(a fanciful interpretation, rather than an archaeological reconstruction, of his possible appearance)..] Ambiorix was, together with Catuvolcus, prince of the Eburones, leader of a Belgic tribe of north-eastern Gaul (Gallia Belgica), where modern Belgium is located. In the 19th century Ambiorix became a Belgian national hero because of his resistance against Julius Caesar, as written in Caesar's "Commentarii de Bello Gallico".

Early history

In 57 BC Julius Caesar conquered Gaul and also Belgica (modernday Northern France, Belgium and a southern section of The Netherlands to the Rhine River; and the north-western portion of North Rhine-Westfalia, Germany.) There were several tribes in the country who fought against each other regularly. The Eburones were ruled by Ambiorix and Catuvolcus. In 54 BC Caesar's troops urgently needed more food and thereby the local tribes were forced to give up part of their harvest, which had not been good that year. Understandably the starving Eburones were reluctant to do so and Caesar ordered that camps be built near the Eburones' villages. Each centurion was ordered to make sure the food supplies were delivered to the Roman soldiers. This created resentment among the Eburones.

Although Julius Caesar had freed him from paying tribute to the Atuatuci, Ambiorix joined Catuvolcus in the winter of 54 BC in an uprising against the Roman forces under Quintus Titurius Sabinus and Lucius Aurunculeius Cotta.

The Revolt

Ambiorix and his tribesmen attacked and killed several Roman soldiers who were foraging for wood in the nearby vicinity. The survivors fled back to their camp, followed by Ambiorix and his men. There he realised there were too many Romans for his troops to fight and he decided to negotiate with them. Ambiorix explained to the Roman camp leaders, Sabinus and Cotta, that he had no problems with them and in fact, was very happy with them, because now he had no troubles with the other tribes. He warned the Romans that a coalition of other tribes were planning to attack them and would get the support of the German tribes who would cross the Rhine. Ambiorix advised them to relocate to another Roman camp so that they would be stronger to battle these troops. He also promised them he would leave them alone when they made this crossing.

Sabinus and Cotta debated the whole night on what they should do. Sabinus trusted Ambiorix and considered it would be wise to do what he had advised them. Cotta thought it would be better to stay and try to fight back when the attacks would happen. Ultimately, Cotta decided they would stay, but it wouldn't be his fault if they all got killed by doing so. This made the Roman troops very unsure and therefore they decided to leave anyway. The two closest Roman camps were behind hills and in the other option behind a plain near a valley. Sabinus and Cotta chose for the easy solution and crossed the valley. While they crossed the valley Ambiorix and his men attacked them from up the hills and slaughtered them. Sabinus, Cotta and their troops were massacred.

Caesar's revenge

When the Roman Senate heard what happened, Caesar swore to put down all the Belgic tribes. It was very important that the other Roman provinces knew that the almighty Roman republic couldn't be beaten so easily. After all, Ambiorix had killed a whole Roman legion and five cohorts. A Belgic attack on Quintus Cicero (brother of the orator), then stationed with a legion in the Nervii's territory, failed due to the timely appearance of Caesar. The Roman campaigns against the Belgae took a few years, but eventually the Belgae were no match against 50,000 trained Roman soldiers. The tribes were slaughtered or driven out and their fields burned. The Eburones were history from that point. Ambiorix and his men, however, managed to cross the Rhine and disappear without a trace.


Caesar wrote about Ambiorix in his commentary about his battles against the Gauls: "De Bello Gallico". In this text he also wrote the famous line: "Of all the Gauls, the Belgae are the bravest." ("...Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae..."). This sentence has often been misquoted as "Of all the Gauls, the Belgians are the bravest.", while Caesar meant the tribes collected under the name, "Belgae" and not "the Belgians", because Belgium didn't exist until 1830.

Ambiorix remained forgotten until the 19th century. When Belgium became independent in 1830 the national government started searching through their historical archives for persons who could serve as national heroes. In Caesar's "De Bello Gallico" they discovered Ambiorix and his deeds. In 1841 the Belgian poet Joannes Nolet de Brauwere van Steeland wrote a lyrical epic about Ambiorix and on September 5, 1866 a statue of Ambiorix was erected on the Great Market of Tongeren in Belgium. There is no proof he ever lived there, but since Tongeren is Belgium's oldest village, Caesar referenced Atuatuca and Tongeren's original name is Atuatuca Tongorum it was placed there.

Nowadays Ambiorix is one of the most famous characters in Belgian history. Many companies, bars, french fries stands have named themselves after him and in many Belgian comics as Suske en Wiske and Jommeke he once played a guest spot. There was also a short lived comic called Ambionix [Ambionix official home page:] . Which features a scientist teleporting a Belgae chief, loosely based on Ambiorix, to modern day Belgium.

In the French comic Asterix in the album Asterix in Belgium Asterix, Obelix, Dogmatix and Vitalstatistix go to Belgium because they are angry with Caesar about his remark that the Belgians are the bravest of all the Gauls. The Belgian chief in the album, Beefix, does resemble Ambiorix a bit.

In 2005 Ambiorix was nominated for the title De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian). In the Flemish edition he ended in fourth place. In the Walloon edition he ended in 50th place.


*Caesar, "De Bello Gallico" v. 26-51, vi. 29-43, viii. 24; Dio Cassius xl. 7-11; Florus iii. 10.

External links

* [ Ambiorix] from
* [ All about Ambiorix and his battle against the Roman] from

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