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Gaul (from Latin Gallia, c.f. Greek Galatia) is the region of Western Europe occupied by present-day France, Belgium, western Switzerland and the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine river.

In English the word Gaul also commonly refers to a Celtic inhabitant of that region in ancient times, but the Gauls were widespread in Europe by Roman times, speaking dialects of the Gaulish language. Besides the Gauls living on the territory of modern-day France, there were the Lepontians who had settled in the plains of northern Italy (Gallia Cisalpina), and the Helvetii who settled to the north of the alps, in Raetia.

Gauls under Brennus sacked Rome circa 390 BC. In the Aegean world, a huge migration of Eastern Gauls appeared in Thrace, north of Greece, in 281 BC. Another Gaulish chieftain named Brennus, at the head of a large army, was only turned back from desecrating the Temple of Apollo at Delphi at the last minute, alarmed, it was said, by portents of thunder and lightning. At the same time a migrating band of Celts, some 10,000 fighting men, with their women and children and slaves, were moving through Thrace. Three tribes of Gauls crossed over from Thrace to Asia Minor at express invitation of Nicomedes I of Bithynia, who required help in a dynastic struggle against his brother. Eventually they settled down in eastern Phrygia and Cappadocia in central Anatolia, in a region henceforth known as Galatia.

The Gauls were called *walha by Germanic tribes, a generic term for "foreigners" (see Etymology of Vlach).

Roman Gaul

see Roman Gaul.

Roman rule in Gaul was established by Julius Caesar, who defeated the Celtic tribes in Gaul 58-51 BC and described his experiences in De Bello Gallico (About the Gallic War). The war cost the lives of more than a million Gauls, and a million further were enslaved. The area conquered by Caesar was called Gallia Comata: literally, "long-haired Gaul." The area was subsequently governed as a number of provinces. On December 31, 406 the Vandals, Alans and Suebians crossed the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gallia, and Roman rule in Gaul ended with the defeat of the Roman governor Syagrius by the Franks in AD 486.

Gaulish tribes

Caesar divided the people of Gaul into three broad groups: the Aquitani, Galli (who in their own language were called Celtae) and Belgae. In the modern sense, Gaulish tribes are defined linguistically, as speakers of dialects of the Gaulish language. While the Aquitani were probably Vascons, the Belgae would thus probably be counted among the Gaulish tribes.

See also

Template:Classical antiquitybg:Галия de:Gallien es:Galia eo:Gaŭloj fr:Gaule ko:갈리아 it:Gallia he:גאליה la:Gallia lt:Galija nl:Galli nds:Gallien ja:ガリア pl:Galia ro:Galia ru:Галлия sv:Gallien wa:Gle zh:高卢


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