Le courage gaulois
Gérard François Pascal Simon
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Gaulois revenant de la chasse
Musée des Beaux Arts - Rennes
Luminais Evariste Vital
Gerard François Pascal Simon
Château de Versailles
Scipion à la bataille de Zama
Musée du Louvre - Paris
The Armed Forces
History : from the Gallic era to the Middle Ages
The Gallic and Roman Armies
Given that the early inhabitants of Gaul were not keen on writing, it is not easy, due to the rarity of texts dating back to those days, to say with much precision what early Gallic armies looked like.
What we know for sure is that the Celts, the inhabitants of the land, were brave bellicose people.
Skilled craftsmen made long double-edged swords and spears, which were used by scantily dressed warriors wearing helmets and carrying shields decorated with prominent bronze patterns.
As early as the IV century before the birth of Christ, Gallic armies under the leadership of Brennus were already able to carry out an expedition in the Italian Peninsular, during which they defeated the Roman army. But as the centuries went by, the Romans learnt lessons from their past military debacles and managed to correct their flaws.
At that time, there was no permanent army in Gaul. Each of its approximately sixty tribes was autonomous; disunity that considerably undermined their efficiency.
During confrontations, the chiefs, on horseback, would position themselves at the forefront of the masses, galvanize their people and take the lead.
Cavalrymen, who generally were nobles accompanied by their attendants, wore breast-plates and sometimes coats of mail, which were complemented with well-decorated helmets.
Enthusiastic and endowed with a physique which was generally stronger than that of the Romans, the spear- and sword-armed Gallic cavalrymen were most dreaded by the Romans.
The Gallic infantry made up of free men, constituted the bulk of the army. Footsoldiers, who were mobilized only for the duration of a campaign and thus not adequately trained, were equipped with pikes, swords and shields. Archers also took part in battlefront confrontations.
The Gallic army neither had an organizational tactic nor enjoyed any logistic support. Even military administration was the personal responsibility of the warriors themselves.
Concerning strategy, the Alesia disaster unblushingly shows to what extent the Gallic army was lacking in this aspect.
History : from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
The decline of the Roman Empire created a vacuum of military power and force in the European countries and provinces from which Roman legions had been withdrawn. ... >Read more...