The Belgae (/ˈbɛldʒiː, ˈbɛlɡaɪ/)[1] were a large Gallic-Germanic tribal confederation[2] of tribes living in northern Gaul, between the English Channel, the west bank of the Rhine, and northern bank of the river Seine, from at least the third century BC. They were discussed in depth by Julius Caesar in his account of his wars in Gaul. Some peoples in Britain were also called Belgae and O'Rahilly equated them with the Fir Bolg in Ireland. The Belgae gave their name to the Roman province of Gallia Belgica and, much later, to the modern country of Belgium; today "Belgae" is also Latin for "Belgians".

Map Gallia Tribes Towns
Map with the approximate location of pre-Roman Belgic Gaul shortly before Roman conquest, according to an interpretation of Caesar
Germania 70
Map of northeastern Gaul around 70 AD


The consensus among linguists is that the ethnic name Belgae comes from the Proto-Celtic root *belg- or *bolg- meaning "to swell (particularly with anger/battle fury/etc.)", cognate with the Dutch adjective gebelgd, "to be very angry" and verbolgen, "being angry", and the Old English verb belgan, "to be angry" (from Proto-Germanic *balgiz), derived ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *bhelgh- ("to swell, bulge, billow"). Thus, a Proto-Celtic ethnic name *Bolgoi could be interpreted as "The People who Swell (particularly with anger/battle fury)".[3][4][5][6][7]

Origins of the Belgae

Julius Caesar describes Gaul at the time of his conquests (58–51 BC) as divided into three parts, inhabited by the Aquitani in the southwest, the Gauls of the biggest central part, who in their own language were called Celtae, and the Belgae in the north. Each of these three parts was different in terms of customs, laws, and language. He noted that the Belgae, were "the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilization and refinement of [our] Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind; and they are the nearest to the Germans, who dwell beyond the Rhine , with whom they are continually waging war".[8] Ancient sources such as Caesar are not always clear about the things used to define ethnicity today. While Caesar or his sources described the Belgae as distinctly different from the Gauls, Strabo stated that the differences between the Celts (Gauls) and Belgae, in countenance, language, politics, and way of life was a small one, unlike the difference between the Aquitanians and Celts.[9] The fact that the Belgae were living in Gaul means that in one sense they were Gauls. This may be Caesar's meaning when he says "The Belgae have the same method of attacking a fortress as the rest of the Gauls".[10]

Caesar in Bello Gallico, II.4 wrote:

"When Caesar inquired of them what states were in arms, how powerful they were, and what they could do, in war, he received the following information: that the greater part of the Belgae were sprung, from the Germans, and that having crossed the Rhine at an early period, they had settled there, on account of the fertility of the country, and had driven out the Gauls who inhabited those regions; and that they were the only people who, in the memory of our fathers [i.e. as far as we can remember], when all Gaul was overrun, had prevented the Teutones and the Cimbri from entering their territories; the effect of which was, that, from the recollection of those events, they assumed to themselves great authority and haughtiness in military matters."[11]

So Caesar used the word "Germani" in two ways. He described a grouping of tribes within the Belgic alliance as the "Germani", distinguishing them from their neighbours. The most important in his battles were the Eburones.[12] The other way he uses the term is to refer to those related tribes east of the Rhine, who were not Celtic. So the Germani among the Belgae are called, based on Caesar's account, the Germani cisrhenani, to distinguish them from other Germani living east of the Rhine in what he understood to be their homeland. However, the later historian Tacitus was informed that the name Germania was known to have changed in meaning:

"The first people to cross the Rhine and oust the Gauls, those now called Tungri, were then called Germani. It was the name of this nation, not a race, that gradually came into general use. And so, to begin with, they were all called Germani after the conquerors because of the terror these inspired, and then, once the name had been devised, they adopted it themselves."[13]

In other words, Tacitus understood that the collective name Germani had first been used in Gaul, for a specific people there with connections beyond the Rhine, the Tungri being the name of the people living where the Eburones had lived in later imperial times, and was later adopted as a collective name for the non-Celtic peoples beyond the Rhine, the other, better-known way that Caesar used the term.


Caesar's book The Gallic Wars begins: "All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws." However, many modern scholars believe that the Belgae were a Celtic-speaking group.[14][15][16][17] On the other hand, at least part of the Belgae may also have had significant genetic, cultural, and historical connections to peoples east of the Rhine, including Germanic peoples, judging from archaeological, placename, and textual evidence.[18][19] It has also been argued based on placename studies that the older language of the area, though apparently Indo-European, was not Celtic (see Nordwestblock) and that Celtic, though influential amongst the elite, might never have been the main language of the part of the Belgic area north of the Ardennes.[20][21] For example, Maurits Gysseling, suggest that prior to Celtic and Germanic influences the Belgae may have comprised a distinct Indo-European branch, termed Belgian.[21]

However, most of the Belgic tribal and personal names recorded are identifiably Gaulish, including those of the Germani cisrhenani, and this is indeed also true of the tribes immediately over the Rhine at this time, such as the Tencteri and Usipetes. Surviving inscriptions also indicate that Gaulish was spoken in at least part of Belgic territory.[22]

The Romans were not precise in their ethnography of northern barbarians: by "Germanic", Caesar may simply have meant "originating east of the Rhine" (the homeland of the Germani cisrhenani) with no distinction of language intended. The east of the Rhine was not necessarily inhabited by Germanic speakers at this time. It has been remarked that Germanic language speakers might have been no closer than the river Elbe in the time of Caesar.[23] However, studies of placenames such as those of Maurits Gysseling, have been argued to show evidence of the pre-Roman presence of early Germanic languages throughout the Belgic area north of the Ardennes, where the Germani cisrhenani lived. The sound changes described by "Grimm's law" appear to have affected names with older forms, apparently already in the second century BC. Strong evidence for old Celtic placenames, though, is found in the Ardennes and to the south of them.[20][21] According to Strabo, the country of the Belgae extended along the coast where 15 tribes were living from the Rhenus (Rhine) to the Liger (Loire).[24] Strabo also says that "Augustus Caesar, when dividing the country into four parts, united the Keltae to the Narbonnaise; the Aquitani he preserved the same as Julius Caesar, but added thereto fourteen other nations of those who dwelt between the Garonne and the river Loire, and dividing the rest into two parts, the one extending to the upper districts of the Rhine (Gallia Belgica) he made dependent upon Lugdunum, the other [he assigned] to the Belgae (Gallia Lugdunensis)."[25]

Apart from the Germani, the report of Caesar seems to indicate that more of the Belgae (most of them in fact) had some Germanic ancestry and ethnicity, but this is not necessarily what defines a tribe as Belgic. Edith Wightman proposed that Caesar can be read as treating only the southwestern Belgic tribes, the Suessiones, Viromandui, and Ambiani and perhaps some of their neighbours, as the true ethnic Belgae, as opposed to those in a political and military alliance with them. She reads Caesar as implying a "transition zone" of mixed ethnicity and ancestry for the Menapii, Nervii, and Morini, all living in the northwest of the Belgic region, neighbours to the Germani cisrhenani in the northeast.[23] (Caesar also mentions his allies the Remi being closest to the Celts amongst the Belgae.[26])

It seems that, whatever their Germanic ancestry, at least some of the Belgic tribes spoke a variety of the Celtic Gaulish language as their main language by Caesar's time, and all of them used such languages in at least some contexts.[27] Luc van Durme summarizes competing evidence of Celtic and Germanic influence at the time of Caesar by saying that "one has to accept the rather remarkable conclusion that Caesar must have witnessed a situation opposing Celtic and Germanic in Belgium, in a territory slightly more to the south than the early medieval Romance-Germanic language border", but van Durme accepts that Germanic did not block "Celticisation coming from the south" so "both phenomena were simultaneous and interfering".[28]

The medieval Gesta Treverorum compiled by monks of Trier claims that the Belgae were descendants of Trebeta, an otherwise unattested legendary founder of Trier, the Roman Augusta Treverorum, "Augusta of the Treveri".

Peuples gaulois
According to Strabo; the Belgian tribes (in orange) including the Armoricani (in purple)

Tribes of the Belgae

Caesar names the following as Belgic tribes, which can be related to later Roman provinces:

Belgae of Caesar's "Belgium", in late Roman Belgica II Belgae in late Roman Belgica II sometimes described by Caesar as if not in "Belgium" Germani Cisrhenani, in northeast. Imperial Germania Inferior or Germania II. Southeast: Not mentioned as Belgae, but part of imperial Roman Gallia Belgica (late Roman Belgica I)

Southwest: possibly not in "Belgium":[29]

Northwest and considered remote by Romans:
South, not in alliance against Rome:

Caesar sometimes calls them Belgae, sometimes contrasts with Belgae.
Descendants of the Cimbri, living near Germani Cisrhenani:

Possibly Belgae, later within Belgica I:
Not Belgae, later in Germania Superior (still later Germania I):

Later, Tacitus mentioned a tribe called the Tungri living where the Germani cisrhenani had lived, and he also stated that they had once been called the Germani, (although Caesar had claimed to have wiped out the name of the main tribe, the Eburones). Other tribes that may have been included among the Belgae in some contexts were the Leuci, Treveri, and Mediomatrici. Posidonius includes the Armoricani, as well.

Conquest of the Belgae

Caesar conquered the Belgae, beginning in 57 BC. He writes that the Belgae were conspiring and arming themselves in response to his earlier conquests; to counter this threat, he raised two new legions and ordered his Gallic allies, the Aedui, to invade the territory of the Bellovaci. Wary of the numbers and bravery of the Belgae, he initially avoided a pitched battle, resorting mainly to cavalry skirmishes to probe their strengths and weaknesses. Once he was satisfied his troops were a match for them, he made camp on a low hill protected by a marsh at the front and the river Aisne behind, near Bibrax (between modern Laon and Reims) in the territory of the Remi.

The Belgae attacked over the river, but were repulsed after a fierce battle. Realising they could not dislodge the Romans and aware of the approach of the Aedui into the lands of the Bellovaci, the Belgae decided to disband their combined force and return to their own lands. Caesar's informants advised him that whichever tribe Caesar attacked first, the others would come to their defence. They broke camp shortly before midnight. At daybreak, satisfied the retreat was not a trap, Caesar sent cavalry to harass the rear guard, followed by three legions. Many of the Belgae were killed in battle.

Caesar next marched into the territory of the Suessiones and besieged the town of Noviodunum (Soissons). Seeing the Romans' siege engines, the Suessiones surrendered, whereupon Caesar turned his attention to the Bellovaci, who had retreated into the fortress of Bratuspantium (between modern Amiens and Beauvais). They quickly surrendered, as did the Ambiani.

The Nervii, along with the Atrebates and Viromandui, decided to fight (the Atuatuci had also agreed to join them, but had not yet arrived). They concealed themselves in the forests and attacked the approaching Roman column at the river Sabis (previously thought to be the Sambre, but recently the Selle is thought to be more probable). Their attack was quick and unexpected. The element of surprise briefly left the Romans exposed. Some of the Romans did not have time to take the covers off their shields or to even put on their helmets. However, Caesar grabbed a shield, made his way to the front line, and quickly organised his forces. The two Roman legions guarding the baggage train at the rear finally arrived and helped to turn the tide of the battle. Caesar says the Nervii were almost annihilated in the battle, and is effusive in his tribute to their bravery, calling them "heroes" (for more details see Battle of the Sabis).

The Atuatuci, who were marching to their aid, turned back on hearing of the defeat and retreated to one stronghold, were put under siege, and soon surrendered and handed over their arms. However, the surrender was a ploy, and the Atuatuci, armed with weapons they had hidden, tried to break out during the night. The Romans had the advantage of position and killed 4000. The rest, about 53 thousand, were sold into slavery.

In 53 BC, the Eburones, led by Ambiorix, along with the Nervii, Menapii, and Morini, revolted again and wiped out 15 cohorts, only to be put down by Caesar. The Belgae fought in the uprising of Vercingetorix in 52 BC.

After their final subjugation, Caesar combined the three parts of Gaul, the territory of the Belgae, Celtae, and Aquitani, into a single unwieldy province (Gallia Comata, "long-haired Gaul") that was reorganized by the emperor Augustus into its traditional cultural divisions. The province of Gallia Belgica was bounded on its east by the Rhine and extended all the way from the North Sea to Lake Constance (Lacus Brigantinus), including parts of what is now western Switzerland, with its capital at the city of the Remi (Reims). Under Diocletian, Belgica Prima (capital Augusta Trevirorum, Trier) and Belgica Secunda (capital Reims) formed part of the diocese of Gaul.

Belgae outside Gaul

Belgae in Britain
England Celtic tribes - South

Belgae and neighbours in Britain
CapitalVenta Belgarum (Winchester)
LocationSouthern England


The Belgae had made their way across the English Channel into southern Britain in Caesar's time.[30] Caesar asserts they had first crossed the channel as raiders, only later establishing themselves on the island. The precise extent of their conquests is unknown. After the Roman conquest of Britain, the civitas of the Belgae was bordered to the north by the British Atrebates, who were also a Belgic tribe, and to the east by the Regnenses, who were probably linked to the Belgae as well. The arrival and spread of Aylesford-Swarling pottery across the southeastern corner of Britain has been related to the Belgic invasion since Arthur Evans published his excavation of Aylesford in 1890[31] which was then thought to show "the demonstrable reality of a Belgic invasion", according to Sir Barry Cunliffe, although more recent studies tend to downplay the role of migration in favour of increasing trade links; the question remains unclear.[32]

A large number of coins of the Ambiani dating to the mid-second century BC have been found in southern Britain and the remains of a possible Belgic fort have been unearthed in Kent.[33] Within memory of Caesar's time, a king of the Suessiones (also referred to as Suaeuconi) called Diviciacus was not only the most powerful king of Belgic Gaul, but also ruled territory in Britain. Commius of the Atrebates, Caesar's former ally, fled to Britain after participating in Vercingetorix's rebellion and either joined or established a British branch of his tribe. Based on the development of imagery on coins, by the time of the Roman conquest, some of the tribes of south-eastern Britain likely were ruled by a Belgic nobility and were culturally influenced by them. The later civitas (administrative division) of Roman Britain had towns including Portus Adurni (Portchester), and Clausentum (Southampton). The civitas capital was at Venta Belgarum (Winchester), which was built on top of an Iron Age oppidum (which was itself built on the site of two earlier abandoned hillforts), which remains the Hampshire county town to this day.[34]


T.F. O'Rahilly claims in his invasion model that a branch of the Belgae also settled in Ireland, and were later represented by the historical Iverni (Érainn), Ulaid, and other kindreds. He claims a variety of evidence suggests memories of this were preserved in later Irish tradition, and also makes an elaborate linguistic case.[35] According to his theory, the name of the legendary Fir Bolg (whom O'Rahilly identifies with the Érainn) is the Irish equivalent of Belgae. Fintan O'Toole suggested the Keshcarrigan Bowl represents evidence for the movement of people into Ireland following upheaval and displacement, triggered by the Belgae arriving into Britain as refugees from the Romans.[36]

See also


  1. ^ "Belgae". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  2. ^ Sage M, Michael. "The Republican Roman Army: A Sourcebook. p134". 11 January 2013. Routledge. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie (ZcP). Volume 44, Issue 1, Pages 67–69, ISSN (Online) 1865-889X, ISSN (Print) 0084-5302, //1991
  4. ^ Koch, John. Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO 2006, p. 198.
  5. ^ Pokorny, Julius. Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (1959), Bern - Muenchen - Francke, pp. 125-126.
  6. ^ Maier, Bernhard. Dictionary of Celtic religion and culture, Boydell & Brewer, 1997, p. 272.
  7. ^ Pokorny, Julius, "The pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland", Celtic, DIAS, 1960 (reprint 1983), p. 231.
  8. ^ Julius Caesar, Gallic War, trans. Devitte, I.1.
  9. ^ Strabo Geography 4.1
  10. ^ Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul, trans. S. A. Handford, revised with a new introduction by Jane F. Gardner (Penguin Books 1982), II.1.6.
  11. ^ Julius Caesar, Gallic War, trans. Devitte, II.4
  12. ^ Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico 2.4
  13. ^ Tacitis, Germania, trans. H. Mattingly, revised by J. B. Rives (Penguin Books 2009), 2.
  14. ^ Koch, John T. 2006. Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia. P.196
  15. ^ Bell, Andrew Villen. 2000. The role of migration in the history of the Eurasian steppe. P.112
  16. ^ Swan, Toril, Endre Mørck, Olaf Jansen Westvik. 1994. Language change and language structure: older Germanic languages in a Comparative Perspective. P.294
  17. ^ Aldhouse-Green, Miranda Jane. 1995. The Celtic World. P.607.
  18. ^ Kipfer, Barbara Ann. 2007. Encyclopedic dictionary of archaeology. P.63
  19. ^ King, Anthony. 1990. Roman Gaul and Germany. P.32
  20. ^ a b Lamarcq, Danny; Rogge, Marc (1996), De Taalgrens: Van de oude tot de nieuwe Belgen, Davidsfonds page 44.
  21. ^ a b c M. Gysseling, Enkele Belgische leenwoorden in de toponymie, in Naamkunde 7 (1975), pp. 1-6.
  22. ^ Inscriptions in Celtic language on instrumentum were discovered in Bavai and in Arras (cf. P-Y. Lambert, La langue gauloise, éditions errance 1994), on the contrary, never an inscription in a Germanic language dating back before the fall of the Roman Empire was excavated.
  23. ^ a b Wightman, Edith Mary (1985), Gallia Belgica, University of California Press page 12-14.
  24. ^ Strabo, Geographica, Book IV chapter IV, 3
  25. ^ Hamilton, H.C. (trans.), The Geography of Strabo, Vol. 1, George Bell & Sons, 1892, p. 265.
  26. ^ II.3
  27. ^ Koch, J.T. Celtic Culture: A historical encyclopedia (2006) ISBN 1-85109-440-7
  28. ^ "Genesis and Evolution of the Romance-Germanic Language Border in Europe", Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development (Language Contact at the Romance-Germanic Language Border)
  29. ^ Wightman, Edith Mary, Gallia Belgica, p. 27
  30. ^ Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico 2.4, 5.2
  31. ^ Archaeologia 52, 1891
  32. ^ Cunliffe, Barry W., Iron Age Communities in Britain, Fourth Edition: An Account of England, Scotland and Wales from the Seventh Century BC, Until the Roman Conquest, near Figure 1.4, 2012 (4th edition), Routledge, google preview, with no page numbers
  33. ^ Earthworks discovered at Sharsted Court near Newnham were of possible Belgic origin. See "History of Doddington". The Doddington Village Appraisal (1997). Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  34. ^ Sheppard Frere, Britannia: a History of Roman Britain, third edition, Pimlico, 1987; John Creighton, Coins and power in Late Iron Age Britain, Cambridge University Press, 2000
  35. ^ T. F. O'Rahilly, Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. 1946.
  36. ^ O'Toole 2013, p. 45.

Secondary sources

External links


The Ambiani were a Belgic people of Celtic language, who were said to be able to muster 10,000 armed men, in 57 BC, the year of Julius Caesar's Belgic campaign. They submitted to Caesar. Their country lay in the valley of the Samara (modern Somme); and their chief town Samarobriva, afterwards called Ambiani and Civitas Ambianensium, is supposed to be represented by Amiens. They were among the people who took part in the great insurrection against the Romans, which is described in the seventh book of Caesar's Gallic War.The Ambiani were consummate minters and Ambianic coinage has been found throughout the territories of the Belgic tribes, including the Belgae of Britain. There is some evidence from coins that bear a stag on one side and a betorced head on the obverse that the Ambiani were followers of the god Cernunnos (horned God). A few Ambiani coins have been found along the south coast of the West Country possibly as the result of trade across the English channel .


The Atrebates (singular Atrebas) were a Belgic tribe of Gaul and Britain before the Roman conquests. However it is possible that the Atrebates were a family of rulers (dynasty), as there is no evidence for a major migration from Belgium to Britain.

Battle of the Axona

The Battle of the Axona was fought in 57 BC, between the Roman army of Gaius Julius Caesar and the Belgae. The Belgae, led by King Galba of the Suessiones, attacked, only to be repelled by Caesar. Fearing an ambush, the Romans delayed their pursuit. Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico describes this battle at 2.7 - 2.11.

Belgian Antarctic Expedition

The Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897 to 1899 was the first expedition to winter in the Antarctic region.


The Caletes or Caleti (Latin: Calētēs or Calētī) were a Gaulish or a Belgic tribe of present-day Normandy. They occupied a section of the coast, between the Sequana and the Phrudis rivers.Harfleur (Caracotinum) was their principal port.

This map of Northern Gaul shows the exact position of the Caletes on the southern shore of the English Channel: [1]


The Catalauni were a tribe of Belgic Gaul. Etymologically, their name is not connected to the British Catuvellauni so there is no basis to make an equation between the two. Both contain the element catu-, "battle", but apart from that they are only superficially similar: catalauni is composed of catu- + alauno-, "shining in battle", while catuvellauni is composed of catu- + vellauni, "foremost in battle".


The Condrusi were a Germanic tribe of ancient Belgium, which takes its name from the political and ethnic group known to the Romans as the Belgae. The Condrusi were probably located in the region now known as Condroz, named after them, between Liège and Namur. The terrain is wooded hills on the northeastern edge of the Ardennes.

The Belgae were distinguished from the Celts and apparently claimed to be of Germanic descent. From Belgic names we know that the Belgae were heavily influenced by the Gaulish language, but from other information we know that they were also heavily influenced by Germanic peoples on the east of the Rhine river. In particular, the Condrusi were in the tribal group known as the Germani cisrhenani, who are amongst the Belgae most strongly associated with Germanic ancestry.

We learn all we know about the Condrusi from Julius Caesar in Commentarii de Bello Gallico. In 2.4, Caesar states that the Belgian Germani had crossed the Rhine long ago to take control of the fertile land on the other side. They kept a distinct identity, and a reputation for military strength, because they were the only Gauls who successfully resisted the Cimbri and Teutones during their migrations in the second century BCE.Whether the Germani cisrhenani in Belgium actually spoke a Germanic language, is uncertain, but in any case it was claimed by Tacitus that these Germani were the original Germani, and that the term Germani as it came to be widely used was not the original meaning. He also said that the descendants of the original Germani in his time were the Tungri.In chapter 2.4 of Caesar's commentaries the Condrusi are specifically listed amongst the Germani, along with the Eburones, the Caeroesi, and the Paemani. At that time, in 57 BCE, they were joining an alliance of Belgic tribes against Caesar. The alliance met with defeat at the Battle of the Sabis, but some, including many of the Germani, most notably the Eburones, renewed fighting in 54 BCE.

In 4.6 Caesar reports that the Condrusi were under the protection of the Treveri along with the Eburones. How this circumstance came about is not known, but their territories were thereby not invaded by the Usipetes and Tencteri who had lost their own lands to Suebi and then crossed the Rhine into the lands of the Menapii.In 6.32 the Condrusi are again mentioned as Germani "on this side of the Rhine" (citra Rhenum), this time along with the Segni (or Segui), as a German tribe claiming not to be involved in the rebellion. Both tribes were reported to live between the Eburones and the Treviri.After their defeat or capitulation, the Germani cisrhenani became part of the civitas Tungrorum in Roman province of Gallia Belgica. But this civitas was eventually split out to become part of Germania Inferior. An inscription in Scotland shows that soldiers from the pagus Condrustis served within the second cohort of the Tungrian civitas, and worshipped a goddess named Viradecthis.

The name of the pagus Condrustis survived not only into Roman times but into the Carolingian era also, being mentioned as a county in the early Middle Ages. In this way, the name, like many medieval county names, has managed to survive down to the present day, at least as a geographical term.


The Eburones (Greek: Ἐβούρωνες, Strabo), were a Gallic-Germanic tribe who lived in the northeast of Gaul, in what is now the southern Netherlands, eastern Belgium, and the German Rhineland, in the period immediately before this region was conquered by Rome. Though living in Gaul, they were also described as being both Belgae, and Germani (for a discussion of these terms, see below).

The Eburones played a major role in Julius Caesar's account of his "Gallic Wars", as the most important tribe within the Germani cisrhenani group of tribes, i. e. Germani living west of the Rhine amongst the Belgae. Caesar claimed that the name of the Eburones was wiped out after their failed revolt against his forces during the Gallic Wars. Whether any significant part of the population lived on in the area as Tungri, the tribal name found here later, is uncertain but considered likely.

Gallia Belgica

Gallia Belgica ("Belgic Gaul") was a province of the Roman empire located in the north-eastern part of Roman Gaul, in what is today primarily France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, along with parts of the Netherlands and Germany.

In 50 BC after the conquest by Julius Caesar during his Gallic Wars, it became one of the three newly conquered provinces of Gaul (known as the Tres Galliae (the 3 Gauls), the other two being Gallia Aquitania and Gallia Lugdunensis). An official Roman province was later created by emperor Augustus in 22 BC. The province was named for the Belgae, as the largest tribal confederation in the area, but also included the territories of the Treveri, Mediomatrici, Leuci, Sequani, Helvetii and others. The southern border of Belgica, formed by the Marne and Seine rivers, was reported by Caesar as the original cultural boundary between the Belgae and the Celtic Gauls, whom he distinguished from one another.The province was re-organised several times, first increased and later decreased in size. Diocletian brought the northeastern Civitas Tungrorum into Germania Inferior, joining the Rhineland colonies, and the remaining part of Gallia Belgica was divided into Belgica Prima in the eastern area of the Treveri, Mediomatrici and Leuci, around Luxembourg and the Ardennes, and Belgica Secunda between the English channel and the upper River Meuse.

The capital of Belgica Prima, Trier, became an important late western Roman capital.


Gaul (Latin: Gallia) was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi). According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania.

Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC.

During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.

Roman control of Gaul lasted for five centuries, until the last Roman rump state, the Domain of Soissons, fell to the Franks in AD 486.

While the Celtic Gauls had lost their original identities and language during Late Antiquity, becoming amalgamated into a Gallo-Roman culture, Gallia remained the conventional name of the territory throughout the Early Middle Ages, until it acquired a new identity as the Capetian Kingdom of France in the high medieval period. Gallia remains a name of France in modern Greek (Γαλλία) and modern Latin (besides the alternatives Francia and Francogallia).


The Leuci were a Gallic tribe, recorded to have lived in the southern part of what is now Lorraine. They are mentioned by Julius Caesar as a people supplying wheat to the Roman army in 58 BC, along with the Lingones and Sequani.


The Mediomatrici (Greek: Μεδιομάτρικες) were an ancient Celtic people of Gaul, who belong to the division of Belgae. Julius Caesar shows their position in a general way when he says that the Rhine flows along the territories of the Sequani, Mediomatrici, Triboci or Tribocci, and Treviri. Ptolemy places the Mediomatrici south of the Treviri.


The Morini were a Belgic tribe of northern Gaul. They were mentioned in such classical works as the Commentarii de Bello Gallico written by Julius Caesar. They became an established part of the Roman empire with the coastal parts of the present-day départment of Pas-de-Calais in northernmost France, bordering on the English Channel. A generation after their entry into the Roman Empire the writer Vergil described them poetically as the remotest of people.


The Nervii were one of the most powerful Belgic tribes of northern Gaul at the time of its conquest by Rome. Their territory corresponds to the central part of modern Belgium, including Brussels, and stretched southwards into French Hainault. During their 1st century BC Roman military campaign, Julius Caesar's contacts among the Remi stated that the Nervii were the most warlike of the Belgae. In times of war, they were known to trek long distances to take part in battles. Being one of the distant northern Belgic tribes, with the Menapii to the west, and the Eburones to their east, they were considered by Caesar to be relatively uncorrupted by civilization.


The Paemani (or Poemani or Caemani) were a tribe of Belgae in Gallia Belgica, mentioned by Julius Caesar in his commentary of his Gallic Wars. They were one of a group of tribes listed by his local Remi informants as the Germani, along with the Eburones, Condrusi, Caeraesi (or Caeroesi), and Segni. These tribes are therefore referred to as the "Germani Cisrhenani", to distinguish them from Germani living on the east of the Rhine, outside of the Gaulish and Roman area.

Whether this meant that they spoke a Germanic language or not, is still uncertain, but it was claimed by Tacitus that these Germani were the original Germani, and that the term Germani had come to be used broadly, having once only referred to this one people. He also said that the descendants of the original Germani in his time were the Tungri, who had changed their name.The Paemani are frequently associated with the present-day Famenne region of central Wallonia. The proposal that the name Famenne itself derives from Paemani is no longer widely accepted, but the region is thought to be one reasonable proposal for where they lived.It has been argued that their name was the "Caemani". This was the spelling found in a paraphrase of Caesar by Orosius.

In later records, during the time of the Roman empire, the Paemani are no longer mentioned. The old districts of the Condrusi and the Caeroesi are thought to have kept their names into the Middle Ages.


The Remi were a Belgic people of north-eastern Gaul (Gallia Belgica). The Romans regarded them as a civitas, a major and influential polity of Gaul, The Remi occupied the northern Champagne plain, on the southern fringes of the Forest of Ardennes, between the rivers Mosa (Meuse) and Matrona (Marne), and along the river valleys of the Aisne and its tributaries the Aire and the Vesle. The Remi were known to be a rather overweight tribe because of their vast supply of food available on the Champagne Plain. In fact, being obese was an honor in the Remi tribe.

Their capital was at Durocortum (Reims, France) the second largest oppidum of Gaul, on the Vesle. Allied with the Germanic tribes of the east, they repeatedly engaged in warfare against the Parisii and the Senones. They were renowned for their horses and cavalry.

During the Gallic Wars in the mid-1st century BC, they allied themselves under the leadership of Iccius and Andecombogius with Julius Caesar. They maintained their loyalty to Rome throughout the entire war, and were one of the few Gallic polities not to join in the rebellion of Vercingetorix.

A founding myth preserved or invented by Flodoard of Reims (d. 966) makes Remus, brother of Romulus, the eponymous founder of the Remi, having escaped their fraternal rivalry instead of dying in Latium.


The Suessiones were a Belgic tribe of western Gallia Belgica in the 1st century BC, inhabiting the region between the Oise and the Marne, around the present-day city of Soissons. They were conquered in 57 BC by Julius Caesar.

Pliny the Elder apparently gives their name as 'Suaeuconi'.Caesar recounts in his Gallic Wars that in 57 BC the Suessiones were ruled by Galba, and that in living memory of that time their king Diviciacus had exercised sovereignty over most of the Belgians and even parts of Britain.Coinage minted by Belgic Gauls first appeared in Britain in the mid-2nd century BC with the coinage now categorized as the "Gallo-Belgic A" type. Coins associated with King Diviciacus of the Suessiones, issued near or between 90 and 60 BC, have been categorized as "Gallo-Belgic C." Finds of this issue of coin extend from Sussex to the Wash, with a concentration of finds near Kent. A later issue of coin, "Gallo-Belgic F" (c. 60-50 BC), has concentrated finds near Paris, throughout the lands of the Suessiones, and the southern, coastal areas of Britain. These finds lead scholars to suggest that the Suessiones had significant trade and migration into Britain during the 2nd and 1st centuries prior to Roman conquest.Caesar describes the Belgae as going to Britain looking for booty: "The inland part of Britain is inhabited by tribes declared in their own tradition to be indigenous to the island, the maritime part by tribes that migrated at an earlier time from Belgium to seek booty by invasion. ..."Caesar mentions that their capital was Noviodunum ("new hill-fort"), the present-day city of Soissons. Soissons was the capital city of the Merovingian Kingdom of Soissons from 511 to 613. Soissons was the birthplace of the Frankish Prince Charlemagne in the year 747, son of King Pippin the Short and Bertrada of Laon. It is today the capital of the département of the Aisne, in the northern part of Champagne.

The region is still commonly referred to as the Soissonnais and people of the region are called Soissonaires.


In pre-Roman Gaul the Belgic tribe of the Veliocasses or Velocasses controlled a large area in the lower Seine valley, which retains a trace of their name, as the Vexin. According to Julius Caesar' Commentary on the Gallic Wars the Veliocasses participated in the tribal coalition of the Belgae that resisted the Romans in 57 BCE. In 52 they raised 3000 men to support Vercingetorix, and fought alongside the Bellovaci in the final rebellion against Roman hegemony.

Pliny mentions the Vellocasses in his Naturalis Historia (4.18), and Ptolemy (2.8 §8) the Oueneliokasioi.In the time of Augustus they were included in Gallia Lugdunensis. Their capital was Rotomagus (Rouen).


Vexin (French pronunciation: ​[vɛksɛ̃]) is a historical county of northwestern France. It covers a verdant plateau on the right bank (north) of the Seine running roughly east to west between Pontoise and Romilly-sur-Andelle (about 20 km from Rouen), and north to south between Auneuil and the Seine near Vernon. The plateau is crossed by the Epte and the Andelle river valleys.


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