Thanks to the work of historians, towards the mid-19th century, the Gauls achieved immense popularity, as the new heroic figure of Vercingetorix came to the fore.
The Gauls in fashion
It was “our ancestors the Gauls” who originally inhabited Europe “and their spirit is still in us today”, wrote Henri Martin. In his Histoire des Gaulois, the historian Amédée Thierry portrayed this young Gallic chief who rebelled against Caesar as a freedom fighter, in short, the first of the great men of the French nation.
The birth of Gallic archaeology...
But the Gauls were difficult to find. They were simply heroes lost in time, having left no tangible trace, except for their coins, whose study was already well underway. However, archaeological research carried out by the Commission de Topographie des Gaules during the 1860s, in particular at Alesia, uncovered Gallic weaponry. At the same time, excavations carried out by Alexandre Bertrand at Saint-Etienne-au-Temple (Marne) brought to light the first Gallic sepulchres.
...and its twists and turns
The Gauls finally stepped out of the shadows. However, it was only to be thrown straight into a new war, the confrontation between France and Germany whose consequences would be a factor, years later, in the outbreak of the First World War. In his monumental Histoire de la Gaule, the historian Camille Jullian depicted the Gauls as the first patriots and defenders of Gaul’s independence, and Vercingetorix as the great unifier of the Gallic nation.