Vercingetorix (vûrˌsĭnjĕtˈərĭks) [key], d. 46 B.C., leader of the Gauls, a chieftain of the Arverni. He was the leader of the great revolt against the Romans in 52 B.C. Julius Caesar, upon hearing of the trouble, rushed to put it down. Vercingetorix was, however, an able leader and adopted the policy of retreating to heavy, natural fortifications and burning the Gallic towns to keep the Roman soldiers from living off the land. Caesar and his chief lieutenant Labienus lost in minor engagements, but when Vercingetorix shut himself up in Alesia and summoned all his Gallic allies to attack the besieging Romans, the true brilliance of Caesar appeared. He defeated the Gallic relieving force and took the fortress. Vercingetorix was captured and, after gracing Caesar's triumphal return to Rome, was put to death.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.