'Vae victis!' ('Woe to the vanquished!'). This exclamation by the Gaulish chieftain Brennus, dictating his terms after defeating ancient Rome,1 illustrates a historical reality: defeat on the battlefield has, over the centuries, entailed a series of misfortunes for the conquered peoples. Murder, rape, slavery, and plunder: conquest gave the victors absolute rights over people and their property, and it often meant the outright annexation of captured territories. 'To act as if one owns the place' is still a current expression that reflects the arbitrary actions of the conqueror – the principle that 'might makes right'.
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