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The History of Roman Gaul

Gaul was divided into several provinces. The Romans facilitated migration and resettlement in order to avoid uprisings that could pose a threat to Roman rule. For example, many Gauls were relocated to Aquitaine or enslaved and left Gaul. During the rule of the Roman Empire, Gallia underwent many cultural changes – for example, the Gallic language was replaced by the popular Latin. Declared the similarity of the Gallic and Latin languages ​​in favor of the transition. Gaul remained under Roman rule for many centuries and during this time Gallo-Roman culture was formed.

The Gauls integrated into Roman society over time. For example, generals Mark Antony Prim and Gneus Julius Agricola were born in Gaul, as were the emperors Claudius and Caracalla. Emperor Antonin Pius also came from a Gallic family. For 10 years after the capture of Valerian I by the Persians in 260, Postum created the briefly existing Gallic Empire, which included the Perineus Peninsula and Britain, in addition to Gaul. Germanic tribes, such as the Franks and the Alamanni, penetrated into Gaul around this time. The existence of the Gallic Empire ended with the victory of Aurelianus at the battle of Chalon in 274.

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Around the 4th century, the Celts migrated to Armorica. They were led by the legendary king Conan Meriadoc and arrived from Britain. They spoke the now non-existent British language, which had evolved into Breton, Cornish, and Welsh.

In 418, the Aquitaine Province was donated to the Goths in order to secure their help in the fight against vandals. The same Goths liberated Rome in 410 and created the capital in Toulouse.

The Roman Empire experienced difficulties and could not react to all the barbaric raids, and therefore Flavius ​​Aetius used the differences between different tribes to maintain relative control over the territory. He used the Huns against the Burgundians, and these hirelings destroyed Worms, and killed the king of Gundahar, which forced the Burgundians to migrate west. The Burgundians were resettled by Aetius in the vicinity of Lugdunum in 443. The Huns, united by Attila, became more and more threatened, and Aetius opposed the Visigoths to them. The conflict culminated in the year 451 in the battle of the Catalan fields, in which Attila was defeated by the Romans and the Goths.

The Roman Empire was on the verge of collapse. Aquitaine was finally abandoned to the Visigoths, who soon captured a large part of southern Gaul, as well as most of the Iberian Peninsula. The Burgundians established their own kingdom, and northern Gaul was practically abandoned to the Franks.

Administration and Romanization

Before the Roman conquest, Gaul was a fuzzy geographic area inhabited by scattered Celtic tribes at the communal stage. After the Roman conquest began strengthened (although not fully completed due to the large size) centralization of Gaul, as well as its intensive colonization by Roman settlers from Italy. The whole province (and not just the region of Massilia / Marseille) was actively involved in trade with the Mediterranean region, commodity-money relations developed, a network of roads was built, connecting the outskirts of the province with major cities and Rome. Unlike the Celts, at the intersection of trade routes and in the areas of key entry, the Romans built urban settlements, which over time reached significant sizes. The cities had streets, buildings, aqueducts and amphitheatres. The capital of Gaul was the ancient Lugdunum (modern Lyon).

Source: Ancient Eu

Despite the fact that under the Romans, Gaul received for the first time a formal political and administrative unity, economic and social differences between its regions remained. In many ways, they were due to differences in relief and climate. The Roman authorities were well aware of this, dividing Roman Gaul into several units of a smaller administrative order.

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By the way, the term “Gaul” in the early Roman state meant two territories inhabited by the Celts: Transalpine Gaul and Cisalpine Gaul. Cisalpine Gaul was located in the north of Italy (the present Pannonian lowland and the southern foothills of the Alps), the Celts were ousted from it early, and the land was populated by the Romans and Italics. Cisalpine Gaul eventually became an integral part of Italy, although its Romanesque dialects retained their proximity to the transalpine thanks to a common Celtic substrate.

Transalpine Gaul, that is, located beyond the Alps, approximately coincided with the current France. Antique Romanization began beyond the Alps, but much later. The process of romanization began in the south of the country, moving up the valley. Nevertheless, the powerful Celtic substrate in Gaul was maintained for quite a long time. Even centuries after the Roman conquest, the Gauls constituted the overwhelming majority of the rural population in the center and in the north of the country. Only in large cities and on the southern coast lived many hereditary Romans. Mixed families (Romans, Celts, Greeks, etc.) were also spread. But at the end of the 3rd century, Celtic settlements remained in the vicinity of Lyon, where it was impossible to communicate without an interpreter. And yet, after the edict of Emperor Caracalla of 212, all residents of the empire, including Gaul, regardless of nationality, received Roman citizenship. This accelerated the process of transition to the Latin language, which, moreover, unlike the Celtic languages, had a well-developed script. Over time, the descendants of the Gauls not only began to call themselves Romans, but also lost their language, completely switching to vulgar Latin. By the end of the Roman period, in Gaul, according to various estimates, there were from 10 to 12 million inhabitants, most of whom were Gallo-Romans who profess Christianity and speak Latin.

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