10 Facts About Belgae


Belgae were a large confederation of tribes living in northern Gaul, between the English Channel, the west bank of the Rhine, and the northern bank of the river Seine, from at least the third century BC.

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The Belgae gave their name to the Roman province of Gallia Belgica and, much later, to the modern country of Belgium; today "Belgae" is Latin for "Belgians".

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Belgae 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".

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The fact that the Belgae were living in Gaul means that in one sense they were Gauls.

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Belgae described a grouping of tribes within the Belgic alliance as the "Germani", distinguishing them from their neighbours.

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Apart from the Germani, the report of Caesar seems to indicate that more of the Belgae had some Germanic ancestry and ethnicity, but this is not necessarily what defines a tribe as Belgic.

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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.

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Belgae's 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.

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Belgae attacked over the river, but were repulsed after a fierce battle.

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Belgae had made their way across the English Channel into southern Britain in Caesar's time.

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