Rise of Empires and Expansions of Territory
In the city of Rome in 509 BC, citizens came together to expel their King and form a republican government. They established a system of a Senate and peoples’ assemblies which made decisions for the city. There were two Consuls in charge of the city, and they were advised by the Senate. There were three councils below the Senate: the Comitia Centuriata, Comitia Tributa and the Concilium Plebis. Comitia Centuriata was organised on wealth, with the rich having more influence, Comitia Tributa was based on location, and the Concilium Plebis was open only to the plebs - which excluded certain ancient noble and powerful families.
Gradually the Senate and assemblies began increasing Rome’s territory through conflicts with neighbouring societies, and Rome became the dominant power of the Italian peninsula by 264 BC. However, the Italian peninsula was only one part of the Mediterranean Sea.
Carthage was a city on the edge of the Mediterranean, in modern-day Tunisia. Legend says that the city was founded by Dido, Queen of the Phoenicians in the 800s BCE after she fled her homeland. However, this story is not supported by historical evidence. It is more likely that the city was founded by settlers looking for land to farm and opportunities to trade.
Being on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea allowed Carthage to quickly become an important trade centre. The city became wealthy due to trade, and by enforcing taxes on neighbouring societies. A strong navy was also developed to keep the trading ships safe and a huge military harbour with over 200 docks was built.
In the 300s BCE, Carthage was the richest city and the dominant power over the whole Western Mediterranean. In order to maintain their superiority, they signed a treaty with Rome which stated that the Roman Republic was forbidden from trading in the Mediterranean west of Carthage.