The Bagaudae: history's first revolutionaries? - Pablo Romero Gabella

The Bagaudae: history's first revolutionaries? - Pablo Romero Gabella

A brief introduction to the Bagaudae, the social and historical context of the late Roman Empire, and the modern debates over the meaning of the revolts generally included under this rubric.

The Bagaudae: History’s First Revolutionaries? – Pablo Romero Gabella

“I doubt if all the philosophy in the world can succeed in suppressing slavery; it will, at most, change the name. I can well imagine forms of servitude worse than our own … [that would] transform men into stupid, complacent machines, who believe themselves free just when they are most subjugated….”

(Marguerite Yourcenar, Hadrian’s Memoirs, tr. Grace Frick, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, 1957, p. 113)

The word “bagauda” or “bacauda” has a double etymology. On the one hand, its Latin source indicates that it means “robber” or “agitator”; on the other hand, its Celtic root means “warrior” or—as some authors have claimed—“tumultuous assembly”. Regardless of its real meaning, the Bagaudic phenomenon remains one of the least-understood and most controversial topics of Ancient History. Who were the Bagaudae? What was the real meaning of their revolts? What lessons can they teach us about our time? The following essay constitutes an attempt to offer a preliminary introduction to the topic and also will try to answer these questions to the degree that this is possible.

The Bagaudae: The Facts, the Protagonists and Their Grievances

The Bagaudic Movement in the Context of the Social Movements of the Later Empire (3rd-4th Centuries A.D.)

A long period of “military anarchy” commenced around the year 235 A.D. The battles between military chiefs for imperial power ultimately shattered the delicate equilibrium represented by the “Pax Romana” of Augustus and his successors. The balance that had been achieved between expansionism and the resistance of the “barbarian” peoples was broken; so was the balance between military expenditures and the resources of the state, between production and consumption, between country and city, and between the power of the Senate (republican remnants) and the monarchical tendencies of the new emperors represented by such figures as Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (306-337).

As Walbank1 has pointed out, the strengthening of state authoritarianism was not the product of a preconceived plan but rather the result of the problems that confronted the socio-economic structures of the empire during the twilight of the “slave model”. The end of foreign wars meant the cutting off of the sources of slave labor, favoring the establishment of new economic and social relations. Was the decline in the availability of slave labor that important? Concerning this question, the historiographic disputes are endless, but according to professor Teja,2 the economic crisis (he is referring to the case of Hispania) was not the result of quantitative (labor power or production) but rather qualitative changes in the socio-economic structure. New social relations were emerging which tended towards a social simplification-polarization. These changes can be summarized in three points:

• A change in the distribution of property: the class of “honestiores” (the highest class of landowners) progressively concentrated their rural landholdings, where they took up residence, and where the predominant form of labor was that of leaseholders and tenant farmers. The tenant farmer sought the protection of the rural landowner against the pressures imposed by state taxation and external threats by entering into a relationship of “patronage”. In this way the tenant farmer replaced the slave as the predominant form of labor power.
• New relations between the country and the city: commercial activity and urban prosperity reached their highest points in the early empire. The later empire, on the other hand, meant the opposite: the “ruralization” of society. The class of “decurions”, the municipal aristocracy composed of medium-scale landowners who governed the life of the cities and were responsible for collecting taxes, disappeared. This was due to the higher tax burdens placed on the cities, which were the real centers of wealth. The gradual impoverishment of this class meant the end of investment in infrastructure, and of the feeding of the parasitic class (which took to banditry in the countryside). Rostovtzeff interpreted the end of the Roman Empire in terms of the end of the “bourgeois middle class”.
• The consequence of the above trends: social polarization. On the one side: the “honestiores”, composed of the richest Senators and the highest levels of the ecclesiastical hierarchy (after the Edict of Milan of 313). These elements would also be joined by the barbarian chieftains who settled as great landowners and who, in the case of Hispania, made a place for themselves in this late Roman nobility. On the other side were the “humiliores”: mostly free or semi-free peasants and artisans, among whom tenant farmers predominated.

One of the most important consequences of the late imperial crisis was the re-emergence of social struggles. As D. Plácido3 has pointed out, however, not all “class struggles” are necessarily characterized by violent, physical clashes, and there were also precursors of the Bagaudae during the apparent equilibrium of the “Pax Romana”, and even during the Republic the famous “slave revolt” of Spartacus took place (73-71 B.C.). The most recent precursors of the Bagaudae were the cases of the “revolution of the deserters” of Maternus in 186 A.D. and the revolt of Bulla at the beginning of the Third Century, which were ruthlessly crushed by Septimius Severus. Both affected the Italian peninsula and rallied runaway slaves, tenant farmers, ruined farmers and deserters. According to E.A. Thompson, while Maternus was always a likeable “Robin Hood” figure who claimed to be “the emperor of the poor and the bandits”, Bulla was the first to practice a kind of “social banditry” that was more similar to the Bagaudic phenomenon. Nor should we neglect to mention the heretical movements with very significant social components, such as the “Circumcellions” in North Africa (second half of the 4th century) and Hispanic “Priscillianism” (4th and 5th centuries).

The Bagaudic Movement (3rd and 5th centuries)

First, it must be pointed out that, with regard to chronology, two phases or periods have traditionally been established, but it is not known whether they were continuous with or totally separated from each other. Geographically, the Bagaudic movements emerged in peripheral regions of Gaul and Spain according to the following chronology:

• 3rd Century: Gaul: the provinces of Lugdunensis (the regions between the Seine and the Loire), and especially in Armorica (the western zone, corresponding approximately to modern Brittany).
• 5th Century: Alpine Regions; Hispania: the province of Tarraconensis (between the Pyrenees and the Ebro River).

For Sánchez León the most representative characteristic is that the zones of origin of the Bagaudae are centered in the least Romanized regions of Gaul and Hispania: Armorica (modern Brittany) and Vasconia (the modern Basque Country).

The First Bagaudic Movement (3rd century)

The first textual notices we have concerning the Bagaudae date from the year 284, when Diocletian became Emperor. The zone where they were active was entirely restricted to the Gallic provinces. Taking advantage of the political instability resulting from the struggle for power and the German and Frankish invasions, an army of peasants under the command of Aelianus and Amandus rebelled against Roman rule. The threat was serious enough for the emperor to appoint Maximian as Caesar and send him with an army to crush the rebellion and defend the western empire. The rebellion was crushed and order restored. It was this campaign that gave birth to the legend of the “Theban Legion”, a group of soldiers under the command of a man who would later be known as Saint Maurice, who refused to fight against other “Christians” and was therefore condemned to death along with his followers, thus becoming a martyr and a saint, together with the two Bagaudic chieftains Aelianus and Amandus.

The Second Bagaudic Movement (5th century)

This is the more thoroughly documented and important of the two Bagaudic movements. It began in the rebellious zone of Armorica (in Gaul) in around 409, and was preceded by incidents of social rebellion in the Alpine provinces. As was the case two centuries before, political instability and invasions of “barbarians” created conditions that favored a more complete victory for the rebels. After the impact made by the “sack of Rome” by Alaric (408-410), Honorius—the Emperor of the Western Roman Empire—dispatched a powerful army that defeated and harshly repressed the Armorican rebels. But conditions remained unstable, and between 435 and 437 a certain Tibaton led another army of peasants and slaves that was also crushed, this time with the help of Hunnish cavalry. This rebellion was followed by another in 445, repressed with the help of the Alans (the survivors relied on the intercession of the Bishop Germanus, which played a role in the later legend that depicted the Bagaudae as “Christian soldiers”), and three years later a doctor named Eudoxus (who lived at the court of Attila) once again raised the banner of the social struggle and ended up meeting the same fate as Tibaton. As a result of these engagements, Sánchez León observes that all these years of struggle led to the Armorican rebels being granted the status of “federates” by Rome, and in fact obtained independence.4

For events in Hispania we have fewer sources, and the “Chronicle” of Hydatius is indispensable. The targets of the Spanish Bagaudae who were active in western Tarraconensis were the great “villas” and the ecclesiastical estates of the bishops. The environment of political decay that prevailed in Spain proved to be favorable ground for social uprisings. Beginning in 409, the Vandals, Sueves and Alans overran the peninsula. The Spanish landowning class was the most influential such class in the empire (as was demonstrated by the cases of the emperor Theodosius and the bishop Damasus). Furthermore, Spanish wheat was indispensable for the survival of Rome itself. The Roman military forces were divided into mobile armies (“comitatenses”) and stationary units to guard the fortifications such as those in the valleys of the Ebro and the Duero (“limitanei”). These troops were reinforced by the private armies (composed of peasants) of the great landowners. As A. Balil has pointed out, these measures were not just directed against the “barbarian” threat but also against the increasing number of Bagaudic rebellions. The most well-known case was that of Basilio and his followers, who in 449 laid waste the valley of the Ebro, and killed the bishop Leo in Turiasum. As J.M. Blázquez has demonstrated, during that period Church and State formed an indivisible whole, and both were viewed equally as “exploiters”. The Bagaudae entered into alliances on various occasions with barbarian kings; with the Suevian king Rechiar, for example, who formed an alliance with the Bagaudae in the vicinity of Galicia in the mid-5th century in his conflict with the nobles of the region. It was, however, one of these “barbarian” peoples, the Visigoths (the most Romanized barbarian nation) who finally crushed the Hispanic Bagaudae. In 454, Frederick, brother of king Theodoric, in alliance with Rome, exterminated the last Bagaudic groups.

Who Were the Bagaudae? Objectives and Possible Ways of Life.

In order to attempt to define the Bagaudic movement, we have to ask a few questions first. Contemporary culture, influenced by the power of the “mass media”, tends to impose a simplistic and individualistic view of history that excludes the complexity that the analysis of social conflict contributes. Moreover, with respect to the domain of social history as considered within the framework of Ancient History, the problems are magnified even more. Plácido warns us that the use of the concept of “class struggle” is very dangerous. According to Marxist orthodoxy, it only exists when the oppressed are conscious of its existence, but it is also true that exploitation exists, even if the oft-invoked “class consciousness” does not. This is what E.P. Thompson calls the “class struggle without class”.5 The problem of (not necessarily violent) social conflict has always existed and although this does not mean that we should apply to past eras the schemas we use to interpret contemporary events, it does not mean that we have to accept the view that the “ancients” had of themselves, either.6

The causes of the revolt of the Bagaudae are based on two major factors: the conjunctural, such as the heavy tax burden, administrative corruption and the disproportionate impact of taxation on the poor; and structural, including the reaction to the process of concentration of landed property and the increasing imperial authoritarianism. For E.A. Thompson, the Bagaudae represented a “revolutionary” model that attempted to secede from the Roman Empire. On the other hand, according to one of the latest and most carefully documented studies of Bagaudism, it did not represent a revolution as we understand that word today. For Sánchez León, Bagaudism can be defined as a “complicated form of banditry” nourished by the currents of “social separatism” (the desire to establish a kind of “free Bagaudic society”) and “national separatism”.7 According to this view, we would be dealing with a type of “social banditry”, as Hobsbawm defines it, characterized by its lack of organization and ideology. For this author, it “is little more than endemic peasant protest against oppression and poverty…. its ambitions are modest: a traditional world … not a new and perfect world….”8

Who were they? For G. Bravo, the Bagaudic movement was a phenomenon of revolt that was basically peasant in character. It was composed of free peasants, tenant farmers, freedmen and slaves who rebelled against the major landowners who had the support of the imperial armies. Finally, the author mentions their possible connections with the rigorist heretical movements, which he supposed would contribute some degree of ideological cohesion. For Sánchez León, the Bagaudae did not exist as a “social type”. Thus, various types of condition and status coexisted under this rubric: a) juridical-economic (free men, semi-free men, and slaves); b) cultural (Basques, Celts and Romans); and c) social—poor farmers who had been ruined, day laborers, bandits, deserters, tenant farmers, slaves and marginalized urban elements (among the latter category were included some persons from high society).9

The only surviving textual evidence, barely a couple of lines, that tells us about life in the territories controlled by the Bagaudae, is found in an anonymous literary work entitled Querolus that mentions a “Bagaudic society” in Armorica in the 5th century. This society was ruled by a code of laws (the “laws of the forest”) and rules that was not imposed by Roman authority, and which was distinguished by a total rejection of all Roman legality and the desire to restore the old Celtic ways. Contrary to what one may think, however, life in this society did not appear to be anarchic (as opposed to the view of Mazzarino and his “Bagaudic anarchism”) or violent. Instead, the Roman texts indicate the recurring theme of “restitution of the laws, restoration of liberties and the refusal to allow slave-owners to be enslaved by their former slaves”. This latter point seems to indicate that the Bagaudic communities engaged in something similar to the expropriation of land and that a certain kind of egalitarianism prevailed in them. E.A. Thompson was swept away by the romantic aspect of the theme, and even said that the Bagaudae attempted to found a rudimentary state, with a society without landlords and a more equitable justice system and “a better life”. There can be no doubt that in this case, “desire has driven knowledge”, in the words of the Hispanicist and historian Gabriel Jackson.

The organization of the Bagaudic armies was based on a primitive division between a body of infantry composed of peasants and cavalry composed of shepherds. Sánchez León emphasizes the importance of their leaders, who were surely the most Romanized and from the highest social background. Their mode of operation was the classic guerrilla formation. There are few references to great battles (like the Battle of Araceli in 443, near Pamplona).

Finally, the “nationalist” character of these movements has been emphasized. Some authors have seen them as the antecedents of the independence struggles of the Bretons and Basques.10 But it would appear to be more likely that these revolts were reactions of the less Romanized regions to their lack of integration and their need to free themselves from an oppressive order than that they represented the first “heroic national struggles”.

The Problems of Sources and Historiography

The study of Ancient History entails the constantly recurring problem of the paucity and fragmentary nature of sources. If this is true for all the themes of Ancient History, we can imagine how hard it is to study such an obscure topic. As Hobsbawm said, “to say that we know its ‘history’ would lead us to error”. Therefore, the study of the Bagaudae presents numerous difficulties that make it a problematic, but not impossible task, as Sánchez León has demonstrated, who framed the problem from a triple perspective: the reexamination of the known sources (the eternal “return to the sources” of Febvre); the analysis of comparative regional history; and the analysis of the “history of mentalities”.

Being faithful to the sources, however, does not imply that we have to become their “slave”, as professors Plácido and Chic García have said. A thorough study of the sources lies outside the scope of this work, but we may refer to the most important ones. For the 3rd century the chronicles of Mamertinus on the campaign of Maximian are of the most importance. For the 5th century they are much more abundant, the most important being those of Zosimus, Rutilius Namatianus, the Querolus cited above, Salvianus and Hydatius for Spain.

With regard to the problem of historiography, we observe that the debates concerning this theme have suffered from an excessive degree of ideological bias that was in part due to the political climate of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

E.A. Thompson published the first important study in the second issue of Past and Present in 1952. He was followed by communist bloc authors, especially the Soviets of Vestnik Drevnei Istorii. They stressed the concept of “social revolution”. During the 60s a polemic was waged within Marxism between the theses of Kovaliov who supported the most orthodox notion of “social revolution” and the position of Sherman who understood the social conflicts as the struggle between the slave and the feudal systems. In Spain, the most important work written from the latter point of view were the works by A. Barbero and M. Vigil (1963-1965). During the 70s this tendency remained in the ascendancy and was represented by an enormous number of texts. During the 80s there was a gradual return to the sources. An outstanding example of this latter tendency was the thesis of P. Dockés on the “forest” and the “liberation of the masses”. In Spain, N. Santos and J.J. Sayas published articles on the topic of Late Imperial Vasconia in the journal, Hispania.

In 1996, the University of Jaén published the work by Sánchez León quoted above, which is undoubtedly the most important and most well-documented work available in Spanish.

To summarize, there are three theories concerning the problematic of the Bagaudae:

• The “social” theory (mostly supported by Marxists);
• The “national” theory that emphasizes the “indigenous” elements (Bretons and Basques) as precursors of an alleged “nationalism”;
• The “functional” theory, which is currently the most popular and puts the most emphasis on the “interclassist” aspect of the movement, and on the aspect of cooperation between peasants and landowners.

The Bagaudae Today: Between Myth and Cliché

The perception that is currently most widespread concerning the Bagaudae was born in the folklore and attitudes of the Ancient world and the Middle Ages. The Romans “demonized” them and considered them to be mere bandits, but they were also “turned into heroes”, first by the oral traditions of the Armorican peasantry and then during the Middle Ages by churchmen between the 5th and 11th centuries. The “milites christiani” were transformed during the 19th century into the “first French nationalists” who defended freedom and independence, especially after the defeat of 1871, when the Romans were increasingly identified with the Prussians. This patriotic intoxication was also disseminated in Spain by Patxot (a federalist republican) and Gebhardt (a conservative traditionalist) in the 19th century and then in this century by Sánchez Albornoz.

Within the socialist movement the Bagaudae appear as the “first proletarian revolutionaries” beginning in the second half of the 19th century. Even Zola refers to them in his work on the peasants, La Terre (1887) as an example of the traditional struggle of the peasantry. The “revolutionary myth” also infiltrated into the most orthodox sectors of Marxist historiography linked to the regimes of so-called “real socialism”. This tendency of “instrumental” Marxism transformed the historian into a propagandist who was enclosed in a world of immutable verities. The Yugoslav dissident M. Djilas tells us how the Tito regime, when reference was made to a peasant uprising that took place in 1804, forced “the historians to practice plastic surgery on the facts, cataloging the uprising as a peasant war with ingredients of a bourgeois revolution”.11

All of our experience cannot help us to understand history from the perspective of our own reality and liberate us from the “weight of the imaginary” (Plácido) that like a scab over the course of the years distorts and “uses” historical events. According to Foucault historical knowledge is “ethical and political”, since it derives from an individual (the historian) taking a position. History is situated in the ongoing dialectical game between the consciousness that makes the “I” (the present) from the “other” (the past), allowing the subject to understand that the “I” becomes the “other” in historical knowledge.12 This concept, from a Marxist point of view, was summarized by Domingo Plácido as follows: “History never teaches us how to act in the same situations, because all the situations are new…. Progress in scientific knowledge, approached from the perspective of the knowledge of the class struggle, is what allows us to expand our ability to act on the course of events….”13

The Bagaudae did not think of themselves as “revolutionizing” the classical world, in the strict sense of the word; it is most likely that “they were only trying to exchange places with their former oppressors”.14 But we should not forget, as F. Braudel has reminded us, that they did signify a “rupture” in Antiquity: the disinherited classes made their debut in the historical records (coins were even minted featuring portraits of Bagaudae), something that has only rarely taken place in history. This leads us to think that they had to be more than just simple bandits, since they left their reflection to posterity in their “profound history”. For Braudel “we are the heirs of a very deep ocean upon which we sail badly and blindly. This surface of history is undoubtedly unfavorable: we think we are free on it and this freedom is essentially the happy illusion of being free….”15

In conclusion, in response to the question asked in the title of this article—were the Bagaudae revolutionaries?—our response is categorically no, simply because they lacked an alternative model of society. In view of the information we have brought together here, the Bagaudae were instead rebels against Roman power, a power that was becoming increasingly dictatorial and oppressive. As Albert Camus pointed out, the “revolutionary” carries within himself a “conservative” with regard to the new order he wants to impose. The “rebel”, however, experiences a critical relation with respect to the existing order. The revolutionary operates in the sphere of politics, the rebel seeks to distance himself from that sphere.16

Pablo Romero Gabella
Clio, no. 32, 2006

Translated from the Spanish in December 2013.



AAVV, Historia de España Antigua, Vol. II, Madrid, 1978.

AAVV, Conflictos y estructuras sociales en la Hispania Antigua, Madrid, 1981.

A. Balil, “La defensa de Hispania en el Bajo Imperio. Amenaza exterior e inquietud interna”, en Legio VII Gemina, León, pp. 601 et seq.

F. Braudel, Escritos sobre la historia, Barcelona, 1997.

G. Bravo, “Las bagaudas. Vieja y nueva problemática”, in Actas del Primer Congreso Peninsular de Historia Antigua, Santiago de Compostela, 1988, pp. 187 et seq.

--“Las revueltas campesinas del Alto Valle del Ebro a mediados del siglo V d.C. y su relación con otros conflictos sociales contemporáneos (Una revisión sobre Bagaudas)”, in Actas del Primer Coloquio sobre Historia de la La Rioja, Logroño, 1983, pp. 219-230.

--Revueltas internas y penetraciones bárbaras en el Imperio, Madrid, 1991.

M. Foucault, Les mots et les choses. Une archéologie des Sciencies humaines, Paris, 1966.

E.J. Hobsbawm, Rebeldes primitivos. Estudio sobre las formas arcaicas de los movimientos sociales en los siglos XIX y XX, Barcelona, 1968.

--Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries, W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., New York, 1965.

D. Plácido, Introducción al mundo antiguo: problemas teóricos y metodológicos, Madrid, 1993.

A. Prieto Arceniega, El fin del imperio romano, Madrid, 1991.

R. Rostovtzeff, Historia social y económica del Imperio Romano, Vol. II, Madrid, 1981.

J.C. Sánchez León, Los bagaudas: rebeldes, demonios, mártires. Revueltas campesinas en Galia e Hispania durante el Bajo Imperio, Jaén, 1996.

N. Santos, “Movimientos sociales en la España del Bajo Imperio”, Hispania, no. 40 (1980), pp. 237-269.

F.W. Walbank, La Pavorosa Revolución. La decadencia del Imperio Romano en Occidente, Barcelona, 1997.

--The Awful Revolution: The Decline of the Roman Empire in the West, University of Toronto Press, 1969.

Appendix: A Brief Text for Reflection

The British historian E.A. Thompson,17 like so many other specialists, believes that the only extensive text that deals with the way of life of the Bagaudae is the anonymously composed comedy cited above, known under the title of Querolus (5th century A.D.). In the following passage from this comedy, the protagonist, Querolus, asks his family Lar18 what he should do in order to be happy in the future. Among the proposals of the Lar is that he should become a “bandit”, that is, a Bagauda. According to Thompson, this term has nothing to do, as other historians have claimed, with joining the barbarians, who are referred to in contemporary texts as “rustici”.19

I reproduce this passage below from Thompson’s text:

LAR: … I have hit upon it. Have what thou wishest; live upon the Loire.
QUEROLUS: What then?
LAR: There, by the law of nations, live men where is no deceit [where nothing is forbidden or lawful]: there, the capital sentences of the oak are pronounced, and written on bones: there, also, rustics plead, and private persons decide: there, every thing is lawful. If thou wert rich, thou shouldst be called Patus; so our Greek speaks. O woods! O solitudes! who hath called you free? Much greater things there are, which we shall conceal: in the meantime, this is sufficient.
QUEROLUS: Neither am I rich, nor do I desire to use the oak: I will have nothing to do with these silvestrian laws.
LAR: Very well, then, look for something more comfortable and honorable if you do not know how to fight.

  • 1. F.W. Walbank, La Pavorosa Revolución. La decadencia del Imperio Romano en Occidente, Barcelona, 1997, p. 148. [In English: F.W. Walbank, The Awful Revolution: The Decline of the Roman Empire in the West, University of Toronto Press, 1969—American Translator’s note.]
  • 2. R. Teja, “Economía y sociedad del Bajo Imperio Romano”, Historia de España Antigua, Vol. II, Madrid, 1978, pp. 529 et seq.
  • 3. D. Plácido, Introducción al mundo antiguo: problemas teóricas y metodológicos, Madrid, 1993, p. 371. For one of the founders of Marxism, Engels, violence possesses the role of being “the instrument by means of which social movement forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilized political forms”. See F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1976, pp. 235-236.
  • 4. J.C. Sánchez León, Los bagaudas: rebeldes, demonios, mártires. Revueltas campesinas en Galia e Hispania durante el Bajo Imperio, Jaén, 1996, pp. 21-22.
  • 5. D. Plácido, op. cit., pp. 101-102.
  • 6. E.P. Thompson, Tradición, revuelta y consciencia de clase. Estudio sobre la crisis de la sociedad preindustrial, Barcelona, 1979.
  • 7. P. Vilar, Introducción al vocabulario del análisis histórico, Barcelona, 1980, p. 131, quoted in A. Prieto Arciniega, El fin del imperio romano, Madrid, 1991, p. 85.
  • 8. E.J. Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels. Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries, W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., New York, 1965, p. 5.
  • 9. J.C. Sánchez León, op. cit., p. 78.
  • 10. A. Barbero and M. Vigil, “Sobre los orígenes sociales de la Reconquista”, BRAH, no. 156 (1964), pp. 271-337.
  • 11. M. Djilas, “Historiografía ideológica”, Historia 16, no. 128 (1986), p. 116.
  • 12. M. Foucault, Les mots et les choses. Une archéologie des Sciencies humaines, Paris, 1966, pp. 350 et seq.
  • 13. D. Pácido, op. cit., pp. 68-69.
  • 14. F.W. Walbank, op. cit., p. 141.
  • 15. For the first quotation, see “F. Braudel, l’Antiquité et l’Historie Ancienne. Intervista a cura di Jean Andreau e Roland Étienne, in presenza di Maurice Aymard”, in Quaderni di Storia, no. 24 (1966), pp. 5-21; for the second quotation, see F. Braudel, Escritos sobre la historia, Barcelona, 1997, pp. 155-156.
  • 16. Albert Camus, El hombre rebelde, Buenos Aires, 1967.
  • 17. E.A. Thompson, “Peasant Revolts in Late Roman Gaul and Spain”, Past and Present, Vol. 2, issue no. 1, 1952, pp. 11-23. The quotation that follows is taken from this text. [All but the last line of the passage quoted from the Querolus was taken from a partial translation of the play by Joseph Ritson, in Memoirs of the Celts or Gauls, Payne and Foss, London, 1827, p. 63. The last line was re-translated back into English from the Spanish translation—American Translator’s note.]
  • 18. The Lares were the family gods of the Romans, and included the ancestors of the family.
  • 19. Among the many works devoted to this text, we shall cite two articles in Spanish: J. Closa Farrés, “Per Vestigia Plauti: la visión jocosa del Querolus”, in III Congreso Andaluz de Estudios Clásicos, Universidad de Sevilla, 1988, pp. 201-207; and V.M. Sanz Bonel, “La aportación pagana, Querolus y Rutilio Namauniano, al carácter cristiano de los bagaudas”, in Aragón en la Edad Media. Estudios de economía y sociedad, no. 16, 2000, p. 1471.


Dec 6 2013 16:48

But really all of the above is mere conjecture and as is so often tragically usual, it is the conquerors who write history. We know that Tibatto was captured and we can assume that he was executed but that is all. We know nothing about the aims and indeed social composition of the various Bagaudic movements.
As to Eudoxius ( not Eudoxus) as in the text above) there is just one line in the Chronicle of Pseudo-Prosper.We have no evidence that he led an uprising 'Eudoxius, a doctor by profession, a man of evil, though cultivated intellect, being mixed up with the movements of the Bagaudae at that time, fled to the Huns.' that is all the information we have on him. As Thomas Hodgkin in his Italy and Its Invaders (1892) wrote so fairly and eloquently: " It is probable enough that we have here to do with a mere selfish adventurer such as float ever upon the surface of revolutionary change: yet before condemning the man of 'evil though highly-cultured intellect,' who flashes thus for a moment upon the page of history, we would gladly have known whether he too may not have been in his day an apostle of 'the Enthusiasm of Humanity,' whether the miseries which Eudoxius' 'arte medicus' saw among the pillaged peasants of Gaul were not the original cause of his being condemned as a 'Bagauda' by delicately-living senators and prefects, and forced to appeal against the injustices of civilization at the bar of its terrible antagonist."
Interesting that the Armorican Bagaudic rising was crushed by Litorius with the help of Hun mercenaries whilst Eudoxius actually sought sanctuary at Attila's court. We could assume that Eudoxius may have provided information (topographical, military, etc) to Attila for his invasion of Gaul.

Dec 6 2013 14:31
Battlescarred wrote:
But really all of the above is mere conjecture and as is so often tragically usual, it is the conquerors who write history. We know that Tibatto was captured and we can assume that he was executed but that is all. We know nothing about the aims and indeed social composition of the various Bagaudic movements.

the same problem also affects the Aristonikos rising (133-129) in Pergamon where some scholars claim, that this revolt - unlike all other similar movements in antiquity - had the goal to liberating all slaves and serfs and establish an egalitarian society called Heliopolis