The First Punic War

  • Pre- 264 BCE: The two rival powers of Rome and Carthage both build up their territory and influence.

  • 264 BCE: Conflict over Sicily escalates, Carthage declares war on Rome.

  • 262 BCE: Rome attacks a Carthaginian base, Agrigentum.

  • 260 BCE: The Romans built a fleet of battleships for the first time.  

  • 260 BCE: Minor naval defeat at the Lipari islands is followed by a major Roman naval victory in a Battle at Mylae (modern day Milazzo) - Carthage’s ships are superior, but the Romans’ strategy of grappling and boarding prevails

  • 259 BCE: Roman naval victory at Corsica (island in the Mediterranean near Sicily).

  • 258 BCE: Roman naval victory at Sulcis (Sardinia).

  • 257 BCE: Roman naval victory at Tyndaris (Sicily).

  • 256 BCE: After the Roman naval victory at Ecnomus, Sicily, a Roman fleet arrives at Clypea (modern Kélibia in Tunisia) - Carthage’s citizens attempt to sue for peace. The Romans’ peace terms are extremely harsh, so instead Carthage forms a new army, with the cavalry and elephants being key.

  • 255 BCE: Carthage successfully attack the Romans near Tunis with their new army. Rome evacuates survivors and defeated the Carthaginian navy off Cape Hermaia. Much of the Roman fleet was destroyed in a storm before reaching home.

  • 254 - 250 BCE: The Romans attack Sicily, trying to remove the island from Carthaginian control.  The Carthaginians resist and the War in Sicily becomes a stalemate. (253 BCE) another Roman fleet almost completely destroyed at sea near Sicily)

  • 249 BCE: Carthage defeats the Roman fleet at Drepana, 93 Roman ships are destroyed. After a replacement fleet is destroyed in yet another storm off Sicily, the Roman fleet retreats.  

  • 249 - 242 BCE: Both powers are struggling to finance the war, so there is a period of reduced fighting. In Western Sicily, the Carthaginian commander Hamilcar Barca maintains their territory through guerilla warfare.

  • 242 BCE: A Roman fleet attacks Lilybaeum, Sicily, by sea. A Carthaginian fleet attempts to protect the town but is defeated at the Aegates islands (modern Egadi).

  • 241 BCE: Carthage surrenders, and peace negotiations open. A settlement is reached.

  • 241-237 BCE: Carthage is threatened by a mutiny of its army and an uprising of its Libyan subjects, the ‘Truceless War’ lasts 3 years and four months. 

  • 238-237 BCE: The Carthaginian garrison in Sardinia revolts and appeals to Rome, which prevents a Carthaginian reconquest of the island.

The Second Punic War

  • 237-228 BCE: Carthaginian commander Hamilcar Barca takes control of territory in Spain. Hamilcar is killed in 228 BCE.

  • 227 BCE: Sardinia and Corsica are annexed by Rome. 

  • 226 BCE: Rome and Carthage sign a treaty that says the Ebro river is the boundary between their spheres of interest.

  • 221 BCE: Hannibal becomes leader of the Carthaginian army in Spain.

  • 219 BCE: Hannibal’s army attack Saguntum, south of the Ebro, in Spain, the Romans believe this to be a violation of their treaty so declare war. 

  • 218  BCE: Hannibal decides to target the Romans’ centre of power - Italy. His forces advance through Gaul and cross the Alps and into northern Italy. In December he defeats the Roman army at the river Trebia. Roman naval victory at Lilybaeum, Sicily.

  • 217 BCE: Hannibal takes a Roman army by surprise at Lake Trasimene and defeats them. Roman naval victory at the River Ebro, Spain.

  • 216 BCE:  2nd August, Battle of Cannae, Apulia - Hannibal’s innovative tactics bring a Carthaginian victory, a dramatic defeat for the Roman Republic with severe casualties: an estimated 20% of all Roman men of fighting age.

  • 215-205 BCE: Rome is threatened by the First Macedonian War.

  • 216-212 BCE: Hannibal continues to gather allies in southern Italy, cutting off Rome’s agricultural supply. 

  • 215 BCE: Syracuse becomes a Republic and allies with Carthage. Archimedes, a Syracusian mathematician, invents a new machine that is used against the Roman fleet.

  • 215-211 BCE: In Spain, Carthaginian and Roman armies fight.
    The Carthaginians are led by Hasdrubal, with Prince Masinissa of Numidia fighting in the cavalry. The Romans are commanded by the Scipio brothers.
    In 211 BCE:
    The Carthaginians defeat and kill both Scipio brothers in Spain, putting the Romans on the defensive.  

  • 212-29 BCE: Romans gradually begin to gain the upper hand in Italy. Carthage loses control of Capua 211 BCE, and Tarentum 209 BCE, in Southern Italy.

  • 211 - 210 BCE: In Sicily, the Romans become dominant, despite Carthaginian guerilla warfare.

  • 209 BCE: After their victory, the Roman force from Sicily moves to Spain to fight  Carthaginian force led by Hannibal’s brother, Hasdrubal. The Roman force is commanded by Publius Cornelius Scipio (later Scipio Africanus the Elder).  

  • 209-8 BCE: After winning battles at Carthago Nova (Cartagena) and Baecula (Bailen), Scipio has the upper hand. Hasdrubal, however marches to Italy to help Hannibal’s army. But this leaves Carthaginian Spain vulnerable! 

  • 207 BCE: A Carthaginian army led by Hasdrubal arrives in Italy, but is defeated by two Roman armies near the river Metaurus, Hasdrubal is killed before his brother, Hannibal, realises he has arrived in Italy.

  • 206 BCE: The Romans defeat the remaining Carthaginian army, led by another of Hannibal’s brothers, Mago, at Ilipa, near Seville. The Carthaginians are driven out of Spain.  Prince Masinissa of Numidia becomes an ally of Rome.

  • 205 BCE: The Roman senate authorise an attack on Carthage itself, Scipio sails to Utica with an army. Mago invades Northern Italy and captures Genoa.

  • 204 BCE: Carthaginian and Numidian army is defeated near Utica.

  • 203 BCE: The Carthaginians raise another army, but are defeated by the Romans at the Great Plains, south of Bulla Regia (Jendouba, Tunisia). Syphax, King of Numidia, is captured. Masinissa becomes King of Numidia. Sophonisba allegedly drinks poison to avoid being taken hostage by the Romans.

  • 203 BCE: Carthage surrenders, peace terms are offered by Scipio. 

  • 203 BCE: Carthage suddenly recalls all overseas armies to fight one last stand - Hannibal and Mago’s forces return to Carthage.  Hannibal is placed in charge of the whole Carthaginian force.

  • 202 BCE: The Battle of Zama - at Naraggara
    The Romans defeat the Carthaginians using the same strategy as Hannibal had at Cannae. The Roman Cavalry, commanded by Masinissa along with the Roman general Gaius Laelius, is key to the victory.

  • 201 BCE: Carthage surrenders, a peace treaty is signed. Carthage loses all territory in Spain, and most of its power and strength. The Second Punic War has ended.



The Third Punic War

  • 200 - 150 BCE: Carthage quickly recovers prosperity through trade, but is barred from military activity. In Rome, the phrase “Carthage must be destroyed” (“Delenda est Carthago”) becomes prominent.

  • 150 BCE: Carthage clashes with King Masinissa of Numidia over territory, and repels an advance by his forces - in Rome, it is felt that this violates the peace treaty.

  • 149 BCE: A Roman Army arrives in Carthage, they demand that Carthage gives up hostages and disarms, and that the citizens emigrate inland and cease commerce. Instead, Carthage prepares for war.

  • 149-47 BCE: Carthage is besieged by Roman forces but survives for two years by retaining access to overseas supplies. During the siege, life in the city is harsh and divisions between the elite and ordinary people are vast.

  • 147 BCE: The Romans, under Scipio Aemilianus (later known as Scipio Africanus the younger), cut off access to supplies.

  • 146 BCE: The Romans assault the city and Carthage is defeated. The city is burned and survivors are sold into slavery. Carthaginian home territory becomes the Roman Province of Africa.

    The legacy of the conflict included the destruction of Carthage as a trading port, and the expansion of Roman Civilisation.