The Gallo-Celtic tribes bore the general appellation of Belgae, and among these the Nervii, inhabiting the district between the Scheldt and the Sambre were at the date of Caesar's invasion, 57 B.C., the most warlike and important.
Julius Caesar, after a severe struggle with - the Nervii and their confederates, was successful in bringing the Belgic tribes into Their subjection to Rome.
The Nervii, Bellovaci, Suessiones, Remi, Morini, Menapii and Aduatuci were Belgic tribes; the Tarbelli and others were Aquitani; while the Allobroges inhabited the north of the Provincia, having been conquered in 121 B.C. The ethnological divisions thus set forth by Caesar have been much discussed (see Celt, and articles on the chief tribes).
Under the name of Bagacum or Bavacum it was the capital of the Nervii and, under the Romans, an important centre of roads, the meeting-place of which was marked by a milestone, destroyed in the 17th century and replaced in the 19th century by a column.
An attack on Quintus Cicero (brother of the orator), then quartered with a legion in the territory of the Nervii, failed owing to the timely appearance of Caesar.
But the Nervii, and their neighbours further to the north-west, remained to be dealt with, and were crushed only after a desperate struggle on the banks of the Sambre, in which Caesar was forced to expose his person in the mêlée.