How Caesar’s rise to power in 59 BC put Rome on the path towards civil war

The Triumph of Caesar By Andrea Mantegna — Digitized image, Royal Collection, Public Domain / Wikipedia Commons

As Caesar led his troops across the Rubicon in early January 49 BC, it was clear to all that Rome was once again facing the nightmare of civil war on its own soil. In the final years of the Roman Republic, military men who had gained fame and fortune through imperial conquests would increasingly come to dominate Roman politics. In the 80s, Rome had experienced a bitter civil war fought between the forces of Marius and Sulla — two ambitious military leaders who had turned their troops into personal armies. …

How Ancient Rome won its war on piracy — and what it meant for Roman politics.

The Ancient Ruins of Side by Mert Kahveci on Unsplash

Empires throughout human history have often looked upon the sea as a source of wealth and prosperity, and ancient Rome was no exception. By the first century BCE, Rome had managed to establish itself as the uncontested master of the Mediterranean — with Roman rule extending from the Iberian Peninsula to the Aegean and beyond. Roman military expeditions had successfully fought their way past Rome’s Mediterranean neighbors, propelling the moderate city-state into a global superpower of almost unimaginable power and influence.

However, by the 60s BCE Rome faced a quite different challenge — piracy. Under Rome’s watch, piracy in the…

As America comes to terms with the Capitol riots, the Roman Republic offers a grim warning.

The death of Clodius — Silvestre David Mirys (Wikipedia Commons / Public Domain)

As the chaos unfolded on Capitol Hill last week, it quickly became apparent that we were watching history in the making. An enraged mob, encouraged by the president, storming the home of American democracy and attempting to vent their political frustrations, left many aghast at the scenes unfolding on their television screens. As the dust settles on Capitol Hill, the search for historical precedent is already underway — with the riots marking the first time that the Capitol has been breached since the War of 1812. …

After a sluggish month, the UK faces its biggest economic downturn in 300 years.

Photo by Grooveland Designs on Unsplash

It is no secret that Britain in particular has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In the nine months since the virus hit, Britain’s economy has contracted more than any other G7 nation, with the UK’s reliance on the services sector making it especially vulnerable to repeated lockdowns. It had been hoped that as the pandemic is brought under control and the economy begins to reopen, Britain would see a ‘V’ shaped recovery — in which rapid economic growth would lead to a quick bounce back. However, a more pessimistic outlook is now increasingly becoming Britain’s reality.

New data…

With a deal still up in the air, Brexit talks are rapidly running out of time.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Since 2016, there has been no shortage of twists and turns in the never-ending Brexit drama. From talks of a breakthrough, to fears over a no deal scenario, relations between London and Brussels have ebbed and flowed over the past four years -with a huge amount of uncertainty clouding the political future.

However, it appears that matters are now finally coming to a close. According to UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab, Brexit discussions have now entered “the last real major week” of negotiations — with the two sides looking to secure a deal before the final deadline at the end…

With Joe Biden in the White House, US foreign policy will look very different.

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Over the last four years, President Donald Trump has undoubtedly left his mark on America’s foreign policy. From Europe to China, Trump’s ‘America First’ approach has tested US relations with allies and rivals alike, ruffling a few feathers along the way. Under the Trump administration, US foreign policy has been characterized by chaos and unpredictability, with Trump’s transactional view of diplomacy leaving traditional US allies regularly in the president’s firing line.

But with Joe Biden’s election success, America will have a new president in the White House — and foreign leaders are now faced with a very different proposition to…

On election day, the future of the special relationship is also at stake.

Photo by René DeAnda on Unsplash

For Britain, the US-UK relationship has long remained a crucial element of its foreign policy, regardless of who controlled the White House. Dubbed the ‘special relationship’, both countries have cooperated closely in global affairs throughout the 20th and 21st centuries — most notably in two world wars and through their membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The two nations have close economic, cultural and political ties, alongside a shared set of foreign policy and nation security concerns.

Every president has left their own mark on the special relationship, and Donald Trump is no different. From Brexit to China…

With Brexit discussions falling apart, a change of tone has sparked new life into the talks.

Photo by Guillaume Périgois on Unsplash

With time running out for the European Union and Britain to reach a post-Brexit deal, it had looked as if talks were over for good. Just ten days ago, both sides had seemingly walked away from the negotiating table — with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing that there was “no point” in continuing talks and that the UK needed to “get ready” to leave without a deal. But a week is a long time in politics, and now it seems that Brexit negotiations have been handed a lifeline.

This week, the UK government announced that it is “ready to…

Between Brexit and the pandemic, Britain’s economic recovery faces a double threat

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

It is no secret that Britain’s economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. A prolonged period of lockdown earlier in the year had left its economy shuttered up for months, with continued spells of local lockdowns leaving half of the country still under heightened restrictions today. Such measures have undoubtedly helped to bring the virus under control, but the pandemic arrived at a time of great economic uncertainty within the UK — with Britain stuck in the middle of its bid to exit the European Union.

Given the fraught political backdrop that the nation faced before the pandemic…

With trade talks between the EU and Britain faltering, Britons increasingly doubt the UK’s role in the world.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

As the Brexit drama continues to drag on, leaving both London and Brussels locked in fierce negotiations, new polling has shown that the British public are becoming increasingly pessimistic about Britain’s place in the world. Polling conducted by Ipsos Mori has found that belief that Britain is a force for good in the world has seen a sharp decline over the last 18 months, with many Brits now questioning the UK’s global standing.

The poll comes at a time of great uncertainty for the UK, with Britain finding itself stuck geopolitically between a rock and a hard place. On the…

Jonathan Bell

I write about History, Politics and International Relations.

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