On This Day
202 BC – Second Punic War: At the Battle of Zama, Roman legions under Scipio Africanus defeat Hannibal Barca, leader of the army defending Carthage.
The Battle of Zama was fought in 202 BC near Zama, now in Tunisia, and marked the end of the Second Punic War. A Roman army led by Publius Cornelius Scipio, with crucial support from Numidian leader Masinissa, defeated the Carthaginian army led by Hannibal.
After defeating Carthaginian and Numidian armies at the battles of Utica and the Great Plains, Scipio imposed peace terms on the Carthaginians, who had no choice but to accept them. At the same time, the Carthaginians recalled Hannibal’s army from Italy. Confident in Hannibal’s forces, the Carthaginians broke the armistice with Rome. Scipio and Hannibal confronted each other near Zama Regia. Hannibal had 36,000 infantry to Scipio’s 29,000. One third of Hannibal’s army were citizen levies, and the Romans had 6,100 cavalry to Carthage’s 4,000, as most of the Numidian cavalry that Hannibal had employed with great success in Italy had defected to the Romans.
Hannibal also employed 80 war elephants. The elephants opened the battle by charging the main Roman army. Scipio’s soldiers avoided the elephants by opening their ranks and then drove them off with missiles. The Roman and Numidian cavalry subsequently defeated the Carthaginian cavalry and chased them from the battlefield. Hannibal’s first line of mercenaries attacked Scipio’s infantry and were defeated. The second line of citizen levies and the mercenaries’ remnants assaulted and inflicted heavy losses on the Roman first line. The Roman second line joined the struggle and pushed back the Carthaginian assault. Hannibal’s third line of veterans, reinforced by the citizen levies and mercenaries, faced off against the Roman army, which had been redeployed into a single line. The combat was fierce and evenly matched. Finally, Scipio’s cavalry returned to the battle and attacked Hannibal’s army in the rear, routing and destroying it.
The Carthaginians lost 20,000–25,000 killed and 8,500–20,000 captured. Scipio lost 4,000–5,000 men, and 1,500–2,500 Romans and 2,500 Numidians were killed. Defeated on their home ground, the Carthaginian ruling elite sued for peace and accepted humiliating terms, ending the 17-year war.
Born On This Day
879 – Yingtian, empress of the Khitan Liao Dynasty (d. 953)
Shulü Ping (Chinese: 述律平; 19 October 879 – 1 August 953), nickname Yueliduo (月里朵), formally Empress Yingtian (simplified Chinese: 应天皇后; traditional Chinese: 應天皇后) also known as Empress Di (地皇后) during the reign of her husband Emperor Taizu of Liao (Yelü Abaoji), posthumous name initially Empress Zhenlie (貞烈皇后, “the virtuous and achieving empress”) then Empress Chunqin (淳欽皇后, “the pure and honoured empress”) was an empress of the Khitan-led Liao dynasty of China. After Emperor Taizu’s death in 926, she served as empress dowager until her death in 953. She was directly involved in two imperial successions and is credited with changing expectations of widows in Khitan society.
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