Front Matter France Long Ago The Gauls In France The Priests of the Gauls Sailor Stories Conquests of the Gauls Two Great Battles Caesar in Gaul Gaul under the Romans First Christian Martyrs Patron Saint of France Franks Come to Gaul The First Kings Conquests of Clovis Clotaire and His Relatives Two Rival Queens Good King Dagobert The Saracens Checked End of the Merovingians Charlemagne's Wars Charlemagne's Manners Charlemagne, Emperor Feudalism Troublesome Sons The Strassburg Oath Normans Besiege Paris Last of the Carolingians The Year One Thousand Robert's Two Wives Wealth of the Clergy The First Crusade A Love Story The Second Crusade More Crusades The Battle of Bouvines Blanche of Castile The Sixth Crusade The Reign of Louis IX Effect of the Crusades The Battle of the Spurs End of Knights Templar The Hundred Years' War The Siege of Calais The Battle of Poitiers Seven Years of Misery The Brave du Guesclin Achievements of Charles V Charles VI Misrule in France The Disgraceful Treaty Joan to the Rescue Orleans and Rheims Joan's Martyrdom Charles's Successes The Crafty King Louis XI Louis XI's Reign Achievements of Louis XI Charles VIII The Second Italian War Death of Louis XII Francis I Rivalry of Kings Achievements of Francis I End of Francis's Reign Reign of Henry II A Young King and Queen Catherine's Regency The Forced Wedding Massacre of the Huguenots Death of Charles IX An Effeminate King he Battle of Coutras The Murder of the Guises Winning a Crown Conversion of Henry IV Henry IV's Second Marriage Death of Henry IV The Minority of Louis XIII Rule of the Favorites Richelieu and Louis XIII End of Louis XIII's Reign Beginning of a Great Reign Wars of the Fronde Death of Mazarin Versailles The Iron Mask Louis XIV's Campaigns Madame de Maintenon Later Wars of Louis XIV The Spanish Succession The Age of Louis XIV

Story of Old France - Helene Guerber

How the Gauls Came into France

The first home of the Celtic, or Keltic, people, thousands of years ago, was probably somewhere in eastern Europe or western Asia. As they grew in numbers, from time to time tribes of them were forced to leave home to seek new hunting and fishing grounds, or better pasture for their cattle. Thus at a very early period some of these Celts made their way to the land between the Rhine and the Atlantic, which they disputed with the Iberians, while others settled in the British Isles. At a later period, still many centuries before Christ, they were followed by younger tribes of Celts, or Gauls. As these newcomers were stronger and better armed than the earlier settlers, they soon gained possession of the best parts of the country.

These Gauls were more advanced in knowledge than the earlier Celts and the Iberians, and were taller and better looking, with fair skin, blue eyes, and long hair. They were strong and active and afraid of nothing. They spoke in harsh tones, and often boasted loudly of the deeds they had done or were going to do.

They knew how to work metals, and to spin and weave, so they owned good tools and weapons, and wore breeches, shirts, and cloaks woven from the wool of their sheep. They liked gay colors and pretty ornaments, and therefore fastened their plaid garments with bright metal clasps, some of which still exist, to show that they were no mean artists. Besides some horses, they owned sheep, cows, and great droves of pigs.

The Gauls generally went bareheaded, their long hair being gathered together and tied on top of their heads, whence it streamed loose in the breeze, like a horse's tail. All the warriors took special pride in the length and thickness of their hair, which they carefully combed and often rubbed with rancid butter, so as to keep it thick and glossy. As they shaved off their beards and wore long mustaches, they looked very, fierce when they brandished their bronze spears and battle-axes, and uttered their blood-curdling war cry, "Off with their heads!"

The Gauls believed that the souls of brave men passed after death into new, strong bodies; and therefore they rushed into battle without any fear. When one of their chiefs fell, his body was placed on a huge funeral pyre, where it was burned with his horse, his dogs, his weapons, garments, ornaments, utensils, and booty. Sometimes some of his slaves were killed and burned with him, so that the chief should have servants to wait upon him in his new life. The Gauls fancied, too, that the souls of cowards passed after death into the bodies of vile animals. Each father, therefore, taught his sons to be fearless, so that they should be honored here on earth, and be happy hereafter.

The funeral of a chief


The women were nearly as tall and strong as the men, but even more handsome, and were greatly respected. They wore long linen gowns, and dyed their hair red—a color they greatly admired. They were so brave that they not only encouraged their husbands, sons, and brothers to fight, but often went into battle themselves, side by side with the men.

Most of the warriors went from place to place and fought on foot; but the bravest and richest rode fine horses, around whose necks they hung ghastly necklaces, made of the skulls of the enemies they had slain in battle. A few also drove in war chariots, which had sharp scythes fastened to their wheels. These dashed into the enemy's ranks, mowing them down like ripe grain, if they did not turn and run away in sudden terror.