A Brief History of Spain

Carthage and Rome

800 BCE Carthage in North Africa was founded about 814 BCE by the Phoenicians; they were divided into land owners, metal workers and sea faring traders. They relied greatly on maritime trading, their ships bringing back copper from Cyprus, horses from Anatolla, ivory from India, and tin and silver from Spain. There earliest known trading centre in Spain was Gades (Cadiz of today); they were also greatly influenced by Greek traders. Much is told of the fabled lost kingdom of Tartessos which is said to have flourished in western Andalucia. Many writers of that time and since have referred to the area as a source of fabulous riches.

400 BCE The Carthaginians built the original defences on the highest hill above Alicante. Named Castell de Santa Barbara, it is an imposing edifice which controlled the surrounding land and the bay. This site was later taken over by the Romans and then the Moors, each adding to, and improving, its imposing structure of encompassing moats, high breastworks, batteries, drawbridges, barracks, tunnels, underground storerooms, powder stores, deep dungeons, cisterns and the stately Matanza tower and keep. There was also a bakery and a hospital. This site offers a wonderful opportunity for photographing the City and Bay of Alicante.

237 BCE Carthage invaded and captured the Iberian Peninsula. They left no written record of their ancestry, history or the Carthaginian way of life. These facts have only been revealed to us by archaeological excavations and from Greek and Latin literature. See full story The god in the stone, on web www.barca.fsnet.co.uk/carthage-god-stone.htm

228-227 BCE The city of Cathargo Nova (Cartagena) on Spain’s southeast coast was founded by Hasdrubal the son-in-law of Hamilcar and the brother-in-law of Hannibal. This conquest secured for Carthage the areas rich deposits of silver. Hasdrubal, who commanded all Carthaginian forces in Spain from 228 to 221, was a commander who made most of his territorial advances through diplomacy. He died in 207BCE

226 BCE Roman Spain The city of Seguntum (now called Segunto) formed an official alliance with Spain. This seems to have been the earliest formal connection between Rome and Spain and was due to Rome’s disquiet over the increasing expansion and strength of Carthaginians in Spain.

219 BCE Hannibal, the Carthaginian leader, attacked and laid siege to Seguntum. The Roman Senate reacted and declared Hispania to be a Roman province.

218 BCE Rome defeated Carthage in the Second Punic War and began a 600-year occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Gradually Roman laws, languages and customs were adopted.

217 BCE Roman General Scipio defeated a Carthaginian fleet in the mouth of the Ebro River but war between the two countries continued with many battles being won or lost by both sides. In 215 BCE Scipio’s brother Publius Scipio arrived with reinforcements.

214 BCE The Romans advanced and recaptured Seguntum.

213 BCE Disaster struck the Romans in Spain at Castulo (current day Cazlona) when Hasdrubal, Hannibal’s Carthaginian brother, brought an army of 40,000 against them together with a large force of Iberian mercenaries. During the battle two of Scipio’s brothers were slain and the Romans defeated.

207 BCE This was the beginning of the end of Carthage's rule in Spain. The Carthaginian forces of Hasdrubal were supported by their Spanish and Gaul allies but they were opposed by two Roman consular armies; the battle was fought between the Po Valley and the River Metaurus. The Romans won leaving many thousands dead from both sides. Amongst them Hasdrubal.

206 BCE Scipio Africanus wrested Spain away from Carthage at the Battle of Ilipa and ended the Second Punic War at the Battle of Zama.but for most of the next 200 years Spain was a battleground.

183 BCE History records Hannibal as perhaps the best military strategist of his time, in particular recording his triumphant crossing of the Alps to beat the Romans in Spain, in his old age at 70 he took refuge with Prusias, monarch of Bithynia, however it is said that Rome sent Titus as ambassador and persuaded the king to issue orders for his arrest and return him to Rome. Hannibal, unable to escape committed suicide at a villa in Libyssa. In the same year Scipio Africanus the main Roman General to have beaten the Carthaginians died.

133 BCE Beginning of the Roman conquest of Spain

The fall of the Spanish town of Numancia near Toledo was considered to be the beginning of the Roman period. The traumatic defence mounted over a period of 20 years by this Spanish garrison, a mere 8,000 warriors, demonstrates the Spanish love of independence. It is recorded that during the siege of 20 years they killed tens of thousands of Roman soldiers and were only finally defeated by a massive army led by Scipio Africanus. Such was their defiance that, when the town finally fell, many of the survivors chose suicide rather than capture and slavery.

Many great Spanish cities were built by the Romans during their rule, including La-Coruña, Mérida, Segovia, Sevilla, Tarragona and Zaragoza. This building program left some of the most impressive Roman ruins in the world outside Italy. Spain also gave much to the Roman Empire. In politics Spain contributed some of the greatest Emperors including Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. Note - Much confusion can be caused in history by the similarity of the names of prominent generals and leaders of widely spaced generations. Many leading figures of the era came from traditional martial families e.g. Scipio, Pompey etc.

49 BCE This was a time of internal conflict in Rome between Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompey, both with ambitions to eventually control the Senate and the Roman Empire. Virtual civil war took place between them when Pompey commanded the Roman legions in Greece. Caesar embarked with an army half the size of Pompey’s opposing force and defeated him. Pompey escaped to Egypt.

45 BCE The two sons of Pompey, named Gnaeus and Sextus, led a revolt in Spain. It was so serious that Caesar himself was again forced to sail with his legions to Spain. He won a great victory at the battle of Munda near Osuna. One son, Gnaeus Pompey, was killed in the battle but Sextus escaped and became leader of the Mediterranean pirates. See - Battle of Munda at Answers.com

39 to 19 BCE The final conquest of Hispania took a further 20 years and was accomplished by the Roman Emporer Augustus 27 BC-14 AD

13 BCE Hispania was divided into three provinces: Baetica (Andalucia), Lusitania (current day Portugal) and Tarraconensis (Tarragona Catalonia).

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