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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Hamilcar achieved vast conquests

[Sidenote: The Carthaginian conquest.]

The conquest of Phoenicia by the kings of Assyria and Chaldea had an effect on far-away Spain. The Phoenician settlements of the peninsula became independent, but they began to have ever more extensive relations with the great Phoenician colony of Carthage on the North African coast. This city is believed to have acquired the island of Ibiza in much earlier times, but it was not until the sixth century B.C. that the Carthaginians entered Spain in force. At that time the people of C?diz are said to have been engaged in a dangerous war with certain native tribes, wherefore they invited the Carthaginians to help them. The latter came, and, as has so often occurred in history, took over for themselves the land which they had entered as allies.

[Sidenote: The Greeks in Spain.]

Meanwhile, the Greeks had already been in Spain for some years. Tradition places the first Greek voyage to the Spanish coast in the year 630 B.C. Thereafter there were commercial voyages by the Greeks to the peninsula, followed in time by the founding of settlements. The principal colonizers were the Phocians, proceeding from their base at Marseilles, where they had established themselves in the seventh century B.C. Their chief post in Spain was at Emporium (on the site of Castell?n de Ampurias, in the province of Gerona, Catalonia), and they also had important colonies as far south as the Valencian coast and yet others in Andalusia, Portugal, Galicia, and Asturias. Their advance was resisted by the Phoenicians and their Carthaginian successors, who were able to confine the Greeks to the upper part of the eastern coast as the principal field of their operations. The Greek colonies were usually private ventures, bound to the city-states from which they had proceeded by ties of religion and affection alone. They were also independent of one another. Their manner of entry resembled that already described in the case of the Phoenicians, for they went first to the islands near the coast, and thence to the mainland, where at length they joined with native towns, although having a separate, walled-off district of their own,--comparable to the situation at the present day in certain ports of European nations on the coast of China. Once masters of the coast the Greeks were able to penetrate inland and to introduce Greek goods and Greek influences over a broad area of the peninsula. To them is attributed the introduction of the vine and the olive, which ever since have been an important factor in the economic history of Spain.

[Sidenote: Spain under the Barcas.]

The principal objects of the Carthaginians in Spain were to develop the rich silver mines of the land and to engage in commerce. In furtherance of these aims they established a rigorous military system, putting garrisons in the cities, and insisting on tribute in both soldiers and money. In other respects they left both the Phoenician colonies and the native tribes in full enjoyment of their laws and customs, but founded cities of their own on the model of Carthage. They did not attempt a thorough conquest of the peninsula until their difficulties with the rising power of Rome pointed out its desirability. In the middle of the third century B.C., Carthage, which had long been the leading power in the western Mediterranean, came into conflict with Rome in the First Punic War. As a result of this war, which ended in 242 B.C., Rome took the place of Carthage in Sicily. It was then that Hamilcar of the great Barca family of Carthage suggested the more thorough occupation of Spain as a counterpoise to the Roman acquisition of Sicily, in the hope that Carthage might eventually engage with success in a new war with Rome. He at length entered Spain with a Carthaginian army in 236 B.C., having also been granted political powers which were so ample that he became practically independent of direction from Carthage. The conquest was not easy, for while many tribes joined with him, others offered a bitter resistance. Hamilcar achieved vast conquests, built many forts, and is traditionally supposed to have founded the city of Barcelona, which bears his family name. He died in battle, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Hasdrubal. Hasdrubal followed a policy of conciliation and peace, encouraging his soldiers to marry Iberian women, and himself wedding a Spanish princess. He made his capital at Cartagena, building virtually a new city on the site of an older one. This was the principal military and commercial centre in Spain during the remainder of Carthaginian rule. There the Barcas erected great public buildings and palaces, and ruled the country like kings. Hasdrubal was at length assassinated, leaving his command to Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar. Though less than thirty years of age Hannibal was already an experienced soldier and was also an ardent Carthaginian patriot, bitterly hostile to Rome. The time now seemed ripe for the realization of the ambitions of Hamilcar.

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