Monday, September 27, 2010

Gaul-the Enemy of Caesar

>This map shows Caesar's campaign against the Gauls and his major battles.

Since the 4th century BCE, the Romans had faced the dangers of invasion by the fierce tribes of the Gauls. In fact, Rome itself was pillaged by the Gauls under Brennus in 387 BCE (although it would be more than seven centuries before another barbarian army was able to accomplish this feat-the Visigoths of Alaric in 410 CE). By the 1st century BCE the Romans were in a position to finish the question of Gaul.  From 58 to 51 BCE, Julius Caesar waged a war of conquest against the "Barbarian" Gauls and neighboring tribes. To the Romans this entire area was Gallia, just another area to be added as a province of the Empire. The Gauls did not see themselves as "barbarian." They believed the Romans were invaders determined to conquer and enslave the people of Gaul.

The warriors of Gaul were brave but poorly trained and equipped. As in many barbarian societies, each man brought his own equipment to war. In many cases this was little more than a shield and sword. Chieftains, as was appropriate to their rank and wealth, were the best equipped often with metal armour and high quality weapons.

Roman soldiers were equipped by the state with high quality weapons and armor and were professionally trained. A Roman legion would include a medical detachment, combat engineers, transportation units and most importantly a highly developed officer corps and chain of command. Romans fought as a well organized fighting machine, barbarians usually fought as a large mob.

It was not uncommon for some Gallic warriors to charge into combat without clothing. This was to impress their enemies with the bravery of the warrior and sow fear into the ranks of the enemy by the fanatic nature of these warriors of Gaul.

In the end, Roman military might and organization, under the leadership of Julius Caesar, over came the strength of numbers the Gauls held. Gaul became an important province of the expanding Empire and remained so until the Fall of the Western Empire in the 5th Century CE.

1 comment:

  1. It goes back further then that, in 387 bc The Battle of Allia occured. In which the Gauls declared war on Rome over a simple land dispute and preceded to destroy Romes army. After the battle The Gauls then raided Rome, slaughtered roman men, plundered the city and raped the women. This horrified Rome to the point where they feared the Gaulish Barbarians. Fear turned to hate, and that is why they attacked the Gauls so fiercely.