Julius Caesar

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"His conquest of Gaul represents a vital act in world history: central Europe was opened up to Mediterranean civilization, and on the Celtic foundation there grew up a peaceful Latin civilization; this was made possible by Rome's hold on the Rhine frontier and it became so deeply rooted that, when the frontier finally broke as the Roman Empire itself collapsed centuries later, it survived the Germanic flood that followed and France emerged into the modern world as a Latin country. In that sense, Caesar was the founder of France."
H.H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero, p.138

“As he had hoped, Caesar’s legacy survived, not only for a few decades or centuries, but even to the present day. His conquest of Gaul had given Rome a critical secondary centre focused on north-western Europe and the Atlantic. Under the emperors that followed, the Roman world survived for another 400 years in the West and even longer in the East. Roman – and with it Greek – culture was widely disseminated from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. Never before or since have Europe and the Mediterranean world been so united – politically, economically, even culturally. It was in such conditions that ideas, religions (not least Christianity) and goods were exchanged, and modern Europe was born. The very name ‘Caesar’ became synonymous with strong and powerful leadership. The Tsars, Kaisers, the emperors that followed all took what was originally simply a family name and made it a symbol of their power.
But at Caesar’s death Rome was in turmoil. The Republic had collapsed. Civil war was breaking out again. Out of this upheaval, however, there was to arise a stronger Rome led by a man who would change the Roman Empire for ever – the first of the emperors, Augustus.”
Phil Grabsky, I, Caesar, pp.56-7