In the early days of Rome (basically the first hundred or so years of Roman history), Rome was constantly at war with the mountain nations of eastern and southern Italy, and the Frankish and Germanic tribes of central and northern Italy. After all that conquest, Rome became a major power in the Mediterranean, one of several superpowers that controlled large areas of territory. There were really 5 but in this article we will go over two of them.
First, Rome: Rome was the newest of the powers. It controlled most of the Italian peninsula and was ruled by an early version of a republic, with two consoles who were elected by the senate and the citizens of Rome. Rome was very powerful in land warfare and fought using legionaries, a kind of heavy infantry who fight with a large square shield and a short stabbing sword called a Gladius Hispanicus. Second, Carthage: Carthage was ruled by multiple noble families or dynasties. They controlled lots of territory along the North African Mediterranean coast. They were mainly focused on trade and became incredibly rich from it. They fought using mercenaries from many different places in Spain, Gaul (modern day France and Germany.) and Numidia.
Although Carthage and Rome both had worked together in the past, namely the fight against Pyrrus, both empires knew that eventually they would go to war. The cause turned out to be a minor dispute. A group of Roman mercenaries left and settled in a settlement in the Carthaginian controlled Sicily then they got bored and captured the city. They then became raiders and marauders and proved quite annoying to Rome. Rome eventually had to put their foot down and move in to crush the mercenaries. Then the mercenaries who had literally just taken a Carthaginian city went to Carthage for help. Carthage said yes under the condition that they give back the city. A few months later they got bored again and pleaded to Rome to take the city. And so the first Punic war began. It was massive as the two powers fielded so many soldiers that the war cost a fifth of the male population of Rome and over a million people fought in the war, the next time a war would have that many people, those people had guns.
The war started out well for both sides, with the Carthaginians quickly dominating the Romans at sea, and Rome winning many major battles on land. The war grinded on and on for twenty years both countries slowly chipping away at the other. Until Rome won its first victory at sea. At that point even though Carthage still had a major army under the command of Hamilcar Barca (remember that name) hanging out in Sicily they called it quits and negotiated peace. The Romans demanded massive amounts of war reparations and a lot of land in Sicily that had previously been under the control of Carthage.
After the war Hamilcar came home with his army. He was probably pretty pissed at the Carthaginian senate, but we know that he was mad, and by that I mean REALLY MAD at Rome. But when he got home with his army they expected to be paid as they were mercenaries but Carthage was broke from war reparations and they weren’t paid. Basically they revolted against the senate and Hamilcar had to recruit a whole new army (paying them in advance this time.) to fight his old army. He won quickly but Carthage was now even more broke than before, and they needed to find a way to get unbroke. So Hamilcar suggested that he go invade more of north Africa. Carthage said fine and then he went and invaded Spain, not really where he was supposed to go but soon enough Spanish silver was flooding into the treasury so they didn’t argue.
All this brings us to Hamilcar getting old and decides to make another conquest and attacks a city in Spain that may have been under Roman protection. Long story short Rome says stop it Hamilcar says no and guess what. Now there’s a second Punic war and you have to wait for me to finish my paper on it before I tell you about it. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha.