HANNIBAL: Ruler of Carthage (247-183 B.C.)
For educational use only.


(The following are excerpts from a book-in-progress based on Hannibal)

We begin our story by journeying back over 2000 years ago when powerful City-States struggled for dominance in the Mediterranean world. Carthage, Queen of the Seas, was a city founded by Phoenician traders and the local inhabitants in the area known today as Tunisia, along the north coast of Africa. Her people were very industrious, knowledgeable, commercially oriented and perhaps the greatest navigators/sailors the world has ever known. They went places where few sailors and traders would dare venture, which led to adventures to many parts of the world. Phoenician navigators sailed around Africa, up the Red Sea to the land of Sheba and on to Egypt. They visited India and many far off places today known as the Orient or Ear East. In essence, these men knew no boundaries when it came to the seas, and this no doubt meant much to the overall success of Carthage.

In time, through world associations, the city of Carthage grew and its inhabitants thrived in the profitable trade and products acquired from various nations throughout the known world. The interaction with so many different cultures and nations brought to Carthage a wealth of knowledge, material riches, and many wondrous ideas, philosophies and world views. The people were productive, wore beautiful and fashionable clothes, and lived in fabulous mansions in a city where parks were everywhere. The merchants who financed the long voyages grew extremely rich, and as a result, Carthage became that era's most successful mercantilist society, with outposts and colonies established in many lands. In essence, Carthage was a kind of model City-State that became very wealthy without using direct aggression and force as a means to generate its prosperity. Outposts and colonies were established in many lands, and yet Carthage never tried to politically unite these areas under one Carthaginian banner in a manner similar to Roman political policies. Each area seemed to carry on more or less in its own way, while the Carthaginian ships carried on the trade.

Militarily, Carthage had its own armed forces, however she relied heavily on financing mercenary armies from neighboring North African countries, Spain, and other parts of the Mediterranean. The celebrated and fierce African Numibian horsemen from the neighboring country of Numibia, made up the bulk of the Carthaginian Calvary. Other groupings with special tactical or military expertise, included the North African Libyans, Celts, Spaniards, Ligurians, and various mercenaries that were acquired as time went on and actual military need dictated. Hannibal's armies popularized the use of war elephants in combat (the forerunner of the modern day tank), which proved to be very effective on the battlefield.

The Carthaginain government, though not exactly democratic, was highly efficient. There were political factions and parties involved in the decision-making process, and perhaps the strongest and most memorable of these parties was the BARCA party, of which Hannibal's father, Hamilcar Barca, was a central figure. As a military commander, Hamilcar Barca was known as the thunderbolt, and was very strong, determined and prideful man. He commanded his army in a strict and disciplined manner, and many revered his authority with complete obedience. No doubt, Hannibal must have learned much from his father (even as a boy, and before the untimely death of Hamilcar) which in many ways shaped his own military style and discipline.

For nearly 150 years prior to the birth of Hannibal, major wars had been fought between Rome and Carthage. Known as the Punic Wars, part of the Roman masterplan was to dominate the Mediterranean world and secure the wealth of Carthage. For nearly 60 years, or practically all of his adult life, Hannibal fought and struggled against the Roman war machine. Always outnumbered and confronted with very difficult situations, Hannibal's ingenuity and superb strategies would spring into action and create victory after victory over the Romans and their allies.

Hannibal is best remembered for taking his entire army through the Alps to meet the Romans in their own territory. His defiance of the Roman masterplan won him many allies in serveral European territories subjugated by Rome. Success in battle against the Romans, particularly the battles of Cannae and Trebia, brought him prestiage as a warrior general, with many men from various nations eager to fight for this African general. With one of the best intelligence services during his day and the use of guerrila style tactics in war as well superb battle strategies, Hannibal struck fear in the heart of Rome and a rage that continued for decades between the two foes.

Together with his brothers, Hasdrubal the Magnificent and Mago (the Barca Lion's Brood), they were devoted to Carthage and took the Barca oath, never to submit to Roman rule. They fought to the end, in one of the longest struggles in recorded history.

Hannibal's armies marched all over Italy for 15 glorious years, winning many battles and doing great damage to the City-State of Rome. Rome was not yet a huge empire, and it was during these early formative years that the Roman Republic met its greatest opponent who challenged their quest for control of the Mediterrean world.