Punic wars compared to Battle of Tours?

Oct 2017
186
United States
I was wondering, is it possible to argue that the Punic Wars were to the ancient times what the Battle of Tours was to the Medival era. Specifically the idea that there are times when one group or perhaps a few groups with different aims is encroaching on one area or another where people disagree and all that, and which makes people talk a lot about the significance and what would of happened if, and all that.

I wasn't really big on Medieval or Islamic history but a quick scan tells me that the Battle of Tours was fought in what is now France by what are primarily considered Christian entities against Islamic ones...

Well this isn't really my area of knowledge or expertise so much either, but going back to the Punic Wars which were incredibly significant for the time, is it possible to consider them as like Tours but instead dealing with the issues of Roman aggression and expansion?

That is to say, Rome as an aggressive expansionist power, moving south and yet being checked by another power, in this case Carthage.

The most obvious non-paralell is that Carthage was completely destroyed well the city and a lot of it's culture beaten bad, with Rome eventually moving more into those regions.

But I cant help but wonder if this didn't help set the stage for the later crises which affected Rome, or instance, without the Punic Wars would there have been a Cleopatra and a triumvirate, and the truly apocalyptic center that is the 0 AD Rome which mostly replicates the conquests or reinforces the ones made during the Senatorial and Republican days.

I guess it really boils down to, when the north, as opposed to south, wants to eradicate learning and all that, how does that slow down.. I suppose.

I think I would just say is while in conventional terms the Punic Wars were "won" by Rome, was it not like the Pyrhhic victories fought by well Pyrrus in around the same time frame?

That is to say, the loss of life and destruction was so severe that it set a somewhat burgeoning power, Rome, on a destruction course or at least severely aggravated existing problems.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,106
Dispargum
One major difference is that Tours established a status quo or balance of power with Spain remaining (or becoming) Islamic while the rest of Europe remained (or became) Christian.

The Punic Wars were existential. One side or the other was going to be destroyed.



I don't see anything inevitable resulting from the Punic Wars. Once Carthage was destroyed, it was not inevitable that the Roman Republic would fall.

(Forum, don't be a pea brain and claim a contradiction between my second and third paragraphs. There is a difference. For those of you in Rio Lindo California, in the Punic Wars one side or the other was going to be destroyed. After the Punic Wars nothing was inevitable.)
 
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Feb 2018
96
the Map Room
Don't see too many similarities.

The Arabs went as far as they could go before effective pushback could be mounted to check their expansion into Europe. There was no superpower per se that stood in their way.

Carthage and Rome were superpowers of their age. And had it not been for Carthage's exploits in Spain, I don't think they could've ever waged another war after the 1st Punic War so effectively as they did, heck without Spain Rome would've probably chipped away at Carthage's remaining power until it's gone, much like they did after the 2nd Punic War.

So the two conflicts differ a lot imo. One is a religious-conquest driven force expanding in all directions and into Europe, the other is two superpowers clashing for Mediterranean domination.

Also, fully agree with Chlodio.
 

Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
3,047
Yötebory Sveriya
The Siege of Constantinople might be more comparable. It is often overlooked by Western Historians, but it’s significance was greater. Though the cultural impact of Tours is unquestionable.



As for Europe being Islamic if the Franks lost the Battle of Tours, this is probably a large exaggeration, the Caliphate did not brutally suppress Christianity anywhere it conquered - that was a later regime. Had Europe been conquered, it is likely the alliance with the Calphate of Córdoba would have been strong enough to crush the fanatics who later destroyed it. There’s also the shape of the Empire in the later Middle Ages to consider once the Persian half of the Empire was destroyed by the Mongols.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic (speculative). I would say had the Battle of Tours been won, it would have been more like Hastings- and the impact similar to French in the United kingdom.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,139
Cornwall
Zero comparison.

Bizarre in fact.

Islamic armies of the time lived by booty, which is THE major force in the invasion of Hispania. Without booty troops are restless, broke and therefore dangerous. The Battle of Tours was a fairly sizeable raid for booty by the Emir in Cordoba himself, defeating the Aquitanians and eventually sacking the Cathedral at Poitiers, removing a sizeable amount of loot. Unfortunately, they then ran into the Frankish army and lost it. There was never any support plan or follow up plan, merely a fast mobile raid. The Narbonne region of France was part of the 'Spain' that was inherited from the Visigoths and what the outcome of Tours diod was to allow the Franks to move south in supposed 'protection' of the Aquitanians and therefore get closer to the Mediterranean and eventually conquer the Narbonnense region and much later the creation of the Spanish March.

Maybe interestingly the defeat of the Visigoths at Vouille just over 200 years before was also near Tours - which sort of suggests it was some sort of geographical hinge/collision point between the Franks and the Visigoths/then muslims

There's another related theme - the obsession with what is now 'France' and troubles therein was a major factor in the establishment of the Kingdom of Asturias which, by all logic, should have been squashed in the 711-718 period. It was an easy option not to surpress it firstly because it was never really part of the inherited Visigothic kingdom and secondly there was a real reluctance to send extra troops in that direction with the power base around Cordoba being fairly unstable at the time. the consequences for muslim presence in Spain would eventually be catastrophic.

Lastly - and at great risk of contradicting myself - the force that eventually saw defeat at Tours was probably at least of a similar size to Tariq's original invasion force of berbers and disaffected Visigoths. Which is thought to be 8-10,000. The reasons as to why this succeeded are multiple and complex - and mostly the best-guesses of hard-working modern historians, but it's one of history's odd mysteries.

As a further link it's also quite probable that it was a similar size to the 'mauri'/berber raids of southern Hispania in the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, for which legionary troops had to be brought in from other parts to restore safety
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,072
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
In the case of the Battle of Tours there was one great power preventing a Muslim invasion of Europe - the Roman Empire, or what was left of it.

The Caliphate managed to conquer most of the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire but were slowed down and eventually stopped in Asia Minor, what is now Turkey, on the shortest route to invade Europe. Invading Europe through north Africa and Spain was going the long way around.

The Caliphate launched a major effort to conquer what is left of the Roman Empire in the siege of Constantinople in 674-678, and another siege of Constantinople in 717-718. The failure of these efforts prevented any Muslim efforts to spread into Europe by the direct route from Syria though Asia minor to the Balkans and beyond.
 
Feb 2017
427
Rock Hill, South Carolina
There was no superpower per se that stood in their way.
The Romans. The current theory is that the massive defeat inflicted upon them at the second siege of Constantinople thoroughly weakened the Umayyad Caliphate, which prevented them from militarily and logistically supporting the campaign into France which ended with the Battle of Tours. Modern historians agree the failed sieges of Constantinople are fundamentally more important on the world stage than Tours.

I would compare the Punic wars more to the Reconquista than to Tours (with El Cid being Pyrrhus of Epirus). Or maybe to the Romans vs the Turks in the later middle ages.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,139
Cornwall
The Romans. The current theory is that the massive defeat inflicted upon them at the second siege of Constantinople thoroughly weakened the Umayyad Caliphate, which prevented them from militarily and logistically supporting the campaign into France which ended with the Battle of Tours. Modern historians agree the failed sieges of Constantinople are fundamentally more important on the world stage than Tours.

I would compare the Punic wars more to the Reconquista than to Tours (with El Cid being Pyrrhus of Epirus). Or maybe to the Romans vs the Turks in the later middle ages.
I don't think the Umayyad Caliphate was that joined up to be honest. I think the (regularly changed) governor in Cordoba was required to send a certain amount of loot or taxes back, and that the Poitiers raid was on his initiative. With his Berber troops, which they had scarcely heard of in Damascus I would think.

El Cid was nothing to do with any (later) notion of 'reconquista'. He fought Christian and Muslim, but mostly for himself. He tried to stem the flow of the Almoravid invasion of muslim Spain, and his natural death occurred roughly half way between the first invasion/Sagrajas and the peak of Almoravid power with the surrender of the Taifa of Zaragoza.
 
Feb 2017
427
Rock Hill, South Carolina
"He fought Christian and Muslim, but mostly for himself"

This is why I compared him to Pyrrhus.