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Thread: Could the Gauls have won the Gallic Wars? And how?

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    Default Could the Gauls have won the Gallic Wars? And how?

    Was the lack of unity of the gallic tribes the cause of their defeat?

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    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: Could the Gauls have won the Gallic Wars? And how?

    Quote Originally Posted by twgamer20197 View Post
    Was the lack of unity of the gallic tribes the cause of their defeat?
    No Gaius Julius Caesar was end of story. San an accidental death illness or luck shot, Gaul was more or less doomed as soon as he decided to it was Roman territory.
    Last edited by conon394; June 11, 2019 at 07:13 AM.
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    Default Re: Could the Gauls have won the Gallic Wars? And how?

    Roman politics included the cursus honorum, which required conquests and victories for up and coming officials. The system was clattering and breaking down when Caesar abused it to get his 10 year command over the alps (originally intended for use in the Balkans IIRC, Gaul was tacked on as an afterthought), but Rome was constantly taking slices off neighbouring territories for the previous two centuries or more, as often as not simply to put grist into the mill of aspiring young aristos.

    If not Gaius Julius Caesar then some other tyro or succession of tyros would've iced Vercingetorix's cake for him. It would have been worse if the Gauls won the first round, the Romans would start paying attention and send a real army.
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    Default Re: Could the Gauls have won the Gallic Wars? And how?

    I disagree.

    If the gallic and belgic aristocracy would have discovered earlier, that Caesar wanted the conquest of whole Gallia, they would have had a chance to beat him decisive.

    But not in an open battle, but in an series of ambushes like the Eburones in the Battle of Atuatuca, where one legion was wiped out ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambiorix%27s_revolt ) or sudden attacks like the battle of the Sabis, where Caesar was caught on the wrong foot and so under pressure that he couldn't built a battle line nor made an battle plan by an unexpected attack of the belgic tribes ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Sabis ), which he saved only in last minute by personal bravery, and in combination with a torched earth - tactic, that Vercingetorix tried.

    If the Gauls would have continued to burn down the oppida with its food depots, Caesar would have to retreat or take more risks in forced march to the next oppida, which would have make the chances of a successfull ambush higher.

    Caesar was a all or nothing player. He would have risk everything to win this war.

    I think the Gauls could have won a guerilla war of attrition, which was Vercingetorix plan.

    The retreat to Alesia was a serious mistake of Vercingetorix, he should have retreat deeper into Gallia dragging Caesar behind him.
    Last edited by Carmen Sylva; June 11, 2019 at 05:09 PM.
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    Default Re: Could the Gauls have won the Gallic Wars? And how?

    Disunity was certainly the major factor. The fact that the Gallic nobility did not share any common interests meant that Caesar or any other shrewd conqueror was allowed to exploit these discords, in order to gain intelligence and the reinforcement of numerous auxiliaries. Nationalist historiography has implied that Caesar exploited theshort-sightedness of various Gallic chieftains, in order to manipulate them and subjugate, but the real image is a bit more nuanced, as several of them genuinely benefited from the new situation, by expanding their sphere of influence or by breaking free from the vassalage imposed to them by stronger tribes.

    It's not a coincidence that the Roman position was seriously threatened, when Vercingetorix succeeded in rallying a great number of tribes, who were frustrated at the Roman occupation and the logistical demands of the legions. Even during his rebellion, however, powerful tribal coalitions, like the Aedui, still decided to cooperate with the Romans, providing them with invaluable auxiliares. Meanwhile, local revolts could score unexpected victories against isolated garrisons (like the Eburones against Sabinus and Cotta), but they had few chances against the united expeditionary force of the Romans. The crucial role of local elites in facilitating Roman expansion had been generally neglected by the historiography of the 19th and 20th, which interpreted Roman history, according to a very modern and simplistic perspective, but that approach has recently evolved into a considerably more sophisticated approach.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Roman politics included the cursus honorum, which required conquests and victories for up and coming officials. The system was clattering and breaking down when Caesar abused it to get his 10 year command over the alps (originally intended for use in the Balkans IIRC, Gaul was tacked on as an afterthought), but Rome was constantly taking slices off neighbouring territories for the previous two centuries or more, as often as not simply to put grist into the mill of aspiring young aristos.
    Yes, I agree, although Caesar was the rule, not the exception, in abusing the system. As the link between the commander and the professional soldiers strengthened, the incentive to launch aggressive campaigns against generally meek neighbors grew proportionately. Military glory would translate into political power in the Senate and increase of prestige among the populace, while the newly conquered regions could function as a strong basis for material and military support. This explains why the Roman Republic moved from the gradual expansion of the 3rd and 2nd centuries to the rapid conquests of Caesar and Pompey in Gaul, Iberia, Anatolia and Syria.

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