The First Punic War was sparked by tensions created by mercenaries who seized the city of Messana (modern Messina) on the strait which separates eastern Sicily from the mainland. The tensions were between the two main powers in Sicily, the Greek city of Syracuse in the east and the Carthaginians in the west. Rome, who controlled the mainland, declared war, defeated the mercenaries, besieged Syracuse and forced her to become Rome’s ally. At this point the Carthaginians mobilised war. The conflict developed into a fight for the control of Sicily. The war became a sea war and Rome, which hardly had a navy built a fleet which matched is size that or Rome.The war emptied the coffers of both states. Rome won because the rich financed the building of one last fleet when her navy was depleted. Carthage could not match this and she lost the last naval battle.

Rome took over the Carthaginian possessions in western Sicily. Soon after the war, she tool advantage of a revolt by the mercenaries of Carthage to seize Sardinia and Corsica.

In the Second Punic War, Hannibal attacked Italy from his base in Spain. He routed the Roman armies four times and briefly took control of the south of Italy. However, Rome found ways to counter his threat and gradually retook control of Italy. She also defeated the Carthaginians in Spain and took over the Carthaginian territories in southern Spain. She then defeated Carthage in her home soil in Tunisia. The Numidians of Algeria switched their alliance from Carthage to Rome. Thus, this war started with Rome fighting for her survival and ended with Rome gaining dominance in the western Mediterranean.

Rome’s aim in the Third Punic War was to destroy Carthage because she was worried about an economic and military resurgence of her enemy. By now Carthage was greatly weakened. After destroying the city, Rome tool over her remaining territory: Tunisia and western Algeria.

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