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.
|Province of the Roman Empire|
|Capital||Durocortorum (modern Reims) Augusta Treverorum (modern Trier)|
|•||Established after the Gallic Wars||22 BC|
|•||Ended with Frankish Kingdoms||5th century|
|Today part of|
In 57 BC, Julius Caesar led the conquest of northern Gaul, and already specified that the part to the north of the Seine and Marne rivers was inhabited by a people or alliance known as the Belgae. This definition became the basis of the later Roman province of Belgica. Caesar said that the Belgae were separated from the Celtic Gauls to their south by "language, custom and laws" (lingua, institutis, legibus) but he did not go into detail, except to mention that he learnt from his contacts that the Belgae had some ancestry from east of the Rhine, which he referred to as Germania. Indeed, the Belgian tribes closest to the Rhine he distinguished as the Germani cisrhenani. (Strabo stated that the differences between the Celts and Belgae, in language, politics and way of life was a small one.) Modern historians interpret Caesar and the archaeological evidence as indicating that the core of the Belgian alliance was in the present-day northernmost corner of France; the Suessiones, Viromandui and Ambiani as well perhaps as some of their neighbours who lived in the area, Caesar identified as Belgium or Belgica. These were the leaders of the initial military alliance he confronted, and they were also more economically advanced (and therefore less "Germanic" according to Caesar's way of seeing things) than many of their more northerly allies such as the Nervii and Germani Cisrhenani.
Apart from the southern Remi, all the Belgic tribes allied against the Romans, angry at the Roman decision to garrison legions in their territory during the winter. At the beginning of the conflict, Caesar reported the allies' combined strength at 288,000, led by the Suessione king, Galba. Due to the Belgic coalition's size and reputation for uncommon bravery, Caesar avoided meeting the combined forces of the tribes in battle. Instead, he used cavalry to skirmish with smaller contingents of tribesmen. Only when Caesar managed to isolate one of the tribes did he risk conventional battle. The tribes fell in a piecemeal fashion and Caesar claimed to offer lenient terms to the defeated, including Roman protection from the threat of surrounding tribes. Most tribes agreed to the conditions. A series of uprisings followed the 57 BC conquest. The largest revolt was led by the Bellovaci in 52 BC, after the defeat of Vercingetorix. During this rebellion, it was the Belgae who avoided direct conflict. They harassed the Roman legions, led personally by Caesar, with cavalry detachments and archers. The rebellion was put down after a Bellovaci ambush of the Romans failed. The revolting party was slaughtered.
Following a census of the region in 27 BC, Augustus ordered a restructuring of the provinces in Gaul. Therefore, in 22 BC, Marcus Agrippa split Gaul (or Gallia Comata) into three regions (Gallia Aquitania, Gallia Lugdunensis and Gallia Belgica.) Agrippa made the divisions on what he perceived to be distinctions in language, race and community - Gallia Belgica was meant to be a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. The capital of this territory was Reims, according to the geographer Strabo, though later the capital moved to modern day Trier. The date of this move is uncertain.
Modern historians however view the term 'Gaul' and its subdivisions as a "product of faulty ethnography" and see the split of Gallia Comata into three provinces as an attempt to construct a more efficient government, as opposed to a cultural division. Successive Roman emperors struck a balance between Romanizing the people of Gallia Belgica and allowing pre-existing culture to survive.
The Romans divided the province into four "civitates" corresponding generally to ancient tribal boundaries. The capital cities of these districts included modern Cassel (replaced by Tournai as Menapian civitas), Bavay (replaced by Cambrai as Nervian civitas), Thérouanne, Arras, St. Quentin, Soissons, Reims, Beauvais, Amiens, Tongeren, Triers, Toul and Metz. These civitates were in turn were divided into smaller units, pagi, a term that became the French word "pays".
Roman government was run by Concilia in Reims or Trier. Additionally, local notables from Gallia Belgica were required to participate in a festival in Lugdunum (modern Lyon) which typically celebrated or worshiped the emperor’s genius. The gradual adoption of Romanized names by local elites and the Romanization of laws under local authority demonstrate the effectiveness of this concilium Galliarum. With that said, the concept and community of Gallia Belgica did not predate the Roman province, but developed from it.
During the 1st century AD (estimated date 90 AD), the provinces of Gaul were restructured. Emperor Domitian reorganized the provinces in order to separate the militarized zones of the Rhine from the civilian populations of the region. The northeastern part of Gallia Belgica was split off and renamed Germania Inferior, later to be reorganized and renamed as Germania Secunda. This included the eastern part of modern Belgium, the southernmost part of the modern Netherlands, and a part of modern Germany. The eastern part was split off to become Germania Superior (parts of western Germany and eastern France) and the southern border of Gallia Belgica was extended to the south. The newer Gallia Belgica included the cities of Camaracum (Cambrai), Nemetacum (Arras), Samarobriva (Amiens), Durocortorum (Reims), Dividorum (Metz) and Augusta Treverorum (Trier).
In 173 the later emperor Didius Julianus, then governor of Gallia Belgica, had to repel a serious invasion of the Chauci, a Germanic tribe that lived along the shores of the Wadden Sea at the respective northern and northwestern coast of present-day Netherlands and Germany, in the drainage basin of the river Scheldt (present day Flanders and Hainaut). Archaeologists have found evidence that large farms near Tournai and the village Velzeke (near Ghent) had to be abandoned. Further the capitals in the areas of the former tribes of the Atrebates, Morini and the Nervians were either burnt down (Nemetacum (Arras)) or had to be rebuilt in the last quarter of the second century, Colonia Morinorum (Thérouanne) and Bagacum Nerviorum (Bavay).
With the Crisis of the Third Century and the partition of the Empire, Roman control over Gaul deteriorated in the 3rd century. In 260 Postumus became emperor of a breakaway Gallic Empire. He proved able to stop the incursions from the Franks. Only in 274 was Roman control restored by the new emperor Aurelian in the Battle of Châlons. The cost of this defeat in the long run proved very high indeed. With the Gallic army defeated and not returning to the Rhine border, the Franks overran the neighbouring province of Germania Inferior. The Rhineland (to the Ripuarian Franks) and the area between the Rhine and the main road between Boulogne and Cologne, present day South Holland, Zeeland, Flanders, Brabant and Limburg, the last three in both the present day Netherlands and Belgium (to the Salian Franks) were de facto lost forever for the Roman empire. This gave the Salian Franks a base from which they could expand some 130 years later, beginning after the disastrous Rhine crossing in 406, to conquer the whole area of the former province of Gallia Belgica and start the Merovingian kingdom, the first immediate forerunner state of Western civilization.
Emperor Diocletian restructured the provinces around 300, and split Belgica into two provinces: Belgica Prima and Belgica Secunda. Belgica Prima had Treveri (Trier) as its main city, and consisted of the eastern part. The border between Belgica Prima and Belgica Secunda was approximately along the River Meuse.
The eastern part of Gallia Belgica, especially the valley of the Moselle became very prosperous in the fourth century, particularly in the decades that Augusta Treverorum (Trier) was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. The Roman poet Ausonius wrote a famous poem on the Mosella.
Eventually, in 406, a large alliance among them Vandals, Alans and Suebi, under great pressure from the Huns, after first having been defeated by the Ripuarian Franks in the neighborhood of Cologne in Germania Inferior, successfully crossed the Rhine in the neighborhood of present-day Koblenz and entered Gallia Belgica by way of the Moselle valley. They subsequently destroyed large parts of Gallia Belgica, before eventually moving on to Hispania (present day Spain). This invasion and the accompanying widespread destruction broke the backbone of Roman power in at least the northern part of Gallia Belgica. After this invasion the Franks were able to conquer valuable agricultural land south of the Via Belgica, the very important main road between Cologne and Boulogne, that had been the backbone of Roman defense strategy between 260 and 406.
In 452 a major battle was fought at the Catalaunian fields (between the Seine and the Moselle). A coalition of Romans, Visigoths and Franks fought an army led by the legendary Hunnic leader Attila. The outcome of this battle itself was inconclusive, but as a consequence of this battle the Huns and their allies left the area of Gallia Belgica where they had plundered nearly all major cities, except Paris.
After the Western Roman Empire had already collapsed in Galla Belgica for some time the Gallo-Roman "Kingdom of Soissons" (457-486) managed to maintain control over the area around Soissons. The Franks however emerged victorious and Belgica Secunda in the 5th century became the center of Clovis' Merovingian kingdom. During the 8th century in the Carolingian Empire the former area of Gallia Belgica was split into Neustria (roughly Belgica Secunda, main cities Paris, Reims) and Austrasia (roughly Belgica Prima and Germania Inferior, main cities Trier, Metz, Cologne). After the death of Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious, the Carolingian Empire was divided by the Treaty of Verdun in 843. The three sons of Louis the Pious divided his territories into three kingdoms: East Francia (the forerunner of modern Germany), West Francia (west of the Scheldt river) a part of which (Ile de France), from the middle of the 10th century became the kernel of modern France, and Middle Francia which was succeeded by Lotharingia. Though often presented as the dissolution of the Frankish empire, it was in fact the continued adherence to Salic patrimony. Lotharingia was divided in 870 by the Treaty of Meerssen under West and East Francia.
The name of Belgica continued to refer to the entire Low Countries until the modern period. The Seventeen Provinces of the Low Countries were then divided into the independent Belgica Foederata or the federal Dutch Republic and the Belgica Regia or the royal Southern Netherlands under the Habsburgian crown. For example, several contemporary maps of the Dutch Republic, which consisted of the Northern Netherlands, and therefore has almost no overlap with the country of Belgium, show the Latin title Belgium Foederatum.
Belgica Foederata continued to be used as the Latin name of the Dutch Federation after its secession of Belgica Regia in 1581; the United Kingdom of the Netherlands after 1815 was still known as Royaume des Belgiques, and it was only with the independence of modern Belgium and the modern Netherlands in the 1830s that the name became reserved for Belgium to the exclusion of the Netherlands.
The Belgae () were a large Gallic-Germanic confederation 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".Bellovaci
The Bellovaci were among the most powerful and numerous of the Belgian tribes of north-eastern Gaul conquered by Julius Caesar in 57 BC. The name survives today in the French city of Beauvais, called by the Romans Caesaromagus.Decimus Valerius Asiaticus (Legatus)
Decimus Valerius Asiaticus (35-after 69 AD) was a Roman Senator who served as a Legatus of Gallia Belgica.Didius Julianus
Didius Julianus (; Latin: Marcus Didius Severus Julianus Augustus; born 30 January 133 or 2 February 137 – 1 June 193) was the emperor of Rome for nine weeks from March to June 193, during the Year of the Five Emperors.
Julianus had a promising political career, governing several provinces, including Dalmatia and Germania Inferior, and successfully defeating the Chauci and Chatti, two invading Germanic tribes. He was even appointed to the consulship in 175 along with Pertinax as a reward, before being demoted by Commodus. After this demotion, his early, promising political career languished.
He ascended the throne after buying it from the Praetorian Guard, who had assassinated his predecessor Pertinax. A civil war ensued in which three rival generals laid claim to the imperial throne. Septimius Severus, commander of the legions in Pannonia and the nearest of the generals to Rome, marched on the capital, gathering support along the way and routing cohorts of the Praetorian Guard Didius Julianus sent to meet him.
Abandoned by the Senate and the Praetorian Guard, Julianus was killed by a soldier in the palace and succeeded by Severus.Edith Wightman
Edith Mary Wightman FSA (1938 – 17 December 1983) was a British ancient historian and archaeologist. She was Assistant-Professor and then Professor at McMaster University (1969–1983). Wightman was best known for her studies Roman Trier and Gallia Belgica.Elewijt vicus
In the Roman period there was an important settlement (vicus) on the territory of the present-day village of Elewijt (part of Zemst, Flemish Brabant, Belgium). It was located at the junction of a secondary road (deverticulum) with the major Roman road between Tongeren and Boulogne. In the early first century, a temporary military camp was built and not much later a village started to develop. At the end of the second century, the village was ravaged by Germanic tribes, after which it was slowly rebuilt with a completely different ground plan. The vicus continued to exist as a village until the late third century, but did not recover from a second heavy attack at the end of this period. The present-day village of Elewijt developed half a mile south of the center of the vicus and cannot be seen as its successor.Faustinus
Faustinus was a 3rd-century CE political figure who launched a rebellion against the Gallic Emperor Tetricus I. His full name and his year of birth are unknown. According to a small number of literary sources (Aurelius Victor, Eutropius, and Polemius Silvius), Faustinus sparked a mutiny among Tetricus' troops. At the time of his rebellion, Faustinus was a provincial governor (praeses), presumably of Gallia Belgica since the capital of that province—Augusta Treverorum—was where the rebellion began. Faustinus' revolt was formidable enough, according to the literary sources, to lead Tetricus to appeal to the central Roman emperor Aurelian for aid against the usurper.The exact date of his rebellion is uncertain, but scholars generally agree on some time between late 273 CE and the summer of 274 CE. Some ancient sources suggest that Faustinus continued his revolt after Tetricus surrendered to Aurelian, who in this scenario would have defeated Faustinus in 274 CE.Faustinus may have owned property in Britain that was confiscated after the failure of his rebellion.Gaius Sabucius Maior Caecilianus
Gaius Sabucius Maior Caecilianus was a Roman senator who held a series of positions in the imperial service. His service was capped with the suffect consulship in 186 with Valerius Senecio as his colleague.
From the name of his grandson C. Sabucius Maior Plotinus Faustinus, who set up an inscription in his memory, it is clear his gentilicum is "Sabucius Maior". "Sabucius" is a rare Etruscan nomen (Anthony Birley provides two other known individuals of that gens), suggesting his origins lay in Italy and not one of the provinces.An inscription recovered in Rome documents the cursus honorum of Sabucius. His earliest recorded offices were administrative posts following the praetorship. Next was his service as a juridicus in Roman Britain c. 172-175, which was followed by the prefecture of the aerarium militare c. 176-179. Birley dates his next offices, governorship of Gallia Belgica to c. 180-183, and proconsul of Achaea to 184/185.List of Roman governors of Gallia Belgica
This is a list of Roman governors of Gallia Belgica. Capital and largest city of Gallia Belgica was Durocortum, modern-day Reims.Morini
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.Paemani
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.Quintus Glitius Atilius Agricola
Quintus Glitius Atilius Agricola was a Roman senator and general who held several posts in the emperor's service. He was twice suffect consul: for the first time in AD 97 with Lucius Pomponius Sura as his colleague, and the second time in 103 when he replaced the emperor Trajan. He is the last known person to have held two suffect consulates. Agricola is known only through a large number of fragmentary inscriptions from Augusta Taurinorum, which appears to be his home town.
His full name, father's praenomen (Publius) and tribe (Stellatina) are known from these inscriptions. It is often assumed that Agricola was the son or grandson of the equestrian officer Glitius Barbarus, who is attested as living in 48 or 49, but Olli Salomies notes that his father's praenomen is attested as Publius, then argues that it makes better sense to assume that his name at birth was Atilius Agricola and he was afterwards adopted by a Q. Glitius.Quintus Sosius Senecio
Quintus Sosius Senecio (fl. 1st century) was a Roman senator who was favored by the emperors Domitian and Trajan. As a result of this relationship, he was twice ordinary consul, an unusual and prestigious honor: first in 99, with Aulus Cornelius Palma Frontonianus as his colleague; and again in 107 as the colleague of Lucius Licinius Sura, who was himself consul for the third time.RV Belgica
Belgica was and is the name of two Belgian research vessels, with a name derived ultimately from the Latin Gallia Belgica.
RV Belgica (1884)
RV Belgica (A962)Remi
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.Rosmerta
In Gallo-Roman religion, Rosmerta was a goddess of fertility and abundance, her attributes being those of plenty such as the cornucopia. Rosmerta is attested by statues, and by inscriptions. In Gaul she was often depicted with the Roman god Mercury as her consort, but is sometimes found independently.Suessiones
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.Tongeren
Tongeren (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈtɔŋərə(n)], French: Tongres [tɔ̃gʁ], German: Tongern [ˈtɔŋɐn]) is a city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Limburg, in the southeastern corner of the Flemish region of Belgium. Tongeren is the oldest town in Belgium, as the only Roman administrative capital within the country's borders. As a Roman city, it was inhabited by the Tungri, and known as Atuatuca Tungrorum, it was the administrative centre of the Civitas Tungrorum district. The city is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.Tungri
The Tungri (or Tongri, or Tungrians) were a tribe, or group of tribes, who lived in the Belgic part of Gaul, during the times of the Roman empire. Within the Roman empire, their territory was the Civitas Tungrorum. They were described by Tacitus as being the same people who were first called "Germani" (Germanic), meaning that all other tribes who were later referred to this way, including those in Germania east of the Rhine river were named after them. More specifically, Tacitus was thereby equating the Tungri with the "Germani Cisrhenani" described generations earlier by Julius Caesar. Their name is the source of several place names in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, including Tongeren, and several places called Tongerloo, and Tongelre.
† Italy was never constituted as a province, instead retaining a special juridical status until Diocletian's reforms.
Late Roman provinces (4th–7th centuries AD)