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Caesar there. A single canton alone, that of the powerful Remi
(about Rheims) discerned in this invasion of the foreigners
an opportunity to shake off the rule which their neighbours
the Suessiones exercised over them, and prepared to take up
in the north the part which the Haedui had played in central Gaul.
The Roman and the Belgic armies arrived in their territory almost
at the same time.

Conflicts on the Aisne
Submission of the Western Cantons

Caesar did not venture to give battle to the brave enemy six times
as strong; to the north of the Aisne, not far from the modern
Pontavert between Rheims and Laon, he pitched his camp on a plateau
rendered almost unassailable on all sides partly by the river
and by morasses, partly by fosses and redoubts, and contented himself
with thwarting by defensive measures the attempts of the Belgae
to cross the Aisne and thereby to cut him off from his communications.
When he counted on the likelihood that the coalition would speedily
collapse under its own weight, he had reckoned rightly. King Galba
was an honest man, held in universal respect; but he was not equal
to the management of an army of 300,000 men on hostile soil.
No progress was made, and provisions began to fail; discontent
and dissension began to insinuate themselves into the camp
of the confederates. The Bellovaci in particular, equal to
the Suessiones in power, and already dissatisfied that the supreme
command of the confederate army had not fallen to them, could no longer
be detained after news had arrived that the Haedui as allies
of the Romans were making preparations to enter the Bellovacic territory.
They determined to break up and go home; though for honour's sake
all the cantons at the same time bound themselves to hasten
with their united strength to the help of the one first attacked,
the miserable dispersion of the confederacy was but miserably palliated
by such impracticable stipulations. It was a catastrophe
which vividly reminds us of that which occurred almost
on the same spot in 1792; and, just as with the campaign in Champagne,
the defeat was all the more severe that it took place without a battle.
The bad leadership of the retreating army allowed the Roman general
to pursue it as if it were beaten, and to destroy a portion
of the contingents that had remained to the last. But the consequences
of the victory were not confined to this. As Caesar advanced
into the western cantons of the Belgae, one after another
gave themselves up as lost almost without resistance; the powerful
Suessiones (about Soissons), as well as their rivals, the Bellovaci
(about Beauvais) and the Ambiani (about Amiens). The towns opened
their gates when they saw the strange besieging machines,
the towers rolling up to their walls; those who would not submit
to the foreign masters sought a refuge beyond the sea in Britain.

The Conflict with the Nervii

But in the eastern cantons the national feeling was more
energetically roused. The Viromandui (about Arras), the Atrebates
(about St. Quentin), the German Aduatuci (about Namur), but above
all the Nervii (in Hainault) with their not inconsiderable body
of clients, little inferior in number to the Suessiones and Bellovaci,
far superior to them in valour and vigorous patriotic spirit,
concluded a second and closer league, and assembled their forces
on the upper Sambre. Celtic spies informed them most accurately
of the movements of the Roman army; their own local knowledge,
and the high tree-barricades which were formed everywhere in these
districts to obstruct the bands of mounted robbers who often
visited them, allowed the allies to conceal their own operations
for the most part from the view of the Romans. When these arrived
on the Sambre not far from Bavay, and the legions were occupied
in pitching their camp on the crest of the left bank, while
the cavalry and light infantry were exploring the opposite heights,
the latter were all at once assailed by the whole mass of the enemy's
forces and driven down the hill into the river. In a moment
the enemy had crossed this also, and stormed the heights of the left
bank with a determination that braved death. Scarcely was there
time left for the entrenching legionaries to exchange the mattock
for the sword; the soldiers, many without helmets, had to fight
just as they stood, without line of battle, without plan, without
proper command; for, owing to the suddenness of the attack
and the intersection of the ground by tall hedges, the several
divisions had wholly lost their communications. Instead of a battle
there arose a number of unconnected conflicts. Labienus with the left
wing overthrew the Atrebates and pursued them even across
the river. The Roman central division forced the Viromandui down
the declivity. But the right wing, where the general himself
was present, was outflanked by the far more numerous Nervii
the more easily, as the central division carried away by its
own success had evacuated the ground alongside of it, and even
the half-ready camp was occupied by the Nervii; the two legions,
each separately rolled together into a dense mass and assailed
in front and on both flanks, deprived of most of their officers
and their best soldiers, appeared on the point of being broken and cut
to pieces. The Roman camp-followers and the allied troops were already
fleeing in all directions; of the Celtic cavalry whole divisions,
like the contingent of the Treveri, galloped off at full speed,
that from the battle-field itself they might announce at home
the welcome news of the defeat which had been sustained. Everything
was at stake. The general himself seized his shield and fought
among the foremost; his example, his call even now inspiring enthusiasm,
induced the wavering ranks to rally. They had already in some
measure extricated themselves and had at least restored the connection
between the two legions of this wing, when help came up -
partly down from the crest of the bank, where in the interval
the Roman rearguard with the baggage had arrived, partly
from the other bank of the river, where Labienus had meanwhile penetrated
to the enemy's camp and taken possession of it, and now, perceiving
at length the danger that menaced the right wing, despatched
the victorious tenth legion to the aid of his general. The Nervii,
separated from their confederates and simultaneously assailed
on all sides, now showed, when fortune turned, the same heroic courage
as when they believed themselves victors; still over the pile
of corpses of their fallen comrades they fought to the last man.
According to their own statement, of their six hundred senators
only three survived this day.

Subjugation of the Belgae

After this annihilating defeat the Nervii, Atrebates, and Viromandui
could not but recognize the Roman supremacy. The Aduatuci, who arrived
too late to take part in the fight on the Sambre, attempted still to hold
their ground in the strongest of their towns (on the mount Falhize
near the Maas not far from Huy), but they too soon submitted. A nocturnal
attack on the Roman camp in front of the town, which they ventured
after the surrender, miscarried; and the perfidy was avenged
by the Romans with fearful severity. The clients of the Aduatuci,
consisting of the Eburones between the Maas and Rhine and other
small adjoining tribes, were declared independent by the Romans,
while the Aduatuci taken prisoners were sold under the hammer en masse
for the benefit of the Roman treasury. It seemed as if the fate
which had befallen the Cimbri still pursued even this last
Cimbrian fragment. Caesar contented himself with imposing
on the other subdued tribes a general disarmament and furnishing
of hostages. The Remi became naturally the leading canton
in Belgic, like the Haedui in central Gaul; even in the latter
several clans at enmity with the Haedui preferred to rank
among the clients of the Remi. Only the remote maritime
cantons of the Morini (Artois) and the Menapii (Flanders and Brabant),
and the country between the Scheldt and the Rhine inhabited in great
part by Germans, remained still for the present exempt from Roman
invasion and in possession of their hereditary freedom.

Expeditions against the Maritime Cantons
Venetian War

The turn of the Aremorican cantons came. In the autumn of 697
Publius Crassus was sent thither with a Roman corps; he induced
the Veneti - who as masters of the ports of the modern Morbihan
and of a respectable fleet occupied the first place among all
the Celtic cantons in navigation and commerce - and generally
the coast-districts between the Loire and Seine, to submit
to the Romans and give them hostages. But they soon repented.
When in the following winter (697-698) Roman officers
came to these legions to levy requisitions of grain there,
they were detained by the Veneti as counter-hostages. The example
thus set was quickly followed not only by the Aremorican cantons,
but also by the maritime cantons of the Belgae that still remained
free; where, as in some cantons of Normandy, the common council
refused to join the insurrection, the multitude put them to death
and attached itself with redoubled zeal to the national cause.
The whole coast from the mouth of the Loire to that of the Rhine
rose against Rome; the most resolute patriots from all the Celtic
cantons hastened thither to co-operate in the great work of liberation;
they already calculated on the rising of the whole Belgic confederacy,
on aid from Britain, on the arrival of Germans from beyond the Rhine.

Caesar sent Labienus with all the cavalry to the Rhine, with a view
to hold in check the agitation in the Belgic province, and in case
of need to prevent the Germans from crossing the river; another
of his lieutenants, Quintus Titurius Sabinus, went with three legions
to Normandy, where the main body of the insurgents assembled.
But the powerful and intelligent Veneti were the true centre
of the insurrection; the chief attack by land and sea was directed
against them. Caesar's lieutenant, Decimus Brutus, brought up
the fleet formed partly of the ships of the subject Celtic cantons,
partly of a number of Roman galleys hastily built on the Loire
and manned with rowers from the Narbonese province; Caesar himself
advanced with the flower of his infantry into the territory of the Veneti.
But these were prepared beforehand, and had with equal skill
and resolution availed themselves of the favourable circumstances
which the nature of the ground in Brittany and the possession
of a considerable naval power presented. The country was much
intersected and poorly furnished with grain, the towns
were situated for the most part on cliffs and tongues of land,
and were accessible from the mainland only by shallows which it was
difficult to cross; the provision of supplies and the conducting
of sieges were equally difficult for the army attacking by land,
while the Celts by means of their vessels could furnish the towns
easily with everything needful, and in the event of the worst could
accomplish their evacuation. The legions expended their time
and strength in the sieges of the Venetian townships, only to see
the substantial fruits of victory ultimately carried off in the vessels
of the enemy.

Naval Battle between the Romans and the Veneti
Submission of the Maritime Cantons

Accordingly when the Roman fleet, long detained by storms
at the mouth of the Loire, arrived at length on the coast of Brittany,
it was left to decide the struggle by a naval battle. The Celts,
conscious of their superiority on this element, brought forth their
fleet against that of the Romans commanded by Brutus. Not only
did it number 220 sail, far more than the Romans had been able
to bring up, but their high-decked strong sailing-vessels with flat
bottoms were also far better adapted for the high-running waves
of the Atlantic Ocean than the low, lightly-built oared galleys
of the Romans with their sharp keels. Neither the missiles
nor the boarding-bridges of the Romans could reach the high deck
of the enemy's vessels, and the iron beaks recoiled powerless
from the strong oaken planks. But the Roman mariners cut the ropes,
by which the yards were fastened to the masts, by means of sickles
fastened to long poles; the yards and sails fell down, and, as they
did not know how to repair the damage speedily, the ship was thus
rendered a wreck just as it is at the present day by the falling
of the masts, and the Roman boats easily succeeded by a joint attack
in mastering the maimed vessel of the enemy. When the Gauls
perceived this manoeuvre, they attempted to move from the coast
on which they had taken up the combat with the Romans, and to gain
the high seas, whither the Roman galleys could not follow them;
but unhappily for them there suddenly set in a dead calm,
and the immense fleet, towards the equipment of which the maritime
cantons had applied all their energies, was almost wholly destroyed
by the Romans. Thus was this naval battle - so far as historical
knowledge reaches, the earliest fought on the Atlantic Ocean -
just like the engagement at Mylae two hundred years before,(39)
notwithstanding the most unfavourable circumstances, decided in favour
of the Romans by a lucky invention suggested by necessity.
The consequence of the victory achieved by Brutus was the surrender
of the Veneti and of all Brittany. More with a view to impress
the Celtic nation, after so manifold evidences of clemency towards
the vanquished, by an example of fearful severity now against those
whose resistance had been obstinate, than with the view of punishing
the breach of treaty and the arrest of the Roman officers, Caesar
caused the whole common council to be executed and the people
of the Venetian canton to the last man to be sold into slavery.
By this dreadful fate, as well as by their intelligence
and their patriotism, the Veneti have more than any other Celtic clan
acquired a title to the sympathy of posterity.

Sabinus meanwhile opposed to the levy of the coast-states assembled
on the Channel the same tactics by which Caesar had in the previous
year conquered the Belgic general levy on the Aisne; he stood
on the defensive till impatience and want invaded the ranks of the enemy,
and then managed by deceiving them as to the temper and strength
of his troops, and above all by means of their own impatience,
to allure them to an imprudent assault upon the Roman camp, in which
they were defeated; whereupon the militia dispersed and the country
as far as the Seine submitted.

Expeditins against the Morini and Menapii

The Morini and Menapii alone persevered in withholding their
recognition of the Roman supremacy. To compel them to this, Caesar
appeared on their borders; but, rendered wiser by the experiences
of their countrymen, they avoided accepting battle on the borders
of their land, and retired into the forests which then stretched
almost without interruption from the Ardennes towards the German
Ocean. The Romans attempted to make a road through the forest
with the axe, ranging the felled trees on each side as a barricade
against the enemy's attacks; but even Caesar, daring as he was,
found it advisable after some days of most laborious marching,
especially as it was verging towards winter, to order a retreat,
although but a small portion of the Morini had submitted and the powerful
Menapii had not been reached at all. In the following year (699)
while Caesar himself was employed in Britain the greater part
of the army was sent afresh against these tribes; but this expedition
also remained in the main unsuccessful. Nevertheless the result
of the last campaigns was the almost complete reduction of Gaul
under the dominion of the Romans. While central Gaul had submitted
to it without resistance, during the campaign of 697 the Belgic,
and during that of the following year the maritime, cantons
had been compelled by force of arms to acknowledge the Roman rule.
The lofty hopes, with which the Celtic patriots had begun
the last campaign, had nowhere been fulfilled. Neither Germans
nor Britons had come to their aid; and in Belgica the presence
of Labienus had sufficed to prevent the renewal of the conflicts
of the previous year.

Establishment of Communications with Italy by the Valais

While Caesar was thus forming the Roman domain in the west by force
of arms into a compact whole, he did not neglect to open up
for the newly-conquered country - which was destined in fact to fill up
the wide gap in that domain between Italy and Spain-communications both
with the Italian home and with the Spanish provinces. The communication
between Gaul and Italy had certainly been materially facilitated
by the military road laid out by Pompeius in 677 over Mont Genevre;(40)
but since the whole of Gaul had been subdued by the Romans, there was
need of a route crossing the ridge of the Alps from the valley of the Po,
not in a westerly but in a northerly direction, and furnishing a shorter
communication between Italy and central Gaul. The way which leads over
the Great St. Bernard into the Valais and along the lake of Geneva
had long served the merchant for this purpose; to get this road
into his power, Caesar as early as the autumn of 697 caused Octodurum
(Martigny) to be occupied by Servius Galba, and the inhabitants
of the Valais to be reduced to subjection - a result which was,
of course, merely postponed, not prevented, by the brave resistance
of these mountain-peoples.

And with Spain

To gain communication with Spain, moreover, Publius Crassus
was sent in the following year (698) to Aquitania with instructions
to compel the Iberian tribes dwelling there to acknowledge the Roman
rule. The task was not without difficulty; the Iberians held
together more compactly than the Celts and knew better than these
how to learn from their enemies. The tribes beyond the Pyrenees,
especially the valiant Cantabri, sent a contingent to their
threatened countrymen; with this there came experienced officers
trained under the leadership of Sertorius in the Roman fashion,
who introduced as far as possible the principles of the Roman art
of war, and especially of encampment, among the Aquitanian levy
already respectable from its numbers and its valour.
But the excellent officer who led the Romans knew how to surmount
all difficulties, and after some hardly-contested but successful
battles he induced the peoples from the Garonne to the vicinity
of the Pyrenees to submit to the new masters.

Fresh Violations of the Rhine-Boundary by the Germans
The Usipetes and Tencteri

One of the objects which Caesar had proposed to himself -
the subjugation of Gaul - had been in substance, with exceptions
scarcely worth mentioning, attained so far as it could be attained
at all by the sword. But the other half of the work undertaken
by Caesar was still far from being satisfactorily accomplished,
and the Germans had by no means as yet been everywhere compelled
to recognize the Rhine as their limit. Even now, in the winter
of 698-699, a fresh crossing of the boundary had taken place
on the lower course of the river, whither the Romans had not yet
penetrated. The German tribes of the Usipetes and Tencteri
whose attempts to cross the Rhine in the territory of the Menapii
have been already mentioned,(41) had at length, eluding the vigilance
of their opponents by a feigned retreat, crossed in the vessels
belonging to the Menapii - an enormous host, which is said,
including women and children, to have amounted to 430,000 persons.
They still lay, apparently, in the region of Nimeguen and Cleves;
but it was said that, following the invitations of the Celtic
patriot party, they intended to advance into the interior of Gaul;
and the rumour was confirmed by the fact that bands of their
horsemen already roamed as far as the borders of the Treveri.
But when Caesar with his legions arrived opposite to them, the sorely-
harassed emigrants seemed not desirous of fresh conflicts,
but very ready to accept land from the Romans and to till it in peace
under their supremacy. While negotiations as to this were going on,
a suspicion arose in the mind of the Roman general that the Germans
only sought to gain time till the bands of horsemen sent out
by them had returned. Whether this suspicion was well founded or not,
we cannot tell; but confirmed in it by an attack, which in spite
of the de facto suspension of arms a troop of the enemy made
on his vanguard, and exasperated by the severe loss thereby sustained,
Caesar believed himself entitled to disregard every consideration
of international law. When on the second morning the princes
and elders of the Germans appeared in the Roman camp to apologize
for the attack made without their knowledge, they were arrested,
and the multitude anticipating no assault and deprived of their leaders
were suddenly fallen upon by the Roman army. It was rather a manhunt
than a battle; those that did not fall under the swords of the Romans
were drowned in the Rhine; almost none but the divisions detached
at the time of the attack escaped the massacre and succeeded
in recrossing the Rhine, where the Sugambri gave them an asylu
in their territory, apparently on the Lippe. The behaviour of Caesar
towards these German immigrants met with severe and just censure
in the senate; but, however little it can be excused, the German
encroachments were emphatically checked by the terror
which it occasioned.

Caesar on the Right Bank of the Rhine

Caesar however found it advisable to take yet a further step
and to lead the legions over the Rhine. He was not without connections
beyond the river. the Germans at the stage of culture
which they had then reached, lacked as yet any national coherence;
in political distraction they - though from other causes - fell nothing
short of the Celts. The Ubii (on the Sieg and Lahn), the most
civilized among the German tribes, had recently been made subject
and tributary by a powerful Suebian canton of the interior, and had
as early as 697 through their envoys entreated Caesar to free them
like the Gauls from the Suebian rule. It was not Caesar's design
seriously to respond to this suggestion, which would have involved
him in endless enterprises; but it seemed advisable, with the view
of preventing the appearance of the Germanic arms on the south
of the Rhine, at least to show the Roman arms beyond it. The protection
which the fugitive Usipetes and Tencteri had found among the Sugambri
afforded a suitable occasion. In the region, apparently between
Coblentz and Andernach, Caesar erected a bridge of piles over the Rhine
and led his legions across from the Treverian to the Ubian territory.
Some smaller cantons gave in their submission; but the Sugambri,
against whom the expedition was primarily directed, withdrew,
on the approach of the Roman army, with those under their protection
into the interior. In like manner the powerful Suebian canton
which oppressed the Ubii - presumably the same which subsequently
appears under the name of the Chatti - caused the districts immediately
adjoining the Ubian territory to be evacuated and the non-combatant
portion of the people to be placed in safety, while all the men
capable of arms were directed to assemble at the centre of the canton.
The Roman general had neither occasion nor desire to accept
this challenge; his object - partly to reconnoitre, partly to produce
an impressive effect if possible upon the Germans, or at least
on the Celts and his countrymen at home, by an expedition
over the Rhine - was substantially attained; after remaining
eighteen days on the right bank of the Rhine he again arrived
in Gaul and broke down the Rhine bridge behind him (699).

Expeditions to Britain

There remained the insular Celts. From the close connection
between them and the Celts of the continent, especially
the maritime cantons, it may readily be conceived that they had
at least sympathized with the national resistance, and that if they
did not grant armed assistance to the patriots, they gave at any rate
an honourable asylum in their sea-protected isle to every one
who was no longer safe in his native land. This certainly involved
a danger, if not for the present, at any rate for the future; it
seemed judicious - if not to undertake the conquest of the island
itself - at any rate to conduct there also defensive operations
by offensive means, and to show the islanders by a landing
on the coast that the arm of the Romans reached even across the Channel.
The first Roman officer who entered Brittany, Publius Crassus

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