Masinissa

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Masinissa (c. 238 BC - c. 148 BC) was the first king of Numidia, composed of his own Massyli tribesman and the Massaesyli, formerly ruled by the Carthaginian ally Syphax. He began as a tribal leader of the Berbers, and first fought for Carthage in Spain, commanding his skilled Numidian cavalryman and eventually leading a successful guerilla campaign against the Romans. At around 206 BC he started to cooperate with the Romans, and assisted in the battle of Zama (near today's Maktar, Tunisia). During the battle, while the Carthaginian infantry were successfully engaging the Roman legions under the command of Scipio Africanus, Masinissa's cavalry had been diverted from the battle. After their return, the Romans managed to defeat the Carthaginian levies and veterans under the command of Hannibal.

With Roman backing he established his own kingdom of Numidia, west of Carthage. All of this happened in accordance with Roman interest, as they wanted to give Carthage more problems with its neighbours. Under Masinissa many of the semi-nomadic tribes became peasant farmers. Still, there were few urbanized areas in Masinissa's Numidia.

All through his life Masinissa extended his territory, and he was cooperating with Rome when towards the end of his life he provoked Carthage to go to war against him. Based on descriptions from Livy, the Numidians began raiding around seventy towns in the southern and western sections of Carthage's remaining territory. Outraged with their conduct, Carthage went to war against them, in defiance of a Roman treaty forbidding them to make war on anyone, precipitating the 3rd and last Punic War. Ancient accounts suggest Masinissa lived beyond the age of 90 and was apparently still personally leading the armies of his kingdom when he died.

After his death, Numidia was divided into several smaller kingdoms ruled by his sons.de:Massinissa fr:Massinissa nl:Massinissa

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