First Punic War (264 B.C. – 241 B.C.)
The primary objective of the Romans was not to attack or conquer other countries. However the tribes surrounding Rome started attacking the Romans and this caused the Romans to attack back to defend themselves. So slowly but surely the Romans ended up conquering all the Italian Peninsula.
The Carthaginians were another Mediterranean power in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Carthaginians used to attack every merchant ship they used to encounter at sea while the Romans were very jealous of the power of Carthage. So it was very obvious that the two powers would eventually go to war. In fact they ended up fighting three wars which are called The Punic Wars.
The first Punic war started when the Romans attacked Sicily because it was very rich in wheat. The war kept on going for 23 years and it was mainly fought at sea.
The Romans invented 'the hook' which helped them get on the Carthaginian ships so they could fight with swords as the Romans were better at hand to hand combat.
The Romans won at the end and the Carthaginians lost their colonies in Sicily and were asked to pay a huge sum of money to the Romans to cover the cost of this long war.
Second Punic War (218 B.C. – 201B.C.)
Following its defeat in the First Punic War, Carthage rebuilt its strength by expanding its empire in Spain.
In 221 BC, a man called Hannibal Barca, who was only twenty- five,
became the leader of Carthage.
The Romans ordered the Carthaginians to surrender their Spanish colonies and Hannibal himself. This was unacceptable to the Carthaginians and in 218 BC, Hannibal lead an army to fight against the Romans.
Hannibal had a very strategic plan, he gathered a huge army, including 40 elephants.
He passed through the Alps and entered Italy from the North.
Hannibal defeated the Romans in several battles in the North of Italy.
After Hannibal won these battles and half of the Roman army was lost, he needed more supplies so he went around Italy to find some supplies and to get more troops so he could defeat all of Rome.
Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal, came from Spain with the supplies but in the North of Italy he met the Romans and they defeated him.
The Roman General Scipio wanted to force Hannibal out of Italy. Thus he attacked Carthage forcing Hannibal to return to his homeland to defend it.
The Carthaginian army, under Hannibal's command, was defeated at Zama, North Africa.
Hannibal committed suicide and Hasdrubal was brutally murdered by the Romans.
Third Punic War (149 B.C. – 146 B.C.)
The Romans had beaten Carthage twice but they still feared it. In particular they feared that the Carthaginians could still trade from Carthage and regain power in the Mediterranean.
The Romans wanted to eliminate Carthage once and for all so they decided to attack the city of Carthage itself.
The Romans destroyed Carthage. They burnt all the crops and salt was thrown on the land so crops would never grow again.
At the end of these three major wars Rome emerged as the sole power in the Mediterranean Sea and the Romans could freely pursue their dream of making the Mediterranean Sea a Roman Lake.