Definitions

Civitas Baiocassium

Baiocasses

The people known to us by the Latinized name as Baiocasses (or Baïocasses) were a tribe in ancient Gaul.

Early location and relationships

They were apparently a subtribe of the tribe Lexovii in the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis, east of the Venelli and west of the Belgic tribe Veliocasses. Their territory was known as Pagus Baiocensis, corresponding to the area in Normandy now known as Bessin. This is the location of the modern city of Bayeux, which takes its name from the tribe.

Julius Caesar does not mention them in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico (ca. 50 BC, but they would fall under his:

"...qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur."
"Those who are called Celts in their own language, but Gauls in ours.
They are apparently the same as the group named Bodiocasses by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis historia:
"Lugdunensis Gallia habet...Viducasses, Bodiocasses, Venelli...."
"The province of Gallia Lugdunensis has...the Viducasses, the Bodiocasses, the Venelli....

Capital city

Their principal city was called by the Romans Civitas Baiocassium "City of the Baiocasses"; later it was given the Latin name Augustodorum. By Merovingian times the city was being called Baiocas. In the time of William the Conqueror the name was already written Bayeaux.

Name

It appears that the final <-x> in Bayeaux was pronounced [-k(a)s]. Whether this is an evolution, or a regression to an earlier, more nearly native name is, unclear. The Latin name takes the form of a third-declension I-stem noun formed on *[bajokas]; the adjective being Baiocensis. Noting the intrusive [-d-] in the form cited by Pliny, the original form of name of the tribe may be assumed to have been *[badjoc-as] or something similar.

Coinage

The Baiocasses of the 1st century BC minted base gold, silver and billon (base silver) coins in the denomination of one stater and in the case of gold coins sometimes quarter staters. Most of the coin show a very Celtic style male head on the obverse, and horse with chariot rider above or behind and usually either a lyre or small boar below, on the reverse. A number of these have been preserved.

References

Bibliography

  • Smith, William, ed. 1854. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, illustrated by numerous engravings on wood. London: Walton and Maberly (13.04)
  • Hazlit, William. 1851. The Classical Gazetteer. Online verson at AncientLibrary.com

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