Roman Conquests: Gaul, Michael M. Sage

Roman Conquests: Gaul, Michael M. Sage

This entry in the Roman Conquests series is a little unusual - in most cases the Romans took a long period to conquer an area - Italy took centuries, Greece and the East long periods. In Gaul most of the conquest was achieved by one commander, Julius Caesar, and in only eight years.

The conquest of the Gauls of northern Italy is covered in the introduction, leaving the main text to focus on Transalpine Gaul, the conquest of Gaul north of the Alps. This is the area now covered by modern France and Belgium, limited by the Rhine and the Pyrenees.

This inevitably means that Caesar dominates the book. The earlier Roman conquests in southern Gaul are covered in the first chapter but many events of this period are fairly obscure. In contrast Caesar's conquests are very well documented (admittedly mainly by Caesar himself, but there are plenty of supporting sources for the period). The author has come to the same conclusion I did about Caesar's reliability. His audience was simply too well informed for Caesar to include blatant inaccuracies in his text. Many in Rome will have had relatives serving in the army and like Cicero have been receiving letters from the war zone. Caesar will have put his own spin on events, painting himself in the best possible light, but anything more than that would have reduced the credibility of the entire work. The main section mainly followed Caesar, but uses other sources when available and analyses the reliability of Caesar's claims.

The book finishes with a look at post-conquest Gaul, an area that stayed surprisingly calm during the civil wars that shook the Roman world before and after Caesar's death. This is a useful entry in this series, looking at one of the best known of all Roman conquests.

1 - First Steps
2 - Caesar and Gaul: The Prelude
3 - 58: The Helvetii and Ariovistus
4 - 57: Caesar and the Conquest of the North
5 - 56: Consolidation
6 - 55: Britain and Germany
7 - 54: Gallic Resistance Grows
8 - 53: Troubles at Rome and Growing Threats in Gaul
9 - 52: Vercingetorix and the Great Rebellion
10 - 51: Caeser's Final Campaign
11 - Epilogue: After Caesar
Appendix: The Development of the Roman Army of the First Century BC

Author: Michael M. Sage
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 188
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011

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