The Rise of Rome
In about 510 BC Rome expelled the Etruscan kings and became a republic. Growth was slow for the next century or so and it didn't really speed up until after the battles of Clusium and Allia in 390 BC. The Celts (Gauls) under Brennus continued their advance and sacked Rome in 387 BC. Complete capture of the city only being avoided by the fortuitous warning given by a startled gaggle of geese. The Romans rebuilt their city, surrounding it with a city wall and from now on gradually increased their powerbase through systematic treaties or defeat of their nearest neighbours. They fought three wars against the Samnites [343-341 BC, 326-304 BC and 298-290 BC] receiving Capua and capturing the Samnite capital of Bovianum in 298 BC. The third war saw the Samnites enter into a loose coalition with the Etruscans, Celts (Gauls), Sabines, Lucanians and Umbrians. Over the next eight years the Romans defeated each of the coalition members individually and their hold on central Italy was ensured. From 285-282 BC the Romans fought with the Celts of northern Italy, conquering the Gallic Senones in 282 BC. Turning their attention south, Rome attacked Tarentum and King Pyrrhus of Epirus deafeating them over the next ten years. The Greek cities of southern Italy were either captured or now pledged their allegiance to Rome. Rome now controlled the majority of the Italian peninsula. Shortly afterwards the Romans would be at war once again. The Carthaginians (descendants of the original Phoenicians) were attacked and defeated during the Three Punic Wars [261-241 BC, 218-201BC and 149-146 BC].
'Celts' v. Romans
After defeating the Carthaginians at the battle of Zuma (N.Africa) at the end of the Second Punic War, Rome had to turn her attentions to her northern borders once more. The celtic type tribes that had settled around the Po River Valley, rose up against them. The Boii and Insubres tribes were finally defeated in 190 BC after a 10 year campaign. The next 70 years or so proved to be a relatively quiet period before the Romans were at war once more. Between 113-101 BC the Germanic tribes of the Ambrones, Teutones, Harudes and Cimbri left their homes in present day Denmark and Northern Germany and moved south settling on Rome's northern border. These tribes defeated the Romans at the battles of Noreia (113 BC) and Arausio (105 BC). Shocked by these defeats the Roman Army was reformed under Consul Marius who in turn defeated the 'Germanics' at Aquae Sextiae (102 BC) and Vercellae (101 BC).
The Fall of Gaul
When Caesar invaded Gaul he found 3 'Celtic' tribes squabbling for power. Internal Roman politics gave Julius Caesar the lands known as cis-Alpine Gaul in 59 BC. He then set about the systematic attacking of all the individual Celtic tribes that loosely made up Gaul. He attacked and defeated the Helvetii and captured Lugdunum and Bibracte in 58 BC. Sweeping north in an anti-clockwise direction his armies attacked the Belgae (Belgic Celts) and Nervii the following year. At the same time the germanic tribe the Suevi invaded from what is now Western Germany. The peoples of Gaul were caught in a classic 'pincer' movement. Reaching the Channel coast the Romans attacked the Veneti of Armorica. The Veneti were a powerful tribe who made most of their camps along the coasts in impressive cliff castles and were great sailors. It is thought that they may have also called for help from their close cousins in South-west Britain [see Timeline]. In 56 BC the Veneti assembled a great fleet of over 200 ships in Morbihan Bay and put all their efforts into this one battle. The smaller Roman vessels were more manoeuverable and soon dealt with the larger 'Celtic' force. Many of the defeated Celts then fled west to the Channel Islands and north to the southwest peninsula of Britain for safety [see Culture]. Once Caesar had successfully defeated the Veneti his armies now crossed the Channel to probe south-eastern Britain in 55 and 54 BC. The remaining Gauls under Vercingetorix put up great resistance but their revolt was finally put down in 51 BC. Gaul had been conquered.