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Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar turned the Roman Republic into the powerful Roman Empire. A coup ended his reign, and his life, on the Ides of March.
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Crassus proved to be instrumental in Caesar's rise to power. A leader himself, and cited as the wealthiest man in Roman history, Crassus offered financial and political support to Caesar.
Over the years Pompey and Crassus had come to be intense rivals. But once again Caesar displayed his abilities as a negotiator,
earning the trust of both men and convincing them they'd be better suited as allies instead of enemies.
This partnership among the three men came to be known as the First Triumvirate. For Caesar, this political alliance and the power it gave him was the perfect springboard to greater domination.
An early controversial move came when he tried to pay off Pompey's soldiers by granting them public lands. While initially unpopular, Caesar hired a collection of Pompey's soldiers to stage a riot. In the midst of all the chaos, he got his way.
Not long after, Caesar secured the governorship of Gaul (now France and Belgium), allowing him to build a bigger military and begin the kind of campaigns that would cement his status as one of Rome's all-time great leaders. Between 58 and 50 BC, Caesar conquered the rest of Gaul, up to the river Rhine. As he expanded his reach, he also showed his ruthlessness with his enemies. In one instance he waited until his opponents' water supply had gone dry, and then ordered the hands of all the remaining survivors be cut off.
Even while he conquered Gaul, Caesar was mindful of the political scene back home, and he hired key political agents to act on his behalf in Rome.
But Pompey, who grew envious of his political partner's power and prestige, did not meet Caesar's growing stature with enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Crassus still had never completely overcome his disdain for Pompey. The three leaders patched things up temporarily in 56 BC at a conference in Luca that cemented Caesar's existing territorial rule for another five years, and granted Crassus a five-year term in Syria and Pompey a five-year term in Spain.
Three years later, however, Crassus was killed in a battle in Syria. Around this time Pompey revisited his old concerns about Caesar.
Through a series of events, Caesar eventually went to war against Pompey, leading troops across the river Rubicon on January 10-11, 49 BC. With Pompey further aligning himself with nobility, and the nobility increasingly seeing Caesar as a national threat, civil war proved to be inevitable.
But Pompey and his troops were no a match for Caesar and his military campaign. By the end of 48 BC, Caesar had pushed his enemies out of Italy and pursued Pompey into Egypt, where he was eventually killed. There, Caesar aligned himself with Cleopatra, with whom he had a son, Caesarion.
Upon his return to Rome, Caesar was made dictator for life and hailed as the Father of his Country. For Caesar and his countrymen, his rule proved instrumental in reforming Rome.
He would serve just a year's term before his assassination, but in that short period Caesar greatly transformed the empire. He relieved debt and reformed the Senate by increasing its size and opening it up so that it better represented Romans as a whole.
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