Hannibal Barca was born in 247 BC in Carthage, North Africa. According to historians, though Hannibal Barca has gone down as one of the greatest, cleverest and most powerful generals in the history of the world, there is a great deal that we don’t know about him.
Nothing is known about his mother and, although we know that he did get married, there are no records of his wife other than her name: Imilce, and the fact that they had a son together. Because of this, most of what we know about Hannibal’s life is what was recorded by his enemies, the Romans. The two main Roman historians who recorded his life were Polybius and Livy.
It’s believed that Hannibal’s father, the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, brought his son to Spain at a young age. At the age of 9, Hannibal was made to swear a vow against Rome, after dipping his hand in blood. Hannibal’s father died in 229 BC and was replaced by his son-in-law Hasdrubal.
Hannibal was then made an officer in the Carthaginian army, at the age of just 18. In 221 BC, just 8 years later, Hasdrubal was assassinated, and Hannibal was chosen to rule the Carthaginian empire in Spain.
However, Hannibal actually first came to fame two years earlier, in 219 BC, when he led a Carthaginian attack on Saguntum, a city on the Spanish coast that had shown defiance against the Carthaginian Empire. Saguntum was, however, allied with Rome, and it was ruled that Hannibal’s attack was an act of war.
Although Rome demanded Hannibal’s surrender, he refused, instead of planning the invasion of Italy that would mark the beginning of the “Second Punic War.”
Leaving his brother to protect the Carthaginian Empire in Spain and Africa, Hannibal moved to attack Rome. He assembled a massive army, including a reported 90,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry, and 40 elephants. The following march – which went all the way from Spain to Italy, over 1600 kilometers – would go down as one of the most famous campaigns in history.
Hannibal met the powerful army of the Roman Empire after having been weakened by the march and emerged victorious despite that. The Roman general Scipio was seriously wounded in the battle.
Late in 218 B.C., the Carthaginians again defeated the Romans, a victory that earned Hannibal new allies, including the Gauls and Ligurians. Over the next year, Hannibal advanced through Rome and made quick progress in overtaking the country’s territory.
He fought against the Roman general Scipio in a huge battle that summer, against 16 Roman legions – close to 80,000 soldiers, an army that was supposedly twice the size of Hannibal’s. Hannibal won the battle using clever tactical planning, by ambushing his foes from both sides.
Some time afterward, Scipio launched an attack on New Carthage and drove the Carthaginians out of Spain. He then invaded North Africa and forced Hannibal to withdraw his troops from southern Italy in 203 BC.
The next year, Hannibal waged his biggest battle ever: against Scipio’s forces, on a battlefield near Zama, approximately 120 kilometers from Carthage. This time it was the Romans who won the battle, who killed 20,000 of Hannibal’s soldiers at a loss of only 1,500 of their own. The Second Punic War came to an end shortly afterward.
In the peace agreement that ended it, Carthage was only allowed to keep its land in North Africa, where Hannibal had first been born. It was also forced to give up its fleet and pay a huge sum to the Roman empire. Hannibal, who escaped alive from the crushing defeat at Zama, fell out of the Carthaginian peoples’ favor, after having been accused of sabotaging the war effort.
At some point afterward, the Romans again demanded the surrender of Hannibal, after he fled to Syria in the hopes of rebuilding his forces. Finding himself unable to escape, he killed himself by taking poison in Libyssa, around 183 BC. According to the stories, his
last words were:
“Let us relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced since they think it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man’s death.”
Facts about Hannibal Barca, and the Second Punic War:
- Hannibal Barca was born in 247 BC and died around 183 BC.
- Under his father’s instruction, Hannibal swore a blood oath at the age of 9 that he would fight against Rome for the rest of his life.
- After the death of his father, Hannibal became a soldier at the age of 18.
- He took control of the Carthaginian Empire in 221 BC, at the age of 26, following the death of his brother-in-law.
- The war Hannibal Barca waged against the Romans was called the Second Punic War.
- Hannibal advanced on Rome with a reported army of 90,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry, and 40 elephants.
- Hannibal’s advanced military strategy allowed him to sweep through Rome even after a long, tiring march through the Alps, and with a significantly smaller number of troops in comparison.
- Though Hannibal came the closest out of anybody to dismantling the Roman Empire, there was a great turnaround in 203 BC, and the Carthaginian Empire was brought to its knees shortly afterward.
- Hannibal killed himself by poison to escape his dishonor.
When was Hannibal Barca born?
– 247 BC.
What country did he fight for/what was the name of his empire?
– Carthage/the Carthaginian Empire.
What age did Hannibal become a soldier?
How long was the journey that Hannibal took from Spain to Italy, and what mountain range did he cross on the way?
– 1600 kilometers. The Alps.
What year was Hannibal defeated in by the Roman Empire?
– 203 BC.
When did Hannibal die?
– Around 183 BC.
- Back to – Ancient Africa