Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Was there ever a case when Rome conquered a territory solely for the purpose of gaining control of a specific resource (spice, ore, timber, etc....)?

I'm looking for something backed up by historical evidence - e.g. a document from a military/civilian leader, a public speach etc... admitting to such motivation.

Please note that I'm only including extractable natural resources here as understood today - e.g things like slaves, extra economy, markets, waterways or strategic territory are NOT in scope.

share|improve this question
Have you been playing Sid Meier's Civilization recently? –  Carmi Feb 26 '12 at 19:54
Colonization, to be more specific ;-) –  DVK Feb 26 '12 at 20:35
Caesar and the whole Egypt campaign could be argued to stem for a need to assure grain exports to Rome but since it was not the stated reason, it does not really fit as an answer. Britain had a lot of tin as well so that could have been a major reason to invade. –  Sardathrion Feb 27 '12 at 7:24
@Sardathrion - I would consider an answer that conclusively proves that there were no other equally important reasons. I'm guessing that tin wasn't the main reason for Britain conquest –  DVK Feb 27 '12 at 10:57
@Sardathrion - was that to assure Rome's access to timber, or specifically to prevent Carthage's access to limit its naval power/sea trade? May be I should make that into a separate question :) –  DVK Feb 27 '12 at 11:14

3 Answers 3

It was always my understanding that the Roman conquests in Spain and Dacia were motivated by their respective gold and silver mines.

share|improve this answer
Source please?? –  DVK Oct 16 '12 at 13:26
@DVK I also heard this in the documentary series "Rome: Rise and fall of an empire" –  Ovi Jul 12 '13 at 7:38

Several Roman authors criticised Roman imperialism. Two that I am aware of include:

• Sallust, De bello Iugurthino. The book however traces Rome’s warlikeness back to inner politics, not acquisition of resources.

• Caesar, De bello Gallico, 7th book. Caesar negotiates with Vincengetorix. In the book, Caesar criticises Roman imperialism via Vincengetorix’ speech during that negotiation.

share|improve this answer
+1: Not really pertinent to the question, but very interesting point! –  Felix Goldberg Dec 17 '12 at 0:04

Whele senators and ordinary civilians could justify a war with such considerations, the official pretexts for the wars were always different. All wars Rome conducted were officially motivated by international law. Particular motivations being:

  • Defending the allies (first and second Punic wars, Gallic war)

  • Breach of a treaty by the other party (second Punic war)

  • Invitation by a foreign pretender to the throne to help him against his adversary (invasion of Judea)

  • Pacification of warlike tribes (Caesar's invasions of Britain and Germany)

and so on.

It should be noted that "we just will conquer you" statements are quite rare in world's history. This is because if you use such arguments, you will experience problems in the future with concluding any treaties with other peoples, thus diplomatically unwise.

The most close possibly being Islamic conquests which were based on theological arguments.

share|improve this answer
While I agree with the premise that publicaly there is always some sort of plausible (or implausible) excuse, I mean there may be internal, private letters or speaches stating real reasons. –  DVK Feb 28 '12 at 9:42

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.