King of the Eburons and the Atuatucs(c 77 BC- c 44 BC)
Ambiorix was King of the Eburons and the Atuatucs, two of the tribes which inhabited modern-day Belgium before the Roman conquest (his name means “double-king”). Their ferocious resistance to the Romans gained the tribes the nickname of “Belgae” (“warlike”). In his account of the conquest of Gaul De Bello Gallico, Julius Caesar commented “Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae” (“Of all the Gauls, the Belgae are the bravest”). Ambiorix is recorded in Ceasar’s book as tricking a Roman legion into marching into a valley in the Ardennes forest where they were massacred by the Belgae in 54 BC. Roman revenge was swift and bloody and the revolt was brutally suppressed. However, Ambiorix managed to escape across the Rhine and died among the Germanic tribes. Following Belgian independence in 1830, historians promoted Ambiorix as a Belgian national hero: an epic poem was written about him in 1841, and a residential square in Brussels (now near the European district) was named after him in the 1880s.