The Samnites were different tribal groups of people that existed in the southern and central parts of Italy around 600 B.C. Their homeland was called Samnium, and they were a nomadic and warlike people.
The Samnites didn’t pose a threat to Rome until around 343 B.C., which is where they appear on the Biblical Timeline with World History. When Rome was first forged and governed itself under monarchy system, the Samnite tribes were too obscure to cause them any problems. In time, the various tribes that existed in Samnium started to grow in power, and they started to attack other tribes all throughout the Italian region. As Rome began to become the dominant force in Italy, the Samnites would eventually challenge their superiority.
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The Samnite Wars occurred when these two powerful Italian cultures clashed. The Samnites were a wild group of people and eventually some of them had managed to give up their nomadic lifestyle. They settled down in an area of Italy called Campania. The group of Samnites that resided in Campania became civilized and adopted many of the customs of the people who already resided in the area. Though some Samnites chose to be civilized the vast majority of them continued to live as wild barbarians.
The uncivilized Samnites started to attack the people of Campania and various Greek colonies that were located in southwestern Italy. The indigenous population of Campania couldn’t stop the Samnites from settling on their lands and taking over their territory. They had to appeal to Rome for help. Rome was at peace with the Samnites because they didn’t pose a threat. Rome also had a peace treaty with the Samnites.
Even though this was the case, when the leaders of Campania subjected themselves to Roman rule the Roman Republic decided to act on their behalf. The Romans drove out the Samnites from Campania and continued to protect the area. This was the first Samnite War, and it happened between 343 B.C. and 341 B.C. Rome and the Samnite tribes then signed another peace treaty.
The second Samnite war happened between 326 B.C. and 304 B.C. The Romans once again disregarded the treaty that it held with the Samites and decided to ally itself with another tribal group who was at war with their Samnium allies. Another incident happened when Rome aligned themselves with another enemy of the Samnites. Rome and the Samnites went back to war and both sides won and lost various battles. Rome suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Caudine Fork, which is considered one of the greatest military defeats in Roman history.
Rome also managed to set up colonies that encircled Samnium. The two Italian powers eventually set up another treaty. The third and final Samnite war occurred between 298 B.C. and 290 B.C. This time around the Samnites persuaded the Etruscans and the Guals to become allies and they moved against Rome. Once again Rome decided to help the Samnite’s allies though it still held peace treaties with these tribes.
The Samnites and their allies nearly wiped out the Romans, but Rome managed to pull out a last minute rout and decisively defeated their enemies. With this defeat, the Samnites no longer had the power to strike back again. They were finally subdued in 290 B.C. and absorbed into the Roman Republic. Once the Samnites were defeated, they lost their lands and Rome had become a large and dominant force in Italy. The Samnite wars were a major event in the history of Rome that would make it into one of the greatest empires of all time.
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