De Bello Gallico (On the Gallic Wars) and De Bellum Civilii (On the Civil War) are two Latin commentaries written by the Roman dictator and general Julius Caesar (d. 44 BC). They provide an account of his military campaigns in Gaul (a region covering modern day France) and subsequent conflict with his rival Pompey (d. 48 BC) to assert control over the Roman Republic.
During the Middle Ages, there was a sustained interest in the Classical past and the works of Classical authors, poets and historians continued to be read and copied. Caesar’s commentaries were particularly popular, surviving in almost 100 manuscripts from this period. They were also translated into a number of vernacular languages.
This illuminated manuscript is one of nine surviving copies of a French translation of the text written by the scribe Jean Duchesne working in Bruges in the 1480s. This copy is illustrated with scenes from the text at the beginning of each of the ten books, or chapters into which it was divided. One of these books describes the campaign in Martigny (in modern-day Switzerland), here shown preparing for the arrival of the Roman legions and the evacuation of its people on boats (f. 116v; image no. 1).
- Article by:
- Alixe Bovey
Medieval towns were vibrant hubs of activity, housing an array of people from political and spiritual leaders to traders, craftsmen, inn-keepers and brothel owners. Here, Dr Alixe Bovey explores what went on inside city walls.