If today war is seen as something abhorrent, it was a form of survival and social awareness in Iron Age cultures, a common part of the everyday life of an entire society.
The Celts were warrior peoples, probably from southwestern Germany, who dominated much of Europe for four centuries.
1) Celtic Warriors Reached The Pinnacle Of Their Power After Invading Switzerland, France & British Isles
After they invaded France, Switzerland, and the British Isles, they sacked Rome in 390 BC. Later they occupied the Iberian Peninsula and went to the East and reached Asia Minor where they founded the kingdom called Galatia, having reached the pinnacle of their power around the year 250 BC
2) Instead Of Being A Great Unit, Celts Were Divided Into Several Groups
As they were several organized in tribal units instead of central political unit, the Celts ended up suffering the effects of their own territorial expansion and they were dismembered in several groups. Most of those who inhabited the European continent were dominated by the Romans and Germans.
Those who inhabited the British islands, which had not suffered such violent pressures, were able to preserve their own languages. Instead, Gaelic and the Welsh, language of Wales still exists, spoken in certain parts of Ireland and of Scotland.
3) They Fought Real Wars Like A Sport For The Sake Of Perks & Fame
Among the Celts, we could even say that war was like a sport – let’s say modern football.
The best warriors – the strongest and most skilled were respected and admired, and were called tribal “champions”.
Their high status brought them riches and perks, as is often the case with the greatest footballers of our day.
4) Celts Were Used To Fight Naked
The Warriors enjoyed parties and drink. They fought with ferocity but without discipline and were easily conquered by the Romans. However, the Celtic warriors were terrible – at least in appearance.
The men usually wore coarse wool, but in battles they fought naked, wearing only collars. Their bodies were painted blue with a tincture extracted from the leaves of a plant called isatis.
5) Celts Were Rivals Of Each Other
Even the battles themselves had much to do with modern football: there was a “season” of wars – usually in the spring – when rival tribes faced each other in search of power, wealth and ascendancy.
6) Celtic Warriors Hosts Their Fight Journey With Bugles & Carnyx
Classic tales and legends show us they hosts their way to the battlefield with their banners, loud bugles called carnyx and Battle cries in inter-tribal wars – a constant in the age of the Celtic Iron, and after great provocations, they went into confrontation.
7) They Came Back With Heads Of Defeated Enemies & Spoils
The winners came home with their trophies and spoils and, in some cases, the heads of the best defeated foes.
All this may sound barbaric at first, but the great tumults in modern stadiums on major game days show that, except for cut heads, little or nothing has changed.
Or rather, it has changed: for the Celts to make the war sacred.
8) Celtic Deities Who Associated With Wars
Several important deities are associated with the Celtic warrior including Goddess Morrigan, Scathach – the sensual instructor in the arts of war, Nuada and his famous sword of light; Lugh and his spear – all these myths prove the sacredness of war for the Celts.
9) They Haven’t Code Of Honor In Combat & Thus Lack Of War Discipline
The warriors fought with swords, spears, and slingings, and shielded themselves with bronze or wooden shields. They advanced on the enemy, screaming and beating them with their own shields.
Some were blowing bugles. Although they were fearless fighters, the Celts were never turned themselves into an efficient army because of indiscipline. The Celtic warriors also had a very particular code of honor in combat. They were easily beaten by the highly disciplined and trained Roman legions.
And, contrary to what can be imagined, the Celtic war did not have the function of the modern war of annihilating the enemy: there was a whole code of honor to be respected in combat – in some cases, we even detected similarities with the nobility of the code of the so admired and respected samurai of feudal Japan.
It was considered extremely dishonorable, for example, to attack an enemy who was already involved in combat with another warrior.
When the Romans and their well-trained legions invaded Gaul, they encountered formidable resistance. On several occasions, Roman discipline was no match for the warlike power of the Celts. But they defeated many times against the aggressiveness of Celts.
It was necessary for Rome to learn a great deal from these defeats and they need to develop a differentiated strategy, perfectly suited to the style of Celtic warfare.
The proverbial disunity of the Celtic tribes, of course, contributed to this end.
10) Best Warriors Of Each Celtic Tribes Also Fight For The Entire Community
Attacking an enemy in the back was taboo, and as proof that for the Celts the war was not a destructive and annihilating outbreak.
Many battles between rival tribes never even occurred by agreement among the tribes. Sometimes the struggle was restricted to an individual warriors (between the two best warriors of both tribes) -and the tribe of the winner of the combat was declared the winner of the war as a whole, thus saving tens, hundreds of lives, while still satisfying the social function of war.
11) Celts Were Also Fight As Mercenaries
Celtic warriors were admired for their abilities and used to be employed by other peoples in their wars as mercenaries – such as the Gaesatae, Celtic spearmen who fought alongside the hosts of other peoples – Egyptians, Greeks and others.
12) They Followed The Principle Of War Without Fear Of Death
The Celts at war were absolutely fearless, without fear of death, and attributes this force to the Druidic teachings on the eternity of the soul. Without fear of death, the Celtic warriors were considered as formidable opponents. This undoubtedly yielded them eternity through the legends, poems and songs that the bards would chant for the next generations to conferring on them immortality by the virtue.
13) A Great Celtic King Must Also A Great Food Provider
Thus, in exchange for the support he received from the tribe, a tribal chief would offer them protection and banquets – one of the focal points of Celtic society.
The power of a leader was easily measured by the richness and quality of the food he offered.
14) The Celts Had No Written Language
Yes, it’s true, they hadn’t written language but its laws, rituals and legends were transmitted orally.
Celtic languages survive in areas of northwestern Europe. In Ireland and Scotland, the Goidélico is spoken. Gaelic is the modern form of this language. Other forms of Celtic languages, called British, are also spoken in Wales and in Cornwall, southwest England. Breton, another Celtic language, is spoken in Brittany, north-west of France.
15) Celts Didn’t Kill Weak People
The Celts have a fabulous symbolism. Even the battles had a very great spiritual significance. Every Celtic warrior honored the code. They did not kill unarmed men, women and children.
16) Fighting In Mud Was A Matter Of Pride For Celts
Battles that occurred in marshy or muddy places had a very great spiritual significance. For them, the swamp or mud is the threshold between two worlds. The water of this mud or swamp also meant purity and rebirth. There the battles were fought. Going through the gué (marsh, mud) was the principle of evolution. There were those who sank completely because their deeds were as filthy as mud, and there were those who surpassed with the blessing of the gods and were on their way to spiritual evolution.
17) They Travel Without Destination In Search Of Female Companion & Love
Another important pursuit for the Celts was the pursuit of the loved one. To find the loved one is to unite two fragments scattered in the cosmos for the purpose of creating divine and fundamental union. He who won these trials was worthy of the love of this woman. And that, then, makes this quest an initiation as well.
For the Celtic, love is his destiny, a destination from which he can not escape, it is a spiritual adventure in search of the transcendence that can occur on this plane. But even if he can not escape his destiny, he should not accept anything passively. You have to ask questions too, you have to go in search, and not to be waiting passively.
In Celtic mythology, these journeys were called Imramma, when warriors and heroes hurled themselves in boats towards the Other World in search of the beloved, or even the sick. They went without destination (because the boats themselves knew where to take them), hoping the goddesses would take them to an enchanted island to be loved and healed by them.
18) Fearless Death In A Battle Was A Supreme Consummation
Being the best of the warriors was the ideal of the Celts, but to die in battle surrounded by friends and hundreds of enemies was the supreme consummation. This type of thinking for us is somewhat fanatical and paranoid, but for the Celtic people death is the cause of life. The preparation for this supreme moment developed in the Celtic soldier through his initiation, courage and pride.