A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times - Volume I. of VI.
by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


By M. Guizot

Volume 1 (of 6)


Every history, and especially that of France, is one vast, long drama, in which events are linked together according to defined laws, and in which the actors play parts not ready made and learned by heart, parts depending, in fact, not only upon the accidents of their birth, but also upon their own ideas and their own will. There are, in the history of peoples, two sets of causes essentially different, and, at the same time, closely connected; the natural causes which are set over the general course of events, and the unrestricted causes which are incidental. Men do not make the whole of history it has laws of higher origin; but, in history, men are unrestricted agents who produce for it results and exercise over it an influence for which they are responsible. The fated causes and the unrestricted causes, the defined laws of events and the spontaneous actions of man's free agency—herein is the whole of history. And in the faithful reproduction of these two elements consist the truth and the moral of stories from it.

Never was I more struck with this two-fold character of history than in my tales to my grandchildren. When I commenced with them, they, beforehand, evinced a lively interest, and they began to listen to me with serious good will; but when they did not well apprehend the lengthening chain of events, or when historical personages did not become, in their eyes, creatures real and free, worthy of sympathy or reprobation, when the drama was not developed before them with clearness and animation, I saw their attention grow fitful and flagging; they required light and life together; they wished to be illumined and excited, instructed and amused.

At the same time that the difficulty of satisfying this two-fold desire was painfully felt by me, I discovered therein more means and chances than I had at first foreseen of succeeding in making my young audience comprehend the history of France in its complication and its grandeur. When Corneille observed,—

"In the well-born soul Valor ne'er lingers till due seasons roll,"—

he spoke as truly for intelligence as for valor. When once awakened and really attentive, young minds are more earnest and more capable of complete comprehension than any one would suppose. In order to explain fully to my grandchildren the connection of events and the influence of historical personages, I was sometimes led into very comprehensive considerations and into pretty deep studies of character. And in such cases I was nearly always not only perfectly understood but keenly appreciated. I put it to the proof in the sketch of Charlemagne's reign and character; and the two great objects of that great man, who succeeded in one and failed in the other, received from my youthful audience the most riveted attention and the most clear comprehension. Youthful minds have greater grasp than one is disposed to give them credit for, and, perhaps, men would do well to be as earnest in their lives as children are in their studies.

In order to attain the end I had set before me, I always took care to connect my stories or my reflections with the great events or the great personages of history. When we wish to examine and describe a district scientifically, we traverse it in all its divisions and in every direction; we visit plains as well as mountains, villages as well as cities, the most obscure corners as well as the most famous spots; this is the way of proceeding with the geologist, the botanist, the archeologist, the statistician, the scholar. But when we wish particularly to get an idea of the chief features of a country, its fixed outlines, its general conformation, its special aspects, its great roads, we mount the heights; we place ourselves at points whence we can best take in the totality and the physiognomy of the landscape. And so we must proceed in history when we wish neither to reduce it to the skeleton of an abridgment nor extend it to the huge dimensions of a learned work. Great events and great men are the fixed points and the peaks of history; and it is thence that we can observe it in its totality, and follow it along its highways. In my tales to my grandchildren I sometimes lingered over some particular anecdote which gave me an opportunity of setting in a vivid light the dominant spirit of an age or the characteristic manners of a people; but, with rare exceptions, it is always on the great deeds and the great personages of history that I have relied for making of them in my tales what they were in reality—the centre and the focus of the life of France. GUIZOT.

VAL-RICHER, December, 1869.


I. GAUL 13




















The Frenchman of to-day inhabits a country, long ago civilized and Christianized, where, despite of much imperfection and much social misery, thirty-eight millions of men live in security and peace, under laws equal for all and efficiently upheld. There is every reason to nourish great hopes of such a country, and to wish for it more and more of freedom, glory, and prosperity; but one must be just towards one's own times, and estimate at their true value advantages already acquired and progress already accomplished. If one were suddenly carried twenty or thirty centuries backward, into the midst of that which was then called Gaul, one would not recognize France. The same mountains reared their heads; the same plains stretched far and wide; the same rivers rolled on their course. There is no alteration in the physical formation of the country; but its aspect was very different. Instead of the fields all trim with cultivation, and all covered with various produce, one would see inaccessible morasses and vast forests, as yet uncleared, given up to the chances of primitive vegetation, peopled with wolves and bears, and even the urns, or huge wild ox, and with elks, too—a kind of beast that one finds no longer nowadays, save in the colder regions of north-eastern Europe, such as Lithuania and Courland. Then wandered over the champaign great herds of swine, as fierce almost as wolves, tamed only so far as to know the sound of their keeper's horn. The better sort of fruits and of vegetables were quite unknown; they were imported into Gaul—the greatest part from Asia, a portion from Africa and the islands of the Mediterranean; and others, at a later period, from the New World. Cold and rough was the prevailing temperature. Nearly every winter the rivers froze sufficiently hard for the passage of cars. And three or four centuries before the Christian era, on that vast territory comprised between the ocean, the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, the Alps, and the Rhine, lived six or seven millions of men a bestial life, enclosed in dwellings dark and low, the best of them built of wood and clay, covered with branches or straw, made in a single round piece, open to daylight by the door alone, and confusedly heaped together behind a rampart, not inartistically composed of timber, earth, and stone, which surrounded and protected what they were pleased to call a town.

Of even such towns there were scarcely any as yet, save in the most populous and least uncultivated portion of Gaul; that is to say, in the southern and eastern regions, at the foot of the mountains of Auvergne and the Cevennes, and along the coasts of the Mediterranean. In the north and the west were paltry hamlets, as transferable almost as the people themselves; and on some islet amidst the morasses, or in some hidden recess of the forest, were huge intrenchments formed of the trees that were felled, where the population, at the first sound of the war-cry, ran to shelter themselves with their flocks and all their movables. And the war-cry was often heard: men living grossly and idly are very prone to quarrel and fight. Gaul, moreover, was not occupied by one and the same nation, with the same traditions and the same chiefs. Tribes very different in origin, habits, and date of settlement, were continually disputing the territory. In the south were Iberians or Aquitanians, Phoenicians and Greeks; in the north and north-west, Kymrians or Belgians; everywhere else, Gauls or Celts, the most numerous settlers, who had the honor of giving their name to the country. Who were the first to come, then? and what was the date of the first settlement? Nobody knows. Of the Greeks alone does history mark with any precision the arrival in southern Gaul. The Phoenicians preceded them by several centuries; but it is impossible to fix any exact time. The information is equally vague about the period when the Kymrians invaded the north of Gaul. As for the Gauls and the Iberians, there is not a word about their first entrance into the country, for they are discovered there already at the first appearance of the country itself in the domain of history.

The Iberians, whom Roman writers call Aquitanians, dwelt at the foot of the Pyrenees, in the territory comprised between the mountains, the Garonne, and the ocean. They belonged to the race which, under the same appellation, had peopled Spain; but by what route they came into Gaul is a problem which we cannot solve. It is much the same in tracing the origin of every nation, for in those barbarous times men lived and died without leaving any enduring memorial of their deeds and their destinies; no monuments; no writings; just a few oral traditions, perhaps, which are speedily lost or altered. It is in proportion as they become enlightened and civilized, that men feel the desire and discover the means of extending their memorial far beyond their own lifetime. That is the beginning of history, the offspring of noble and useful sentiments, which cause the mind to dwell upon the future, and to yearn for long continuance; sentiments which testify to the superiority of man over all other creatures living upon our earth, which foreshadow the immortality of the soul, and which are warrant for the progress of the human race by preserving for the generations to come what has been done and learned by the generations that disappear.

By whatever route and at whatever epoch the Iberians came into the south-west of Gaul, they abide there still in the department of the Lower Pyrenees, under the name of Basques; a people distinct from all its neighbors in features, costume, and especially language, which resembles none of the present languages of Europe, contains many words which are to be found in the names of rivers, mountains, and towns of olden Spain, and which presents a considerable analogy to the idioms, ancient and modern, of certain peoples of northern Africa. The Phoenicians did not leave, as the Iberians did, in the south of France distinct and well-authenticated descendants. They had begun about 1100 B.C. to trade there. They went thither in search of furs, and gold and silver, which were got either from the sand of certain rivers, as for instance the Allege (in Latin Aurigera), or from certain mines of the Alps, the Cevennes, and the Pyrenees; they brought in exchange stuffs dyed with purple, necklaces and rings of glass, and, above all, arms and wine; a trade like that which is nowadays carried on by the civilized peoples of Europe with the savage tribes of Africa and America. For the purpose of extending and securing their commercial expeditions, the Phoenicians founded colonies in several parts of Gaul, and to them is attributed the earliest origin of Nemausus (Nimes), and of Alesia, near Semur. But, at the end of three or four centuries, these colonies fell into decay; the trade of the Phoenicians was withdrawn from Gaul, and the only important sign it preserved of their residence was a road which, starting from the eastern Pyrenees, skirted the Gallic portion of the Mediterranean, crossed the Alps by the pass of Tenda, and so united Spain, Gaul, and Italy. After the withdrawal of the Phoenicians this road was kept up and repaired, at first by the Greeks of Marseilles, and subsequently by the Romans.

As merchants and colonists, the Greeks were, in Gaul, the successors of the Phoenicians, and Marseilles was one of their first and most considerable colonies. At the time of the Phoenicians' decay in Gaul, a Greek people, the Rhodians, had pushed their commercial enterprises to a great distance, and, in the words of the ancient historians, held the empire of the sea. Their ancestors had, in former times, succeeded the Phoenicians in the island of Rhodes, and they likewise succeeded them in the south of Gaul, and founded, at the mouth of the Rhone, a colony called Rhodanusia or Rhoda, with the same name as that which they had already founded on the north-east coast of Spain, and which is nowadays the town of Rosas, in Catalonia. But the importance of the Rhodians on the southern coast of Gaul was short-lived. It had already sunk very low in the year 600 B.C., when Euxenes, a Greek trader, coming from Phocea, an Ionian town of Asia Minor, to seek his fortune, landed from a bay eastward of the Rhone. The Segobrigians, a tribe of the Gallic race, were in occupation of the neighboring country. Nann, their chief, gave the strangers kindly welcome, and took them home with him to a great feast which he was giving for his daughter's marriage, who was called Gyptis, according to some, and Petta, according to other historians. A custom which exists still in several cantons of the Basque country, and even at the centre of France in Morvan, a mountainous district of the department of the Nievre, would that the maiden should appear only at the end of the banquet, and holding in her hand a filled wine-cup, and that the guest to whom she should present it should become the husband of her choice. By accident, or quite another cause, say the ancient legends, Gyptis stopped opposite Euxenes, and handed him the cup. Great was the surprise, and, probably, anger amongst the Gauls who were present. But Nann, believing he recognized a commandment from his gods, accepted the Phocean as his son-in-law, and gave him as dowry the bay where he had landed, with some cantons of the territory around. Euxenes, in gratitude, gave his wife the Greek name of Aristoxena (that is, "the best of hostesses"), sent away his ship to Phocea for colonists, and, whilst waiting for them, laid in the centre of the bay, on a peninsula hollowed out harbor-wise, towards the south, the foundations of a town, which he called Massilia—thence Marseilles.

Scarcely a year had elapsed when Euxenes' ship arrived from Phocea, and with it several galleys, bringing colonists full of hope, and laden with provisions, utensils, arms, seeds, vine-cuttings, and olive-cuttings, and, moreover, a statue of Diana, which the colonists had gone to fetch from the celebrated temple of that goddess at Ephesus, and which her priestess, Aristarche, accompanied to its new country.

The activity and prosperity of Marseilles, both within and without, were rapidly developed. She carried her commerce wherever the Phoenicians and the Rhodians had marked out a road; she repaired their forts; she took to herself their establishments; and she placed on her medals, to signify dominion, the rose, the emblem of Rhodes, beside the lion of Marseilles. But Nann, the Gallic chieftain, who had protected her infancy, died; and his son, Conran, shared the jealousy felt by the Segobrigians and the neighboring peoplets towards the new corners. He promised and really resolved to destroy the new city. It was the time of the flowering of the vine, a season of great festivity amongst the Ionian Greeks, and Marseilles thought solely of the preparations for the feast. The houses and public places were being decorated with branches and flowers. No guard was set; no work was done. Conran sent into the town a number of his men, some openly, as if to take part in the festivities, others hidden at the bottom of the cars which conveyed into Marseilles the branches and foliage from the outskirts. He himself went and lay in ambush in a neighboring glen, with seven thousand men, they say, but the number is probably exaggerated, and waited for his emissaries to open the gates to him during the night. But once more a woman, a near relation of the Gallic chieftain, was the guardian angel of the Greeks, and revealed the plot to a young man of Marseilles, with whom she was in love. The gates were immediately shut, and so many Segobrigians as happened to be in the town were massacred. Then, when night came on, the inhabitants, armed, went forth to surprise Conran in the ambush where he was awaiting the moment to surprise them. And there he fell with all his men.

Delivered as they were from this danger, the Massilians nevertheless remained in a difficult and disquieting situation. The peoplets around, in coalition against them, attacked them often, and threatened them incessantly. But whilst they were struggling against these embarrassments, a grand disaster, happening in the very same spot whence they had emigrated half a century before, was procuring them a great accession of strength and the surest means of defence. In the year 542 B.C., Phocea succumbed beneath the efforts of Cyrus, King of Persia, and her inhabitants, leaving to the conqueror empty streets and deserted houses, took to their ships in a body, to transfer their homes elsewhere. A portion of this floating population made straight for Marseilles; others stopped at Corsica, in the harbor of Alalia, another Phocean colony. But at the end of five years they too, tired of piratical life and of the incessant wars they had to sustain against the Carthaginians, quitted Corsica, and went to rejoin their compatriots in Gaul.

Thenceforward Marseilles found herself in a position to face her enemies. She extended her walls all round the bay, and her enterprises far away. She founded on the southern coast of Gaul and on the eastern coast of Spain, permanent settlements, which are to this day towns: eastward of the Rhone, Hercules' harbor, Moncecus (Monaco), Niccea (Nice), Antipolis (Antibes); westward, Heraclea Cacabaria (Saint-Gilles), Agaththae (Agdevall), Emporia; (Ampurias in Catalonia), &c., &c. In valley of the Rhone, several towns of the Gauls, Cabellio were (Cavaili like on), Greek Avenio (Avignon), Arelate (Arles), for instance, colonies, so great there was the number of travellers or established merchants who spoke Greek. With this commercial activity Marseilles united intellectual and scientific activity; her grammarians were among the first to revise and annotate the poems of Homer; and bold travellers from Marseilles, Euthymenes and Pytheas by name, cruised, one along the western coast of Africa beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, and the other the southern and western coasts of Europe, from the mouth of the Tanais (Don), in the Black Sea, to the latitudes and perhaps into the interior of the Baltic. They lived, both of them, in the second half of the fourth century B.C., and they wrote each a Periplus, or tales of their travels, which have unfortunately been almost entirely lost.

But whatever may have been her intelligence and activity, a single town situated at the extremity of Gaul and peopled with foreigners could have but little influence over so vast a country and its inhabitants. At first civilization is very hard and very slow; it requires many centuries, many great events, and many years of toil to overcome the early habits of a people, and cause them to exchange the pleasures, gross indeed, but accompanied with the idleness and freedom of barbarian life, for the toilful advantages of a regulated social condition. By dint of foresight, perseverance, and courage, the merchants of Marseilles and her colonies crossed by two or three main lines the forests, morasses, and heaths through the savage tribes of Gauls, and there effected their exchanges, but to the right and left they penetrated but a short distance. Even on their main lines their traces soon disappeared; and at the commercial settlements which they established here and there they were often far more occupied in self-defence than in spreading their example. Beyond a strip of land of uneven breadth, along the Mediterranean, and save the space peopled towards the south-west by the Iberians, the country, which received its name from the former of the two, was occupied by the Gauls and the Kymrians; by the Gauls in the centre, south-east and east, in the highlands of modern France, between the Alps, the Vosges, the mountains of Auvergne and the Cevennes; by the Kymrians in the north, north-west, and west, in the lowlands, from the western boundary of the Gauls to the ocean.

Whether the Gauls and the Kymrians were originally of the same race, or at least of races closely connected; whether they were both anciently comprised under the general name of Celts; and whether the Kymrians, if they were not of the same race as the Gauls, belonged to that of the Germans, the final conquerors of the Roman empire, are questions which the learned have been a long, long while discussing without deciding. The only facts which seem to be clear and certain are the following.

The ancients for a long while applied without distinction the name of Celts to the peoples who lived in the west and north of Europe, regardless of precise limits, language, or origin. It was a geographical title applicable to a vast but ill-explored territory, rather than a real historical name of race or nation. And so, in the earliest times, Gauls, Germans, Bretons, and even Iberians, appear frequently confounded under the name of Celts, peoples of Celtica.

Little by little this name is observed to become more restricted and more precise. The Iberians of Spain are the first to be detached; then the Germans. In the century preceding the Christian era, the Gauls, that is, the peoples inhabiting Gaul, are alone called Celts. We begin even to recognize amongst them diversities of race, and to distinguish the Iberians of Gaul, alias Aquitanians, and the Kymrians or Belgians from the Gauls, to whom the name of Celts is confined. Sometimes even it is to a confederation of certain Gallic tribes that the name Specially applies. However it be, the Gauls appear to have been the first inhabitants of western Europe. In the most ancient historical memorials they are found there, and not only in Gaul, but in Great Britain, in Ireland, and in the neighboring islets. In Gaul, after a long predominance, they commingled with other races to form the French nation. But, in this commingling numerous traces of their language, monuments, manners, and names of persons and places, survived and still exist, especially to the east and south—cast, in local customs and vernacular dialects. In Ireland, in the highlands of Scotland, in the Hebrides and the Isle of Man, Gauls (Gaels) still live under their primitive name. There we still have the Gaelic race and tongue, free, if not from any change, at least from absorbent fusion.

From the seventh to the fourth century B.C., a new population spread over Gaul, not at once, but by a series of invasions, of which the two principal took place at the two extremes of that epoch. They called themselves Kymrians or Kimrians, whence the Romans made Cimbrians, which recalls Cimmerii or Cimmerians, the name of a people whom the Greeks placed on the western bank of the Black Sea and in the Cimmerian peninsula, called to this day Crimea. During these irregular and successively repeated movements of wandering populations, it often happened that tribes of different races met, made terms, united, and finished by amalgamation under one name. All the peoples that successively invaded Europe, Gauls, Kymrians, Germans, belonged at first, in Asia, whence they came, to a common stern; the diversity of their languages, traditions, and manners, great as it already was at the time of their appearance in the West, was the work of time and of the diverse circumstances in the midst of which they had lived; but there always remained amongst them traces of a primitive affinity which allowed of sudden and frequent comings, amidst their tumultuous dispersion.

The Kymrians, who crossed the Rhine and flung themselves into northern Gaul towards the middle of the fourth century B.C., called themselves Bolg, or Belg, or Belgians, a name which indeed is given to them by Roman writers, and which has remained that of the country they first invaded. They descended southwards, to the banks of the Seine and the Marne. There they encountered the Kymrians of former invasions, who not only had spread over the country comprised between the Seine and the Loire, to the very heart of the peninsula bordered by the latter river, but had crossed the sea, and occupied a portion of the large island opposite Gaul, crowding back the Gauls, who had preceded them, upon Ireland and the highlands of Scotland. It was from one of these tribes and its chieftain, called Pryd or Prydain, Brit or Britain, that Great Britain and Brittany in France received the name which they have kept.

Each of these races, far from forming a single people bound to the same destiny and under the same chieftains, split into peoplets, more or less independent, who foregathered or separated according to the shifts of circumstances, and who pursued, each on their own account and at their own pleasure, their fortunes or their fancies. The Ibero-Aquitanians numbered twenty tribes; the Gauls twenty-two nations; the original Kymrians, mingled with the Gauls between the Loire and the Garonne, seventeen; and the Kymro-Belgians twenty-three. These sixty-two nations were subdivided into several hundreds of tribes; and these petty agglomerations were distributed amongst rival confederations or leagues, which disputed one with another the supremacy over such and such a portion of territory. Three grand leagues existed amongst the Gauls; that of the Arvernians, formed of peoplets established in the country which received from them the name of Auvergne; that of the AEduans, in Burgundy, whose centre was Bibracte (Autun); and that of the Sequanians, in Franche-Comte, whose centre was Vesontio (Besancon). Amongst the Kymrians of the West, the Armoric league bound together the tribes of Brittany and lower Normandy. From these alliances, intended to group together scattered forces, sprang fresh passions or interests, which became so many fresh causes of discord and hostility. And, in these divers-agglomerations, government was everywhere almost equally irregular and powerless to maintain order or found an enduring state. Kymrians, Gauls, or Iberians were nearly equally ignorant, improvident, slaves to the shiftings of their ideas and the sway of their passions, fond of war and idleness and rapine and feasting, of gross and savage pleasures. All gloried in hanging from the breast-gear of their horses, or nailing to the doors of their houses, the heads of their enemies. All sacrificed human victims to their gods; all tied their prisoners to trees, and burned or flogged them to death; all took pleasure in wearing upon their heads or round their arms, and depicting upon their naked bodies, fantastic ornaments, which gave them a wild appearance. An unbridled passion for wine and strong liquors was general amongst them: the traders of Italy, and especially of Marseilles, brought supplies into every part of Gaul; from interval to interval there were magazines established, whither the Gauls flocked to sell for a flask of wine their furs, their grain, their cattle, their slaves. "It was easy," says an ancient historian, "to get the Ganymede for the liquor." Such are the essential characteristics of barbaric life, as they have been and as they still are at several points of our globe, amongst people of the same grade in the scale of civilization. They existed in nearly an equal degree amongst the different races of ancient Gaul, whose resemblance was rendered much stronger thereby than their diversity in other respects by some of their customs, traditions, or ideas.

In their case, too, there is no sign of those permanent demarcations, those rooted antipathies, and that impossibility of unity which are observable amongst peoples whose original moral condition is really very different. In Asia, Africa, and America, the English, the Dutch, the Spanish, and the French have been and are still in frequent contact with the natives of the country—Hindoos, Malays, Negroes, and Indians; and, in spite of this contact, the races have remained widely separated one from another. In ancient Gaul not only did Gauls, Kymrians, and Iberians live frequently in alliance and almost intimacy, but they actually commingled and cohabited without scruple on the same territory. And so we find in the midst of the Iberians, towards the mouth of the Garonne, a Gallic tribe, the Viviscan Biturigians, come from the neighborhood of Bourges, where the bulk of the nation was settled: they had been driven thither by one of the first invasions of the Kymrians, and peaceably taken root there; Burdigaia, afterwards Bordeaux, was the chief settlement of this tribe, and even then a trading-place between the Mediterranean and the ocean. A little farther on, towards the south, a Kymrian tribe, the Bolans, lived isolated from its race, in the waste-lands of the Iberians, extracting the resin from the pines which grew in that territory. To the south-west, in the country situated between the Garonne, the eastern Pyrenees, the Cevennes, and the Rhone, two great tribes of Kymro-Belgians, the Bolg, Volg, Volk, or Voles, Arecomican and Tectosagian, came to settle, towards the end of the fourth century B. C., in the midst of the Iberian and Gallic peoplets; and there is nothing to show that the new comers lived worse with their neighbors than the latter had previously lived together.

It is evident that amongst all these peoplets, whatever may have been their diversity of origin, there was sufficient similitude of social condition and manners to make agreement a matter neither very difficult nor very long to accomplish.

On the other hand, and as a natural consequence, it was precarious and often of short duration: Iberian, Gallic, or Kymrian as they might be, these peoplets underwent frequent displacements, forced or voluntary, to escape from the attacks of a more powerful neighbor; to find new pasturage; in consequence of internal dissension; or, perhaps, for the mere pleasure of warfare and running risks, and to be delivered from the tediousness of a monotonous life. From the earliest times to the first century before the Christian era, Gaul appears a prey to this incessant and disorderly movement of the population; they change settlement and neighborhood; disappear from one point and reappear at another; cross one another; avoid one another; absorb and are absorbed. And the movement was not confined within Gaul; the Gauls of every race went, sometimes in very numerous hordes, to seek far away plunder and a settlement. Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, Asia Minor, and Africa have been in turn the theatre of those Gallic expeditions which entailed long wars, grand displacements of peoples, and sometimes the formation of new nations. Let us make a slight acquaintance with this outer history of the Gauls; for it is well worth while to follow them a space upon their distant wanderings. We will then return to the soil of France, and concern ourselves only with what has passed within her boundaries.


About three centuries B.C. numerous hordes of Gauls crossed the Alps and penetrated to the centre of Etruria, which is nowadays Tuscany. The Etruscans, being then at war with Rome, proposed to take them, armed and equipped as they had come, into their own pay. "If you want our hands," answered the Gauls, "against your enemies, the Romans, here they are at your service—but on one condition: give us lands."

A century afterwards other Gallic hordes, descending in like manner upon Italy, had commenced building houses and tilling fields along the Adriatic, on the territory where afterwards was Aquileia. The Roman Senate decreed that their settlement should be opposed, and that they should be summoned to give up their implements and even their arms. Not being in a position to resist, the Gauls sent representatives to Rome. They, being introduced into the Senate, said, "The multitude of people in Gaul, the want of lands, and necessity forced us to cross the Alps to seek a home. We saw plains uncultivated and uninhabited. We settled there without doing any one harm. . . . We ask nothing but lands. We will live peacefully on them under the laws of the republic."

Again, a century later, or thereabouts, some Gallic Kymrians, mingled with Teutons or Germans, said also to the Roman Senate, "Give us a little land as pay, and do what you please with our hands and weapons."

Want of room and means of subsistence have, in fact, been the principal causes which have at all times thrust barbarous people, and especially the Gauls, out of their fatherland. An immense extent of country is required for indolent hordes who live chiefly upon the produce of the chase and of their flocks; and when there is no longer enough of forest or pasturage for the families that become too numerous, there is a swarm from the hive, and a search for livelihood elsewhere. The Gauls emigrated in every direction. To find, as they said, rivers and lands, they marched from north to south, and from east to west. They crossed at one time the Rhine, at another the Alps, at another the Pyrenees. More than fifteen centuries B.C. they had already thrown themselves into Spain, after many fights, no doubt, with the Iberians established between the Pyrenees and the Garonne. They penetrated north-westwards to the northern point of the Peninsula, into the province which received from them and still bears the name of Galicia; south-eastwards to the southern point, between the river Anas (nowadays Guadiana) and the ocean, where they founded a Little Celtica; and centrewards and southwards from Castile to Andalusia, where the amalgamation of two races brought about the creation of a new people, that found a place in history as Celtiberians. And twelve centuries after those events, about 220 B.C., we find the Gallic peoplet, which had planted itself in the south of Portugal, energetically defending its independence against the neighboring Carthaginian colonies. Indortius, their chief, conquered and taken prisoner, was beaten with rods and hung upon the cross, in the sight of his army, after having had his eyes put out by command of Hamilcar-Barca, the Carthaginian general; but a Gallic slave took care to avenge him by assassinating, some years after, at a hunting-party, Hasdrubal, son-in-law of Hamilcar, who had succeeded to the command. The slave was put to the torture; but, indomitable in his hatred, he died insulting the Africans.

A little after the Gallic invasion of Spain, and by reason perhaps of that very movement, in the first half of the fourteenth century B.C., another vast horde of Gauls, who called themselves Anahra, Ambra, Ambrons, that is, "braves," crossed the Alps, occupied northern Italy, descended even to the brink of the Tiber, and conferred the name of Ambria or Umbria on the country where they founded their dominion. If ancient accounts might be trusted, this dominion was glorious and flourishing, for Umbria numbered, they say, three hundred and fifty-eight towns; but falsehood, according to the Eastern proverb, lurks by the cradle of nations. At a much later epoch, in the second century B.C., fifteen towns of Liguria contained altogether, as we learn from Livy, but twenty thousand souls. It is plain, then, what must really have been— even admitting their existence—the three hundred and fifty-eight towns of Umbria. However, at the end of two or three centuries, this Gallic colony succumbed beneath the superior power of the Etruscans, another set of invaders from eastern Europe, perhaps from the north of Greece, who founded in Italy a mighty empire. The Umbrians or Ambrons were driven out or subjugated. Nevertheless some of their peoplets, preserving their name and manners, remained in the mountains of upper Italy, where they were to be subsequently discovered by fresh and more celebrated Gallic invasions.

Those just spoken of are of such antiquity and obscurity, that we note their place in history without being able to say how they came to fill it. It is only with the sixth century before our era that we light upon the really historical expeditions of the Gauls away from Gaul, those, in fact, of which we may follow the course and estimate the effects.

Towards the year 587 B.C., almost at the very moment when the Phoceans had just founded Marseilles, two great Gallic hordes got in motion at the same time, and crossed, one the Rhine, the other the Alps, making one for Germany, the other for Italy. The former followed the course of the Danube and settled in Illyria, on the right bank of the river. It is too much, perhaps, to say that they settled; the greater part of them continued wandering and fighting, sometimes amalgamating with the peoplets they encountered, sometimes chasing them and exterminating them, whilst themselves were incessantly pushed forward by fresh bands coming also from Gaul. Thus marching and spreading, leaving here and there on their route, along the rivers and in the valleys of the Alps, tribes that remained and founded peoples, the Gauls had arrived, towards the year 340 B.C., at the confines of Macedonia, at the time when Alexander, the son of Philip, who was already famous, was advancing to the same point to restrain the ravages of the neighboring tribes, perhaps of the Gauls themselves. From curiosity, or a desire to make terms with Alexander, certain Gauls betook themselves to his camp. He treated them well, made them sit at his table, took pleasure in exhibiting his magnificence before them, and in the midst of his carouse made his interpreter ask them what they were most afraid of.

"We fear nought," they answered, "unless it be the fall of heaven; but we set above everything the friendship of a man like thee." "The Celts are proud," said Alexander to his Macedonians; and he promised them his friendship. On the death of Alexander, the Gauls, as mercenaries, entered, in Europe and Asia, the service of the kings who had been his generals. Ever greedy, fierce, and passionate, they were almost equally dangerous as auxiliaries and as neighbors. Antigonus, King of Macedonia, was to pay the band he had enrolled a gold piece a head. They brought their wives and children with them, and at the end of the campaign they claimed pay for their following as well as for themselves: "We were promised," said they, "a gold piece a head for each Gaul; and these are also Gauls."

Before long they tired of fighting the battles of another; their power accumulated; fresh hordes, in great numbers, arrived amongst them about the year 281 B.C. They had before them Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, Greece, rich, but distracted and weakened by civil strife. They effected an entrance at several points, devastating, plundering, loading their cars with booty, and dividing their prisoners into two parts; one offered in sacrifice to their gods, the other strung up to trees and abandoned to the gais and matars, or javelins and pikes of the conquerors.

Like all barbarians, they, both for pleasure and on principle, added insolence to ferocity. Their Brenn, or most famous chieftain, whom the Latins and Greeks call Brennus, dragged in his train Macedonian prisoners, short, mean, and with shaven heads, and exhibiting them beside Gallic warriors, tall, robust, long-haired, adorned with chains of gold, said, "This is what we are, that is what our enemies are."

Ptolemy the Thunderbolt, King of Macedonia, received with haughtiness their first message requiring of him a ransom for his dominions if he wished to preserve peace. "Tell those who sent you," he replied to the Gallic deputation, "to lay down their arms and give up to me their chieftains. I will then see what peace I can grant them." On the return of the deputation, the Gauls were moved to laughter. "He shall soon see," said they, "whether it was in his interest or our own that we offered him peace." And, indeed, in the first engagement, neither the famous Macedonian phalanx, nor the elephant he rode, could save King Ptolemy; the phalanx was broken, the elephant riddled with javelins, the king himself taken, killed, and his head marched about the field of battle on the top of a pike.

Macedonia was in consternation; there was a general flight from the open country, and the gates of the towns were closed. "The people," says an historian, "cursed the folly of King Ptolemy, and invoked the names of Philip and Alexander, the guardian deities of their land."

Three years later, another and a more formidable invasion came bursting upon Thessaly and Greece. It was, according to the unquestionably exaggerated account of the ancient historians, two hundred thousand strong, and commanded by that famous, ferocious, and insolent Brennus mentioned before. His idea was to strike a blow which should simultaneously enrich the Gauls and stun the Greeks. He meant to plunder the temple at Delphi, the most venerated place in all Greece, whither flowed from century to century all kinds of offerings, and where, no doubt, enormous treasure was deposited. Such was, in the opinion of the day, the sanctity of the place, that, on the rumor of the projected profanation, several Greeks essayed to divert the Gallic Brenn himself, by appealing to his superstitious fears; but his answer was, "The gods have no need of wealth; it is they who distribute it to men."

All Greece was moved. The nations of the Peloponnese closed the isthmus of Corinth by a wall. Outside the isthmus, the Beeotians, Phocidians, Locrians, Megarians, and AEtolians formed a coalition under the leadership of the Athenians; and, as their ancestors had done scarcely two hundred years before against Xerxes and the Persians, they advanced in all haste to the pass of Thermopylae, to stop there the new barbarians.

And for several days they did stop them; and instead of three hundred heroes, as of yore in the case of Leonidas and his Spartans, only forty Greeks, they say, fell in the first engagement. 'Amongst them was a young Athenian, Cydias by name, whose shield was hung in the temple of Zeus the savior, at Athens, with this inscription:—







But soon, just as in the case of the Persians, traitors guided Brennus and his Gauls across the mountain-paths; the position of Thermopylae was turned; the Greek army owed its safety to the Athenian galleys; and by evening of the same day the barbarians appeared in sight of Delphi.

Brennus would have led them at once to the assault. He showed them, to excite them, the statues, vases, cars, monuments of every kind, laden with gold, which adorned the approaches of the town and of the temple: "'Tis pure gold—massive gold," was the news he had spread in every direction. But the very cupidity he provoked was against his plan; for the Gauls fell out to plunder. He had to put off the assault until the morrow. The night was passed in irregularities and orgies.

The Greeks, on the contrary, prepared with ardor for the fight. Their enthusiasm was intense. Those barbarians, with their half-nakedness, their grossness, their ferocity, their ignorance, and their impiety, were revolting. They committed murder and devastation like dolts. They left their dead on the field, without burial. They engaged in battle without consulting priest or augur. It was not only their goods, but their families, their life, the honor of their country, and the sanctuary of their religion, that the Greeks were defending, and they might rely on the protection of the gods. The oracle of Apollo had answered, "I and the white virgins will provide for this matter." The people surrounded the temple, and the priests supported and encouraged the people. During the night small bodies of AEtolians, Amphisseans, and Phocidians arrived one after another. Four thousand men had joined within Delphi, when the Gallic bands, in the morning, began to mount the narrow and rough incline which led up to the town. The Greeks rained down from above a deluge of stones and other missiles. The Gauls recoiled, but recovered themselves. The besieged fell back on the nearest streets of the town, leaving open the approach to the temple, upon which the barbarians threw themselves. The pillage of the shrines had just commenced when the sky looked threatening; a storm burst forth, the thunder echoed, the rain fell, the hail rattled. Readily taking advantage of this incident, the priests and the augurs sallied from the temple clothed in their sacred garments, with hair dishevelled and sparkling eyes, proclaiming the advent of the god: "'Tis he! we saw him shoot athwart the temple's vault, which opened under his feet; and with him were two virgins, who issued from the temples of Artemis and Athena. We saw them with our eyes. We heard the twang of their bows, and the clash of their armor." Hearing these cries and the roar of the tempest, the Greeks dash on—the Gauls are panic-stricken, and rush headlong down the bill. The Greeks push on in pursuit. Rumors of fresh apparitions are spread; three heroes, Hyperochus, Laodocus, and Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, have issued from their tombs hard by the temple, and are thrusting at the Gauls with their lances. The rout was speedy and general; the barbarians rushed to the cover of their camp; but the camp was attacked next morning by the Greeks from the town and by re-enforcements from the country places. Brennus and the picked warriors about him made a gallant resistance, but defeat was a foregone conclusion. Brennus was wounded, and his comrades bore him off the field. The barbarian army passed the whole day in flight. During the ensuing night a new access of terror seized them they again took to flight, and four days after the passage of Thermopylae some scattered bands, forming scarcely a third of those who had marched on Delphi, rejoined the division which had remained behind, some leagues from the town, in the plains watered by the Cephissus. Brennus summoned his comrades "Kill all the wounded and me," said he; "burn your cars; make Cichor king; and away at full speed." Then he called for wine, drank himself drunk, and stabbed himself. Cichor did cut the throats of the wounded, and traversed, flying and fighting, Thessaly and Macedonia; and on returning whence they had set out, the Gauls dispersed, some to settle at the foot of a neighboring mountain under the command of a chieftain named Bathanat or Baedhannatt, i.e., son of the wild boar; others to march back towards their own country; the greatest part to resume the same life of incursion and adventure. But they changed the scene of operations. Greece, Macedonia, and Thrace were exhausted by pillage, and made a league to resist. About 278 B.C. the Gauls crossed the Hellespont and passed into Asia Minor. There, at one time in the pay of the kings of Bithynia, Pergamos, Cappadocia, and Syria, or of the free commercial cities which were struggling against the kings, at another carrying on wars on their own account, they wandered for more than thirty years, divided into three great hordes, which parcelled out the territories among themselves, overran and plundered them during the fine weather, intrenched themselves during winter in their camp of cars, or in some fortified place, sold their services to the highest bidder, changed masters according to interest or inclination, and by their bravery became the terror of these effeminate populations and the arbiters of these petty states.

At last both princes and people grew weary. Antiochus, King of Syria, attacked one of the three bands,—that of the Tectosagians,—conquered it, and cantoned it in a district of Upper Phrygia. Later still, about 241 B.C., Eumenes, sovereign of Pergamos, and Attalus, his successor, drove and shut up the other two bands, the Tolistoboians and Troemians, likewise in the same region. The victories of Attalus over the Gauls excited veritable enthusiasm. He was celebrated as a special envoy from Zeus. He took the title of King, which his predecessors had not hitherto borne. He had his battles showily painted; and that he might triumph at the same time both in Europe and Asia, he sent one of the pictures to Athens, where it was still to be seen three centuries afterwards, hanging upon the wall of the citadel. Forced to remain stationary, the Gallic hordes became a people,—the Galatians,—and the country they occupied was called Galatia. They lived there some fifty years, aloof from the indigenous population of Greeks and Phrygians, whom they kept in an almost servile condition, preserving their warlike and barbarous habits, resuming sometimes their mercenary service, and becoming once more the bulwark or the terror of neighboring states. But at the beginning of the second century before our era, the Romans had entered Asia, in pursuit of their great enemy, Hannibal. They had just beaten, near Magnesia, Antiochus, King of Syria. In his army they had encountered men of lofty stature, with hair light or dyed red, half naked, marching to the fight with loud cries, and terrible at the first onset. They recognized the Gauls, and resolved to destroy or subdue them. The consul, Cn. Manlius, had the duty and the honor. Attacked in their strongholds on Mount Olympus and Mount Magaba, 189 B.C., the three Gallic bands, after a short but stout resistance, were conquered and subjugated; and thenceforth losing all national importance, they amalgamated little by little with the Asiatic populations around them. From time to time they are still seen to reappear with their primitive manners and passions. Rome humored them; Mithridates had them for allies in his long struggle with the Romans. He kept by him a Galatian guard; and when he sought death, and poison failed him, it was the captain of the guard, a Gaul named Bituitus, whom he asked to run him through. That is the last historical event with which the Gallic name is found associated in Asia.

Nevertheless the amalgamation of the Gauls of Galatia with the natives always remained very imperfect; for towards the end of the fourth century of the Christian era they did not speak Greek, as the latter did, but their national tongue, that of the Kymro-Belgians; and St. Jerome testifies that it differed very little from that which was spoken in Belgica itself, in the region of Troves.

The Romans had good ground for keeping a watchful eye, from the time they met them, upon the Gauls, and for dreading them particularly. At the time when they determined to pursue them into the mountains of Asia Minor, they were just at the close of a desperate struggle, maintained against them for four hundred years, in Italy itself; "a struggle," says Sallust, "in which it was a question not of glory, but of existence, for Rome." It was but just now remarked that at the beginning of the sixth century before our era, whilst, under their chieftain Sigovesus, the Gallic bands whose history has occupied the last few pages were crossing the Rhine and entering Germany, other bands, under the command of Bellovesus, were traversing the Alps and swarming into Italy. From 587 to 521 B.C. five Gallic expeditions, formed of Gallic, Kymric, and Ligurian tribes, followed the same route and invaded successively the two banks of the Po—the bottomless river, as they called it. The Etruscans, who had long before, it will be remembered, themselves wrested that country from a people of Gallic origin, the Umbrians or Ambrons, could not make head against the new conquerors, aided, may be, by the remains of the old population. The well-built towns, the cultivation of the country, the ports and canals that had been dug, nearly all these labors of Etruscan civilization disappeared beneath the footsteps of these barbarous hordes that knew only how to destroy, and one of which gave its chieftain the name of Hurricane (Elitorius, Ele-Dov). Scarcely five Etruscan towns, Mantua and Ravenna amongst others, escaped disaster. The Gauls also founded towns, such as Mediolanum (Milan), Brixia (Brescia), Verona, Bononia (Bologna), Sena-Gallica (Sinigaglia), &c. But for a long while they were no more than intrenched camps, fortified places, where the population shut themselves up in case of necessity. "They, as a general rule, straggled about the country," says Polybius, the most correct and clear-sighted of the ancient historians, "sleeping on grass or straw, living on nothing but meat, busying themselves about nothing but war and a little husbandry, and counting as riches nothing but flocks and gold, the only goods that can be carried away at pleasure and on every occasion."

During nearly thirty years the Gauls thus scoured not only Upper Italy, which they had almost to themselves, but all the eastern coast, and up to the head of the peninsula, encountering along the Adriatic, and in the rich and effeminate cities of Magna Graecia, Sybaris, Tarentum, Crotona, and Locri, no enemy capable of resisting them. But in the year 391 B.C., finding themselves cooped up in their territory, a strong band of Gauls crossed the Apennines, and went to demand from the Etruscans of Clusium the cession of a portion of their lands. The only answer Clusium made was to close her gates. The Gauls formed up around the walls. Clusium asked help from Rome, with whom, notwithstanding the rivalry between the Etruscan and Roman nations, she had lately been on good terms. The Romans promised first their good offices with the Gauls, afterwards material support; and thus were brought face to face those two peoples, fated to continue for four centuries a struggle which was to be ended only by the complete subjection of Gaul.

The details of that struggle belong specially to Roman history; they have been transmitted to us only by Roman historians; and the Romans it was who were left ultimately in possession of the battle-field, that is, of Italy. It will suffice here to make known the general march of events and the most characteristic incidents.

Four distinct periods may be recognized in this history; and each marks a different phase in the course of events, and, so to speak, an act of the drama. During the first period, which lasted forty-two years, from 391 to 349 B.C., the Gauls carried on a war of aggression and conquest against Rome. Not that such had been their original design; on the contrary, they replied, when the Romans offered intervention between them and Clusium, "We ask only for lands, of which we are in need; and Clusium has more than she can cultivate. Of the Romans we know very little; but we believe them to be a brave people, since the Etruscans put themselves under their protection. Remain spectators of our quarrel; we will settle it before your eyes, that you may report at home how far above other men the Gauls are in valor."

But when they saw their pretensions repudiated and themselves treated with outrageous disdain, the Gauls left the siege of Clusium on the spot, and set out for Rome, not stopping for plunder, and proclaiming everywhere on their march, "We are bound for Rome; we make war on none but Romans;" and when they encountered the Roman army, on the 16th of duly, 390 B.C., at the confluence of the Allia and the Tiber, half a day's march from Rome, they abruptly struck up their war-chant, and threw themselves upon their enemies. It is well known how they gained the day; how they entered Rome, and found none but a few gray-beards, who, being unable or unwilling to leave their abode, had remained seated in the vestibule on their chairs of ivory, with truncheons of ivory in their hands, and decorated with the insignia of the public offices they had filled. All the people of Rome had fled, and were wandering over the country, or seeking a refuge amongst neighboring peoples. Only the senate and a thousand warriors had shut themselves up in the Capitol, a citadel which commanded the city. The Gauls kept them besieged there for seven months. The circumstances of this celebrated siege are well known, though they have been a little embellished by the Roman historians. Not that they have spoken too highly of the Romans themselves, who, in the day of their country's disaster, showed admirable courage, perseverance, and hopefulness. Pontius Cominius, who traversed the Gallic camp, swam the Tiber, and scaled by night the heights of the Capitol, to go and carry news to the senate; M. Manlius, who was the first, and for some moments the only one, to hold in check, from the citadel's walls, the Gauls on the point of effecting an entrance; and M. Furius Camillus, who had been banished from Rome the preceding year, and had taken refuge in the town of Ardea, and who instantly took the field for his country, rallied the Roman fugitives, and incessantly harassed the Gauls—are true heroes, who have earned their weed of glory. Let no man seek to lower them in public esteem. Noble actions are so beautiful, and the actors often receive so little recompense, that we are at least bound to hold sacred the honor attached to their name.

The Roman historians have done no more than justice in extolling the saviors of Rome. But their memory would have suffered no loss had the whole truth been made known; and the claims of national vanity are not of the same weight as the duty one owes to truth. Now, it is certain that Camillus did not gain such decisive advantages over the Gauls as the Roman accounts would lead one to believe, and that the deliverance of Rome was much less complete. On the 13th of February, 389 B.C., the Gauls, it is true, allowed their retreat to be purchased by the Romans; and they experienced, as they retired, certain checks, whereby they lost a part of their booty. But twenty-three years afterwards they are found in Latium scouring in every direction the outlying country of Rome, without the Romans daring to go out and fight them. It was only at the end of five years, in the year 361 B.C., that, the very city being menaced anew, the legions marched out to meet the enemy. "Surprised at this audacity," says Polybius, "the Gauls fell back, but merely a few leagues from Rome, to the environs of Tibur; and thence, for the space of twelve years, they attacked the Roman territory, renewing the campaign every year, often reaching the very gates of the city, and being repulsed indeed, but never farther than Tibur and its slopes." Rome, however, made great efforts, every war with the Gauls was previously proclaimed a tumult, which involved a levy in mass of the citizens, without any exemption, even for old men and priests. A treasure, specially dedicated to Gallic wars, was laid by in the Capitol, and religious denunciations of the most awful kind hung over the head of whoever should dare to touch it, no matter what the exigency might be. To this epoch belonged those marvels of daring recorded in Roman tradition, those acts of heroism tinged with fable, which are met with amongst so many peoples, either in their earliest age, or in their days of great peril. In the year 361 B.C., Titus Manlius, son of him who had saved the Capitol from the night attack of the Gauls, and twelve years later M. Valerius, a young military tribune, were, it will be remembered, the two Roman heroes who vanquished in single combat the two Gallic giants who insolently defied Rome. The gratitude towards them was general and of long duration, for two centuries afterwards (in the year 167 B.C.) the head of the Gaul with his tongue out still appeared at Rome, above the shop of a money-changer, on a circular sign-board, called "the Kymrian shield" (scutum Cimbricum). After seventeen years' stay in Latium, the Gauls at last withdrew, and returned to their adopted country in those lovely valleys of the Po which already bore the name of Cisalpine Gaul. They began to get disgusted with a wandering life. Their population multiplied; their towns spread; their fields were better cultivated; their manners became less barbarous. For fifty years there was scarcely any trace of hostility or even contact between them and the Romans. But at the beginning of the third century before our era, the coalition of the Samnites and Etruscans against Rome was near its climax; they eagerly pressed the Gauls to join, and the latter assented easily. Then commenced the second period of struggles between the two peoples. Rome had taken breath, and had grown much more rapidly than her rivals. Instead of shutting herself up, as heretofore, within her walls, she forthwith raised three armies, took the offensive against the coalitionists, and carried the war into their territory. The Etruscans rushed to the defence of their hearths. The two consuls, Fabius and Decius, immediately attacked the Samnites and Gauls at the foot of the Apennines, close to Sentinum (now Sentina). The battle was just beginning, when a hind, pursued by a wolf from the mountains, passed in flight between the two armies, and threw herself upon the side of the Gauls, who slew her; the wolf turned towards the Romans, who let him go. "Comrades," cried a soldier, "flight and death are on the side where you see stretched on the ground the hind of Diana; the wolf belongs to Mars; he is unwounded, and reminds us of our father and founder; we shall conquer even as he." Nevertheless the battle went badly for the Romans; several legions were in flight, and Decius strove vainly to rally them. The memory of his father came across his mind. There was a belief amongst the Romans that if in the midst of an unsuccessful engagement the general devoted himself to the infernal gods, "panic and flight" passed forthwith to the enemies' ranks. "Why daily?" said Decius to the grand pontiff, whom he had ordered to follow him and keep at his side in the flight; "'tis given to our race to die to avert public disasters." He halted, placed a javelin beneath his feet, and covering his head with a fold of his robe, and supporting his chin on his right hand, repeated after the pontiff this sacred form of words:—

"Janus, Jupiter, our father Mars, Quirinus, Bellona, Lares, . . . ye gods in whose power are we, we and our enemies, gods Manes, ye I adore; ye I pray, ye I adjure to give strength and victory to the Roman people, the children of Quirinus, and to send confusion, panic, and death amongst the enemies of the Roman people, the children of Quirinus. And, in these words for the republic of the children of Quirinus, for the army, for the legions, and for the allies of the Roman people, I devote to the gods Manes and to the grave the legions and the allies of the enemy and myself."

Then remounting, Decius charged into the middle of the Gauls, where he soon fell pierced with wounds; but the Romans recovered courage and gained the day; for heroism and piety have power over the hearts of men, so that at the moment of admiration they become capable of imitation.

During this second period Rome was more than once in danger. In the year 283 B.C. the Gauls destroyed one of her armies near Aretium (Arezzo), and advanced to the Roman frontier, saying, "We are bound for Rome; the Gauls know how to take it." Seventy-two years afterwards the Cisalpine Gauls swore they would not put off their baldricks till they had mounted the Capitol, and they arrived within three days' march of Rome. At every appearance of this formidable enemy the alarm at Rome was great. The senate raised all its forces and summoned its allies. The people demanded a consultation of the Sibylline books, sacred volumes sold, it was said, to Tarquinius Priscus by the sibyl Amalthea, and containing the secret of the destinies of the Republic. They were actually opened in the year 228 B.C., and it was with terror found that the Gauls would twice take possession of the soil of Rome. On the advice of the priests, there was dug within the city, in the middle of the cattle-market, a huge pit, in which two Gauls, a man and a woman, were entombed alive; for thus they took possession of the soil of Rome, the oracle was fulfilled, and the mishap averted. Thirteen years afterwards, on occasion of the disaster at Cann, the same atrocity was again committed, at the same place and for the same cause. And by a strange contrast, there was at the committing of this barbarous act, "which was against Roman usage," says Livy, a secret feeling of horror, for, to appease the manes of the victims, a sacrifice was instituted, which was celebrated every year at the pit, in the month of November.

In spite of sometimes urgent peril, in spite of popular alarms, Rome, during the course of this period, from 299 to 258 B.C., maintained an increasing ascendency over the Gauls. She always cleared them off her territory, several times ravaged theirs, on the two banks of the Po,— called respectively Transpadan and Cispadan Gaul, and gained the majority of the great battles she had to fight. Finally in the year 283 B.C., the proprietor Drusus, after having ravaged the country of the Senonic Gauls, carried off the very ingots and jewels, it was said, which had been given to their ancestors as the price of their retreat. Solemn proclamation was made that the ransom of the Capitol had returned within its walls; and, sixty years afterwards, the Consul M. Cl. Marcellus, having defeated at Clastidium a numerous army of Gauls, and with his own hand slain their general, Virdumar, had the honor of dedicating to the temple of Jupiter the third "grand spoils" taken since the foundation of Rome, and of ascending the Capitol, himself conveying the armor of Virdumar, for he had got hewn an oaken trunk, round which he had arranged the helmet, tunic, and breastplate of the barbarian king.

Nor was war Rome's only weapon against her enemies. Besides the ability of her generals and the discipline of her legions, she had the sagacity of her Senate. The Gauls were not wanting in intelligence or dexterity, but being too free to go quietly under a master's hand, and too barbarous for self-government, carried away, as they were, by the interest or passion of the moment, they could not long act either in concert or with sameness of purpose. Far-sightedness and the spirit of persistence were, on the contrary, the familiar virtues of the Roman Senate. So soon as they had penetrated Cisalpine Gaul, they labored to gain there a permanent footing, either by sowing dissension amongst the Gallic peoplets that lived there, or by founding Roman colonies. In the year 283 B.C., several Roman families arrived, with colors flying and under the guidance of three triumvirs or commissioners, on a territory to the north-east, on the borders of the Adriatic. The triumvirs had a round hole dug, and there deposited some fruits and a handful of earth brought from Roman soil; then yoking to a plough, having a copper share, a white bull and a white heifer, they marked out by a furrow a large enclosure. The rest followed, flinging within the line the ridges thrown up by the plough. When the line was finished, the bull and the heifer were sacrificed with due pomp. It was a Roman colony come to settle at Sena, on the very site of the chief town of those Senonic Gauls who had been conquered and driven out. Fifteen years afterwards another Roman colony was founded at Ariminum (Rimini), on the frontier of the Bolan Gauls. Fifty years later still two others, on the two banks of the Po, Cremona and Placentia (Plaisance). Rome had then, in the midst of her enemies, garrisons, magazines of arms and provisions, and means of supervision and communication. Thence proceeded at one time troops, at another intrigues, to carry dismay or disunion amongst the Gauls.

Towards the close of the third century before our era, the triumph of Rome in Cisalpine Gaul seemed nigh to accomplishment, when news arrived that the Romans' most formidable enemy, Hannibal, meditating a passage from Africa into Italy by Spain and Gaul, was already at work, by his emissaries, to insure for his enterprise the concurrence of the Transalpine and Cisalpine Gauls. The Senate ordered the envoys they had just then at Carthage to traverse Gaul on returning, and seek out allies there against Hannibal. The envoys halted amongst the Gallo-Iberian peoplets who lived at the foot of the eastern Pyrenees. There, in the midst of the warriors assembled in arms, they charged them in the name of the great and powerful Roman people, not to suffer the Carthaginians to pass through their territory. Tumultuous laughter arose at a request that appeared so strange. "You wish us," was the answer, "to draw down war upon ourselves to avert it from Italy, and to give our own fields over to devastation to save yours. We have no cause to complain of the Carthaginians or to be pleased with the Romans, or to take up arms for the Romans and against the Carthaginians. We, on the contrary, hear that the Roman people drive out from their lands, in Italy, men of our nation, impose tribute upon them, and make them undergo other indignities." So the envoys of Rome quitted Gaul without allies.

Hannibal, on the other hand, did not meet with all the favor and all the enthusiasm he had anticipated. Between the Pyrenees and the Alps several peoplets united with him; and several showed coldness, or even hostility. In his passage of the Alps the mountain tribes harassed him incessantly. Indeed, in Cisalpine Gaul itself there was great division and hesitation; for Rome had succeeded in inspiring her partisans with confidence and her enemies with fear. Hannibal was often obliged to resort to force even against the Gauls whose alliance he courted, and to ravage their lands in order to drive them to take up arms. Nay, at the conclusion of an alliance, and in the very camp of the Carthaginians, the Gauls sometimes hesitated still, and sometimes rose against Hannibal, accused him of ravaging their country, and refused to obey his orders. However, the delights of victory and of pillage at last brought into full play the Cisalpine Gauls' natural hatred of Rome. After Ticinus and Trebia, Hannibal had no more zealous and devoted troops. At the battle of Lake Trasimene he lost fifteen hundred men, nearly all Gauls; at that of Canine he had thirty thousand of them, forming two thirds of his army; and at the moment of action they cast away their tunics and checkered cloaks (similar to the plaids of the Gals or Scottish Highlanders), and fought naked from the belt upwards, according to their custom when they meant to conquer or die. Of five thousand five hundred men that the victory of Cannae cost Hannibal, four thousand were Gauls. All Cisalpine Gaul was moved; enthusiasm was at its height; new bands hurried off to recruit the army of the Carthaginian who, by dint of patience and genius, brought Rome within an ace of destruction, with the assistance almost entirely of the barbarians he had come to seek at her gates, and whom he had at first found so cowed and so vacillating.

When the day of reverses came, and Rome had recovered her ascendency, the Gauls were faithful to Hannibal; and when at length he was forced to return to Africa, the Gallic bands, whether from despair or attachment, followed him thither. In the year 200 B.C., at the famous battle of Zama, which decided matters between Rome and Carthage, they again formed a third of the Carthaginian army, and showed that they were, in the words of Livy, "inflamed by that innate hatred towards the Romans which is peculiar to their race."

This was the third period of the struggle between the Gauls and the Romans in Italy. Rome, well advised by this terrible war of the danger with which she was ever menaced by the Cisalpine Gauls, formed the resolution of no longer restraining them, but of subduing them and conquering their territory. She spent thirty years (from 200 to 170 B.C.) in the execution of this design, proceeding by means of war, of founding Roman colonies, and of sowing dissension amongst the Gallic peoplets. In vain did the two principal, the Boians and the Insubrians, endeavor to rouse and rally all the rest: some hesitated; some absolutely refused, and remained neutral. The resistance was obstinate. The Gauls, driven from their fields and their towns, established themselves, as their ancestors had done, in the forests, whence they emerged only to fall furiously upon the Romans. And then, if the engagement were indecisive, if any legions wavered, the Roman centurions hurled their colors into the midst of the enemy, and the legionaries dashed on at all risks to recover them. At Parma and Bologna, in the towns taken from the Gauls, Roman colonies came at once and planted them-selves. Day by day did Rome advance. At length, in the year 190 B.C., the wrecks of the one hundred and twelve tribes which had formed the nation of the Boians, unable any longer to resist, and unwilling to submit, rose as one man, and departed from Italy.

The Senate, with its usual wisdom, multiplied the number of Roman colonies in the conquered territory, treated with moderation the tribes that submitted, and gave to Cisalpine Gaul the name of the Cisalpine or Hither Gallic Province, which was afterwards changed for that of Gallia Togata or Roman Gaul. Then, declaring that nature herself had placed the Alps between Gaul and Italy as an insurmountable barrier, the Senate pronounced "a curse on whosoever should attempt to cross it."


It was Rome herself that soon crossed that barrier of the Alps which she had pronounced fixed by nature and insurmountable. Scarcely was she mistress of Cisalpine Gaul when she entered upon a quarrel with the tribes which occupied the mountain-passes. With an unsettled frontier, and between neighbors of whom one is ambitious and the other barbarian, pretexts and even causes are never wanting. It is likely that the Gallic mountaineers were not careful to abstain, they and their flocks, from descending upon the territory that had become Roman. The Romans, in turn, penetrated into the hamlets, carried off flocks and people, and sold them in the public markets at Cremona, at Placentia, and in all their colonies.

The Gauls of the Alps demanded succor of the Transalpine Gauls, applying to a powerful chieftain, named Cincibil, whose influence extended throughout the mountains. But the terror of the Roman name had reached across. Cincibil sent to Rome a deputation, with his brother at their head, to set forth the grievances of the mountaineers, and especially to complain of the consul Cassius, who had carried off and sold several thousands of Gauls. Without making any concession, the Senate was gracious. Cassius was away; he must be waited for. Meanwhile the Gauls were well treated; Cincibil and his brother received as presents two golden collars, five silver vases, two horses fully caparisoned, and Roman dresses for all their suite. Still nothing was done.

Another, a greater and more decisive opportunity offered itself. Marseilles was an ally of the Romans. As the rival of Carthage, and with the Gauls forever at her gates, she had need of Rome by sea and land. She pretended, also, to the most eminent and intimate friendship with Rome. Her founder, the Phocean Euxenes, had gone to Rome, it was said, and concluded a treaty with Tarquinius Priscus. She had gone into mourning when Rome was burned by the Gauls; she had ordered a public levy to aid towards the ransom of the Capitol. Rome did not dispute these claims to remembrance. The friendship of Marseilles was of great use to her. In the whole course of her struggle with Carthage, and but lately, at the passage of Hannibal through Gaul, Rome had met with the best of treatment there. She granted the Massilians a place amongst her senators at the festivals of the Republic, and exemption from all duty in her ports. Towards the middle of the second century B.C. Marseilles was at war with certain Gallic tribes, her neighbors, whose territory she coveted. Two of her colonies, Nice and Antibes, were threatened. She called on Rome for help. A Roman deputation went to decide the quarrel; but the Gauls refused to obey its summons, and treated it with insolence. The deputation returned with an army, succeeded in beating the refractory tribes, and gave their land to the Massilians. The same thing occurred repeatedly with the same result. Within the space of thirty years nearly all the tribes between the Rhone and the Var, in the country which was afterwards Provence, were subdued and driven back amongst the mountains, with notice not to approach within a mile of the coast in general, and a mile and a half of the places of disembarkation. But the Romans did not stop there. They did not mean to conquer for Marseilles alone. In the year 123 B.C., at some leagues to the north of the Greek city, near a little river, then called the Coenus and nowadays the Arc, the consul C. Sextius Calvinus had noticed, during his campaign, an abundance of thermal springs, agreeably situated amidst wood-covered hills. There he constructed an enclosure, aqueducts, baths, houses, a town in fact, which he called after himself, Aquae Sextice, the modern Aix, the first Roman establishment in Transalpine Gaul. As in the case of Cisalpine Gaul, with Roman colonies came Roman intrigue and dissensions got up and fomented amongst the Gauls. And herein Marseilles was a powerful seconder; for she kept up communications with all the neighboring tribes, and fanned the spirit of faction. After his victories, the consul C. Sextius, seated at his tribunal, was selling his prisoners by auction, when one of them came up to him and said, "I have always liked and served the Romans; and for that reason I have often incurred outrage and danger at the hands of my countrymen." The consul had him set free,—him and his family,—and even gave him leave to point out amongst the captives any for whom he would like to procure the same kindness. At his request nine hundred were released. The man's name was Crato, a Greek name, which points to a connection with Marseilles or one of her colonies. The Gauls, moreover, ran of themselves into the Roman trap. Two of their confederations, the AEduans, of whom mention has already been made, and the Allobrogians, who were settled between the Alps, the Isere, and the Rhone, were at war. A third confederation, the most powerful in Gaul at this time, the Arvernians, who were rivals of the AEduans, gave their countenance to the Allobrogians. The AEduans, with whom the Massilians had commercial dealings, solicited through these latter the assistance of Rome. A treaty was easily concluded. The AEduans obtained from the Romans the title of friends and allies; and the Romans received from the AEduans that of brothers, which amongst the Gauls implied a sacred tie. The consul Domitius forthwith commanded the Allobrogians to respect the territory of the allies of Rome. The Allobrogians rose up in arms and claimed the aid of the Arvernians. But even amongst them, in the very heart of Gaul, Rome was much dreaded; she was not to be encountered without hesitation. So Bituitus, King of the Arvernians, was for trying accommodation. He was a powerful and wealthy chieftain. His father Luern used to give amongst the mountains magnificent entertainments; he had a space of twelve square furlongs enclosed, and dispensed wine, mead, and beer from cisterns made within the enclosure; and all the Arvernians crowded to his feasts. Bituitus displayed before the Romans his barbaric splendor. A numerous escort, superbly clad, surrounded his ambassador; in attendance were packs of enormous hounds; and in front; went a bard, or poet, who sang, with rotte or harp in hand, the glory of Bituitus and of the Arvernian people. Disdainfully the consul received and sent back the embassy. War broke out; the Allobrogians, with the usual confidence and hastiness of all barbarians, attacked alone, without waiting for the Arvernians, and were beaten at the confluence of the Rhone and the Sorgue, a little above Avignon. The next year, 121 B.C., the Arvernians in their turn descended from the mountains, and crossed the Rhone with all their tribes, diversely armed and clad, and ranged each about its own chieftain. In his barbaric vanity, Bituitus marched to war with the same pomp that he had in vain displayed to obtain peace. He sat upon a car glittering with silver; he wore a plaid of striking colors; and he brought in his train a pack of war-hounds. At the sight of the Roman legions, few in number, iron-clad, in serried ranks that took up little space, he contemptuously cried, "There is not a meal for my hounds."

The Arvernians were beaten, as the Allobrogians had been. The hounds of Bituitus were of little use to him against the elephants which the Romans had borrowed from Asiatic usage, and which spread consternation amongst the Gauls. The Roman historians say that the Arvernian army was two hundred thousand strong, and that one hundred and twenty thousand were slain; but the figures are absurd, like most of those found in ancient chronicles. We know nowadays, thanks to modern civilization, which shows everything in broad daylight, and measures everything with proper caution, that only the most populous and powerful nations, and that at great expenditure of trouble and time, can succeed in moving armies of two hundred thousand men, and that no battle, however murderous it may be, ever costs one hundred and twenty thousand lives.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse