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First Triumvirate

The First Triumvirate was a political alliance between Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (called Pompey) in the 1st century BC.

It was a tenuous alliance, based on Caesar's popularity as a politician, Pompey's successful military campaigns in Sicily and Africa, his defeat of Spartacus and his extermination of pirates from the Mediterranean, and Crassus' enormous wealth.

In 70 BC, Crassus and Pompey shared the consulship together. In this period they restored many of the powers of the tribunes, which were later to be used in securing further powers.

The triumvirate formed in 59 BC, an alliance against forces in the Roman Senate represented by Cato the Younger[?] and Cicero. The Triumvirate used their influence to have Caesar elected consul; he used this position to secure for himself the governership of Gaul in 58 BC. Subsequently the triumvirate succeeded in 55 BC in having Pompey and Crassus reelected as consuls, and extending the length of Caesar's tenure as governor.

Crassus used his consulship to secure himself a governorship in the wealthy Syria, from where he went on to invade Mesopotamia. In 53 BC he was killed while fighting the Parthians.

Pompey remained in Rome, where he was in virtual control throughout the following years, but grew increasingly jealous of the success Caesar was enjoying.

Caesar used his position in Gaul to win a string of military successes, in Gaul, Germany and Britain. He gained enormous popularity in Rome by publishing reports of his campaigns in the Gallic Wars. After successfully putting down the rebellion of Vercingetorix, he returned to Rome with his veteran legions in 49 BC. By bringing his legions across the Rubicon river without disarming them first, he announced his rebellion against Rome. Having command over the loyalty of most of the troops, even those under Pompey's command, Caesar was easily able to secure control without the need for conflict.

Pompey fled to Brundisium and began to raise an army against Caesar, who used the moment to secure the position of dictator.

See also: Second Triumvirate, Julius Caesar



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