The Layman’s Historian
Episode 36 - Making a Way

Episode 36 - Making a Way

May 30, 2020

In early October 218 BC, Hannibal performed his most famous - and controversial - feat: the crossing of the Alps. Fighting hostile tribes, freezing cold, blinding snow, treacherous paths, and even the solid rock which barred his way, Hannibal forged a path across Europe’s tallest mountain range, elephants in tow. When he emerged into Italy, his forces had been drastically reduced, but the men who remained formed the nucleus of what would become the Roman's worst nightmare.

Recommended further reading:

The Histories by Polybius

Hannibal's War by Titus Livius

A Companion to the Punic Wars (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) Edited by Dexter Hoyos

Hannibal's Dynasty by Dexter Hoyos

Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

Implacable Enemies: The Barcid Armies at War by Karwansary Publishers

Clash of the Colossi: The First Punic War by Karwansary Publishers

Link to the Episode 36 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 35 - Into Gaul

Episode 35 - Into Gaul

April 18, 2020

After he learned news of Rome's dramatic declaration of war, Hannibal departed New Carthage in May 218 BC to bring the war to Rome's heartland. Following a harrowing march through the Pyrenees, hostile Gallic tribes, and a major contested crossing of the Rhone River, Hannibal reached the fabled Alps where legend holds he declared: "I will find a way, or I will make one."

Recommended further reading:

The Histories by Polybius

Hannibal's War by Titus Livius

A Companion to the Punic Wars (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) Edited by Dexter Hoyos

Hannibal's Dynasty by Dexter Hoyos

Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

Implacable Enemies: The Barcid Armies at War by Karwansary Publishers

Clash of the Colossi: The First Punic War by Karwansary Publishers

Link to the Episode 35 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 34 - The Die is Cast

Episode 34 - The Die is Cast

March 14, 2020

Hasdrubal's sudden assassination catapulted Hamilcar's eldest son, the twenty-five-year-old Hannibal Barca, to power as Carthage's supreme general in Spain. Raised to be a soldier by his father and trained in both the theoretical and practical arts of warfare, Hannibal quickly subdued most Spanish tribes southeast of the Ebro. Only Saguntum, an ostensible Roman ally, doggedly resisted Carthaginian sway. Ignoring Roman warnings to leave Saguntum alone, Hannibal besieged the city in 219 BC, a choice which would put Rome and Carthage on a collision course culminating in the Second Punic War.

Recommended further reading:

A Companion to the Punic Wars (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) Edited by Dexter Hoyos

Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

Implacable Enemies: The Barcid Armies at War by Karwansary Publishers

Clash of the Colossi: The First Punic War by Karwansary Publishers

Link to the Episode 34 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 33 - The Lion’s Brood

Episode 33 - The Lion’s Brood

February 15, 2020

Returning to the narrative, Hamilcar Barca, continuing his campaigns into the Spanish interior, died suddenly battling against hostile tribes in 228 BC. With Hamilcar's eldest son, the famous Hannibal, still in his teens, Hamilcar's son-in-law, Hasdrubal the Fair, succeeded the great Barcid leader in Spain. Charming, sophisticated, and diplomatic, Hasdrubal consolidated Hamilcar's foothold in southern Spain by a series of treaties, guest-friendships, and political marriages along with occasional judicious campaigns. His newly-established capital, New Carthage, quickly grew to be one of the greatest cities of the burgeoning Carthaginian empire due to its natural harbor and ready access to the markets of Spain and North Africa. By the time of Hasdrubal's own death in 221 BC, the Carthaginian army and cities in Spain had been forged into a formidable power base which would serve the young Hannibal well in the trials to come.

Recommended further reading:

A Companion to the Punic Wars (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) Edited by Dexter Hoyos

Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

Implacable Enemies: The Barcid Armies at War by Karwansary Publishers

Clash of the Colossi: The First Punic War by Karwansary Publishers

Link to the Episode 33 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 32 - All the Nations of the Earth: The Carthaginian Army under Hannibal

Episode 32 - All the Nations of the Earth: The Carthaginian Army under Hannibal

December 29, 2019

Ever since the disastrous Battle of the Crimissus in 339 BC, Carthage proved reluctant to send her own citizens to war, preferring instead to pay others to do her fighting for her. Thus, her recruiters scoured the earth in search of the best mercenaries money could buy to supplement her native North African contingents of Libyans and Numidians. Although on paper, Carthage's polyglot armies appeared inferior to Rome's more homogenous organization, in practice, if well-equipped and well-led, Carthaginian soldiers could, and did, prove themselves the equals of their legionary opponents. Under Hannibal, Carthage's mercenary soldiers reached their zenith of effectiveness, maintaining their ethnic fighting styles while being unified by the iron will of their commander, forming a flexible, stubborn fighting force which would be a nightmare to Rome for years to come.

Can't quite picture what a Numidian cavalryman or Gallic warrior looked like? Click here to see an example with 28mm miniatures!

Recommended further reading:

A Companion to the Punic Wars (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) Edited by Dexter Hoyos

Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles

Implacable Enemies: The Barcid Armies at War by Karwansary Publishers

Clash of the Colossi: The First Punic War by Karwansary Publishers

Link to my Map of the Mediterranean World Circa 300 BC

Link to the Episode 32 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 31 - Men of Iron: The Polybian Roman Legion

Episode 31 - Men of Iron: The Polybian Roman Legion

October 13, 2019

In this second of three special episodes, we take an in-depth look at the Roman army which fought the majority of the Punic Wars - its equipment, formations, and most importantly, the fighting ethos which animated the men within it. What was the key to the Roman's success? Superior discipline? A flexible fighting style? Not so. Although these things contributed to Roman success, it was Roman virtus balanced by disciplina which gave the legionary his edge.

Want to see what the Triplex Acies looked like? Click Here for the Layman's Historian Example with 28mm Miniatures!

Recommended further reading:

Soldiers and Ghosts by J.E. Lendon

The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy

Legionary: The Roman Soldier's Unoffical Manual by Philip Matyszak 

Link to my Map of the Mediterranean World Circa 300 BC

Link to the Episode 31 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 30 - How We Know What We Know (About the Punic Wars)

Episode 30 - How We Know What We Know (About the Punic Wars)

August 31, 2019

After a lengthy and unexpected absence, we are back with a new episode. In this episode, we take a break from the narrative and discuss the sources for the Punic Wars. Boring, you say? Not so. The writers on the Punic Wars form a rather eclectic assortment of characters, and the reasons that certain facts have come down to us often seems more due to chance than anything else. Besides the usual grumblings about lost manuscripts, this episode chronicles the various historians to whom we owe much of our knowledge about Antiquity, especially the two greatest historians of the Punic Wars - Polybius and Livy.

Link to the Layman's Historian website

Link to my Map of the Mediterranean World Circa 300 BC

Link to the Episode 30 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 29 - The Barcid Revolution

Episode 29 - The Barcid Revolution

November 17, 2018

In the wake of the Truceless War, the Carthaginians struggled to pick up the pieces of their broken country. Financially exhausted from the toll of the First Punic War, the huge war indemnity still owing to Rome, and the devastation of Carthage’s heartland by the rebel mercenaries during the Truceless War, the future looked dire for most if not all of Carthage's common citizens. Faced with the ruin of their livelihoods, these citizens banded around Hamilcar Barca and his son-in-law Hasdrubal, empowering the Barcids to pass a number of constitutional reforms which strengthened the people's voice in Carthage at the expense of the oligarchs. With the internal reforms well under way, Hamilcar turned his eyes towards the resources of Spain as the means to build up a new power base in preparation for a second struggle with Rome. When he left Carthage in 237 BC, his nine-year-old son Hannibal accompanied him, embarking on the mission of vengeance which would dominate the rest of his life.

Link to the Layman's Historian website

Link to my Map of the Mediterranean World Circa 300 BC

Link to the Episode 29 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 28 - The Truceless War: Part II

Episode 28 - The Truceless War: Part II

September 22, 2018

The murder of Gisco precipitated an escalation of the Truceless War. Both sides invented new ways to torture and slaughter their prisoners, with the mercenaries continuing to brutalize Carthaginian captives while Hamilcar threw his any rebels who fell into his hands to his elephants to be trampled to death. Worse news arrived when mercenary troops tasked with holding Sardinia revolted in a bid to seize control of the island, and matters spiraled further out of control when the force sent to put down this rebellion crucified their commander before joining with the rebels. Only the overseas support from Rome and Syracuse allowed Carthage to continue the fight. Thanks to Hamilcar's war of attrition and skillful maneuvering, the rebels soon found themselves on the back foot despite their superior numbers. All that remained for Hamilcar was to finish the grim task set before him.

Link to the Layman's Historian website

Link to my Map of the Mediterranean World Circa 300 BC

Link to the Episode 28 page on the Layman's Historian website

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Episode 27 - The Truceless War: Part I

Episode 27 - The Truceless War: Part I

August 19, 2018

In the wake of the First Punic War, Carthage soon found the loss of her Sicilian holdings and Rome's harsh indemnity to be the least of her problems. Nearly bankrupt after twenty-four years of continuous warfare, she could not afford to pay her mercenary army which was returning from Sicily. The crisis was further compounded by the blundering efforts of the Carthaginian leaders to defuse the situation, and what began as a pay dispute suddenly exploded into full-scale rebellion. What followed was a war which shocked even the Ancients with the brutality and savagery with which it was fought. A war without respite, without rules, and without mercy. A Truceless War. 

Link to the Layman's Historian website

Link to my Map of the Mediterranean World Circa 300 BC

Link to the Episode 27 page on the Layman's Historian website

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