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Roman Gaul: The History of Gaul as a Province of the Ancient Roman Empire

Narrated by: Colin Fluxman
Length: 2 hrs and 12 mins
Categories: History, Ancient
3.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the minds of most people today, Gaul equates to modern France. However, the vast geographical area that Caesar named Gaul, in fact, was made up of a number of very distinct regions and covered, in addition to modern-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, parts of the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Northern Italy. The Romans called the northern area of the Italian peninsula, which is now part of modern Italy, Cisalpine Gaul, or Gaul on this side of the Alps. Early Romans did not even consider this region as part of Italy and repeated incursions southwards, and the sacking of Rome itself in 390 BCE, resulted in Rome taking full control of the area in 221 BCE and thoroughly Romanizing it to the extent that even the Celtic language totally disappeared and was replaced by Latin. The region was initially a province but by the beginning of the first century BCE, it had become fully integrated into the Roman heartland and became an administrative region of Italy rather than a province. 

Ironically, the Roman Republic’s development from a city state into a world power that controlled large swathes of modern Italy, Gaul and Spain, as well as other parts of Europe is seen by many as being the direct result of Roman fear of the “Celtic Threat.” The sacking of Rome by the Gauls in 386 BCE became indelibly imprinted into the Roman psyche, and with this fear came a desire to put as much distance as possible between the city of Rome and any potential enemy. The result was the gradual acquisition of buffer zones that became provinces of an empire that grew without any particular thought or deliberate strategy of expansion.

The Gallic Wars, the series of campaigns waged by Caesar on behalf of the Roman Senate between 58-50 BCE, were among the defining conflicts of the Roman era. Not only was the expansion of the Republic’s domains unprecedented (especially when considering it was undertaken under the auspices of a single general), it had a profound cultural impact on Rome itself as well. The Roman Republic, so dynamic in the wake of the destruction of their ancient enemy, Carthage, had recently suffered a series of dramatic upheavals; from the great slave rebellion of Spartacus to the brutal and bloody struggle for power of Marius and Sulla. Rome had been shaken to its very core, and a victory was essential both to replenish the dwindling national coffers and to instill in the people a sense of civic pride and a certainty in the supremacy of the Republic.

Augustus and his successors then began a program of Romanization that, in a remarkably short period of time, transformed Gaul into four provinces. All of these locales added enormously to the Roman Empire in terms of manpower, material goods and wealth. Even today, historians are amazed at how such a large population that was not without its own systems of administration and vibrant culture and tradition could so easily succumb to Rome’s pacification process, and to such an extent that, within short periods of time, the indigenous language and traditions of the Celtic peoples of Gaul were totally supplanted. The reasons why Rome was able to subjugate and then transform what was for that time an immense population of over 10 million people lie not only in its military superiority but its system of organization and its conscious program of Romanization.  

Roman Gaul: The History of Gaul as a Province of the Ancient Roman Empire looks at Caesar’s famous conquest, and what Gaul was like for the next five centuries until the dissolution of history’s most famous empire. You will learn about Roman Gaul like never before.

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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