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The Punic Wars by Hillfighter The Punic Wars by Hillfighter
Southern Italy Series

-----The Punic Wars-----

In 264 BC the Punic War [link] erupted between Rome and Carthage over a land dispute in Sicily. The Romans quickly sent their legions into Sicily and captured the city of Agrigentum. But total victory would require more than just land victories, it would require cutting the port of Lilybaeum off from Carthaginian supply ships. This was easier said than done because at the time Carthage possessed the greatest navy in the Western Mediterranean; whereas Rome possessed little comparable navy or naval expertise. After building a fleet the Romans took to the sea with a new secret weapon, the Corvus, essentially a gangplank that allowed them to fight the naval battle as if it were a land battle. The war on land dragged on and on until 241 BC when Rome finally won a decisive naval victory and succeeded in cutting the Carthaginian supply line.

In the ensuing peace treaty, Rome made Carthage pay big and annexed most of Sicily. Because of the defeat, the Carthaginian government did not have the funds to pay their mercenaries. The mercenaries soon revolted [link] and Rome used the opportunity to annex Corsica and Sardinia.

Lead by general Hamlicar, a veteran of the Punic War, the Carthaginians decided to conquer Iberia (Spain). After he died in battle, his son-in-law, Hasdrubal, continued the conquest. In 226 BC he signed an agreement with the Romans that the Ebro River should delineate the northern limits of Carthaginian territory in Iberia. After Hasdrubalís assassination, Hannibal, the son of Hamlicar, lead the Carthaginian army. According to ledged, Hamlicar had made his son swear an eternal hatred to Rome.

In the spring of 218 BC Hannibal attacked Saguntum, a city in Iberia allied to Rome but south of the Ebro. This event started the Second Punic War [link] . Hannibal and his army then crossed the Ebro river, the Pyrenees mountains, and the Rhone river, successfully evading the Romans at every turn. By winter he had crossed the Alps with several thousand mercenaries and 38 war elephants. Hannibal then defeated the Romans, first at the Battle of Ticinus [link] then again at the Battle of Trebia [link] and again at the Battle of Lake Trasimene [link] . Following these defeats the Romans appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus to command the armies of the republic. Rather than attack Hannibal directly, Fabius chose to slowly defeat the enemy through attrition (today this is referred to as the Fabian strategy [link] ). Hannibal responded by pillaging his way through central Italy and into Campania.

Because Hannibalís army didnít seem to be weakening and lots of land was being pillaged, Rome decided to put new commanders at the head of its army. The new commanders promised the people that they would not run from a battle. The battle occurred in 216 BC at Cannae, [link] where the Roman army was virtually annihilated. The battle was the worst defeat ever in Roman history; as many legionnaires died in one day as American soldiers during the whole of the Vietnam War. Cities in the center and south of the peninsula began to defect to Hannibal, including Capua and Syracuse. But Rome held fast and refused to surrender. Fabius was reinstated as commander and began a new strategy: attacking the cities which defected.

Simultaneously Rome renewed its attack on Carthaginian Iberia under general Publius Cornelius Scipio. But Scipio was unable to stop Hannibalís brother, Hasdrubal, from marching out toward Italy with a new army. By 206 BC Scipio had conquered Iberia and began planning for an invasion of Africa.

Back in Italy Fabius continued to pillage and attack the cities which had defected while Hannibal attempted to protect those cities. Then in 207 BC Hasdrubal arrived in Italy with his army, but he was defeated at the Battle of Metarus [link] , the first Roman victory in Italy.

Scipio invaded Africa in 204 BC and won the Battle of Cirta. The Numidians soon joined the Romans in marching on Carthage itself.

The Carthaginians stalled for time by signing an armistice with Scipio. As part of its terms Hannibal was allowed to return to Carthage. But just after Hannibal was in the city the Carthaginians broke the armistice and renewed the war.

Hannibal and Scipio faced off against one another at the Battle of Zama [link] in 202 BC. Zama would go down in history as a great Roman victory and the victor would henceforth be known as Scipio Africanus.

Carthage was reduced in scope to an area covering most of what is today Tunis. At the persuasion of Cato the Elder [link] a final war was launched in 149 BC to destroy Carthage once and for all. By 146 BC the city was destroyed and its population sold into slavery. Only in 49 BC, under the reign of Julius Ceaser, would Carthage be reborn as a Roman city.

As for Hannibal, he was exiled from Carthage seven years later and went east to see the great Phoenician city of Tyre. He eventually came into the employ of Antiochus III, king of the Seleucid Empire, who was planning a war against Rome. But by 190 BC the Seleucids were defeated. Not long after Hannibal committed suicide, denying Rome any chance of killing him or desecrating his body.

edit: removed the modern national borders to make the map look cleaner

Southern Italy Series

500 BC [link] Origins
264 BC The Punic Wars
115 AD [link] The Roman Empire
405 [link] East and West
526 [link] Collapse of the West
565 [link] Reconquest
572 [link] Lombard Invasion
751 [link] Lombard Italy
814 [link] Charlemagne's Italy
1000 [link] Italy and the Holy Roman Empire
1095 [link] The Norman Conquest
1154 [link] The Kingdom of Sicily
1250 [link] Hohenstaufen Italy
1280 [link] Anjou Sicily
1300 [link] War of the Vespers
1400 [link] Black Death
1492 [link] Renaissance Italy
1559 [link] Italian Wars
1715 [link] Habsburg Italy
1780 [link] Bourbon Italy
1799 [link] Revolutionary Italy
1812 [link] Napoleonic Italy
1860 [link] United Italy

2/19/12 EDIT:
map base source [link]
map base created by Citypeek [link]
Add a Comment:
Guyverman Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013
Imagine how history would've been different if Carthage had won?
ashimbabbar Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2011
what does the color of Messana-Etna stand for ?
Hillfighter Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2011
the Mamertines [link]
ashimbabbar Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2011
thank you
Add a Comment:


Submitted on
January 3, 2011
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