Gallicae is a general name given to a style of closed leather boot worn by the men of ancient Rome. The Romans named the boots gallicae because they had first encountered them when they were fighting the northern tribes of Gaul, present-day France, after 100 B.C.E. Roman soldiers on long military campaigns in the cold climate of Gaul adopted the sturdy, protective footwear worn by the natives. When they returned home, these soldiers brought the style back to Rome, where it soon became popular.

During the early years of the Roman Republic, which began around 509 B.C.E. , Roman citizens wore very simple footwear. As the Greeks had done before them, both rich and poor Romans mainly went barefoot, especially inside. Outside, they wore simple sandals woven of plant fibers or made of leather. As Roman society developed, and as shoemaking skills increased, shoe styles became more and more elaborate. By the beginning of the Roman Empire in 27 B.C.E. , most well-dressed Romans wore stylish solea (sandals), calceus (shoes), and cothurnus (boots), and only the very poor and the slaves went barefoot.

The original gallicae worn by soldiers returning from the wars in Gaul were simple ankle-high boots made from two pieces of leather sewn together in back and laced up the front with leather straps. Roman shoemakers soon developed the Gallic shoe into a rugged tall boot, which was worn by soldiers and farmers for marching, riding, and working in bad weather. During the prosperous years of the empire, when fashion became quite ornate, the simple gallicae evolved into the campagus, a boot worn by the upper classes, such as high-ranking military officers and senators. The campagi were dyed in rich colors, such as red for senators and purple for the emperor. Their height was determined by rank: the higher the boot top, the higher the wearer's position in society. However, gallicae and campagi were not worn with togas, the traditional outer garment worn by Roman citizens.


Houston, Mary G. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Costume and Decoration. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1947.

Laver, James. Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. 4th ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: