Vercingetorix was a king of the Arverni tribe in central France who united the Gauls in a failed revolt against Roman forces during the last phase of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.
Vercingetorix was the son of Celtillus the Arvernian, leader of the Gallic tribes. He came to power after his formal designation as chieftain of the Arverni at the oppidum Gergovia in 52 BC. He immediately established an alliance with other Gallic tribes, took command, combined all forces, and led them in the Celts’ most significant revolt against Roman power. He won the Battle of Gergovia against Julius Caesar in which several thousand Romans and their allies were killed and the Roman legions withdrew.
Caesar had been able to exploit Gaulish internal divisions to easily subjugate the country, and Vercingetorix’s attempt to unite the Gauls against Roman invasion came too late. At the Battle of Alesia, also in 52 BC, the Romans besieged and defeated his forces; to save as many of his men as possible, he gave himself to the Romans. He was held prisoner for five years. In 46 BC, as part of Caesar’s triumph, he was paraded through the streets of Rome and then executed by garroting. Vercingetorix is primarily known through Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico (Commentaries on the Gallic War). To this day, he is considered a folk hero in Auvergne, his native region.