Museum of Galic/Norman History

 

Another tourist attracting proposal is to create a medieval history museum of the peoples who have created todays Normandy and France - The Gauls, The Romans, The Franks, The Vikings and The Saxons.


The Gauls:

The Gauls were a group of Celtic peoples of Continental Europe in the Iron Age and the Roman period (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD). The area they originally inhabited was known as Gaul. Their Gaulish language forms the main branch of the Continental Celtic languages.

The Gauls emerged around the 5th century BC as the bearers of the La Tène culture north of the Alps (spread across the lands between the Seine, Middle Rhine and upper Elbe). By the 4th century BC, they spread over much of what is now France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Southern Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia by virtue of controlling the trade routes along the river systems of the Rhône, Seine, Rhine, and Danube, and they quickly expanded into Northern Italy, the Balkans, Transylvania and Galatia. Gaul was never united under a single ruler or government, but the Gallic tribes were capable of uniting their forces in large-scale military operations. They reached the peak of their power in the early 3rd century BC. The rising Roman Republic after the end of the First Punic War increasingly put pressure on the Gallic sphere of influence; the Battle of Telamon of 225 BC heralded a gradual decline of Gallic power over the 2nd century, until the eventual conquest of Gaul in the Gallic Wars of the 50s BC. After this, Gaul became a province of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls culturally adapted to the Roman world, bringing about the formation of the hybrid Gallo-Roman culture.

The Romans:

Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside the Italian peninsula until the 3rd century BC.

The Roman Empire at it's height reached its greatest geographic extent under the reign of Emperor Trajan (ruled 98 – 117 AD). Trajan’s wars of conquest extended Roman territory to around 5 million square kilometres from Britain and Spain in the West to Persia in the East. Though he is considered one of the ‘5 Good Emperors’ of Rome due to his unsurpassed military successes, the huge landmass that the Empire encompassed during his tenure required an extensive trade and transport network to keep it connected, controlled and fed.

The Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the early 5th century as Germanic migrations and invasions overwhelmed the capacity of the empire to assimilate the migrants and fight off the invaders. The Romans were successful in fighting off all invaders, most famously Attila, though the empire had assimilated so many Germanic peoples of dubious loyalty to Rome that the empire started to dismember itself. Most chronologies place the end of the Western Roman Empire in 476, when Romulus Augustulus was forced to abdicate to the Germanic warlord Odoacer.

The Franks:

The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes that was originally composed of a mix of groups settled between the Rhine and the Weser Rivers. The two most prominent of these tribes were the Ripuarians and the Salians who led the others.

From the 5th century onwards, as Roman power declined in northern Gaul, the Franks expanded into Belgium and northern France. Later on, the Franks resumed their expansion process and, by the first half of the 6th century, they gained control over part of central and southern France and a small portion of northern Spain. During their interaction with the Romans, the Franks raided the Roman Empire on numerous occasions, but some of the Franks also served as soldiers in the Roman army. Several powerful Frankish leaders are mentioned in the ancient records such as Childeric and his son Clovis I, who consolidated Frankish power and also converted to Christianity. Their expansion continued until the 8th century, during the time of Charlemagne, when the Frankish territory occupied most of Western Europe.

The Vikings:

The Vikings were the Norse people from southern Scandinavia (in present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden) who from the late 8th to late 11th centuries raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, and explored westwards to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. In modern English and other vernaculars, the term also commonly includes the inhabitants of Norse home communities during this period. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion had a profound impact on the early medieval history of Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, Estonia, Kievan Rus' and Sicily.

Facilitated by advanced sailing and navigational skills, and characterised by the longship, Viking activities at times also extended into the Mediterranean littoral, North Africa, and the Middle East. Following extended phases of (primarily sea- or river-borne) exploration, expansion and settlement, Viking (Norse) communities and governments were established in diverse areas of north-western Europe, Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia, the North Atlantic islands and as far as the north-eastern coast of North America. This period of expansion witnessed the wider dissemination of Norse culture, while simultaneously introducing strong foreign cultural influences into Scandinavia itself, with profound developmental implications in both directions. During the Viking Age the Norse homelands were gradually consolidated into three larger kingdoms, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Normans, descendants of Vikings who became rulers of Normandy which was named after them, also formed the aristocracy of England from the Norman conquest of England.

The Normans:

The Normans were an ethnic group that arose from contact between Norse Viking settlers of a region in France, named Normandy after them, and indigenous Franks and Gallo-Romans. The settlements in France followed a series of raids on the French coast mainly from Denmark — although some came from Norway and Iceland as well — and gained political legitimacy when the Viking leader Rollo agreed to swear fealty to King Charles III of West Francia. The distinct cultural and ethnic identity of the Normans emerged initially in the first half of the 10th century, and it continued to evolve over the succeeding centuries.

The Norman dynasty had a major political, cultural and military impact on medieval Europe and the Near East. The Normans were famed for their martial spirit and eventually for their Catholic piety, becoming exponents of the Catholic orthodoxy of the Romance community into which they assimilated. They adopted the Gallo-Romance language of the Frankish land they settled, their dialect becoming known as Norman, Normaund or Norman French, an important literary language which is still spoken today in parts of Normandy and the nearby Channel Islands. The Duchy of Normandy, which they formed by treaty with the French crown, was a great fief of medieval France, and under Richard I of Normandy was forged into a cohesive and formidable principality in feudal tenure. By the end of the reign of Richard I of Normandy in 996 (aka Richard the Fearless / Richard sans Peur), all descendants of Vikings became, not only Christians but in all essentials Frenchmen.

The Saxons:

The Saxons were a Germanic tribe that originally occupied the region which today is the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. Their name is derived from the seax, a distinct knife popularly used by the tribe. One of the earliest historical records of this group that we know of comes from Roman writers dealing with the many troubles that affected the northern frontier of the Roman Empire during the second and third century CE. It is possible that under the "Saxons" label, these early Roman accounts also included other neighbouring Germanic groups in the regions such as the Angles, the Frisians, and the Jutes; all these groups spoke closely related West Germanic languages that in time would evolve into Old English.

The Saxons were among the "barbarian" nations that would engage against Rome during late antiquity, putting an end to the dying imperial order in the western realm of Rome, reshaping the map, and renaming the nations of Europe. During the 5th century AD, there are recorded hostilities between the Franks and the Saxons in continental Europe. Under the leadership of Childeric, the Franks supported Roman forces and helped them defeat a number of enemies including an army of Saxons at Angers in 469AD. The Franks began a gradual process of absorption of the continental Saxons and, while this process was still ongoing during the 8th century, those Saxons who migrated into Britain managed to build a solid presence. After several generations of conquest, alliances, and unstable successions, they established their rule over most of the indigenous groups. After the 9th century Viking invasions, the kings of Wessex (Alfred and his descendants) created the first strong West Saxon kingdom (south of the Thames) which, during the 10th century, managed to conquer the rest of England creating the late Anglo-Saxon kingdom.

 

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