Roman Empire: Reign of Blood (2016) s02e02 Episode Script

The Great Conqueror

[priest] Do you swear by the gods to loyally serve the Senate and the people of Rome? I swear by the gods to loyally serve the Senate [narrator] After forming the Triumvirate with Pompey and Crassus, Julius Caesar is elected consul, the most powerful position in the Roman Republic.
He rules an area of a million square miles, and commands an army of 150,000 men.
For the former foot soldier, it's the crowning achievement of his young career.
Now, Caesar's first order of business is to repay the men who brought him to power by passing their legislation through the Senate.
It is in the interest of the Republic to compensate the men who protect it.
It is our procedures that protect the Republic.
Without them, we wouldn't be a republic.
Without an army, we wouldn't be anything at all! This legislation has been delayed long enough.
We are simply not in a position to approve these allocations.
It would be irresponsible to rush their distribution.
I move we postpone the vote.
We are not postponing.
That is up to the Senate.
All those in favor of postponing the vote? With no other bills on the day's agenda, this session is hereby adjourned.
[Tempest] Pompey and Crassus wanted Caesar to be consul because it would serve their own interests.
Part of the problem, of course, was that Caesar's measures themselves were unpopular.
Everyone could see that he was doing them for Pompey and for Crassus.
I'll fix it.
- How? - I'll figure it out.
Will you? Forgive me if I don't have much confidence.
I'll get it done.
- If you can't - I said I'll figure it out.
[narrator] If Caesar can't get the Senate to pass Pompey and Crassus' legislation, he could lose his position as consul of Rome.
So he takes matters into his own hands.
[grunting] With the use of street thugs, Caesar sends a message of intimidation.
Targeting all the senators who opposed him.
[grunts] Making it clear that at the next vote, things will be different.
[Caesar] Those who support this bill will be friends of the Republic.
Any who oppose this bill, oppose the good of Rome itself.
All those in favor? The vote is unanimous.
[Strauss] Caesar's resort to heavy-handed tactics had a negative impact on his reputation in Rome.
His political rivals now saw him as not merely a politician who disagreed with them, but a dangerous person.
Someone who would resort to anything in order to get ahead.
[narrator] Caesaer's strong arm tactics work and the Senate pass the Triumvirate's legislation, including generous tax cuts for Crassus and the allocation of land for Pompey's soldiers.
[Toner] Crassus, Pompey and Caesar are so powerful that if they agree what they want to get done, they can get anything done.
They can force whatever they want through the Senate.
[narrator] The three become partners in several of Crassus' businesses.
And for the first time in his adult life, Caesar is a rich man.
For an alliance among three deeply unsavory individuals, the Triumvirate proved actually remarkably stable.
They had been massively successful, and were enormously wealthy.
[narrator] As consul, Caesar increases his wealth a hundred times over, putting him in the upper echelons of Roman society.
He buys a lavish palace, throws extravagant parties, and can have any woman he desires.
[narrator] He begins an affair with a married aristocrat who's well-connected in Rome.
Her name is Servilia.
[Mignone] When we look at the Roman Republic we can see a number of women who were major power players.
They've got wealth, they've got power, they've got connections.
Servilia is one of these.
[bell tolling in distance] What's your name? Brutus.
You look just like your father.
[narrator] While the Triumvirate become rich, Caesar's use of violence turn the entire Senate against him.
And because Pompey and Crassus are worried about their own careers, they decide Caesar must be replaced.
[Caesar] This is working.
So why change it? You've made too many enemies.
I have done what I needed to do.
And you got what you wanted.
You were a consul.
You still need me.
For what? I have fulfilled my end of the bargain.
I'll make sure that you're appointed a governorship.
I'll even let you choose the province.
Pompey is giving me a governorship.
You knew about this? Why didn't you warn me? Actually, Pompey and I agree on this.
I'm passing your legislation.
I'm protecting your interests.
You owe me! This isn't personal.
It's just business.
Caesar had won the consulship that he had been aiming after for his entire life, but he was planning on that being the beginning of his career, not the end of his career.
He had major plans for himself.
They made it sound like they were doing me a favor.
Of course they did.
They could have gotten me a second term.
We could have pushed it through.
And what would that have gained them? They know what they're doing.
They want you out of Rome.
Well, I'm not going.
Where did Crassus make his fortunes? Where did Pompey win his armies? There's a lot of opportunity in the provinces.
Take advantage of it.
Servilia is one of the most fascinating women, not just of the age of Caesar, but of the entire Roman Republic.
Across several decades, she is probably the most important backchannel politician that Rome had to offer.
[narrator] With his role as consul ending, Caesar realizes there is only one way to save his political career.
He must become a conqueror.
To do that, Caesar will need an army.
[Duncan] What Caesar wanted for himself was to go out and be governor of some province in the Roman Republic that would allow him control of some armies so that he could then go off and conquer some additional territory for the Republic.
[narrator] Caesar picks a province on the northern edge of the Republic that borders the one territory that no Roman general has ever conquered, known as Gaul.
Over 200,000 square miles, Gaul comprises the territory of modern-day France and Belgium, as well as parts of Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany.
The Gauls are considered Rome's most dangerous threat in the region.
To keep them from invading, there are four Roman legions patrolling the border.
[yelling, horse neighs] The Romans had long had a deep psychological fear of the Gauls because one of the most traumatic events in the history of Rome is shortly after the founding of the Republic.
A Gallic army came down and actually sacked Rome.
So, the Romans themselves were always a little bit afraid of the long-haired barbarians.
[narrator] If Caesar can conquer Gaul, he'll return home a hero and reclaim his place as one of Rome's most powerful men.
But if he fails, he'll either die in Gaul or be charged with treason for invading a foreign land without the Senate's approval.
A crime punishable by death.
In 58 B.
, Julius Caesar and his four legions of 20,000 men cross the border and invade Gaul.
Caesar had no authority to invade Gaul.
He does so off his own back.
He ignores the Senate, and of course that shows how ambitious Caesar was.
He was not going to be held back by a few political rules in his search for power and glory.
[narrator] The Gauls are made up of tribes scattered throughout the region.
[grunting, yelling] Caesar's plan is to attack them, one by one, before they can unite.
Push forward! [soldiers yelling] [narrator] Moving quickly, Caesar and his men claim a string of early victories, allowing him to push deeper into the region.
Caesar's conquest of Gaul is one of the all-time great examples of divide and conquer.
He never had to face a unified Gallic army, like, "Oh, the Romans are coming to invade us, we must join together and stop them.
" He was always able to do it piecemeal, bit by bit.
Spread out! [grunting, yelling] [narrator] To stay on the offensive, Caesar makes an unprecedented move.
He abandons the Roman supply lines, forcing his army to live off the land they conquer.
He wasn't running out of supply lines that were coming back from Italy.
He was taking local food, local water, local wine.
We can trace along the river using the tree line to mask our movements.
What if we cross through the plains? It's more direct.
And the high grass can provide cover.
It's drier terrain.
We can move faster.
That's the route.
Mark it.
[narrator] With each encounter, Caesar levels his opponents.
[soldiers yelling, swords clang] Protect the flanks! [narrator] And by 56 B.
, he has conquered most of present day France.
As the victories mount up, Caesar begins sending word of his conquests back to Rome in a series of reports known as the Gallic Commentaries.
Caesar writes his own history and it describes him in the third person to make them appear neutral and objective.
They were designed, though, really to be read back in Rome and to appeal to his supporters and the Roman people.
[narrator] When the reports make their way through the Republic the Roman people see Caesar as a hero.
The Romans were introduced firsthand to this new territory that they had conquered, this new world that seemed on the edge of barbarism and civilization, all of which had been brought before them now by Caesar.
[narrator] As Caesar's popularity increases with the people, other soldiers are inspired to come join the fight.
One of the new arrivals is a rising cavalry officer named Mark Antony.
[Duncan] Mark Antony was a young noble who at the time of the Gallic wars was just starting to emerge himself.
When Antony showed up in the legions in Gaul, as a young cavalry officer, Caesar liked what he saw.
His infantry is here, here, and here.
He'll try to divide our ranks or surround us.
Take two cohorts from the 10th and use them to shore up our flanks.
[narrator] Over the next three years, Caesar defeats several tribes along the eastern and western borders and continues moving north.
Caesar was driven by almost uncontrollable ambition.
He still wasn't satisfied with what he had achieved, he still wanted more.
[narrator] Caesar even moves beyond the borders of Gaul, ordering troops into Germania and Britain, going further than any Roman conqueror before him.
You underestimated him.
We both did.
There's no denying.
It's an accomplishment.
Conquering Gaul.
Invading Gaul.
He's yet to conquer anything.
If he returns as a conqueror, with his own army, his own fortune Sooner or later he'll make a mistake, and get himself killed.
It's only a matter of time.
We should have never sent him away.
Pompey and Crassus see Caesar's popularity as a direct threat that Caesar is now perhaps more powerful than the rest of them.
And in that position, he can do increasingly what he wants.
What are you smiling about? [narrator] Envious of Caesar's success, Crassus decides he needs a military victory of his own and sets off for the Middle East to conquer the kingdom of Parthia.
Crassus' long-standing ambition, the missing piece from his entire career is a great military victory.
He had been allied with Caesar for a long time and so, now he was watching not just his rival Pompey outdo him in terms of military success, but now Caesar is out conquering Gaul.
Crassus still has nothing to show for it.
[narrator] As Crassus looks for glory in the Middle East, Caesar continues his conquest of Gaul.
And by 53 B.
, he controls nearly 150,000 square miles of land.
There's just one area, near the town of Gergovia, he still needs to conquer.
[grunts] [yelling] Go! After them! [narrator] For the first time since invading Gaul, Caesar and his soldiers suffer a massive defeat, losing 700 men at the hands of a ruthless general named Vercingetorix.
Much of Caesar's success in Gaul has been due to the many tribes who have no unified leader.
That changes with the emergence of Vercingetorix.
Vercingetorix was a Gallic chieftain who had been watching Caesar's conquest of Gaul with growing alarm and watching the tribes individually picked off by the legions.
The stakes for the Gauls could not have been higher.
[man] Caesar's forces are on the move.
Have they changed course? No, they're still heading due north, towards the town of Quincy.
[narrator] Outnumbered more than two to one, Vercingetorix knows if he has any hope of defeating Caesar's forces he'll need more men.
So he sends scouts to any remaining tribes to convince them to help fight the Romans.
[Duncan] There was no unified Gallic state.
It was a bunch of tribes and they would battle with each other constantly.
Vercingetorix wants to form a pan-Gallic confederacy to oppose further Roman expansion.
[narrator] While he waits for reinforcements, Vercingetorix must also find a way to slow down the Roman army.
Vercingetorix's great insight into how to defeat the legions was that Caesar had always been living off the land.
If Vercingetorix could isolate Caesar from those provisions that he had always counted on, then he could very quickly turn what appeared to be a very strong army into a very weak army.
- Are you prepared to do it? - I am.
[narrator] Vercingetorix launches a scorched earth campaign, destroying valuable resources for both the Romans and his own men.
The idea was, "If we can endure this for a year, maybe we can get the Romans out of here.
" [narrator] The Gauls gather all the rations they can find and retreat to a small town called Alesia where they await Caesar's next move.
Quincy's gone.
Grain stores completely destroyed, along with firewood.
Same for Argenton.
And Villate.
Only Bourges remains intact, for now.
What if we push through to Lutetia? How? We don't have the provisions.
Then we reroute.
We still have the south.
If we turn back, it'll be seen as weakness.
It's just a resupply.
I don't see another option.
The men will make do.
The men can't march, or fight, without food.
We keep moving forward.
Is that clear? [narrator] With supplies running out, Caesar comes up with a plan to turn Vercingetorix's ruthless strategy against him.
Knowing the Gauls are suffering the same food shortages as his own army, Caesar orders his men to build a massive wall outside Alesia to trap Vercingetorix and his troops inside.
[Duncan] Caesar was incredibly ruthless when he needed to be.
Knowing that supplies inside the city were running low, Caesar decided that he would be able to starve them out by circumnavigating the city in a wall.
[narrator] The wall stretches for 11 miles, effectively cutting the town off from supply lines.
Caesar knows that with no access to food and water, it's only a matter of time before Vercingetorix and his men are forced to surrender or die from starvation.
Over 2,000 miles away Crassus's own military conquest in Parthia is a colossal failure.
20,000 Romans lay dead and Crassus is taken captive.
What do you want? Tell me! Just, please! Money? Land? Oh god.
Please, no.
You don't understand.
I can give you anything you want, anything [Crassus screaming] [Crassus] Enough, please! [choking] [narrator] Just two months after arriving in Parthia, Crassus, and his quest for glory, come to an end.
[Tempest] Despite Crassus' desire to have a fantastic military victory over in Parthia, it ended up being one of the most spectacular defeats of all time.
Crassus died by having molten gold poured down his throat in mockery of his love of money and his notorious greed.
[Pompey] I swear by the gods, to loyally serve the Senate and the people of Rome.
[narrator] With Crassus dead and Caesar in Gaul, Pompey makes his own move.
He runs for consul, winning easily, with no opposition.
To defend and uphold the laws of the Republic, for as long as I shall serve.
I hereby name you, Pompey Magnus, Consul of Rome.
[Toner] Pompey becomes more and more friendly to the Senate because he sees that Caesar is trying to bypass all of its traditional authority.
Pompey is received everywhere with these tumultuous welcomes and he feels that he is really the most powerful and popular politician in Rome.
It's from Rome.
What does it say? Crassus was killed in Parthia.
And And what? Pompey's been elected consul.
[Duncan] The death of Crassus is the beginning of the end of the Triumvirate.
It works as long as there's three centers of power balancing each other.
Now that Crassus is dead and it just comes down to Caesar and Pompey, that leads naturally to them pulling in opposite directions.
[narrator] With the Triumvirate all but shattered, Caesar's future rests solely on the outcome in Gaul.
But even as they're trapped behind a wall, close to starvation, Vercingetorix refuses to surrender, hoping that either reinforcements arrive or that the Romans run out of food before they do.
How long? A week at most.
If we stick to the rations.
Cut the rations by a fifth.
May buy us a day.
Maybe more.
Sir the men are on the verge of revolt.
Some are talking about surrender.
They're hungry.
Do you think that matters? Do you think Caesar cares if we're hungry? Reinforcements aren't coming.
Then what do you suggest that we do? Surrender? We will wait as long as it takes.
Cut the rations by a fifth.
[narrator] As Vercingetorix prepares for the worst, Caesar learns that a massive army, of 250,000 Gauls, is heading directly for Alesia.
Vercingetorix succeeds where others had failed and he brings a large coalition of Gauls together, to try to drive the Roman enemy out.
Caesar was so threatening to the established order in Gaul that Gauls were willing to put their bygones behind them, and unite under Vercingetorix's rule.
[narrator] With hordes of Gauls heading his way, Caesar does the unthinkable.
He builds another wall.
[Duncan] So he devises this option, which is crazy, and which nobody probably would have thought was even remotely plausible.
Which is, he built a second wall.
So the legions, their whole world collapsed to the couple of hundred yards between the wall that separated them from Alesia, and then the wall that separated them from the relief army that was coming.
How much longer? We're nearly finished reinforcing the outer barrier.
Maybe a day, day and a half at most.
I want it done by sundown.
[narrator] Just days after completing tshe outer wall, Vercingetorix's reinforcements arrive with even more men than Caesar expected.
For Vercingetorix, the time to fight is now.
Look around you! There's men from every tribe, every part of Gaul! The Romans, they've raided our towns! They've killed our brothers, raped our wives! Caesar, he will regret ever stepping foot in our lands! We will slaughter him and his men! We will rip the flesh from their bones and we will drink their fucking blood! [Gauls shouting in distance] Do you hear that? Listen.
Listen! They're desperate.
But do not underestimate them.
They want to kill every last one of you.
But I will not let that happen.
We've come too far.
We've fought too hard, for too long, to fail now! We are soldiers of Rome! And we have conquered half the world.
And we will conquer Gaul.
We will stand our ground! We will defend this wall! And we will go home conquerors! [narrator] Julius Caesar faces an attack from two sides by a people determined to destroy every last Roman.
[Marc Antony] Archers! Man the wall! [narrator] If he and his men are somehow able to defeat the Gauls at Alesia, Caesar will become the greatest conqueror in Roman history.
Draw! Release!