Hannibal’s Life and Conquest
Hannibal is one of the greatest generals of his time. To better understand Hannibal and his crusades against the Romans you must know a bit about his family history. Hannibal was only 25 years old when he was put in command of the Carthaginian armies and the Carthaginian government in Spain. Even at a young age he knew his responsibilities, so he kept his father's plan of military conquest and his brother-in-law`s policy of strengthening Carthaginian power by democracy. He is one of the sons of Hamilcar Barca, a Carthaginian leader. He had several sisters and two brothers, Hasdrubal and Mago. His brothers-in-law were Hasdrubal the Fair and the Numidian king Naravas. So his family is either well known or rich. He was still a child when his sisters married, and his brothers-in-law were close associates during his father's struggles in the Mercenary War and the Punic conquest of Iberia. To better understand Hannibal’s rise to greatness one needs to look into his father’s history. After Carthage's defeat in the First Punic War, Hamilcar set out to improve his family's and Carthage's fortunes. With that in mind and supported by Gades, Hamilcar began the subjugation of the tribes of the Iberian Peninsula. Carthage at the time was in such a poor state that its navy was unable to transport his army to Iberia (Hispania); instead, Hamilcar had to march it towards the Pillars of Hercules and transport it across the Strait of Gibraltar. Hannibal had once asked his father and begged to go with him to war; Hamilcar agreed and demanded that he swear that as long as he lived he would never be a friend of Rome. There was a story stating that, Hannibal's father took him up and brought him to a sacrificial chamber. Hamilcar held Hannibal over the fire roaring in the chamber and made him swear that he would never be a friend of Rome. According to that tradition, Hannibal's oath had taken place in the town of Peñíscola, today part of the community of Valencia, Spain. Hannibal's father soon went on the conquest of Hispania. His father soon died in the battle. Soon after Hannibal's brother-in-law Hasdrubal gained command of the army. Hasdrubal made Hannibal serve as an officer under him. Hasdrubal then pursued a policy of consolidation of Carthage's Iberian interests, even signing a treaty with Rome whereby Carthage would not expand north of the Ebro River, so long as Rome did not expand south of it. Hasdrubal also tried to consolidate Carthaginian power by doing diplomatic relationships with native tribes. As a part of his deals Hasdrubal arranged the marriage between Hannibal and an Iberian princess named Imilce. So Hannibal got hooked up with a wife. Soon enough though there was assassination of Hasdrubal around 221 B.C.E. It was the rise of the Great Hannibal was proclaimed as the commander-in-chief by the army and confirmed in his appointment by the Carthaginian government. This meant that not only was the leader of the military but also the political leader as well. Hannibal had spent two years consolidating his holdings and completing the conquest of Hispania south of the Ebro River. Rome however was started getting scared because of the growing strength of Hannibal in Iberia. Rome decided to make an alliance with the city of Saguntum, which lay a considerable distance south of the River Ebro and claimed the city as its protectorate. Which in a previous agreement they were breaking their treaty. Hannibal obviously perceived this as a breach of the treaty signed with Hasdrubal. So this forced Hannibal with his hands tied behind his back to siege to the city, which fell after eight months. Rome reacted to this (of course) apparent violation of the treaty and demanded justice from Carthage. Rome declared war on Carthage. This begins the second Punic War. I believe this was just all done to invoke a war. Because Hannibal's great popularity, the Carthaginian government did not...
References: 1. Harold Lamb: Hannibal (Doubleday & Company, INC., Garden City, New York 1958)
3. Cormac O’ Brien: Outnumbered (Fair Winds Press, Beverly, MA 2010)
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