This video summarizes the Puic Wars so if you do not like to read, this is your only option.

The Punic Wars

To summarize, the Punic Wars were a 120 year struggle between Mediterranean powers to become the dominant civilization of trade. To fully understand the feud and why it began, you must know a little background on each side. Carthge was a colony on the tip of north Africa, belonging to the Pheonicians, a civilization of sea traders who's homeland, Pheonicia, was on the Mediterrainian coast of Arabia. Since each colony was very losely connected politically or financially with the homeland, Carthage was able to rise as a Mediterranean power and settle its own colonies, independant from Pheonicia. At this time, Carthage is dominant in trade. Rome, starting out as a modest monarchy, ruled by a king, has become a republic, like the United States, and conquered most of the Italian Peninsula during this time and is aswell starting to become a trading power.

The war did not start because of trade, it actually started because of a minor feud in Sicily between three tribes. Carthage had been conquering western Sicily while Syracuse, a city on the island, has been conquering areas on the east part of the island to a point where the area controlled by the Mamertimes, people located on the north east tip of Sicily, was the only free territory left . After a devestating defeat to Syracuse, the Mamertimes call to Rome and Carthage for aid. Carthage responds first, due to trouble in Rome. By the time Rome sends troops over, Carthage had already made a huge presence on the island and engulfed the Mamertimes into their empire. Rome helps expel the Carthagians from Sicily, Carthage allies with Syracuse seeking revenge, and the war began.

The First Punic War (264-241B.C.)

For the most part, Carthage was winning during the first part of this war. Rome did not have a strong navy, so Carthage had the advantage, especially since the war was on an island. This all changed in 260 B.C. when the Romans captured a Carthagian quinquereme, ancient war boat,


and used its design as a model for their own navy. That year, after construction, the new navy took on and defeated the Carthagians at Mylae. From this point, it was clear that Rome was a power, equally matched to Carthage. When this happened, the Sicilian natives began to change sides. As Rome gained ground, they helped Rome, and as Carthage began to fight Rome off, they changed again. An example of this is when the Roman Consuls marched 40,000 troops to Sicily, some time between the battle at Mylae and the Roman taking of Panormous, a Carthagian city, in 254 B.C. When the army started to march towards their city, the people of Syracuse ironically became a Roman ally, against their ally, Carthage. In 250 B.C., Rome managed to seige another Carthagian ally, Lilybaeum, but never managed to fully take over until the end of the war. After this, the war was a streak of Roman victories, including the Naval battle at Trapini which provoked the treaty that ended the war. The treaty stated that Carthage had to surrender all territory in Sicily to Rome and stay out of the straight of Messina which separates Sicily from the Italian Peninsula.

During the war in Sicily, Carthage lost a lot of money fueling the army, so they sent troops led by General Hamicar Barca of Carthage to take control of the ore mines on the Spanish Peninsula. During this conquest, Rome noticed Carthage's movement north and forced Barca to sign a treaty in 226 B.C. stating that his army could not expand past the Ebro River, a river near the middle of the peninsula, far north of the Carthagian settlements. Although Carthage's campaign was of no threat to Rome, but the consuls felt that they had the right to intervene with Carthage's afairs. Hamicar died in battle in 228 B.C. to be replaced by his brother-in-law Hasdrubal who furthured Carthage's rule. In 227 B.C., Rome succeeded in defeating Corsica and Sardinia, two islands of the west coast of the Italian Peninsula. In 221 B.C., a Carthagian man named Hanibal became General of Spain after Hasdrubal died in battle. From the start, Hanibal had intent of another war with Rome. And when Rome allied with the city of Saguntum, some way south of the Ebro River, this gave him a reason to fight. His sacking, seiging, and conquering of the Roman ally of Saguntum with his own allies in 219 B.C. would cause Rome to declare war (even though they did not help their ally.)

The Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.)

In 218 B.C., Hanibal marched his army and 60 war elephants up through the Spanish Peninsula, through the Alps Mountains, and south to the city of Rome. On the way, in 217 B.C., he issued a suprise attack on the Roman army and trapped them. In 216 B.C., Rome witnessed it's worst defeat ever at the city of Cannae. From here, it was defeat after defeat for Rome until 202 B.C. when they beat Carthage at the African city of Zamain near Carthage. Rome at this point won the war, but it was not final until 201 B.C. when another treaty was signed. This treaty stated that Carthage was to pay a fee for losing the war and give Rome all of its territory on the Spanish Peninsula (called New Carthage). This treaty would be important to the third and final Punic War.
The Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.)

In 149 B.C. Carthage rebelled against the treaty of 201 B.C. by attacking Roman settlements on the Spanish Peninsula which started the third Punic War. Not much happened in the this war, for the fighting primarily happened on one front, Carthagian Africa. Rome imeadiately responded by marching straight to the city of Carthage eliminating the army entirely.
Although Carthage started the war as a wealthy nation, the wealth was spent on mercenaries, hired soldiers, which caused the city to fall in 146 B.C. These soldiers were more trained than the Roman army which consisted of mainy conquered and allied , but the numbers of the Roman army was to great for the amount of soldiers that Carthage could afford.


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Eckstein, Arthur M. "Punic Wars." World Book Encyclopedia. 2020 ed. Vol. 15. Chicago: World Book Inc., 2010. 903. Print

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