts (or oppidum , 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 found themselves under attack by a coalition of Ligures and Gauls. The Romans intervened in Gaul in 154 BC and again in 125 BC. Whereas on the first occasion they came and went, on the second they stayed. In 122 BC Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul 122 BC), Domitius Ahenobarbus managed to defeat the Allobroges (allies of the Salluvii), while in the ensuing year Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus , Quintus Fabius Maximus "destroyed" an army of the Arverni led by their king Bituitus, who had come to the aid of the Allobroges. Rome allowed Massilia to keep its lands, but added to its own territories the lands of the conquered tribes. As a direct result of these conquests, Rome now controlled an area extending from the Pyrenees to the lower Rhône river, and in the east up the Rhône valley to Lake Geneva. By 121 BC Romans had conquered the Mediterranean region called ''Provincia'' (later named ''
Gallia Narbonensis Gallia Narbonensis can be seen in the south of modern-day France as a Roman province. Gallia Narbonensis (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin wa ...
''). This conquest upset the ascendancy of the Gaulish Arverni peoples.


Conquest by Rome

The Roman proconsul and general Julius Caesar pushed his army into Gaul in 58 BC, ostensibly to assist 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 their military was 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. Julius Caesar was checked by Vercingetorix at a Battle of Gergovia, 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 Slavery in ancient Rome, enslaved, 300 clans were subjugated and 800 cities were destroyed during the
Gallic Wars The Gallic Wars were waged between 58 BC and 50 BC by the Roman general Julius Caesar against the peoples of Gaul (present-day France, Belgium, along with parts of Germany). Gauls, Gallic, Germanic peoples, Germanic, and Celtic Br ...
. The entire population of the city of Avaricum (Bourges) (40,000 in all) were slaughtered. Before Julius Caesar's campaign against the Helvetii (present-day
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = under an , leader_title1 = , leader_name1 = , leader_title2 = , leader_name2 = , legislatur ...

Switzerland
), the Helvetians had numbered 263,000, but afterwards only 100,000 remained, most of whom Caesar took as slavery , slaves.


Roman Gaul

After Gaul was absorbed as ''Gallia'', a set of Roman provinces, its inhabitants gradually adopted aspects of Roman culture and assimilated, resulting in the distinct
Gallo-Roman culture The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanization (cultural), Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, Roman culture, language, morals and way of ...
. Citizenship was granted to all in 212 by the Constitutio Antoniniana. From the Crisis of the Third Century, third to 5th centuries, Gaul was exposed to raids by the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
. The Gallic Empire, consisting of the provinces of Gaul, Roman Britain, Britannia, and Hispania, including the peaceful Hispania Baetica, Baetica in the south, broke away from Rome from 260 to 273. In addition to the large number of natives, Gallia also became home to some coloniae, Roman citizens from elsewhere and also in-migrating Germanic and Scythian tribes such as the Alans. The religious practices of inhabitants became a combination of Roman and Celtic practice, with Celtic deities such as Cobannus and Epona subjected to interpretatio romana. The imperial cult and Eastern mystery religions also gained a following. Eventually, after it became the official religion of the Empire and paganism became suppressed, Christianity won out in the twilight days of the Western Roman Empire (while the Christianized Eastern Roman Empire lasted another thousand years, until the invasion of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453); a small but notable Judaism, Jewish presence also became established. The Gaulish language is thought to have survived into the 6th century in France, despite considerable Romanization of the local material culture. The last record of spoken Gaulish deemed to be plausibly credible concerned the destruction by Christians of a pagan shrine in Auvergne "called Vasso Galatae in the Gallic tongue". Coexisting with Latin, Gaulish helped shape the Vulgar Latin dialects that developed into French. The Vulgar Latin in the region of Gallia took on a distinctly local character, some of which is attested in graffiti, which evolved into the Gallo-Romance dialects which include French and its closest relatives. The influence of substrate (linguistics), substrate languages may be seen in graffiti showing sound changes that matched changes that had earlier occurred in the indigenous languages, especially Gaulish. The Vulgar Latin in the north of Gaul evolved into the langues d'oil and Franco-Provencal, while the dialects in the south evolved into the modern Occitan language, Occitan and Catalan language, Catalan tongues. Other languages held to be "Gallo-Romance" include the Gallo-Italic languages and the Rhaeto-Romance languages.


Frankish Gaul

Following Franks, Frankish victories at Battle of Soissons (486), Soissons (AD 486), Battle of Vouillé, Vouillé (AD 507) and Battle of Autun (532), Autun (AD 532), Gaul (except for Brittany and Septimania) came under the rule of the Merovingian dynasty, Merovingians, the first kings of France.
Gallo-Roman culture The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanization (cultural), Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman culture, Roman culture, language, morals and way of ...
, the Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire, persisted particularly in the areas of
Gallia Narbonensis Gallia Narbonensis can be seen in the south of modern-day France as a Roman province. Gallia Narbonensis (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin wa ...
that developed into Occitania, Cisalpine Gaul, Gallia Cisalpina and to a lesser degree, Aquitania. The formerly Romanized north of Gaul, once it had been occupied by the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within 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 Roman villa, 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 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. File:Massalia large coin 5th 1st century BCE.jpg, Massalia (modern
Marseille Marseille ( , , ; also spelled in English as Marseilles; oc, Marselha ) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langua ...

Marseille
) silver coin with Greek legend, 5th–1st century BC. File:ParisiiCoins.jpg, Gold coins of the Gaul Parisii (Gaul), Parisii, 1st century BC, (Cabinet des Médailles, Paris). File:RomanSilverDenariusWithHeadOfCaptiveGaul48BCE.JPG, Roman silver Denarius with the head of captive Gaul 48 BC, following the campaigns of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
.


Gauls


Social structure, indigenous nation and clans

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, which 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 List of Ancien Régime dioceses of France, 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, Gauls, Gaulish peoples are defined linguistically, as speakers of dialects of the Gaulish language. While the
Aquitani The Aquitanians (Latin: ''Aquitani'') were a people living in what is now southern Nouvelle-Aquitaine and southwestern Midi-Pyrénées, France, called Gallia Aquitania by the Roman Empire, Romans in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic oce ...

Aquitani
were probably Vascons, the
Belgae The Belgae () were a large confederation of tribes living in northern Gaul, between the English Channel, the west bank of the Rhine, and northern bank of the river Seine, from at least the third century BC. They were discussed in depth by Julius ...
would thus probably be a mixture of Celtic and Germanic elements.
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
, in his book, ''Commentarii de Bello Gallico , 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 our Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The river Garonne separates the Gauls from the Aquitani; the Marne and the Seine separate them from the Belgae. Of all these, 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, 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.


Religion

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 which can be found on many Gallic military standards, much like the Aquila (Roman), 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 Toutatis, Teutates, the Gallic equivalent of Mercury (mythology), Mercury. The "ancestor god" of the Gauls was identified by
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
in his ''Commentarii de Bello Gallico'' with the Roman god Dis Pater. 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 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, 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.


See also

*Ambiorix *''Asterix''—a French comic about Gaul and Rome, mainly set in 50 BC *Bog body *Braccae—trousers, typical Gallic dress *Cisalpine Gaul *
Galatia Galatia (; grc, Γαλατία, ''Galatía'', "Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally ...
*Lugdunum *Roman Republic *Roman villas in northwestern Gaul


References


Sources

* * *


External links

{{Authority control Gaul, Historical regions