Ceasar's Gallic Campaign

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The Roman republic at the birth of Caesar (100BC) was a stagnant and decaying political structure that had outgrown the area it was set to govern. The Gallic War gave Caesar the staging point he needed to lay the ground work for the Roman Empire. Frank Herbert an American historian states “ The stakes in conflict do not change. Battle determines who will control the wealth or its equivalent” Herbert’s comment concerning the causes of conflict can be considered accurate in relation to Caesar’s Gallic war because it provided Caesar and Rome with great wealth and in turn gave Caesar more influence. Detailed examination of What the Gallic war was, Why it occurred and the consequences of the war will prove that the Caesar’s Gallic war gave him the wealth and power needed to lay the foundation for the Roman Empire. The Conquest of Gaul was a military expansion by the Roman Republic, which started in Transalpine Gaul (Southern France) and included two expeditions into Britain and an expedition over the Rhine into Germania. The conquest of Gaul originally started as the repulsion of a Gallic tribe called the Helvetti. Caesar stated that “Orgetorix was the Gallic chieftain ordered the tribe to move through Roman land” .Through a series of pitched battle the Helvetti were routed and Roman land had been defended. Then Ariovistus a, German warlord, launched a campaign to conquer land in Gaul. Goldsworthy highlights how this escalates commenting that it “led on to further conflicts with more distant tribes, till Caesar’s legions had subdue the whole area”. Caesar subdued all of Gaul and then began to venture further abroad. “Caesar made active preparations for expeditions to Britain because he knew that in almost all the Gallic campaigns the Gaul’s had received reinforcements from the Britons” . After being repulsed from Britain in both of his expeditions due to storms the final major conflict was to occur in the Gallic war. “In 52 BC a revolt broke out under the command of Vercingetorix, a Gallic Hero” . This resulted in the complete subdual of all of Gaul and the annexation of Switzerland, France and parts of Germany into the Roman republic. The causes of the Gallic conquest are wide and varied but can be broken down into Short term and long term reasons for the conflict. There were different reasons for the Gallic conquest. The more immediate and spontaneous political decisions of the time set the spark for war. The causes of the Gallic conflict must be traced back to the reason for the Helvetti deciding to migrate. Ferraton, an ancient history graduate from Cleveland University, states “The geographic location of the Helvetti nation made it difficult to maintain trade and contact with neighbouring Gallic tribes” . The requirement of the Gallic tribes to maintain trade and contact meant that they needed to move from their land in northern Switzerland where they were isolated from the other Gallic tribes. Their requirement to move meant that they had to move through Roman controlled territory and this is where the Gallic wars began. Cornell states “Caesar attacked the Helvetti, who, he thought, represented a danger to the Roman province” . Goldsworthy corroborate Cornell in the reason for the start of the Gallic wars stating “A favourite target for the Celts was the colonies which the Romans had settled north of Po, and these were frequently beleaguered and sometimes sacked” Cornell and Goldsworthy both believe that Caesar attacked the Helvetti to defend the Roman nation, however, there is the contradicting opinions of a number of authors to take into account. Suetonius, the revered primary historian, cited in Koutsoukis states “he only got to the office through blatant and widespread bribery, defeating two older candidates who were much better qualified” . This statement on its own does not prove anything but when combined with other authors a clearer picture starts to unravel. Koutsoukis states “ Before he left Rome, he had a...
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