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Gallic Wars(găl`ĭk), campaigns in GaulGaul
, Lat. Gallia, ancient designation for the land S and W of the Rhine, W of the Alps, and N of the Pyrenees. The name was extended by the Romans to include Italy from Lucca and Rimini northwards, excluding Liguria.
..... Click the link for more information. led by Julius CaesarCaesar, Julius
(Caius Julius Caesar), 100? B.C.–44 B.C., Roman statesman and general. Rise to Power
Although he was born into the Julian gens, one of the oldest patrician families in Rome, Caesar was always a member of the democratic or popular party.
..... Click the link for more information. in his two terms as proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul, Transalpine Gaul, and Illyricum (58 B.C.–51 B.C.). Caesar's first campaign was to prevent the Helvetii (who lived N of the Lake of Geneva) from crossing the Roman territory Provincia (Provence) on their way to a new home in SW Gaul. Inspired by Orgetorix, they had started from the Alps northwestward with Caesar in pursuit, but he split their forces as they crossed the Saône, and pursued them to BibracteBibracte
, former capital of the Aedui, site atop Mont Beuvray, central France. There Caesar defeated (58 B.C.) the Helvetii (see Gallic Wars). Excavations on the site have revealed a Gallic town.
..... Click the link for more information. , where he defeated them. In the same year the Aedui asked Caesar's help against the German AriovistusAriovistus
, fl. 58 B.C., Germanic chieftain, leader of the Suebi. He crossed the Rhine c.71 B.C., defeated the Aedui, and came to dominate much of Gaul (see Gallic Wars). In 60 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , whom Caesar routed. In 57 B.C., Caesar pacified Belgica (roughly Belgium). In the winter of the same year an anti-Roman confederacy was formed, and in 56 B.C. Caesar attacked its leaders, the Veneti, who maintained a fleet in what is now the Gulf of Morbihan, Brittany. He defeated them after building ships of his own. In 55 B.C., Caesar went to the Low Countries to repel a group of invading Germans and, as a punitive measure, in turn invaded German territory, crossing the Rhine on a bridge he built near Cologne. He then went to Britain on a brief exploring expedition. In 54 B.C. he invaded Britain and defeated the Britons and their leader Cassivellaunus. The following winter the Roman legions were quartered separately because of the scarcity of food, and some Belgian tribes led by AmbiorixAmbiorix
, fl. 54 B.C., Gallic chieftain of the Eburones (in what is now central Belgium). He had been favorably treated by the Romans, but he joined another tribe in attacking Julius Caesar's legates. When he heard of Caesar's approach, he fled across the Rhine.
..... Click the link for more information. raised a revolt. One legion was utterly defeated and another, under Quintus CiceroCicero, Quintus Tullius,
c.102 B.C.–43 B.C., Roman general; brother of Cicero the orator. After service in Asia he accompanied Julius Caesar to Britain (55 B.C.); wintered in Gaul (54 B.C.), where he fought off the attacks of Ambiorix; and went to Cilicia (51 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , was in dire straits when Caesar arrived and routed the rebels. In 53 B.C., Caesar put down another Belgian revolt and entered Germany again. But the real test came when, in the dead of winter, Caesar, in Italy, learned that all central Gaul had raised a revolt, organized by VercingetorixVercingetorix
, d. 46 B.C., leader of the Gauls, a chieftain of the Arverni. He was the leader of the great revolt against the Romans in 52 B.C. Julius Caesar, upon hearing of the trouble, rushed to put it down.
..... Click the link for more information. . With incredible speed and brilliant tactics, Caesar crossed the Alps and suppressed the Gauls. After 51 B.C., Caesar moved around Gaul putting down the last signs of disorder. Caesar's Gallic Wars were the theater in which he displayed his abilities, and his organization of the new territory was the seed of modern France. When Caesar became proconsul, he received a wide strip along the Mediterranean beyond the Alps; when he gave up his command, his territory included everything from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, from the Alps to the Atlantic. The prime source of the Gallic Wars is Caesar's own commentaries, De bello Gallico.
See also T. R. Holmes, Caesar's Conquest of Gaul (2d ed. 1911).
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