Cisalpine Gaul

The Battle of Trebia. December 18, 218 BC.

The Second Punic War (218–201 BC) was the second war fought between Carthage and Rome, the two main powers of the Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC. For 17 years, the two powers struggled for supremacy, first in Italy and Iberia, but also in Sicily and Sardinia and, facing the end of the war, in North Africa. After immense losses on both sides, the Carthaginians were defeated. Macedonia, Syracuse and several Numidian kingdoms were drawn into the war; and Iberian and Gallic forces fought on both sides. There were three main military scenaries during the war: Italy, where the Carthaginian general Hannibal defeated the Roman legions repeatedly, with occasional subsidiary campaigns in Sicily, Sardinia and Greece; Iberia, where Hasdrubal, a younger brother of Hannibal, defended the Carthagini...

Crossing the Rubicon. January 10, 49 BC.

During the Roman Republic, the river Rubicon marked the boundary between the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul to the north-west and Italy proper (controlled directly by Rome and its allies) to the south. Exercising imperium when forbidden by the law was a capital offence. Furthermore, obeying the commands of a general who did not legally possess imperium was a capital offence. If a general entered Italy whilst exercising command of an army, both the general and his soldiers became outlaws and were automatically condemned to death. Generals were thus obliged to disband their armies before entering Italy. In 49 BC, perhaps on January 10, Julius Caesar led a single legion, south over the Rubicon from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy to make his way to Rome. In doing so, he deliberately broke the law o...

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