History does not inform us when and how this beautiful peninsula—called Hispania by the Romans—first became in-habited. Whether the earliest emigrants crossed the straits of Gibraltar from Africa, or came from Asia, coasting the shores of the Mediterranean, or descended from France through the defiles of the Pyrenees, can now never be known. The first glimpse we catch of Spain, through the haze of past ages, reveals to us the country inhabited by numerous barbaric tri-bes, fiercely hostile to each other, and constantly engaged in bloody wars.
The mountain fastnesses were infested with robber bands, and rapine and violence everywhere reigned. The weapons grasped by these fierce warriors consisted of lances, clubs, and slings, with sabres and hatchets, of rude fashion but of keen edge. Their food was mainly nuts and ro-ots. Their clothing consisted of a single linen garment, girded around the waist; and a woollen tunic, surmounted by a cloth cap, descended to the feet. As in all barbarous nations, the hard work of life was performed by the women.
The names even of most of these tribes have long since perished; a few however have been transmitted to our day, such as the Celts, the Gallicians, the Lusitanians, and the Iberians. Several ages before the foundations of Rome or of Carthage were laid, it is said that the Phoenicians, exploring in their commercial tours the shores of the Mediterranean, established a mercantile colony at Cadiz. The colonists growing rich and strong, extended their dominions and founded the cities of Malaga and Cordova. About 800 years before Christ, a colony from Rhodes settled in the Spanish peninsula, and established the city of Rosas. Other expeditions, from various parts of Greece, also planted colonies and engaged in successful traffic with the Spanish natives.
Four hundred years before Christ, the Carthaginian republic was one of the leading powers, and Carthage was one of the most populous and influential cities on the globe. The Carthaginians crossed the narrow straits which separate Africa from Spain, landed in great strength upon the Spanish peninsula, and, after a short but severe conflict, subdued the foreign colonies there, brought the native Spaniards into subjection, and established their own supremacy over all the southern coast. Cadiz became the central point of Carthaginian power, from whence the invaders constantly extended their conquests. Though many of the interior tribes maintained for a time a sort of rude and ferocious independence, still Carthage gradually assumed dominion over the whole of Spain.
In the year 235 B.C., Hamilcar, the father of the illustrious Hannibal, compelled nearly all the tribes of Spain to ack-nowledge his sway. For eight years Hamilcar waged almost an incessant battle with the Spaniards. Still it was merely a military possession which he held of the country, and he erected Barcelona and several other fortresses, where his soldiers could bid defiance to assaults, and could overawe the surrounding inhabitants.