Gallia

PLATE NO. 2

Wales, France, Lerine, Belgium, Flanders, and Frisse with surrounding countries.

North of the Pyrenees and west of the Alps, and settled just up to the Rhine River by the Romans in antiquity, Gallia is a land of cultural paradoxes. The French, borne from the medieval Theodic Kingdom of the Franks, are neither Theodic nor Celtic, and deviate quite drastically from other Roman successor states in both language and culture. The Welsh, though Celtic, are not descendants of the original Celtic inhabitants of this part of Europea, but rather, migrated over from the British Isles. And the other original peoples of the area, the Aquitani, became a people who now share more cultural heritage with their Iberian neighbours than they do with their Gallic ones. It is said, therefore, that Gallia is one of those parts of Europea most emblematic of the radical cultural shifts that occurred during the Migration Period of Europea.

I. Land


In antiquity, Gallia consisted of three sections, roughly corresponding to the inhabitants of each area at the time. The Gallia Celtica section, which is the area that boasts the most documented history of Celtic peoples in mainland Europea, now forms the bulk of the modern nation of France and the Armorica Peninsula in the western extremity. The Aquitanian section of Gallia in the southwest is now split between the French province of Guyenne, which is itself a cognate of Aquitania, and the northern portion of Navarre, a country mostly situated in the Iberian Peninsula to the south of the Pyrenee range but which sees itself as the successor to the Aquitani people and, and which continues to be poetically referred to by the related term, Aquitaine. The area that experienced the least drastic cultural shift is the Belgica section, from which the modern state of Belgium takes its name. This section corresponds to the modern Netherlands, otherwise known as the Low Countries, and has long been a meeting point of different cultures and the Theodic, Ausonic, and Celtic linguistic branches of the Indo-European language family. Today, the state of Belgium, similar to the alpine state of Helvetium, is still a convergent point between Ausonic and Theodic peoples. The Wallon people speak a language related to French and other northern dialects of the Gallic branch of the Ausonic language family, and the Theyon people speak a Franconian vernacular related to Alman and German.

Much of Gallia is fertile, well-fed by rivers, and gets the best of the northern sun. The temperate climate here is a little warmer than in other parts of the northern European mainland in the winter and experiences milder summers. Compared to Britain, which has the most similar climate, the countries of Gallia receive more sunshine in summers and less rain in winters. In the northern France, the Netherlands, and Wales, snow falls in the winter, whereas temperatures stay above freezing for much of the year south of the Armorica Peninsula on the west coast and in the Riviera on the Mediterranean Coast. The northern part of Gallia is mostly flatland and highly conducive to agriculture. Almost all of the Armorica Peninsula and the Netherlands, as well as the French provinces of Picardy, Normandy, Champagne, Maine, and Île de France, have been converted for agriculture. Oak woodlands, coastal dunes, and large tidal flats characterize much of the remaining uncultivated lands in France, while in southern France and Lerine, historically known as Septimania, the natural landscape is also characterized by lush stands of olive and carob trees, stands of oak mixed with pine, and expanses of littoral wetlands. Like much of western Europea, native megafauna have mostly been hunted to extinction.

Land-reclaiming windmills continue to be part of Flanders's landscape.

Derived from the photo by jace48, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

II. Folk


The main and official languages spoken in the countries in Gallia.

The people of Gallia are generally some of the tallest in Europea, especially so in Normandy and the Netherlands, where locals attribute a diet high in dairy and oily fish to be responsible for their stature. In terms of look, there is quite a bit of variety, as in Britain. The northern parts of France, Wales, and much of the Netherlands are said to reflect the Norman and Theodic settling of the area, while in Lerine and the central and southern parts of France, the people are said to more reflect the ancient Celtic and Mediterranean inhabitants of the area. In general, light eyes are more common than light hair. Racial theorists in the 19th century often remarked that French people were a transitional population, featuring a mixture of the darker features of the Iberic, Ausonic, and Tamazic peoples with the fetishized lighter features of Nordic, Theodic, and Slavic peoples. The observations may be superficially correct, and in fact, are quite obvious. The methodology and prescriptions of these thinkers, however, have been discredited in mainstream politics and academia in much of the world, though conservatives throughout Europea, segregationists in the United States, as well as colonial settlers in the British Commonwealth politicized this mode of thinking in the years before the Second World War.

Though France was the richest country in Europea for much of the pre-modern period, it was quickly surpassed by Britain and the neighbouring Theodic territories of Prussia and Austriamulti-ethnic empires borne out of the Holy Roman Empireas their populations continued to rise while France's stagnated. Today, France is considerably less densely populated than its adjacent neighbours, having more territory than Britain while barely having a comparable number of citizens, and all the while seeing considerably less emigration in the last few centuries too. The countries of the Netherlands, in contrast, became one of the densest parts of Europea due to constant westward migrations of Protestants from the lands of the Holy Roman Empire in the wake of the Thirty Years' War and the opening of new lands from dredging and damming marginal mudflats on the coast. Meanwhile, due to its rich maritime history and proximity to two colonial powers, Wales saw considerable emigration to both English and French colonies in the Age of Exploration.

Like the cities in Flanders, canals crisscross much of Groningen's urban fabric.

Derived from the photo by Bert Kaufmann, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Much of the population in the area is concentrated in the north, where the land opens up to maritime trade easily. Here, many cities of the Netherlands boast the legacy of the Hanseatic League, which spurred the rise of medieval industries in Flanders and Frisse from the trade of manufactured goods for raw resources in the Baltic east. Frequent traffic across the Norman Channel, as well as connections to the Transatlantic trade routes, also made the north politically and economically more important. Inland, the middle and upper Meuse Valley became one of the first areas outside of Britain to industrialize, due to the concentration of coal and mineral deposits in that area. In contrast, the Mediterranean-facing Septimania, which used to be culturally distinct and the richer part of Gallia, lost clout and demographic momentum in medieval times after the decimation of the Cathar Crusade and continued piracy stemming from the ports of Libya that form the famed Barbary Coast. This depressed part of Gallia would experience an economic resurgence in the late modern period, coinciding with the years republican France pivoted to the Mediterranean for imperialistic ambitions, as well as with the rise of modern coastal tourism trends. Language politics in republican France a few centuries later, came to be the final death blow to the once vibrant Occitan language. The only linguistic holdover in this part of Gallia is in Lerine, where the Provencal dialect continues to be enfranchised as the official language despite the cosmopolitan connections of the microstate's capital and only major city, Cannes.

While large cities form the cultural hubs of Frisse, Flanders, Belgium, Lerine, and even the less populated Wales, the landscape of France is radically more proportionally formed, with an even spread of medium-sized cities, towns, and villages. France was not much slower to adopt the technology of Britain's Industrial Revolution than its neighbours, and yet, perhaps due to a combination of feudal cultural inertia and government intervention, industries did not concentrate in the most obvious and efficient places, but instead, spread throughout the country. The French capital of Paris, for instance, is not much larger than other French cities, and is nowhere near as large as London is compared to the next largest English city, Birmingham. And yet, it is not only a local cultural capital, but continues to be the gravitational centre of Europea.

III. Yore


Though at first largely a land inhabited by Celtic tribes, the written history of Gallia is often said to begin with the Roman-Gallic Wars, with Roman influence spilling out of the Alps into the expansive country of Gallia Celtica and becoming cemented by the first century after Julius Caesar's Conquest of Gaul. Ever since the Roman occupation, Gallia's history and politics became intertwined with that of the Roman core in Ausonia, but also Iberia and the Roman frontier lands of the Theodic peoples in the east, which largely make up the area later known in the medieval period as Aquilonia. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, all these areas became dominated by Theodic tribes, often sharing the same dynasties. A period of mass migration and settlement ensued in the former lands of the Western Roman Empire, with Gallia being at the centre of it all. The people in Gallia are thus said to be descended from this complex history of linguistic, cultural, and demographic changes. The adjacent British Isles, on the other hand, were more insulated from this period of upheaval, though the isles would become a destination of mass migration in their own right.

Though Latin, the language of the Romans, supplanted local languages and became the dominant language in the area, the modern Roman-descended or Ausonic languages of French, as well as Wallon in Belgium, are highly divergent from other Ausonic languages further to the south. The nearly extinct southern dialects of Septimania in France are more similar to the Iberian language spoken still in Aragon, and also share commonalities with the languages of northern Ausonia. These dialects were less influenced by the Theodic Franks and Normans. In fact, the modern Leron language of Lerine shows substantial influence from the Ligurian vernacular of Genoa due to a long history of Ligurian presence in the coast of Provence, from its time as a colonial outpost of the Republic of Genoa, and then later as an independent principality under the wealthy Genoese Grimaldi family, which purchased Cannes and the Lerins Islands from the Crown of Aragon when the territory was temporarily under Aragonese rule. Unlike the local dialects of Nissa and Munegu, however, Leron did not shift as drastically to Ligurian and retains its core Occitan structure. Ironically, despite the Grimaldi family's strong ties to the French metropole and much of Ausonia, the local populace escaped the language suppression policies that was forced upon much of southern France after the French Revolution.

Like the French Riviera, Cannes and much of the whole economy of Lerine was built by modern tourism.

Derived from the photo by Christophe Finot, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5.

Contrary to popular belief, the modern English term Gaul, for example, is Theodic in origin, and comes from French, Gaule. It was introduced by the Franks after the Migration Period, when Roman power waned and Theodic peoples began to not only raid but settle in Gallia, Iberia, and even the home region of the Latins, Ausonia. Despite being heavily Latinized during the Roman and Medieval eras, France continues to carry threads of Celtic culture, and is still seen as a hybrid culture, hence, the use of terms like Gallo-Roman to describe various aspects of the French culture. Moreover, the French also share cultural similarities with their Theodic neighbours to the east, being once unified with both the Low Countries but also parts of modern Almany and Germany during the Carolingian Empire. Many words in French also come from the Norman variety of Gallo-Romance, which ultimately come from Norse.

Curiously, the country of Wales also gets its name from Gaul and is thus cognate to that poetic name used by French historians, Gaule or Gaul, to refer to France. Despite sounding similar to the toponym of Gallia, Gaul originates from the Theodic term walhaz, a cognate of many places in Europea that border Theodic-speaking peoples. It was an early medieval term used by the Theodic Franks to describe foreigners, in this case, the Romans and Celts who preceded them in the area. Ironically, the Franks themselves shifted linguistically to speaking Vulgar Latin and new dialects known as Gallo-Roman emerged during the era of the Carolingian Empire. In medieval France, Walhaland became Gaule, which became more widely used by the emerging Gallo-Frankish nation to describe themselves. The Franks, in turn, applied the term Brittany to the part of Armorica settled by Celtic peoples who migrated over from Britain in the early Medieval Period. The English, however, did not adopt this distinction, even during Norman England, which saw heavy influence on the English language coming from northern France. The English continued to refer to Celtic peoples in Gallia as Wealhas or later, Wales, regardless of whether they were the original Celtic inhabitants or not.

After the settling of the Normans in Normandy and the liberation of Wales from viking dominance, in part by the French, Wales became enjoined with the fate of France. The Duchy of Wales, however, retained a high degree of autonomy, and the Welsh language prospered in this era. Interestingly, due to royalist sentiments, the lands of Wales became a refuge for conservatives and those who resisted the revolutionary fervor of the French Revolution. This would lead to war with the new French Republic. Britain, with an interest in restoring the status quo in Europea, supported the Welsh and helped establish a new monarchy in Wales, leading to the Kingdom of Wales being proclaimed. During the Napoleonic Wars, Wales was reabsorbed into France only to regain its independence with the Treaties of Paris. Unlike the other Celtic nations in Britain, Wales remained staunchly Catholic.

Wales served as a cultural reserve for the Brittonic languages of Celtic Briton culture. Unlike the Goidelic languages of Ireland and Scotland, Devnish and Cumbrish were on a receding trend Britain, where the Anglo-Jutish migration and conquests had made much of the core lands of the Brittonic languages largely English-speaking. During this period of language shift in Britain, Wales enjoyed relative cultural autonomy despite being hemmed in by non-Celtic neighbours to the east. With the Norman Conquest of England, however, many nobles that went over to replace the Anglo-Jutish nobility were Welsh lords under the suzerainty of the Normans. They reclaimed lands their forebears had abandoned in the southwestern marches of Cumbreland and Devland, and it was through this return of Britons in this period that the Brittonic languages enjoyed a resurgence. The Legend of King Arthur, for instance, entered popular knowledge around this time, thanks to these returning noble families from the culturally vibrant centres of Wales. Ironically, centuries later, when French threatened to subsume Welsh in everyday use in Wales during the 18th and 19th centuries, a sort of renaissance in the British Celtic lands—largely due to the urbanization of Celtic peoples in the former Lallans-speaking belt of Britain—would lend strength to political activists and nationalists working to preserve the Welsh language.

Welsh cuisine and culture continues to be tied to the sea.

Derived from the photo by PtrQs, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

At first tied to various European dynasties and ruled from faraway places like France, Spain, and Germany, the Low Countries, more often referred to as the Netherlands, were a collection of duchies and territories much coveted by European rulers for their strategic ports of commerce and pre-industrial manufacturing centres for tapestries, fine textiles, and even crafts as specific as maps and atlases. The area became the centre of radical political and cultural shifts in the early modern period due to the Protestant Turn, which led to religious wars in the area, culminating with the Thirty Years' War, and resulted in the emergence of the free Republic of the Northern Netherlands. The newly formed republic saw a heavy influx of Theodic and French Protestants, as well as rebels fleeing from the Spanish-controlled Southern Netherlands. The wars with England and later the Napoleonic Wars would shift, divide, and unify the Low Countries for the centuries to come, finally ending with the creation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands by the great powers of Europea after the Napoleonic Wars ended.

Interestingly, the Flemish, who were long at the helm of politics in the Netherlands, contended with the great powers of Europea across the world during the Age of Exploration. Unlike the insular Frissish to their north, who also have deep roots in maritime activity, the Flemish were outwards looking. In both Catholic and Protestant cities of Flanders, trade and export manufacturing flourished. Before the supremacy of the British East Indea Company, the United East Indea Company, headquartered in Amsterdam, fought numerous overseas wars against the Portuguese for its territories and harassed Spanish armadas even up to the Spanish Main in Septentrea. But the colonial ventures of the Flemish not only helped shape the cultural and political landscape of places as far as Hesperea and Meridea, as well as Azanea and Sumatrea, but eventually came back full circle to shape local politics in the late 19th century.

By the time of the Kingdom of the Netherlands–also styled as the Kingdom of Batavia–foreign intervention by the victors of the Napoleonic Wars had artificially united the entire ethnically and religiously diverse area for the sake of containing France's capability of projecting its armies east into the rest of the region. The kingdom inherited many colonial territories, but as these holdings predated the monarchy, none of the overseas territories were personally controlled by the newfound crown. This led to the conquest of the Zaireone of the last places of Guinea to remain out of European imperialismand the humanitarian disaster of the Batavian Free State of Congo. When the mass atrocities were revealed to be carried out under direct orders of the crown's agents, the king was forced by parliament to abdicate. At risk of a new civil war finding its way on the nascent nation's numerous fault lines, the king dissolved the kingdom. Out of this dissolution came the modern countries of Flanders and Belgium, and eventually, Frisse.

The Flemish, though still divided by religious sect, were unified by language. In the past, the northern provinces were either referred to as Lower Lorraine, Holland, or Free Flanders, in contrast to French and Spanish Flanders. As the Netherlands had been used to refer to the greater region beyond the Hollish/Low Dutch/Flemish-speaking areas, and with an effort to stem confusion with the other Dutch peoples to the east, the new United Provinces state chose the name Vlaandaren, or Flanders in English, to unify the new country. The name Flanders, which comes from neighbouring Old Frissish, flandra, meaning "overflow, flood," emphasizes a shared language and culture of mitigating the advance of the sea in their lowland plains. At first, the Frissish were conjoined with the northern Flemish provinces, as they had been for many centuries now, but seeing the unity of much of the rest of the country being in language and not religion, as had been the case in the past for the northern Flemish provinces and Frisse, the Frissish-speaking provinces moved to secede from the new state of Flanders to prevent being subsumed by an enlarged Flemish-speaking area to the south. For the first time in nearly four hundred years, Frissish freedom was possible.

In turn, the parliaments of the modern territory of Belgium chose to retain the monarchy. Instead of inheriting the name of Batavia, however, the Wallon and Theyon parts united under Belgium, an ancient toponym reclaimed with a divergent Greco-Latin rendition to appease the different Ausonic and Theodic cultures. This unity, however, would prove to be too superficial in later years, when the legacy of nationalism finally caught up with this part of the world and cultural issues became at the forefront of Belgian politics. The fault line of this issue is in Luxembourg, where about half of the populace has now switched over from Theyon to the Wallon standard due to its traditional prestige and post-war associations with France instead of Almany and Germany. The rest of the modern residents, like the surrounding areas in the southeast of the country, continue to speak Theyon, which is the standardized Fraconian dialect of the Upper Moselle valley, and which is more closely related to standardized Alman than German, and only distantly related to Saxon and Flemish. At the backdrop of the cultural politics, however, is the fact that this part of the country is now wealthier in the service-economy and post-industrial context of western Europea, while the old Wallon country remains mired in economic decline from deindustrialization.

IV. Scape


The character of Gallia is highly polar, with grandiose styles of the elites often starkly different from the common slate and stone homes of the commoner's abode in the countryside. While the landscapes of the French and Welsh countryside became the focus of European romanticized notions of rural life, the architectural form of Gallia's cities is often seen as the pinnacle of European cultural expression, with elites in countries as far as Russia and later Chernorus emulating the classical and beaux-arts aesthetics of France, and the burghers of southern Scandinavia and northern Aquilonia designing their urban centres in a similar fashion as the canal-laden cities of Flanders and Frisse.

Culinary-wise, the character of northern Gallia can be summed up by a heavy reliance on dairy products, especially butter and cheese. In contrast, Lerine and Septimanian France in southern Gallia are steeped in a rich history of olive-based Mediterranean foodways. The corn of Wales and much of coastal France is buckwheat, whereas wheat is the preferred staple crop in the rest of the area, where temperatures are more favourable. Though the French had once had an appetite for the starch of the sunchoke, itself carried over from French colonies in Septentrea, at the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, rural folk throughout Europea embraced the Andean-derived potato, which at first was shunned because of European beliefs that most nightshades were poisonous.

Like in most parts of Europea, pea was the main pulse of the area, but lentils from Asea and beans from Columbea became part of the crop package in many parts of France, as well as Wales and the Netherlands to some extent. All of Gallia is noted for not only having a preference for earthy foods like mushrooms but also both land snails and sea snails like whelks and winkles, moreover the French are known to savour the taste of frog meat. The breeding of snails for meat is as common as the raising of pigeons in the French countryside, with ornate snailcots outnumbering dovecots in many places. Poultry, pork, beef, and lamb are meats found in butcher shops in this part of the world. Like in much of Europea, processing of offal into various foods and the use of intestines to make sausages is common. But perhaps the most important source of protein in Gallia, as it is in Britain, Norway, and Iberia, is the local fisheries, particularly that of herring, sardine, mackerel, eel, and to a lesser extent, cod and tuna. Oyster and mussel farming have also been traditionally quite intensive in the area, as well as the foraging of kelp and laver in Normandy, Wales, and the Netherlands.

The cultural heartland of France shifted north from cities like Avignon after the Cathar Crusade.

Derived from the photo by gillag, licensed under CC0.

The foodways of much of Gallia, like in Britain, changed drastically with the easy access of sugar and spices from overseas colonies. Desserts and baked goods, for instance, manifested in new ways with the influx of Caribbean sugar. And yet, French cuisine, apart from adopting certain overseas crops like potatoes and tomatoes, remains less altered as that of the British, though also not as conservative as the cuisines in the European interior. Instead of curries, which have become popularized in Britain, hearty or creamy stews and flour-thickened sauces still remain the norm, and day-to-day meals make use of bread, fresh and pickled vegetables, cheese, and smoked meats and fish. Unlike the aioli or alhòli of Lerine, in northern Gallia, the related codominant mayonnaise is made with eggs and can also use any type of oil as its base. Raw onions, and pickled cucumbers are also common ingredients in the north, especially in the Netherlands, and both dry and fresh herbs like dill, sage, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and parsley are more commonly used than spices. In fact, both spicy and spiced foods are generally viewed with suspicion here. Finally, on the coasts of both the Atlantic and Mediterranean, shellfish is popularly enjoyed by the peoples of Gallia, especially mussels and whelks, and most famously, the native European flat oyster particular to the Belon River in Wales, known as Belonsthe stocks of which have since the turn of the century bounced back thanks to modern aquaculture techniques. Though laverbread is not a thing on these coasts, various kelps and seaweeds are savoured in Wales and northern France, often paired with dairy products such as cheese and butter. It was in Wales, after all, that iodine from kelp was first isolated.

In contrast to Britain, coffee is the steep of choice for people in Gallia, owing to France's frequent interventions in Ausonian politics in the 19th century and its easy access to tropical plantations in its colonies. Coffee culture also came to the Netherlands due to its overseas exploits, but at first, both tea and chocolate were common. Only after the Napoleonic Wars did coffee cement itself as the main steep in the Low Countries. France, like modern Germany and Almany, is a major producer of wine, and particularly renowned too, but unlike in the Mediterranean countries, wine is not consumed in all occasions. With the onset of the industrial revolution beer became the drink of the common folk, especially in non-formal times, and apart from being the preferred drink in the countries of the Netherlands, is also the default drink of choice of people in the coastal northern pays of France, especially Normandy and Picardy. Interestingly, in Wales, the most commonly consumed drink is cider, particularly perry. Sour beers, tart ales known as saison, as well as ciders and radlersbeer mixed with fruitare also quite popular in all of Gallia, especially in the summer. In Lerine and in southern France, particularly the provinces of the historic Septimania area, as well as in Guyenne, wine is more readily consumed day to day.

In terms of fabrics, the Low Countries and France once boasted the most sophisticated linen industries in all of Europea, only to be supplanted by British imported cotton and the desire for fine silk from Serica in the 18th and 19th centuries. Linen is still culturally important today, far more so than wool, as pasture lands are usually dedicated to dairy production. Animal furs and pelts were also often fashioned onto coats and made into hats here, despite the climate being far warmer than in Siberea or Thulea, the main sources of these products.

In terms of fashion, aesthetics, and architecture, much of Gallia, just like Ausonia, Aquilonia, Britain, and to a lesser extent, Iberia, have strong foundations in Roman and Theodic or Gothic traditions due to shared general migration and settlement patterns. Women wear skirts and dresses, sometimes hats, and men wear suits. Ties have been worn by men for the last two centuries, and ribbons, scarves, and sashes are common occurrences in fashion trends. Rural homes and farmsteads readily make use of stone and slate, and the mansard roof characterizes the cityscapes of most French, Welsh, and Belgian cities, as do grand Beaux-Arts buildings, while the Medieval Gothic and Hanseatic-style architecture is more dominant in the rest of the Low Countries, Normandy, and Wales.



Footnotes

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Links

Breton (bre) or the Welsh language:

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyBNVrLQ2-A.

West Frisian (fry) or the Frissish language:

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZGyISJ3djo.

Nissart, the variety of Occitan from Nice (oci) or the Leron language:

Wikitongues. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=provencal+language.

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