Mercenary War

Mercenary War
Part of the Punic Wars
Libyan Revolt, shekel, 241-238 BC.jpg
Shekel minted by the Libyans during the war, depicting Herakles and a lion, with the legend ΛIBYΩN ("the Libyans").[1] Above the lion, the Phoenician letter M could stand for Mathos, a leader of the rebellion.[2]
Date241–238 or 237 BC
Carthaginian territory in what is now Tunisia
Result Carthaginian victory in Africa
Opportunistic Roman annexation of Sardinia and Corsica
Carthage Carthage's mutinous army
Rebellious African towns
Commanders and leaders
Hamilcar Barca
Hannibal  Executed
Spendius  Executed
Matho  Executed
Autaritus  Executed
Unknown 90,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown High

The Mercenary War, also known as the Truceless War, was a mutiny by troops that were employed by Carthage at the end of the First Punic War (264–241 BC), supported by uprisings of African settlements revolting against Carthaginian control. It lasted from 241 to late 238 or early 237 BC and ended with Carthage suppressing both the mutiny and the revolt.

The war began in 241 BC as a dispute over the payment of wages owed to 20,000 foreign soldiers who had fought for Carthage in Sicily during the First Punic War. When a compromise seemed to have been reached, the army erupted into full-scale mutiny under the leadership of Spendius and Matho. 70,000 Africans from Carthage's oppressed dependent territories flocked to join them, bringing supplies and finance. War-weary Carthage fared poorly in the initial engagements of the war, especially under the generalship of Hanno. Hamilcar Barca, a veteran of the campaigns in Sicily (and father of Hannibal Barca), was given joint command of the army in 240 BC; and supreme command in 239 BC. He campaigned successfully, initially demonstrating leniency in an attempt to woo the rebels over. To prevent this, in 240 BC Spendius and Autaritus tortured 700 Carthaginian prisoners to death (including Gisco), after which the war was pursued with great brutality on both sides.

By early 237 BC, after numerous setbacks, the rebels were defeated and their cities brought back under Carthaginian rule. An expedition was prepared to reoccupy Sardinia, where mutinous soldiers had slaughtered all Carthaginians. However, Rome declared that this would be an act of war and occupied both Sardinia and Corsica, in contravention of the recent peace treaty. This has been considered to be the single greatest cause of war with Carthage breaking out again in 218 BC in the Second Punic War.

  1. ^ Carradice 1988, p. 37.
  2. ^ Robinson 1956, p. 12.