Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Romans in Gaul

In the year 55 B.C. the Celts of south-eastern Britain first came in contact with a Roman army. The Romans were a civilised people, and had been engaged for some centuries in conquering the peoples living round the Mediterranean. They possessed disciplined armies, and a regular government. By the beginning of the year the Roman general, Gaius Julius Cæsar, had made himself master of Gaul. Then, after driving back with enormous slaughter two German tribes which had invaded Gaul, he crossed the Rhine, not because he wished to conquer Germany, but because he wished to strike (p. 011) terror into the Germans in order to render them unwilling to renew their attack. This march into Germany seems to have suggested to Cæsar the idea of invading Britain. It is most unlikely that he thought of conquering the island, as he had quite enough to do in Gaul. What he really wanted was to prevent the Britons from coming to the help of their kindred whom he had just subdued, and he would accomplish this object best by landing on their shores and showing them how formidable a Roman army was.

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