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Battle of Alesia

The Battle of Alesia or Siege of Alesia was a military engagement in the Gallic Wars that took place in September, 52 BC, around the Gallic oppidum of Alesia, a major centre of the Mandubii tribe. It was fought by the army of Julius Caesar against a confederation of Gallic tribes united under the leadership of Vercingetorix of the Arverni, it was the last major engagement between Gauls and Romans, is considered one of Caesar's greatest military achievements and a classic example of siege warfare and investment. The battle of Alesia marked the end of Gallic independence in Belgium; the battle site was atop Mont Auxois, above modern Alise-Sainte-Reine in France, but this location, some have argued, does not fit Caesar's description of the battle. A number of alternatives have been proposed over time, among which only Chaux-des-Crotenay remains a challenger today. At one point in the battle the Romans were outnumbered by the Gauls by four to one; the event is described by several contemporary authors, including Caesar himself in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico.

After the Roman victory, Gaul became a Roman province. The Roman Senate granted a thanksgiving of 20 days for his victory in the Gallic War. In 58 BC, following his first consulship in 59 BC, Julius Caesar engineered his own appointment as proconsul of three Roman provinces by the First Triumvirate; these were Cisalpine Gaul and Gallia Narbonensis. Although the proconsular term of office was meant to be one year, Caesar's governorship was for an unprecedented five years, he had the command of four legions. Caesar engaged in the Gallic Wars; when the Helvetii, a federation of tribes from what is now Switzerland, planned a migration to the Atlantic coast through Gaul, Caesar went to Geneva and forbade the Helvetii to move into Gaul. While he went to Gallia Cisalpina to collect three other legions, the Helvetii attacked the territories of the Aedui and Allobroges, three Gallic tribes, which called for Caesar’s help. Caesar and his Gallic allies defeated the Helvetii; the Gallic tribes asked for Caesar to intervene against an invasion by the Suebi, a Germanic tribe.

Caesar defeated the Suebi. In 57 BC he marched on the Belgae of northern Gaul. From on he conquered the Gallic peoples one by one, his successes in Gaul brought Caesar political prestige in Rome and great wealth through the spoils of wars and the sale of war captives as slaves. After his initial successes, Caesar had to confront a number of Gallic rebellions which threatened his control over Gaul. In the winter of 54–53 BC the Carnutes killed Tasgetius, a pro-Roman king, installed by Caesar. Caesar sent one legion to winter there. Soon after the pacified Eburones, commanded by Ambiorix and destroyed the Legio XIV under the command of Quintus Titurius Sabinus in a planned ambush; this was the first clear Roman defeat in Gaul and inspired widespread national sentiments and rebellion. The Eburones obtained the support of the Nervii and numerous minor tribes, they besieged the camp of Quintus Cicero. The siege lasted two weeks. Cicero managed to inform Caesar about this by sending a Nervian noble to him with a letter.

This siege was difficult for Cicero because the Gauls had learnt Roman siege techniques and built siege machines similar to those of the Romans. Caesar defeated the besiegers, he made Samarobriva his headquarters. However, the Senones were supported by many Gallic tribes. Only the Aedui and Remi remained loyal to Rome. Moreover, the Treveri attacked the legate Titus Labienus, who managed to defeat them, killing their leader. Caesar received another from Pompey; this brought the number of his legions in Gaul to ten. The Treveri obtained the support of the Eburones and Atuatuci. On the western front, the Senones, the Carnutes and other nearby peoples continued their rebellion. Caesar made a lightning move on the Nervii, ravaging their fields and seizing a large amount of cattle; the Nervii, caught by surprise, surrendered. Caesar turned west against the Sernones and Carnutes, they negotiated for peace with the mediation of the Remi. Only Acco, a seditious prince, was chained, he was executed as a warning to Gaul.

Caesar turned against the Treveri, the Eburones and their allies. He marched on the Menapi with five legions without baggage; the Menapi hid in the forests. Caesar burned many villages and seized much of the cattle; the Menapi surrendered. Meanwhile, Labienus moved on the Treveri with 25 cohorts and the cavalry and without baggage, he installed a pro-Roman leader. After a second punitive expedition in Germania, Caesar turned his whole army on the Eburones and Ambiorix and sent his cavalry ahead for a surprise attack; the Eburones fled to the forests. Minor nearby tribes sued for peace. Caesar divided nine legions into three columns. One was to control the Menapi, one was to devastate the territories next to the lands of the Atautuci and his pursued Ambiorix, he decided to annihilate t

Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon Common is a large open space in Wimbledon, southwest London. There are three named areas: Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath, Putney Lower Common, which together are managed under the name Wimbledon and Putney Commons totalling 460 hectares. Putney Lower Common is separated from the rest of the Common by about 1.5 miles of built-up area of southwest Putney. Wimbledon Common, together with Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common, is protected by the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act of 1871 from being enclosed or built upon; the common is for the benefit of the general public for informal recreation, for the preservation of natural flora and fauna. It is the largest expanse of heathland in the London area. There is an area of bog with unique flora; the western slopes, which lie on London Clay, support mature mixed woodland. The Commons are an important site for the stag beetle. Most of the Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation under the EC Habitats Directive.

English Nature works with the Conservators on the management plan for the area. Wimbledon Common and Putney Heath are a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation; the Commons are administered by eight Conservators. Five of them are elected triennially and the remaining three are appointed by three government departments: the Department of the Environment, Ministry of Defence and Home Office; the Commons are managed by the Clerk and Ranger, supported by a Deputy, a Wildlife & Conservation Officer and a personal assistant. There are seven Mounted Keepers, two groundsmen, six maintenance workers and one property maintenance worker – some 23 employees in total. There are at least four horses; the Conservators are responsible for the annual budget of around £1m. Most of the revenue comes from an annual levy on houses within 3⁄4 mile of the Commons; the levy payers are entitled to vote for the five elected Conservators. The levy payers fall within three London boroughs: Merton and Kingston.

In 1864, the lord of the manor, Earl Spencer, who owned Wimbledon manor, attempted to pass a private parliamentary bill to enclose the Common for the creation of a new park with a house and gardens and to sell part for building. In a landmark decision for English common land, following an enquiry, permission was refused and a board of conservators was established in 1871 to take ownership of the common and preserve it in its natural condition; the windmill stands near the centre of Wimbledon Common as understood. Here Robert Baden-Powell wrote parts of Scouting for Boys, published in 1908. In the 19th century the windmill was the headquarters of the National Rifle Association and drew large crowds each July. "These annual gatherings are attended by the élite of fashion, always include a large number of ladies, who evince the greatest interest in the target practice of the various competitors, whether it be for the honour of carrying off the Elcho Shield, the Queen's or the Prince of Wales's Prize, or the shield shot for by our great Public Schools, or the Annual Rifle Match between the Houses of Lords and Commons."

The headquarters were moved to ranges at Bisley. Two broad, shallow pools and Rushmere, lie near roads on the higher parts of Wimbledon Common and seem to be the result of gravel extraction; the more remote Queensmere is somewhat deeper. Beverley Brook runs along the western edge of Wimbledon Common; the watercourse was the historic south west London boundary. Near Beverley Brook and Warren Farm are two Local Nature Reserves managed by the London Wildlife Trust: Farm Bog and Fishpond Wood and Beverley Meads. At the southern end of the common on the part used by the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club, but with a public footpath running through the middle, are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort known as Caesar's Camp. Though the main period of use as an oppidum seems to have been the 6th to 4th centuries BC, there is some evidence that it was indeed stormed by the Romans in the Invasion of Britain by Claudius, it may have been taken by the Legio II Augusta under Vespasian in their push westwards in AD 44.

It is possible the site was settled as far back as the Bronze Age, but it and the surrounding barrows were deliberately destroyed by John Erle-Drax in 1875. Charles II reviewed his forces on Putney Heath in 1684; the 300th anniversary of the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment was marked in 1961 when a tercentenary monument was unveiled and blessed on the heath. According to Samuel Pepys, Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York used to run horses on the heath. A stone and brick obelisk was erected on Putney Heath in 1770, marking the 110th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, to coincide with the invention of the Hartley fire plates by David Hartley, near a spot where his fireproof house was built; the obelisk, with ornately detailed foundation stone, is still standing and can be accessed via the car park adjacent to The Telegraph public house, off Wildcroft Road, SW15. The lower part of this house was set on fire in the presence, among others, of George III and Queen Charlotte, the members of Parliament, the Lord Mayor, the Aldermen.

Since 1955 the obelisk has been a Grade II listed building. The adjacent Wildcroft Manor was in the ownership of publishing magnate George Newnes, builder of Putney Library. In 1895 he

Śmiergust

Śmiergust is a long-standing folk custom popular in some parts of Poland in and around the town of Wilamowice. During śmiergust young men are dousing young unmarried women with water; the celebrations take place on the Market Square of Wilamowice on Wet Monday, in or near the women's homes on Easter Sunday. Śmiergust participants are groups of dressed-up men. Traditionally, at Śmiergust, groups of dressed-up men walk from house to house, visiting homes and dousing girls with water; the custom is sometimes observed on Easter Sunday – in the area surrounding Oświęcim. The custom was first described by Józef Latosiński in his 1909 book entitled Monografia miasteczka Wilamowice: " On the second day of Easter, in the afternoon, young men dress up as girls and adult girls as men; some of them wear masks. The participants of Śmiergust have dressed up as various characters: "doctors, chimney sweeps, cart drivers or women. At a certain point they began creating their costumes from patches of old items of women's clothing, which resulted in a colourful, motley effect".

They wear hats decorated with crepe flowers which symbolise the coming spring, as well as hand-painted paper-mâché masks, worn to conceal the owner's identity. The Śmiergust group is made up form young men, who walk from house to house throughout the night and – after dousing girls with water – receive food and drinks. Jolanta Danek, an ethnographer living in Wilamowice, recalls that " on Sunday evening the men gather in a house of one of the participants." The group includes an accordion player, who accompanies the conduct on Easter Sunday and Monday. Śmiergust characters "walk into every house. Quite they have an opportunity to visit a home they wouldn't dare enter otherwise, they douse girls with water and sing." The women on whom a lot of water has been poured during Śmiergust could be certain of their popularity and – – marriage. Józef Gara wrote in his poem titled "Dy Wymysöjer Śmiergüśnika": " Śmiergust boys have to know and take care / not to miss a house where girls live / not to upset a girl".Śmiergust participants continue dousing people with water on Easter Monday.

They gather on the market square and when the women leave the church, they are caught and doused with water. The characters stage impromptu shows and play tricks on their hosts; the arrival of Śmiergust men is announced by the noise of dragged cans, whistles and the ensuing singing and music. The noise and music perform a symbolic function – to awaken "the sleeping life of nature". Two elements of the Easter customs in Wilamowice – or with the participants' costumes – are no longer practised; the custom of dousing with water was supposed to bring good luck to the young women. Sources mention that on Easter Monday it was customary to support the hopes of a good harvest: " On Palm Sunday they bless Easter palms, which they keep in houses, stuck under the roof. From these palms they fashion crosses, on Easter Monday place those crosses in the fields, so that the Lord allows a good harvest; this custom is called "holy śmirgust”. In Wilamowice, Śmiergust costumes used to be worn on the third day of a wedding: " Best men and bridesmaids, as well as other young guests, would dress up on the last day of the wedding – men as women, women as men, best men as the bridegroom, etc..

They collected bottles of spirits in their baskets or snatch a hen and gift it to the young couple for good luck”. The tradition of Śmiergust and pouring water on young women continues to be a vibrant element of immaterial cultural heritage in Wilamowice; the custom is kept alive by folklore groups: the group Wilamowice-Fil performs "A Wedding in Wilamowice", "Pastorale" and "Śmiergust". Jolanta Danek, director of the folklore group, told the local press: " boys from neighbouring villages join with ours in the procession and together they participate in the event, it is always an opportunity to meet an interesting girl ”