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This is an old Osprey title, first published in 1986 (and reprinted since) and illustrated by the much regretted Angus McBride. It only has one thing missing: there is no list of references for further reading simply because Osprey Men-at-Arms did not include any at the time, so the usual author/illustrator pair can hardly be blamed for that. Otherwise, it has it all, perhaps with the exception of a little glitch.
The first section lays out the scene by briefly presenting “The peoples of proto-historic Spain” and clearly describes the three main groups, and they social organisation and obligations, and the respective territories that they occupied in the Iberian Peninsula.
The two next sections present the warfare in Ancient Spain, and the impact it had on Rome. These sections, which include a rather detailed chronology, help to show to what extent the tribes in Iberia were major trouble for Rome, and, with the help of geography, continued to be so for about two centuries, well after the demise of Carthage, of Greece and the Hellenistic Kingdoms, and of Gaul, to name just these few.
To illustrate to what extent they were trouble, the (Spanish) author has picked the campaigns of Viriathus and the Numantine wars, showing that in both cases the Romans suffered multiple defeats and disasters before finally winning what had become wars of attrition. A related feature is to show that one reason for these ongoing and endemic rebellions was the very behaviour of most of the Roman commanders, with each new commander (although they were a couple of exceptions) stirring up trouble of his own through his exactions in order to gather plunder and glory and make a name for himself. To illustrate this, the author lists the rather huge amounts of gold and silver that a selection of commanders each extracted and came back to Rome with.
Here is where there is a slight glitch, with the author stating that “the Second Punic War was financed with the silver that the Romans extracted from the mines around Cartagena.” While true, this only happened at best during the second half of the war and certainly not before 209 BC (at the earliest) when Scipio conquered Cartagena from the Carthaginians. Before that (and, for some of the mines, perhaps even up to 206 BC, when the last Carthaginian army was defeated in Spain), the silver and gold mines from Iberia were financing the Carthaginian war effort, and Hannibal’s one in particular.
The next section is about armour, weapons and troop types, whether medium or light infantry, including the well-known and fearsome Balearic slingers, or Iberian cavalry. At least some of it, thanks to the stamina of the Iberian horses, could help carry an extra infantryman, thereby giving increased mobility to their forces and making them that much more difficult to catch for the more heavily equipped legions. One of the main features of this section is to show to what extent Rome “borrowed” much of its equipment from the Celts in general, and the Iberians in particular. The case of the “Gladius Hispaniensis” is the best known, of course, although the puggio (the legionary’s triangular dagger) is also of Iberian origin, while mail, some of the Roman helmets (the Montefortino types), the La Tène long swords (as “ancestors” of the spatha) and the large scutum shields were all borrowed from the Celts and improved.
Finally, there are the (simply gorgeous!) plates. One interesting feature is that, for each of them, the source of inspiration is clearly indicated and is even often included in the book through photos. One example is the superb golden pectoral of the Iberian chieftain who is part of the front page illustration. Another is the double plate (D-E) showing six Iberians hidden on the top of a hill and waiting to ambush a Roman column. While the authors mention quite candidly that they have put together characters whose appearance and equipment belonged to several different tribes, they also mention that there were cases where warriors from several of them could fight together, especially against the hated Romans. Five stars for a rather superb title.