The estate owners
The creation of farming estates along the model of the villa may be ascribed to the arrival of newcomers in the Gallic countryside: Italians lured by the provinces' resources – like the protagonist in Cicero's Pro Quinctio
– or the lucky beneficiaries of plots of land during the creation of coloniae
. The Gallic upper classes once again played a leading role, as they already possessed sizeable estates and had economic and social ties with the rural populations. The success of the villa throughout Gaul and the regional adaptation of the villa model are proof of how quickly the indigenous aristocracy became Romanised.
The identity and rank of certain estate owners can be ascertained from funerary epigraphy and examination of the inscriptions on an estate's productions. Although some of them were from the upper classes of Roman society, a number were notables who had been appointed to municipal positions, and some were even freedmen who had benefited from the patronage of well-known local citizens. The Gallo-Roman dominus
was perhaps an absentee owner taken up with business in the city, like those whom Columella called on to become more involved in managing the estate, rather than simply vacationing there. In late Antiquity, this way of life was still prevalent among the upper classes who, according to the Letters of Sidonius Apollinaris
and the luxury of their residences, appeared to pay more attention to their leisure activities.