FOR five centuries Gaul was now ruled by the Romans.
The people hated their conquerors, for they were forced
to pay them taxes, and until now, 50 B.C., they had
been free, owing obedience to none. Taxes were to them
the sign of their bondage.
Yet the Romans were not cruel to the people they had
conquered. Indeed, they taught them many useful things,
so that gradually the people became less wild and
savage. Instead of mud huts they learned to build
comfortable houses, and soon they possessed cities of
which they were proud. They drained the dreary
marshlands, made good roads and built bridges. They
even dressed as did their conquerors, and spoke their
Many of the great forests, too, were cut down, and thus
the wild beasts gradually disappeared, so that, instead
of wild hogs, quiet sheep were to be seen browsing in
You remember that the winters in Gaul were bitterly
cold. Now, as the forests were gradually cut down, the
rays of the sun reached the earth and warmed it, so
that the weather grew less severe.
In the south of Gaul the Romans then began to plant
vines. These took root and spread, so that when Gaul
became France the vine was already known all over the
southern part of the country. Olives, too, began to be
cultivated, and the olive crops were soon as valuable
as the corn crops.
 Finding that the Druids, those mysterious
white-robed priests, encouraged the Gauls to offer
human sacrifices, the Romans banished them from the
land. But while the Romans did their utmost to stamp
out the ancient Druidical worship, in later years they
brought to the Gauls a new religion, for about the year
244 A.D. Rome sent seven bishops into Gaul.
Little by little the Gospel spread among the fierce
Gallic warriors, moving them sometimes to love and
always to wonder, so strangely in their ears rang the
tidings of peace and goodwill to man.
About seven years after the bishops reached Gaul, a
church was founded at Paris, which in these far-off
days was called Lutetia.
Lutetia had already become the capital of northern
Gaul, and from this city the Christian religion began
in 251 A.D. to spread rapidly all over the land.
Meanwhile the power of the Romans was growing less and
less. And the wild barbarian tribes across the Rhine
thought that now was the time to sweep down upon Gaul,
and wrench her from the nation whose legions they had
been used to fear.
The Germans, as these wild tribes were named, were in
appearance much like the Gallic tribes they had come to
For the Germans had blue eyes and long yellow hair like
the Gauls, although they were much taller than they,
while over the Romans they towered like giants.
But while the Gauls wore bright colours and adorned
themselves with ornaments, the Germans were content to
wear only a rough skin, which they fastened round their
bodies with a skewer or pin.
In other ways, too, the tribes were unlike each other,
in spite of blue eyes and yellow hair.
The Gauls were ever ready to talk, to tell of their
wonderful deeds, which deeds had not always taken
 for the Gaul's imagination was as vivid as
the clothes he liked to wear.
The Germans did not boast, indeed they talked but
little. Yet they were determined and constant, and
seldom failed in what they set their will to do.
In their home life, too, the Gauls and Germans had
different customs. One of these was that the Gauls were
served by slaves, whom they treated as they treated
their beasts, while those who waited on the Germans sat
round the hearths of their masters, and were treated as
friends and comrades.
Three chief German tribes overran Gaul-the Visigoths,
the Burgundians, and the Franks.
Julian, the Roman emperor, in 355 A.D. found that all
his strength was needed to fight the Franks, who were
the most powerful of the three German tribes. In spite
of all he could do, however, northern Gaul was soon
seized and held by these wild ambitious Germans.
The emperor therefore went himself to the north, and
set up his court at Paris, or Lutetia, as this small
village, built on a little island in the river Seine,
was then called. He hoped by his presence to subdue the
But his hope was vain, and in 357 A.D. Lutetia itself,
which Julian loved for its sea breezes and its vines
and figs, was filled with Franks, and the emperor was
forced to admit them to his court, and even to employ
them in his army.
So great became the power of these persistent Franks,
that in 387 A.D. Argobast, one of their chiefs, became
Emperor of the West in all but name. The real emperor
was Theodosius, but Argobast was powerful enough to put
his own followers into every position of trust in the
When Theodosius died, his successor Valentinian was
determined to get rid of Argobast. He thought it would
be a simple matter to depose the Frank, and himself
 him a writ or paper, bidding him give up
all claim to the imperial throne.
With true Frankish scorn for his enemy, Argobast tore
up the writ, trampled it beneath his feet in the
presence of Valentinian, and then went on his way as before.
When, a short time after this, Valentinian was
strangled as he slept, Argobast put Eugenius, who had
been a school master on the emperor's seat. He himself
took the highest position next to the emperor, being
called a "Mayor of the Palace."
In 394 A.D. Argobast, who was a pagan, led the
emperor's forces to battle against the Christians in
Eugenius, who himself was on the battlefield, was
lulled and his army utterly defeated. Then Argobast
fearing that he might be captured and slain by the
enemy, fell upon his sword and died.
In northern Gaul the Franks were now more powerful than
the Romans. In the south the Visigoths and Burgundians.
the other great German tribes, had made a home for
themselves, and were living more or less peaceably
among the Romans and Gauls. The country might therefore
soon have been at peace, but in 450 A.D. a barbarous
people called the Huns invaded the land. The Huns came
from the east, where they had already laid waste
country and town. They had no wish to conquer Gaul and
settle in it. All they cared for was to conquer and
'The Huns were led by their king, Attila, who was so
cruel that he was named "The Scourge of God."
Against so dread a foe all the different tribes in Gaul
united, being led by Theodoric, a Visigoth, and Aetius,
a Roman general. It was a conflict on which much
depended, for should the Huns conquer Gaul they would
attack Spam, Italy and finally rule over the whole
Meanwhile, in the summer of 451 A.D., Attila besieged
Orleans. The town was considered sacred in those days
and was called Aureliacum.
 For a time the city held out bravely, but at
length the bishop sent a message to Aetius, saying, l
If thou be not here this very day, my son, it will be
Yet still Aetius did not come, and Orleans was forced
to surrender. As the Huns began to plunder the city,
however, loud shouts rent the air. Aetius and Theodoric
had come at last. They fell upon the Huns so fiercely
that Attila was forced to retreat.
At length they reached the plains of Chalons-sur-Marne.
Aetius and Theodoric, who had followed, were now close
behind. Attila ordered his men to halt. He was
determined to fight and overthrow the bold Roman, the
undaunted Visigoth, who had forced him to leave
Orleans, his hardly won prize.
On the plains of Chalons-sur-Marne a terrible battle
then began. All afternoon and evening the struggle
lasted. Theodoric was slain, and when night came those
who had fallen were too many to be numbered.
Aetius and his followers were victorious. Attila,
expecting that his camp would be attacked, made ready a
great funeral-pyre on which he meant to die rather than
be captured by the Romans and Franks. But Aetius was
worn out after the battle, and the Huns were free to
retreat across the Rhine. Thus the country was saved
from King Attila and his barbarous followers.
Gaul was now no longer a province of Rome. The German
tribes had gradually taken possession of the country.
Rome, indeed, had fallen on such evil days, that she
soon ceased to have an emperor of her own. Even as her
first emperor was a Romulus, so was her last, who in
476 A.D. was deposed. There was now no Emperor of the
West, the Emperor of the East ruling supreme from the
Bosphorus, until the year 800 A.D., when, as you shall
hear, Charles the Great became the head of the Holy
Roman Empire with the title "Emperor of Rome."