VERCINGETORIX )))))))) by Ron McVan
"Honor and glory follow him who fights to save his native land from foreign foe. Though he may fail in life, he lives in fame, The noble hero of a gallant race."
The Celts were the first people in central Europe to use iron and horse-drawn chariots. They spread from this diffusion point as a conquering aristocracy between 500 and 250 B.C.E. At the height of their power they held southern Germany, France, Northern Spain, and much of Britain and Ireland. Throughout this area of empire, Celtic society constituted a brilliant "heroic" culture of rich warrior chiefs, skilled agriculturalists and pastoralists, artists and metal workers, lawmakers, poets, Druid spiritualists and philosophers.
By 55 B.C.E. all Northern Europe was beginning to lose its hold as a world empire and there was much confusion and fractionalization among its tribes. Rome had taken great advantage of the situation in the attempt to attack the vital organs of the Celtic empire of Gaul in a concerted effort to bring Northern Europe under its iron-handed domination.
Some of the Northern tribes had already converted to the decadent and tyrannical Roman rule. This did not set well with most other Celts who found it far more appealing to fight the enemy of their land fearlessly and courageously than to live as unwilling subjects of Rome. Divided they could never hope to challenge the machine-like legions of Rome; a great leader was needed.
Finally in 53 B.C.E. a leader did emerge, who was not only a worthy adversary for Julius Caesar, but who possessed a personality forceful enough to unite the dissident Celts and convince them to stay united. His name was Vercingetorix, a name which means "King of the Warriors".
Described as handsome and exceedingly tall, he was the son of a former chieftain of the Averni tribe, Like any Celtic nobleman of his day, Vercingetorix was headstrong and ambitious, sure of himself and resentful of higher authority; at the same time his fiery character was tempered with a clear, cool and calculating intelligence. Shrewdly cognizant of human nature, he knew how to inspire kinsmen to rise above petty rivalries and work in unison for the greater good of the Celtic people and the security of their culture independence and nation.
In his youth Vercingetorix had been with Caesar's army among the Gallic contingents and he was not at all unfamiliar with Roman tactics. The people of Gaul had sought out Vercingetorix for his leadership as he was the man most capable and clearly ready and prepaired to lead them. In a very short time he had assembled a fighting force which represented three quarters of Gaul and was virtually a national army. Vercingetorix stood for a free and independant Gaul, which he believed could resist any power in the world. He was soon to become the living embodiment of his country's cause and strength.
In 53 B.C.E. Caesar had already left Gaul and returned to attend to matters in Rome, as Clodius had just recently died, and he felt confident that Gaul had been conquered, pacified and bled white. Caesar's absence in Gaul now caused a great strain and much rebellion. An uprising of the Celtic Carnute tribe led by Cotuatus and Conetodunus, slaughtered several Roman officials and traders at Cenaburn, (now Orleans France) that winter. The news of this event was quickly spread throughout all of Gaul and reached the Averni lands (the home of Vercingetorix) by morning light. Vercingetorix, at that time in his 20's, immediately wanted to prepare for his command of a legion of Averni, to join ranks with his Celtic countrymen of Gaul; his uncle Gobannito along with other elders of the tribe thought the idea to be unwise and Vercingetorix was cast out of his homeland capital of Gergovia. Not long after this happened, Vercingetorix assembled some fighting men and was able to cast out those leaders of Gergovia who rejected his plan to attack the Romans. Now at the head of a powerful confederacy and his people standing strong behind him, Vercingetorix began his strategy against the Romans, using guerrilla warfare and the scorched earth policy.
Avaricum (Bourges) was Vercingetorix's first major engagement with Caesar's armies. Against his better judgement Vercingetorix acquiesced to the people's demands to spare their principal town from the Romans. After a hard pitched battle it was the Romans who proved victorious killing the entire population of 120,000. Vercingetorix managed to lead 800 of the Gauls to safety. Vercingetorix however, was not one to be discouraged by disaster.
Later Caesar tried to take Gergovia by assault. This time he was routed by Celts and forced to retreat. The news of this Roman fiasco traveled throughout Gaul and soon the countryside resounded to the marching feet of new recruits eager to join the ranks of Vercingetorix's army for the defence and glory of Gaul.
After seven years of war it seemed that all of Gaul was finally united. The Celtic army swelled by tens of thousands of men, many of them from tribes which had one time been the allies of Rome. Marching day and night through the territories of whatever remaining friends he could find, Caesar headed south with the Celtic army close on his heels.
In the summer of 52 B.C.E. Vercingetorix set up headquarters at the fortified town of Alesia. When a force sent off to ambush Caesar failed, the Roman army turned in its tracks and trailed the Celts back to Alesia, setting in motion what was to be the climatic battle engagement of the Gauls with Rome.
As Caesar dug in, he was free to blockade the town with an incredible siege work, some of the most elaborate of his entire career. Caesar ringed the town with two walls. The inner ring contravallation, 9.5 miles in length, blockaded the fortress. The outer ring of circumvallation was 13 miles around! When Celtic reinforcements finally arrived (250,000 strong), the two allied armies had major difficulty communicating across the Roman siege works which ringed the city.
After four days of battle, his position now impossible, and facing starvation and likely cannibalism as a last option for survival Vercingetorix called together his chieftains on the following morning. He said, that as he had undertaken his campaign for the liberty of his people, rather than any personal gain, he was now prepared to offer himself as hostage to the Romans in whatever form the Romans wanted him, dead or alive. Caesar chose the latter.
As a final statement of proud Gallic independence and defiance, Vercingetorix rode out alone, encircling the Roman camp three times on his horse before leading his army down from Alesia in surrender. Laying his sword at the feet of Caesar, Vercingetorix was then taken back to Rome and imprisoned for six years. Soon after, in typical style befitting a corrupt and ignoble system, (little different than today's world government) Vercingetorix was publicly paraded as a trophy through the streets of Rome in chains behind Caesar's chariot , then later executed back at the prison by means of ritual strangulation.
Germany and Britain were never conquered by Caesar, but Celtic Gaul now lay prostrate, its fields wasted, its language obliterated, its gods replaced with Roman gods. Only in Ireland did the old ways live on for the Celts. Locked behind its coastline, preserved from the ruinous effects with Rome, Celtic Ireland remained a world unto itself. The decade long war between Gaul and Rome was chronicled by Caesar in his "De Bello Gallico", (The Gallic Wars).
There are times in history when the significance of one individual cannot be put into words, when with the death of one man a whole spirit and will of a nation dies with him. Today a great bronze statue of Vercingetorix poised heroically can be seen at the site of his last stand. The statue of Vercingetorix exudes the very essence of this outstanding noble Aryan, a brave leader who gave everything a valiant leader can give, that his people should live in freedom, dignity and the secure cultural traditions of their ethnic nation.
Under the statue of Vercingetorix at Alesia reads the caption: "United Gaul Forming a single spirit, Can defy the universe." No matter how highly evolved a species may be, Nature picks no favorites, even the best can fall, be it a leader of high renown or a whole civilization. Great nations tumble like dominoes when the will and national spirit of a people become weak. Life is both pitiful and tragic to him who has plenty to live on but little to live for. Peace remains an empty meaningless word, without physical strength and power to secure it. Like it or not, Might is always right! Extinction waits for those who think otherwise!
"A man is as great as the dreams he dreams, As great as the love he bears; As great as the values he redeems, And the happiness he shares. A man is as great as the thoughts he thinks, As the worth he has attained; As the fountain at which his spirit drinks, And the insight he has gained. A man is as great as the truth he speaks, As great as the help he gives, As great as the destiny he seeks, As great as the life he lives." ....................C. E. Flynn