By William S Davis
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Extra resources for A History of France
As for the general administration of the land, Gaul was for a long time divided into six rather large Roman provinces, with the proconsuls mainly occupied with checking up the tax accounts of the various cities and acting as judges on appeal in important litigation. So submissive was the whole country that the imperial government seldom found it necessary to station a single large garrison in many very wide regions. The decrees of the Cæsars could usually be enforced by mere constables, although all men knew that close to the Rhine there always lay several reliable legions, whose prime business indeed was to keep the Germanic tribes from penetrating westward into the Empire, but which could be readily ordered about to snuff out any disorder in Gaul, should insurrection threaten.
Taxes were reasonable. Law and order took the place of outrageous tribal oppressions. The Druids with their human sacrifices were suppressed. Gallic nobles were flattered with Roman citizenship. If they were really prominent nobles they might presently hope to become Roman senators. The recruiting masters for the legions enrolled thousands of Gallic youth, promising them all the pay, booty, privileges, and hopes of promotion which were ordinarily offered in the imperial armies. Since the Gauls were themselves without a well-developed civilization, they, like most barbarians under similar pressure, easily adopted the superior usages of their masters.
It was of course a miserable time, when the old civilization was painfully dying, and when the newer civilization was anything but safely born. The liberal arts seemed sterile or dead, Cities were decaying, if they were not devastated outright by the invader; the magnificent Roman road system, which had covered Gaul like a network of modern railways, was degenerating; commerce and all but the most necessary industries were nigh perishing. The only reliable law was that of the strongest. Alone in the Church and especially in the monks' and nuns' cloisters seemed there any sure refuge for peace-loving men and delicate women.
A History of France by William S Davis