From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Aedui or Haedui (Gaulish: *Aiduoi, 'the Ardent'; Ancient Greek: Aἴδουοι) were a Gallic tribe dwelling in what is now the region of Burgundy during the Iron Age and the Roman period.

The Aedui had an ambiguous relationship with the Roman Republic, as well as other Gallic tribes. In 121 BC, they appealed to Rome against the Arverni and Allobroges. During the Gallic Wars (58–50 BC), they gave valuable though not whole-hearted support to Caesar, before eventually giving lukewarm support to Vercingetorix in 52. Although they were involved in the revolts of Iulius Sacrovir in 21 AD and Vindex in 68 AD, their aristocracy became highly Romanized under the Empire.[1]


They are mentioned as Ardues (Ἄρδυες) by Polybius (2nd c. BC),[2] Haedui by Cicero (mid-1st c. BC) and Caesar (mid-1st c. BC),[3] Haeduos by Livy (late 1st c. BC),[4] Aedui by Pliny (mid-1st c. AD),[5] Aidúōn (Αἰδύων) by Ptolemy (2nd c. AD),[6] and as Aídouoi (Aἴδουοι) by Cassius Dio (3rd c. AD).[7][8]

The ethnonym Aedui is a latinized form of Gaulish *Aiduoi (sing. *Aiduos), which means 'the Ardent ones'. It derives from the Celtic stem *aidu- ('fire, ardour'; cf. Old Irish áed 'fire', Welsh aidd 'ardour'; also the Irish deity Aéd or Aodh), itself from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eydʰos ('firewood'; cf. Sanskrit édhas 'bonfire', Latin aedes 'building, temple'; cf. also Ancient Greek Aether 'god of the upper sky' and Aethra 'bright sky', from aíthō 'to ignite, to kindle').[9][10]



The territory of the Aedui was situated between the Saône and Loire rivers, in a strategic position regarding trade routes. It included most of the modern départements of Saône-et-Loire and Nièvre, the southwestern-part of Côte-d'Or between Beaune and Saulieu, and the southern part of Yonne around Avallon,[11] corresponding to the Saône plains, the Morvan granitic massif, and the low Nivernais plateau, from east to west.[12] They dwelled between the Arverni in the west, the Segusiavi and Ambarri in the south, the Sequani in the east, and the Lingones and Senones in the north.[13]


Three oppida are known from the end of the La Tène period: Vieux-Dun (Dun-les-Places), Le Fou de Verdun (Lavault-de-Frétoy), and Bibracte, which occupied a central position in the Aedian economic system.[14]

During the Roman period, Bibracte was abandoned for Augustodunum ('fortress of Augustus'; modern-day Autun).[1]

Ancient sources[edit]

The country of the Aedui is defined by reports of them in ancient writings. The upper Liger formed their western border,[15] separating them from the Bituriges. The Arar formed their eastern border, separating them from the Sequani.[16] The Sequani did not reside in the region of the confluence of the Dubis and the Arar, and of the Arar into the Rhodanus, as Caesar says that the Helvetii, traveling southward along the pass between the Jura Mountains and the Rhodanus, which belonged to the Sequani, plundered the territory of the Aedui.[17] These circumstances explain an apparent contradiction in Strabo, who in one sentence says that the Aedui lived between the Arar and the Dubis, and in the next, that the Sequani lived across the Arar (eastward).[18]


Pre-Roman period[edit]

By the early 3rd century BC, the emergence of groups of settlements with diversified functions, along with the creation of sanctuaries, suggest the beginning of a continuous La Tène settlement in the region.[12]

Roman period[edit]

Outside of the Roman province and prior to Roman rule, Gaul was occupied by self-governing tribes divided into cantons, and each canton was further divided into communes. The Aedui, like other powerful tribes in the region, such as the Arverni, Sequani, and Helvetii, had replaced their monarchy with a council of magistrates called grand-judges. The grand-judges were under the authority of a senate. This senate was made up of the descendants of ancient royal families. Free men in the tribes were vassals of the heads of these families, in an exchange of military, financial, and political interests.[19]

Denarius of the Aedui, first century BC, 1.94 grams. Hotel de la Monnaie.

According to Livy (v. 34), the Aedui took part in the expedition of Bellovesus into Italy in the sixth century BC. Before Caesar's time, they had attached themselves to the Romans and were honoured with the title of brothers and kinsmen of the Roman people.[20] When the Sequani, their traditional rivals, defeated and massacred the Aedui at the Battle of Magetobriga in 63 BC, with the assistance of the Germanic chieftain Ariovistus, the Aedui sent the druid Diviciacus to Rome with an appeal to the senate for help; but his mission was unsuccessful.[21]

After his arrival in Gaul in 58 BC, Caesar restored the independence of the Aedui. In spite of this, they subsequently joined the Gallic coalition against Caesar (B. G. vii. 42), but after the surrender of Vercingetorix at the Battle of Alesia, the Aedui gladly returned to their allegiance. Augustus dismantled their capital, Bibracte, on Mont Beuvray, and constructed a new town with a half-Roman, half-Gaulish name, Augustodunum (modern Autun).[22]

In AD 21, during the reign of Tiberius, the Aedui revolted under Julius Sacrovir, and seized Augustodunum, but they were soon put down by Gaius Silius (Tacitus Ann. iii. 43–46). The Aedui were the first of the Gauls to receive from the emperor Claudius the distinction of jus honorum, thus being the first Gauls permitted to become senators.[23]

Until Claudius (41–54 AD), the Aedui were the first northern Gallic people to send senators to Rome.[1]

The oration of Eumenius, in which he pleaded for the restoration of the schools of his native Augustodunum, suggests that the district was then neglected. The chief magistrate of the Aedui in Caesar's time was called the Vergobretus (according to Mommsen, "judgment-worker"). He was elected annually, and possessed powers of life and death, but was forbidden to go beyond the frontiers of his territory. Certain clientes, or small communities, were also dependent upon the Aedui.[21]


Temple of Janus.

The Temple of Janus was located just outside the Aedian town of Augustodunum. It probably dates back to the second half of the 1st century AD.[24]

At the end of the La Tène period, religious convergences occurred between the Aedui and the neighbouring Lingones and Sequani in the Saône-Doubs area, as evidenced by the similarity in the practices at the sanctuaries of Nuits-Saint-Georges (Aedui), Mirebeau-sur-Bèze (Lingones) and Mandeure (Sequani).[25]

Political organization[edit]

According to Julius Caesar, the Aedui were one of the strongest Gallic tribes, in rivalry with the Helvetii, Sequani, Remi, and Arverni. Furthermore, the Aedui seemed to work in a semi-republican state, with the powerful Vergobret at least slightly being at the will of the people, similar to the senators of Rome.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Drinkwater 2016.
  2. ^ Polybius. Historíai, 3:47:3.
  3. ^ Cicero. Epistulae ad Atticum, 1:19:2.; Caesar. Commentarii de Bello Gallico, 1:11:2
  4. ^ Livy. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, 5:34:3.
  5. ^ Pliny. Naturalis Historia, 4:107.
  6. ^ Ptolemy. Geōgraphikḕ Hyphḗgēsis, 2:8:12.
  7. ^ Cassius Dio. Rhōmaïkḕ Historía, 38:32.
  8. ^ Falileyev 2010, s.v. Aedui and Haedui.
  9. ^ Delamarre 2003, p. 35.
  10. ^ Matasović 2009, p. 51.
  11. ^ Barral, Guillaumet & Nouvel 2002, p. 276.
  12. ^ a b Barral, Guillaumet & Nouvel 2002, p. 271.
  13. ^ Barral, Guillaumet & Nouvel 2002, p. 273.
  14. ^ Barral, Guillaumet & Nouvel 2002, pp. 272, 274.
  15. ^ Caesar & BG, Book vii, Section 5.
  16. ^ Caesar & BG, Book I, Section 12.
  17. ^ Caesar & BG, Book I, Section 11.
  18. ^ Strabo & Geography, Book 4, Chapter 3, Section 2.
  19. ^ Malleson, G.B. (1889). "Vercingetorix". Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 4: 1–40. doi:10.2307/3678158. JSTOR 3678158.
  20. ^ Caesar & BG, Book I, Section 33.
  21. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aedui". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 244–245. This cites:
    • A. E. Desjardins, Géographie de la Gaule, ii. (1876–1893)
    • T. R. Holmes, Caesar's Conquest of Gaul (1899).
  22. ^ "Alpheus--Bibracte: Last Center of Celtic Occultism". Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  23. ^ Peoples, Nations and Cultures. General Editor Prof John Mackenzie. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 2005.
  24. ^ Goudineau & Rebourg 1987, p. 106.
  25. ^ Barral, Guillaumet & Nouvel 2002, p. 274.
  26. ^ Caesar-Translated by Hammond, Carolyn. The Gallic War. Oxford World's Classics. pp. 3–34.

Primary sources[edit]


  • Barral, Philippe; Guillaumet, Jean-Paul; Nouvel, Pierre (2002). "Le territoire des Éduens d'après les dernières découvertes". In Garcia, D.; Verdin, F. (eds.). Territoires celtiques, espaces ethniques et territoire des agglomérations d'Europe occidentale, actes du XXIV° congrès de l'AFEAF, Martigues, 1er - 4 juin 2000. Errance. pp. 271–296. ISBN 978-2877722193.
  • Delamarre, Xavier (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise: Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental. Errance. ISBN 9782877723695.
  • Drinkwater, John F. (2016). "Aedui". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.83. ISBN 9780199381135.
  • Falileyev, Alexander (2010). Dictionary of Continental Celtic Place-names: A Celtic Companion to the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. CMCS. ISBN 978-0955718236.
  • Goudineau, Christian; Rebourg, Alain (1987). "Les origines d'Autun". Les villes augustéennes de Gaule: actes du Colloque international d'Autun, 6, 7 et 8 juin 1985. Société éduenne des lettres, sciences et arts. OCLC 28069333.
  • Matasović, Ranko (2009). Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic. Brill. ISBN 9789004173361.
  • Nègre, Ernest (1990). Toponymie générale de la France. Librairie Droz. ISBN 978-2-600-02883-7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hornung, Sabine (2016). "Die Häduer – „Brüder" Roms". Siedlung und Bevölkerung in Ostgallien zwischen Gallischem Krieg und der Festigung der Römischen Herrschaft. Eine Studie auf Basis landschaftsarchäologischer Forschungen im Umfeld des Oppidums "Hunnenring" von Otzenhausen (Lkr. St. Wendel) (in German). Philipp von Zabern. pp. 319–346.
  • Thévenot, Émile (1960). Les Éduens n'ont pas trahi : essai sur les relations entre Éduens et César au cours de la guerre des Gaules et particulièrement au cours de la crise de 52. Latomus. OCLC 264975672.