Why did Caesar conquer France in 8 years but the English failed after 112 years?

Jul 2019
13
San Diego, CA
I know this isn't central to the thread's theme, but I've never come across this quote before, and if he did claim such a thing and it has any truth to it rather than being a grandiose bit of rhetoric, the majority of these 300 battles would have to have been mere skirmishes. A great thing about Caesar is that we have his commentaries on the Gallic campaigns and the civil war, and so we know about his battles. There aren't nearly that many.
Well, he fought in Gaul for 8 years and then the civil war for I think it was about 4 years. Right there that's 12 years. Nathan Bedford Forest by comparison during the 4 years of the American Civil War came under fire 150 times give or take 10 according the Jack Hurst. If Caesar is conflating skirmish with battle then I think 300 is certainly possible. And perhaps he meant 300 victories and just failed to disclose the number of losses. As for the actual quote it's in Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: A life, so you'll have to take it up with her.
 
Jul 2019
13
San Diego, CA
It does explain why the Romans managed to keep Gaul while the English failed in keeping France, however.
No, it doesn't. If I ask: 'Why did C conquer in G in 8 years whereas E tried for 112 and failed' and you say: 'because C committed genocide', then that doesn't explain why C won. You can't commit genocide if you can't conquer the group. When have you ever heard of a nation which lost a war but committed genocide against the people that defeated them. It's logically impossible.
 
Jul 2019
13
San Diego, CA
The key is really in KEEPING France/Gaul. Technically Henry V did conquer France in 5 years (1415-1420) with the Treaty of Troyes recognizing him as the regent and the heir of France. Had he not died in 1422 at only 35 years of age, things could have gone very differently.
If you look at the map, it's more accurate to say that he conquered half of France and the capital which is like conquering 3/4ths of the nation.


As for later conquests, the higher the tech, the faster the armies can move and cover ground. As well as communicate and organize a swift surrender when the war has been lost.
Yes, it's true that technology does speed up the rate of taking land but I was using that as an example that population alone does not predict the speed of conquest.
 
Jul 2019
13
San Diego, CA
After reading all of the posts my new oversimplified explanation is as follows:
1. Gaul was more divided in 50 BC than France 1339 - 1451.
2. Rome was a better trained and more disciplined army.
3. Caesar was probably the greatest general of all time.
4. England had half the population of France and the logistical problems of the channel were harder to surmount than crossing the Alps.
5. Gaul also to deal with attacks from the Germans, though to be fair Rome also had other fronts to worry about.
6. Both the English and the French suffered from a lack of military tactical genius, Henry V being an exception but he only participated for 7 years.
 
Oct 2018
2,057
Sydney
Well, he fought in Gaul for 8 years and then the civil war for I think it was about 4 years. Right there that's 12 years. Nathan Bedford Forest by comparison during the 4 years of the American Civil War came under fire 150 times give or take 10 according the Jack Hurst. If Caesar is conflating skirmish with battle then I think 300 is certainly possible. And perhaps he meant 300 victories and just failed to disclose the number of losses. As for the actual quote it's in Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: A life, so you'll have to take it up with her.
Indeed, I've made my criticisms known to a number of ancient historians. I think it's worth bearing in mind that ancient warfare was of a lower intensity than modern warfare. A typical campaigning season in a given war consisted of a major battle, several skirmishes and maybe a siege or two.
 
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Feb 2018
248
US
The medieval states were severely hampered by decentralized administrations that could raise, supply, and sustain far fewer troops than the Romans of Caesar's era. They also would not have had the strong military tradition that Caesar inherited.

Frankly Caesar's conquest of Gaul is actually rather slow compared to his peers or betters, especially once you look away from the propaganda aspects. He chose a lower-risk approach utilizing inherent Roman advantages, which worked, but relied on sustained political support. Several of his Civil War campaigns are far more impressive. In the same amount of time as Caesar, Alexander conquered the Persian Empire. Trajan conquered Dacia [a smaller region] in two campaigns in around 2 years overall. Scipio effectively conquered Carthage in 7. Sulla Han Xin conquered China from a far worse position in 4 years, in several campaigns with troops that had been hastily conscripted with little training.
 
May 2017
1,268
France
In fàçt the riwàlity between Romà ànd the gàuls begàn in 387 bjç with the oççupàtion of Romà by Brennus (rugby heroe) ànd not with the fàmous willàge of àsteriçs
 
Apr 2017
756
Lemuria
The key is really in KEEPING France/Gaul. Technically Henry V did conquer France in 5 years (1415-1420) with the Treaty of Troyes recognizing him as the regent and the heir of France. Had he not died in 1422 at only 35 years of age, things could have gone very differently.

If you compare the resources, England had less than half the population of France. Roman Republic dwarfed Gaul, and many tribes were allies of Rome or destroyed in Roman reprisals. It was always going to be an uphill struggle for the King of England to conquer and keep France, unless they'd manage to co-opt the French nobility on their side, too.

As for later conquests, the higher the tech, the faster the armies can move and cover ground. As well as communicate and organize a swift surrender when the war has been lost.
This was England vs France. England and most of the old Angevin empire in france plus Burgundy were fighting against France. Again the Anglo-Saxons were mostly irrelevant in that war.
 
Jan 2009
1,285
England and most of the old Angevin empire in france plus Burgundy were fighting against France. Again the Anglo-Saxons were mostly irrelevant in that war.
The yeoman longbowmen would like to have a word. Also, without the English peasants and merchants, how are you going to equip and feed the noblemen? I would agree that the nobility was mainly of Norman extraction, although there were also Welsh and Anglo-Saxon blood coming in. For instance, Henry I's wife, Matilda of Scotland, and through her, Empress Matilda and the Plantagenet Kings.

As for the old Angevin Empire, that was long gone by 15th century. The Kings of England could not hold onto even the lands restored in the Treaty of Bretigny, and by the start of 15th century, the lands in France were again hemmed back to Guyenne (and Calais). The taking of Rouen was a lengthy and a bloody affair, not a cheered restoration of the ancient Duchy of Normandy.

The alliance of Burgundy happened formally in 1419, just a year prior to the Treaty of Troyes. Although I am happy to admit that the alliance did benefit Henry V a lot, and that the Burgundians and the Armagnacs feuding with one another was beneficial to the English even before the formal alliance; for instance the Burgundians did not come to Agincourt in 1415.
 
Aug 2019
152
Netherlands
If it wasn't for Ceasar, the history of present France, its surroundings and Britain would have been quite different I think. The idea to go further than the Provence and actually invading Gaul was never seriously considered before, especially with the collective haunting memory of the plundering Gaulish invaders into Roman territories and the infamous reputation of celtic furor and effective use of cavalry. They were viewed as quite formidable. A huge psychological barrier was broken as Ceasar went in successfully. In the end half of the Gaulish population was brought into slavery I believe. That must have been quite a number of people.
 
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