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Massinisah; the Great King & Unificator of Numidia

He was born on (238 B.C) Died on (148 B.C) Massinisah also called as Masensen was the first king of nomidia an ancient Amazigh Kingdom established with the unify of ancient Amazigh tribes wich was located at the region of North Africa from the canary islands west to the oasis of siwa east. He was a great worthy general for he fought in the second punic war 218-201 B.C.  First against the romans as an ally of carthage then switching sides when he saw where the conflict was going. With the romans help he unified the tribes and founded his kingdom. He became an ally of rome mostly in the battle of zama 202 B.C  which ended the war for his favour after the war he married the Carthaginian noblewoman Sophinisba whom he allowed to poison herself for his and the kingdom’s sake and also for her  to avoid being paraded in a triumph in rome.

Tomb of Massinissa (Algeria)
Tomb of Massinissa (Algeria)

As for his name it was discovered in his tomb of cirta which is found now in Algeria mas’n’sen which means their lord.Massinisah is viewed as a large icon and an important forefather among the modern amazigh people. Massinsah was the son of the chief Gaia of a numidian tribal group the massylli. At the start of the second punic war fought for carthage against syphax  the King of the Masaesyli of western Numidia who allied himself with romans. Massinisah led an army of numidean troops and Carthaginian auxiliaries against syphax’s army and won a decisive history.

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 victory over Syphax, Masinissa commanded his skilled Numidian cavalry against the Romans in Spain, where he was involved in the Carthaginian victories of Castulo and Ilorca (both 211). After Hasdrubal Barca departed for Italy, Masinissa was placed in command of all the Carthaginian cavalry in Spain, where he fought a successful guerrilla campaign against the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio (Scipio Africanus) throughout 208 and 207, while Mago Barca and Hasdrubal Gisgo levied and trained new forces. In 206, with fresh reinforcements, Mago and Hasdrubal Gisgo — supported by Masinissa’s Numidian cavalry — met Scipio at the Battle of Ilipa, where Carthage’s power in Spain was finally broken in arguably Scipio Africanus’s most brilliant victory.

When Gaia died in 206, his sons Masinissa and Oezalces quarreled about the inheritance, and Syphax — now an ally of Carthage — was able to conquer considerable parts of the eastern Numidian kingdom. Meanwhile, with the Carthaginians having been driven from Spain, Masinissa concluded that Rome was winning the war against Carthage and therefore decided to defect to Rome. he promised to assist Scipio in the invasion of Carthaginian territory in Africa. This decision was aided by the move by Scipio Africanus to free Masinissa’s nephew, Massiva, whom the Romans had captured when he had disobeyed his uncle and ridden into battle. Having lost the alliance with Masinissa, Hasdrubal started to look for another ally, which he found in Syphax, who married Sophonisba, Hasdrubal’s daughter who until the defection had been betrothed to Masinissa. The Romans supported Masinissa’s claim to the Numidian throne against Syphax, who was nevertheless successful in driving Masinissa from power until Scipio invaded Africa in 204. Masinissa joined the Roman forces and participated in the victorious Battle of the Great Plains (203), after which Syphax was captured, Massinisah died in the age of 90.

After his death, Numidia was divided into several smaller kingdoms ruled by his sons. His descendants were the elder Juba I of Numidia (85 BC–46 BC) and younger Juba II (52 BC-23 AD).

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