July 12, 100 BC - Future Roman general and leader Julius Caesar (right) is born in Rome. The son of Gaius Julius Caesar and Aurelia Cotta, Caesar joined the army and served in Asia and Cilicia. Rising through the Roman civil and military ranks, he was elected as consul in 59 BC and formed an unofficial alliance with the consuls Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus known as the First Triumverate. Departing office, he was given the governorship of Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy) and Illyricum (the western Balkans), and later, Transalpine Gaul (southern France).
While in Gaul, he conducted numerous campaigns against the local tribes as well as those from Germany. In 55 BC, he crossed the English Channel and invaded Britain, but was unable to secure the country and retired to Gaul that winter. Returning the following year, he installed rulers that were favorable to Rome. Though he believed Gaul to be pacified, a massive revolt broke out in 52 BC led by Vercingetorix of the Arverni. After defeating Caesar in several engagements, he was finally brought to heel at the Battle of Alesia. Ordered to disband his army and return to Rome at end of is term as proconsul, Caesar feared being marginalized politically. Instead he marched on the city with one of his legions, causing him to be branded as a traitor. In the ensuing civil war, Caesar defeated Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus at the Battle of Dyrrhachium and chased him to his death in Alexandria. While in Egypt, Caesar intervened in the Alexandrine civil war between Ptolemy and Cleopatra, installing the latter on the throne. Returning to Rome as dictator, he set in motion that events that led to his famous murder.
Photograph Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin