Having grown up in the wonderfully sunny southern part of France, I like many other children loved the adventures of Asterix and the Gauls. Their continuous battle against the comically depicted Romans was a source on constant amusement for me and my brother and we were avid fans of every comic book that was ever written. When my own children were growing up I encouraged them to read these books and they too loved them. Not only are they highly amusing and cleverly drawn, they are also a very good way of youngsters learning a little bit about the Romans and the influence they had on France.
The history of France and the Romans in particular is quite fascinating. It was Julius Caesar, the Consul of Gaul who finally conquered all of Gaul. It was his legions of Roman soldiers who finally overcame the last of the Gaulish army in a battle that was fought at Alesia. It was then that the Romans built cities they called Lugdunum, which we now know as Lyon and Narbonensis which later became called Narbonne.
The Romans were very clever after they had conquered the Gauls. They divided it up into provinces like this they prevented the people from forming armies to stand against them. This meant that many Celts were displaced in regions like Aquitania and others. These people however, were the lucky ones as many others would be enslaved although some were moved out of Gaul altogether. The Romans bought much with them to Gaul and there followed a huge cultural evolution. One change was the language that was spoken at the time. The old Gaulish language became Vulgar Latin.
The Romans had control over Gaul for the following centuries which meant that Celtic culture was replaced by a Gallo-Roman one. Over time the Gauls themselves accepted the Roman Empire and became more integrated with it. Many of the Roman Emperors were born here including the Emperors Claudius and Pius.
By 418 the Roman Empire was having real difficulty in keeping control of the country because of all the barbarian raids that went on in the various provinces. The Romans took to using certain tribes to fight against others who were causing them trouble. The Romans rewarded those tribes who helped them by giving them provinces as they did to the Goths when they supported them against the Vandals. But when Attila arrived the threat to the Romans was enormous. The Romans did defeatAttila at the Battle of Chalons in 451, but this left their armies in ruins and the Roman Empire was on the verge of collapse.
There are some amazing Roman ruins all over France. From amphitheatres to aqueducts, temples and artefacts that adorn the shelves of museums in every major town and city. From the southern regions of the country where they are some incredible Roman edifices right up to Bretagne in the North, there is a wealth of extraordinary Roman sites to visit. The legacy of the Roman occupation of this nation is superb but not only in the buildings they left behind but the tremendous culture they introduced to the country of Gaul as it was called at the time.