Perhaps the greatest leader in the entire legacy of the Roman Republic, Julius Caesar is one of the best-known historical figures of all time. His birth month of Quintilis was renamed in his honour to ‘July’ and even his surname came to represent the title of a supreme ruler, with the title spreading across Europe in the names of Kaiser and Tsar.
He was born in 100 BC into the Julian clan. With his family’s close ties to political factions in Rome, he seems to have been destined to succeed in Roman politics, progressing though the system as quaestor, aedile and praetor from 69 BC to 62 BC. His successes led to his appointment as governor of Roman Gaul and, in his eight years as governor, he greatly expanded the territory, adding the entirety of modern France and Belgium into the Roman Republic.
Soon after invading Britain, Caesar was instructed by the Roman senate to rescind his command and return to Rome. Vehemently against the idea, and against the restrictions placed upon him, Caesar famously led his army across the Rubicon river into Italy in 49 BC. In the ensuing civil war, Caesar defeated republican forces, chased their leader, Pompey, to Egypt and had him assassinated and any remaining followers taken care of.
Caesar instated himself as consul and dictator of Rome in 48 BC. As emperor he brought much-needed reform to the state, establishing a new constitution, relieving debt and growing the senate. However, his ambition for the Roman Republic proved too alienating for leading republican senators. Following Caesar’s decision to become dictator for life, a group of senators assassinated him on the Ides of March in 44 BC, giving rise to a series of civil wars that would eventually spell the end of the Roman Republic. This led to Caesar’s great nephew and heir, Octavian (later Augustus), becoming the first emperor of the Roman Empire.
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