During the period when the Celts existed, which is approximately 800 BC - 400 AD, they were just a little tribe compared to other large civilizations such as the Romans and Greeks. They still managed to conquer many regions and prove victorious in most of their battles. Who were these Celts that survived numerous struggles? Where did they originate? What kind of social structure did they have? What kinds of beliefs did they have? What sort of weapons and armor did they use in battle? What were some of their military tactics? These are some of the questions that will be evaluated in the following paragraphs.
The Celts were tall, fair-skinned warriors who were well built, had blond hair and blue eyes. Some of them washed their hair in lime water to increase the hue of it. Some of them shaved their beards, but others let them grow long. Some also shaved their cheeks and let their moustaches grow so long that they would cover their mouth. While eating, they sat on wolves or dog skins. They ate at low tables, like the Chinese, and were served by young boys and girls. They cooked big quarters, usually from a pig or calf over a fire on a spit and the hero was served the biggest portion. Seeing as how the they were so aggressive and easy to anger, they often fought during meals or challenged each other to fights.
The Celts lived in the Western region of Europe called the Normandy region. Normandy is a small region in the north of France, but they spread out from that region through all of France and Belgium. They also conquered areas in the western part of Germany, through the Black Forest region, along the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, along the Alps and to the upper part of Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains. They expanded their region to Spain and Portugal in 600 BC and through Italy, beyond the Alps in 386 BC. In 325 BC - 279 BC, they conquered areas throughout Greece, and in 278 BC they expanded into Asia Minor. But around 250 BC, the Romans regained their power in Italy and pushed the Celts back towards Gaul (modern day France) until 52 BC when the Romans, under command of Julius Caesar finally pushed them out of main land Europe and into England and then into Ireland, where the Celts fended themselves from any further attack from their southern and eastern neighbors.
Celtic society was basically divided into three classes, the Nobility, the Aes Dana and the Commoners or Churls. The Nobility, or warrior class, were the landowners who were in control of the land, herds and most of the physical wealth. They spent their time conducting business, playing board games and watching youths at field games. The Aes Dana were men of art and learning and included many skilled craftsmen. The Commoners owned no land, but were free, not slaves. These three groups made up the major clan which was called the Tuath. The Tuath was ruled by the Ri. His role was primarily in dealings outside the Tuath and was a war leader. His authority was held up and carried out by a council of Nobles.
The Celtic tribes had many religious beliefs and were also very superstitious. They believed certain animals represented different omens or messages. For example, the fish symbolized clairvoyance; the serpent was divine wisdom; the hare was good fortune; the birds were spirits of prophecy; the horse represented sovereignty; the dragon was a guardian spirit. Gods played very important roles in people's daily routines. Not a single job could be done without having the gods involved somehow. They were responsible for the seasons and they controlled the natural world of which man was a part: they therefore had to be placated through intermediaries-the druids-who knew the ancient wisdom and could ensure that the correct procedures were at all times followed. There were three religious occupations that were exempted from taxes and military service. They were the Bards, the Augurers and the Druids. The Bards, who were scholars, were responsible for recording poetry and traditions of the tribes. Augurers oversaw sacrifices and foretold the future, like the prophets