- Jan 14, 2016
Statue of Vercingetorix at Alesia in Burgundy
The idea that French people are Gauls is quite fashionable in France today. But, this is a quite recent development. The French had been happy to base their identity on the Roman Catholic Church and Greco-Roman language and culture. It's clear that Latin culture has run its course and is dying. It was really nothing more than a rip off of Greek culture to begin with - and the best of Greek culture actually came from Egypt and Persia. Apart from that, for a thousand years before Julius Caesar, Western and Central Europe were Celtic. Celtic culture was Western culture. All of Northern Italy was Celtic. The Romans were a kind of offshoot of the Celtic branch of the Indo-Europeans. Latin is actually very close to Celtic - and they borrowed much of their vocab from the Gauls. Rome was nothing but a backwater in a Celtic ocean. The big change came when the Romans learned Greek military tactics and strategy, along with Greek social organization.
But, although the Gauls were forced to learn Latin - over a long time it must be said, Gaulish was still spoken after the Roman Empire had fallen, the Catholic Church took over as the main persecutor of Gaulish culture- they were never really of Latin blood. There just were never enough Romans to attempt any kind of population replacement.
So, that leaves the French today in a somewhat uncomfortable position. They are somewhat torn between the ideal of their ancient culture - and the dying culture of their conquerors as it exists today.