The Gallic peoples exerted great influence in Europe, and their legacy can be seen to this day. Like the Celts, from whom they originated, they were semi-nomadic tribes who were especially dedicated to war. What did the Gauls look like?
Origin of the Gauls
The Gallic peoples have their origin in the Celtic peoples , who inhabited the lands of Central Europe in the Iron Age and later expanded into Western Europe and other regions . These were semi-nomadic peoples who later settled in these territories and changed their way of life. These peoples shared religious, military, economic, linguistic and cultural aspects. The Gauls are the peoples of Celtic origin that inhabited the Gaul region, hence they received their name, which currently corresponds to Belgium, France and Switzerland.
Political organization of the Gauls
The Gauls, as descendants of the Celts, had an extremely simple political organization, since they were tribes. They simply had a chief or tribal leader who had all the authority and who was in charge of taking care of the safety of the people and their economic stability . However, the most important job of a Gallic leader was to command them in war and lead them to victory, as this was the main objective of these peoples. What did the Gauls look like?
Social organization of the Gallic peoples What did the Gauls look like?
The Gauls were socially organized into tribes, which had in common their language and the same origin. They were grouped into pagus, a group of people that could number in the thousands or even tens of thousands . The pagus were delimited from each other by the elements of nature, such as mountains, rivers, forests, etc. The tribes in turn were grouped into towns, also known as civitas, which were made up of between 200,000 and 600,000 people. Within this Gallic society, at least four social classes could be distinguished:
- Kings : These were in charge of directing the people and had great authority, but the most remarkable thing is that they were greatly influenced by religion. Since it was believed that its position was of divine origin, that is why it was generally given the name of some Gallic deity, such as Necht, Nuada, among others. The king was credited with the happiness, peace and wealth of the people, so this had to prove to be fair and also could not have any physical imperfection.
- Nobility : This social class was made up of at least two figures: the Druids and the warriors. The Druids were the priests of the Gauls, charged with the education, religion and justice of the people. Of all the Druids, only one had the highest authority. These were noted for their extensive knowledge and wisdom in different areas, which is why they were used as advisers to the king and as guardians of the youngest. On the other hand, the warriors were the basis of the Gallic peoples, since the Gauls were known through the war and their life was based on this art. In the villages there were military leaders who had great authority, who had the responsibility of ensuring the security of the people against enemy attacks. What did the Gauls look like?
- Plain people : In this social class, several types of people with different jobs could be differentiated. In the first place, artisans were people who developed great skill in the manufacture of metals, but their specialty was the work of gold. Additionally, the artisans were in charge of making weapons, armor and all instruments of war. In second place were the merchants , who used boats and strategic points to buy and sell products with neighboring towns. Finally, there were the countrymen, who were in charge of working in livestock and agriculture, jobs that served to feed the towns and to trade.
- Slaves : Slaves were the lowest social class and therefore had no privileges or rights. These were adopted by noble families and also from the common people for home and field work.
The cult of the Gauls was controlled by the Druids and they were in charge of performing the common rites and ceremonies to worship their gods . On the other hand, it is believed that the Gauls allowed human sacrifices in order to calm the gods and also as a kind of offerings, of which the slaves captured in war or those who had been guilty of theft or some kind of action were part. bandit. These were burned alive as a sacrifice.
Later, the Gauls were greatly influenced by the Romans and many converted to Christianity , a religion that spread throughout much of Gaul and became part of their worship.
WHAT DID A GAUL ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE? What did the Gauls look like?
Nearly all the Gauls are of a lofty stature, fair, and of ruddy complexion; terrible from the sternness of their eyes, very quarrelsome, and of great pride and insolence. A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Gaul if he called his wife to his assistance, who is usually very strong, and with blue eyes; especially when, swelling her neck, gnashing her teeth, and brandishing her sallow arms of enormous size, she begins to strike blows mingled with kicks, as if they were so many missiles sent from the string of a catapult. What did the Gauls look like?
Now the barbarians’ manner of fighting, being in large measure that of wild beasts and frenzied, was an erratic procedure, quite lacking in military science. Thus, at one moment they would raise their swords aloft and smite after the manner of wild boars, throwing the whole weight of their bodies into the blow like hewers of wood or men digging with mattocks, and again they would deliver crosswise blows aimed at no target, as if they intended to cut to pieces the entire bodies of their adversaries, protective armor and all; then they would turn the edges of their swords away from the foe. On the other hand, the Romans’ defense and counter-maneuvering against the barbarians was steadfast and afforded great safety.
Many historic sources portray the Gauls as wild warriors who went to fight bare-chested and often boldly painted. This doesn’t seem to have been common in day to day life though, as even the hardest warriors try to avoid a cold. “Barbaric” gear made of leather and hides, in which the Celts are often portrayed in fantasy comics, is not documented either. Hides seem to have been worn usually as capes in winter or as decorative items of clothing, since they were too heavy and bulky otherwise.
As far as we know, the depictions found in the Asterix comics are fairly accurate. The Gauls wore simple pants, the “braccae”, which were tied to the body with leather belts and strings. Skintight pants, comparable to today’s leggings, have also been recorded for some Celtic tribes.
The Gauls covered their upper bodies with shirts similar to a tunic. Simplistic shirts made from linen or wool, which were produced from rectangular pieces of fabric and reached down to the buttocks, are also documented. They had a straight or round opening for the neck and two slits for the arms on the left and right side. Sometimes a “chiton” was worn as an additional layer over the shirt. It is a tubular piece of fabric bound together over the shoulder with fibulae and reaching down to the buttocks.
Over it, rectangular panels of fabric were bound to form a coat and tied together over the shoulder with fibulae. The caracalla was also widely popular; it was an ankle-length coat with a hood. Ceremonial coats and those for the rich were often lavishly decorated with fur, jewelry and fabric ornaments. On their feet people usually wore drawstring shoes made from leather that remained popular for centuries.
WOMEN’S CLOTHING What did the Gauls look like?
Women wore simplistic dresses or skirts, cut either straight or as flared skirts. Blouses are also documented and some depictions of Celtic women in Roman frescoes also show them in pants similar to the braccae. What did the Gauls look like?
Just like the men, the women sometimes wore a chiton over it. Theirs was longer however, reaching down to the ankles. The top end of the chiton was turned down over the chest and back and tied together with fibulae over the shoulders.
COLORS AND PATTERNS
The fabrics used for clothes were mainly made from wool, but linen was also commonly used, although it was harder to produce and hence more valuable. The fabrics were produced using looms and colored with natural dye: A yellow dye was made from genista tinctoria and red dye from rubia tinctorum, instead of the purple made from slugs, which would have been costly for the Gauls to import. The Celts produced a bright indigo blue from dyer’s woad, which remained popular for centuries and guaranteed the regions producing it lasting prosperity.
Remains of grave finds show the great technical skills of the Celts as weavers and tailors. We know that the Celts used patterns like herringbone and hounds-tooth and produced very complex checkered designs. For some of those patterns they even needed to adjust the wool for the final product while they were spinning it, so that it could later be processed using the loom. Their checkered patterns live on in the form of the tartans of Scottish clans. What did the Gauls look like?