Punic Wars > Numidians


Punic Wars - Punic Wars Decoration


The Numidians were a tribe of Berbers that lived in ancient North Africa adjacent to the Carthaginians in modern day Algeria. They traded with the Phoenicians of Carthage for generations and eventually became a major component of the Carthaginian military called the Numidian cavalry. In fact, the Numidian cavalry became a major influencing factor of several battles of the Second Punic War both during their allegiance to Hannibal Barca and later when they betrayed the Carthaginians and switched their loyalty to the Romans.

Throughout the Punic Wars the Numidians were led by a king named Syphax who established the largest kingdom known as Masaesyli. In 213 BC Syphax would end his alliance with Carthage but would rejoin five years later when he married the daughter of Hasdrubal Gisco named Sophonisba.

Syphax tried to get Hannon Barca and Publius Cornelius Scipio to bring peace between the two nations after the Romans had landed in Africa. With the help of Masinissa, Publius Scipio's troops set fire to Syphax's camp.Western Old World in 200 BC, showing borders of the Numidian kingdoms after the Second Punic War.The king Masinissa added Syphax's former territory to his eastern kingdom Massylii as a reward gained through military victory against Carthage. After the Second Punic War, Masinissa started combining Numidians. Massinissa wanted to combine the Amazigh people into a united nation with an agricultural industry.

Third Punic Wars

See Third Punic Wars

Following the Second Punic War the Carthaginians were no longer allowed to engage in any kind of warfare without the permission of Rome. Masinissa would exploit this treaty with Rome by engaging in border skirmishes and continually seize land from Carthage.He used various tricks to get land including stating that Carthage was rebuilding their Navy despite the treaty which prohibited a Navy. When Carthage asked for an appeal Cato the Elder was sent with a commission to mediate a settlement. The commission insisted that both sides agree to their final decision.Masinissa agreed but because of how unfavorable previous Roman decisions had been Carthage refused. Cato had served in the Roman Legion during the Second Punic War. Carthage's refusal to accept the commission convinced him that the Third Punic War was needed. Cato made a series of speeches to the senate all of which ended with "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam" (Moreover, I advise that Carthage should be destroyed).[1]A group of Carthaginian senators supported a peace treaty with the Numidians. This group was in the minority, in part because the populace of Carthage did not want to submit to a people they had traditionally dominated. The pro-Numidians were eventually exiled. Upon exile they went to Masinissa for help. Masinissa sent two (of his forty-four) sons to ask for the pro-Numidians to be let back in. Carthalo, who led a democratic group who were against the Numidian encroachment, blocked their entry. Hamilcar, another leader of the same group, sent a party to attack Masinissa's sons.Masinissa sent a force to siege the Carthaginian city of Oroscopa but they were repelled by a Carthaginian army led by a Hasdrubal. Among the captured were two of Masinissa's sons. This became the final excuse for Rome to attack Carthage.In 149 BC, Masinissa died of old age. His death occurred during the Third Punic War. Micipsa became the second king of Numidia.See also

Numidian Cavalry

See Numidian Cavalry


+ Cultures List


Primary Sources

Plutarch, Life of Cato

Secondary Sources

Lazenby, J. F., Hannibal's War, London, 1978.

Warmington, B. H. Carthage, A History, Barnes and Noble Books, 1993.

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