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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, ColoradoRise of Nation State England

Rise of Nation State England
- The Celts -
Threat of the Celts, Celtic Battles and Conquests

Macedonia / Alexander the Great
In 335 BC, Alexander the Great had a meeting with three Celtic envoys in Macedonia. Knowing the Celts valor, Alexander asked what the Celts feared above all else. "The sky may fall on their head," was their reply. "Boastful chaps," muttered Alexander. (He expected that they would fear him the most.)

Alexander the Great

"People of great stature and haughty disposition,"
wrote the Greek historian, Arrian.

Celt Land Conquest
A Swiss Celtic tribe decided to go southwest seeking broader lands. They set about it in great fashion. The tribe produced surplus crops for two years, and made hundreds of wagons for their journey. They burned 400 villages to strengthen their resolve not look back.

The Mediterranean / Caesar
The Romans were concerned that the Celts would put pressure on the Mediterranean and felt threatened. Caesar also saw this as a perfect opportunity for an easy victory because the Celts had no fortifications to protect themselves. Caesar savagely massacred them. A census on the eve of their departure tallied 368,000 - Caesar reported that 258,000 of the Celts were killed. Following this, Caesar fought some 30 battles, took more than 800 towns, and killed, by his own count, 1,192,000 men, women, and children.

Alesia / Celt Chief Vercingetorix
The year, 52 BC, was a crucial year. Gaul and the Celts had finally united and they rallied behind a young chief Vercingetorix. His strategy was not haphazard tribal raiding. They would fight as a team. They would burn cities and farms if they lost, so that the Romans could not live off the land. He used guerrilla warfare to cut off Caesar's supplies and reinforcements.

The initial successes were followed by disasters. He withdrew 80,000 men to Alesia "rocky hill" in Celtic. Alesia was a fortified city. Vercingetorix didn't have to wait long for Caesar to follow. Before the Gauls unbelieving eyes, the Roman Legions ringed the fortifications 9.5 miles around.

Vercingetorix hurled his elite horseman at the entrenching Romans. Just before the ring closed, he slipped his cavalry out to summon relief from tribes far and wide. Caesar's position now grew critical. While starving out the fortress in front, Vercingetorix was now vulnerable from the rear. Again he told the boys to start digging, this time an outside ring 14 miles around! Between the two perimeters, Caesar had 40,000 men and was ready to fight in two directions simultaneously.

(A model of those fearsome siege works is shown in the National Museum of Antiquities at St. Germain en Laye. "Minefields" sown with log-anchored iron hooks to rip and break legs, brush-covered "tank traps" with fire-hardened stakes embedded to disembowel man and mount, the "barbed-wire thicket" of sharpened forked loglegionaries called "tomstones." Then formidable double ditches. Finally, the bristling earth-and-log ramparts topped with palisades and backed by redoubts towers.)

Relief forces finally arrive - more than a quarter of a million Celts from at least two score tribes. Starving Celts, trying to break out of Alesia, die in the traps, on the inner walls. Caesar, in his red cape, swiftly moves reinforcements to stem the breach. Vercingetorix emerges alone from the gates of Alesia. He dismounts, flings down his weapons, and sits in silent submission at the feet of his conqueror. The Romans found settlements of timber, and made them stone. Gallic magistrates adopted the toga and the name Julius. Roman Gaul remained Celtic Gaul in disguise.

Celtic Christianity
The Celts became Roman Christians. Old habits are hard to break - like the Celtic warrior who boasted of killing an enemy everyday of the week. On becoming Christian, so as not to profane the Sabbath, he killed two on Saturday.

Biggest Nonevent in Irish History
The biggest nonevent in Irish history is that "the Romans never got here."

"Nor the Saxons. So we remained Celtic. We kept our peculiar patterns of society and customs, our Celtic approach to life. 'Ireland,' out of disunity, saved us," added Mr. Sedivy's history-savvy traveling companion, Etienne, on a recent trip to UK. Etienne continued, "When the Vikings stormed ashore, there was no central government to conquer, and no towns. So the Vikings built their own Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, and lived apart." Etienne added, "Then the Anglo-Normans came. They built castles but couldn't conquer the country either."

Violent Irishman
Wild Irishmen, c. 1187. An Irishman is shown standing on the back of another
and hacking him with an axe, the symbol of unrestrained violence.

Mr. Sedivy's Excellent Celtic Trivia
Even in the grave, the Irish never stopped fighting. Kings would ask to be buried upright, sword or javelin in hand, facing the foe. Connaugh men were invincible, driving out the men of Ulster, until the invaders dug up the old king and broke the spell by re-interring him head down. Modern Celts can be very ascetic. They like their pilgrimages harsh, such as climbing Croagh Patrick the last Sunday in July on bare, bleeding feet.

Irish king in bath
The marriage of an Irish king to his country in Ulster, c. 1187.
A horse was boiled in a bath, then the king sat in the bath surrounded by his people. They all ate horse meat and drank the water. This symbolized the unity of king and people.

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Mr. Sedivy's Lecture Notes & Historical Info

The Celts
| Gallic He-Men | Celtic Culture, Trade, Religion, Women |
| Threat of the Celts - Celtic Battles and Conquests |

- Rise of Nation State England -
| Roman Conquest of Britain | Christianity in Britain |
| Customs: Thanes, Churls, Thralls, Wergeld, Folk-Moot |
| Dark Ages: Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan |
| The Return of the Vikings |
| Kings of Britain: Aethelred, Cnut, Edward the Confessor |
| Bayeaux Tapestry, William the Conqueror,
Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, Harold II
| The Crusades: Richard Lion Heart, Pope Urban |
| King John, Innocent III, Archbishop Stephen Langton |
| Magna Carta / First Parliament |

Wales and Scotland
| Wales: Edward I, Llewellyn, Snowdonia |
| Scotland: Alexander III, John Balliol,
William Wallace, Robert Bruce, King Edward II

The 100 Years War
| Edward III, Longbows at Crecy, Edward IV, Black Prince |
| Henry V, King Charles VI, Battle at Calais, Treaty of Troyes |

More Information
| Other Kings of the Dark and Middle Ages:
William II, Henry I, Henry II
| The British Monarchy's Peerage: Dukes, Viscounts,
Marquess, Earls, Baronets, and Barons

Class Activities
Roman Conquest Comparison
Battle of Agincourt

Related Information
Mr. Sedivy's World History - The Middle Ages
The Complete Bayeux Tapestry
Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages / Crusades
The Hundred Years War
King Henry VIII
The Interesting Life of Elizabeth I
The Stuarts - James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II
Oliver Cromwell



Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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