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Map of Gaul

This article is about the country "Gaul" and its people. For a list of Gaul characters, see Gauls (category list).

Gaul (Latin: Gallia) was a region of Western Europe during the time of Ancient Rome.

It encompassed present-day France, Luxembourg, parts of Switzerland and Austria, along with the western part of Germany and northern Italy. The Gauls were a Celtic people, speaking languages related to Welsh and Irish. The Gauls were noted for the quality of their iron work, and seem to have been the inventors of the linked-chain armor known to the Romans as lorica hamata and known today as mail or chainmail.

The Romans separated Gaul in their own writings into Cisalpine Gaul--the part of Gaul south of the Alps in what is today northern Italy--and Transalpine Gaul--areas today in France, Switzerland, and the countries of the Rhine valley. Cisalpine Gaul was brought under Roman rule in the 3rd century B.C., after the Gauls had sacked Rome in 390 B.C. Gallic tribes allied to Rome gradually came to comprise the larger part of Roman cavalry, as the Roman nobility historically responsible for providing such soldiers, the equestrians, increasingly concerned themselves with business and financial affairs.

During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Transalpine Gaul fell under Roman rule, slowly at first along the Mediterranean coast to facilitate trade with Hispania, conquered from Carthage. At the time of the Third Servile War, northern Transalpine Gaul remained self-ruling, divided into numerous tribes. Julius Caesar famously observed that, at that time, Transalpine Gaul could be divided into three basic regions: the region along the Mediterranean coast already subject to Roman rule, today called Provence, the region from the Garonne river to the Seine and the Marne, which Caesar dubbed Celtae, and the region beyond called Belgae, where the Gallic tribes blended vaguely into the Germanic tribes somewhere in the misty northern forests. The further from Roman rule the tribes lived, the Romans believed, the fiercer and more warlike was their nature.

In 58 B.C., approximately a decade after the Third Servile War, Julius Caesar would use a quarrel between two tribes to launch an invasion of Celtae. Over the course of approximately seven years, Caesar subjected all the tribes to the Rhine to his rule, a series of campaigns he documented in his self-promoting account, Commentaries on the Gallic War, amassing a huge store of plunder and slaves which he would use to mount his subsequent march on Rome, famously crossing the Rubicon in defiance of the Senate to become dictator for life and ultimately bring the Roman Republic to its final crisis.

After Caesar's conquest, the northern Gauls assimilated relatively quickly into the Roman state and society, and even the Gallic language itself died out, being replaced by the Latin dialect that would evolve into French.

In the show Spartacus, Gauls are a strong and boisterous people, although not quite as physically imposing as the Germans. However, they are also quite sentimental. Gauls and Germans share a mutual disliking of one another.


Prior to the Roman conquest of the southern region of Gallia Narbonensis, Gaul was dominated politically and economically by the Arverni, whose homeland was based in the modern French region of Auvergne, which derives its name from the Arverni. The tribal confederacy was ruled by elected sovereigns called Verrices (singular: Verrix, 'over-king' in Gaulish), and their power was based on their control over the trade routes between the Mediterranean coast and the northern regions of Gaul, and a number of gold and silver mines they owned. They were one of the largest Gallic nations in demographic terms as well as the wealthiest. Roughly between the late Third Century to the late Second Century BCE, they unified Gaul from the Atlantic coast to the Rhineland under their hegemony. The legendary Arverni king, Luernius, was mentioned in the writings of Posidonius

"Luernius, to win the favour of the multitude, passing chariot across the country, threw gold and silver to the myriad of Celts....Once the same prince gave a great feast fixed to a day beforehand, a poet among these barbarians had arrived too late. He went to meet Luernius with a song to celebrate his greatness, but moaning behind which he wore it. Luernius, amused by his verse, asked for a purse of gold and threw it down the side of his chariot to the bard, who picked it up and gave a new song saying that the traces left on the ground by the chariot of the prince were furrows of gold for men." Posidonius of Apamea, Stories, XXIII

Notable Gauls[]

External Links[]

Gaul article on Wikipedia