Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist born in 1821. He played a major role in the "realist school" in French literature. His best-known work was Madame Bovary, which led to a trial on the novel's alleged immorality. Salammbo is an historical novel. The book intertwines history and fiction focusing on the revolt of mercenaries in Carthage in the 3rd century BC. After the First Punic War Carthage was unable to pay its mercenaries. Matho, a leader of the mercenaries, lusts after a priestess who is the daughter of an aristocratic general. Matho steals the sacred veil of Carthage, the Zamph, prompting Salammb to enter the mercenaries' camp in an attempt to steal it back.