After serving in Spain as proconsul in 61 BC, Caesar returned to Rome in 60 BC, ambitious for the consulate. Against senatorial opposition he achieved a brilliant stroke--he organized a coalition, known as the First Triumvirate, made up of Pompey, commander in chief of the army; Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome; and Caesar himself. In 59 BC as consul, he secured the passage of an agrarian law providing Campanian lands for 20,000 poor citizens and veterans, in spite of the opposition from his senatorial colleagues, and at the same time won the support of the wealthy equites by getting a reduction for them in their tax contracts in Asia. This made him the guiding power in a coalition between people and plutocrats.
He was assigned the rule of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul and Illyricum with four legions for five years from 58 BC to 54 BC.
The differences between Pompey and Crassus grew, and Caesar again moved (56 BC) to patch up matters, arriving at an agreement that both Pompey and Crassus should be consuls in 55 BC and that their proconsular provinces should be Spain and Syria, respectively. From this arrangement he drew an extension of his command in Gaul to 49 BC. In the years 58 BC to 49 BC he firmly established his reputation during the Gallic Wars.
In 55 BC, Caesar made explorations into Britain, and in 54 BC he defeated the Britons, led by Cassivellaunus. Caesar met his most serious opposition in Gaul from Vercingetorix, whom he defeated in Alesia in 52 BC--essentially ending the wars and reducing all Gaul to fall under Roman control. These campaigns proved him one of the greatest commanders of all time, wherein he revealed his consummate military genius, characterized by quick, sure judgment and...