Gaius Julius Caesar, one of the greatest military leaders, was born into a patrician, senatorial family and was the nephew of Marius – another famous Roman general. After the rise of Sulla and the death of Marius, Caesar’s life was for a time in danger, but in the early 60s B.C he started his own successful military and political career. Rising quickly, Julius Caesar campaigned victoriously for consulship in 60 B.C and made a deal with two of Rome’s leading figures, Crassus and Pompey the Great. Together the three men became known as the first Triumvirate and throughout the 50s B.C ruled Rome, until Pompey and Julius Caesar, after Crassus’ death, went to war against each other in 49 B.C.
During the peak of the First Triumvirate, Caesar concentrated his energies on the conquest of Gaul. After serving as consul in 59 B.C, Julius Caesar became governor of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul. In 58 B.C, when the Helvetii in Switzerland tried to migrate into central Gaul, Julius Caesar determined that they would be a threat to the Roman province, and in a great battle he halted their advance and sent them back into their homeland. Meanwhile, he had become friendly with central Gaul’s chieftains, and they pushed him to protect them against a German invader across the Rhine, Ariovistus. In the summer of 58 B.C, after defeating the Helvetians, Julius Caesar marched against the Germans and forced them out of Gaul.
Julius Caesar was by then inseparably involved in Gaul’s affairs. Over the following several years, in a sequence of amazing campaigns, the Roman general conquered all of Gaul and made it a Roman province. The conquest needed many difficult battles in northern Gaul and the crossing of a trestle bridge constructed by Roman engineers over the Rhine. Julius Caesar sailed across the English Channel in the summers of 55 B.C and 54 B.C, thereby affirming his northern flank along the Rhine in Gaul by preventing a Celtic attack from across the Channel, though Britain did not become a Roman province for another century. The Roman leader brought resistance in Gaul to an end 51 and 50 B.C.
As his command in Gaul was coming to an end in early 49 B.C, Julius Caesar started civil war with Pompey the Great, his old associate, who had allied himself against Caesar with the Roman Senate. In a surprising military attack, Julius Caesar invaded Italy and forced Pompey into Macedonia is less than seventy days. Because Pompey had a fleet and Julius Caesar did not, Caesar chose to attack Spain where Pompey had a lot of support, while Julius Caesar’s men built warships. Successful in Spain, Julius Caesar then sailed to Macedonia, but was unable to move Pompey from his base in Dyrrachium. Julius Caesar eventually raised the siege, retreated to central Greece, and defeated Pompey, who had chased him, at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 B.C.
Caesar was then charmed into an affair with Cleopatra in Egypt and eventually had to fight two more battles with the Pompeians, one in Spain (Munda, 45 B.C) and another in North Africa (Thapsus, 46 B.C). Victorious all over the Mediterranean, Julius Caesar was assassinated by political rivals in 44 B.C on the Ides of March as he prepared an invasion of the Parthian Empire. Julius Caesar’s generalship was distinguished by decisiveness, boldness, and a sometimes reckless willingness to advance ahead of his supply lines.