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battle of mediolanum 259AD

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7. LICINIUS VALERIAN, who was then employed in Rhaetia and Noricum, was next made general by the army, and soon after emperor. GALLIENUS also received the title of Caesar from the senate at Rome. The reign of these princes was injurious, and almost fatal, to the Roman name, either through their ill-fortune or want of energy. The Germans advanced as far as Ravenna. Valerian, while he was occupied in a war in Mesopotamia, was overthrown by Sapor king of Persia, and being soon after made prisoner, grew old in ignominious slavery among the Parthians.


8 Gallienus, who was made emperor when quite a young man, exercised his power at first happily, afterwards fairly, and at last mischievously. In his youth he performed many gallant acts in Gaul and Illyricum, killing Ingenuus, who had assumed the purple, at Mursa,5 and Regalianus. He was then for a long time quiet and gentle; afterwards, abandoning himself to all manner of licentiousness, he relaxed the reins of government with disgraceful inactivity and carelesness. The Alemanni, having laid waste Gaul, penetrated into Italy. Dacia, which had been added to the empire beyond the Danube, was lost. Greece, Macedonia, Pontus, Asia, were devastated by the Goths. Pannonia was depopulated by the Sarmatians and Quadi. The Germans made their way as far as Spain, and took the noble city of Tarraco. The Parthians, after taking possession of Mesopotamia, began to bring Syria under their power.


9 When affairs were in this desperate condition, and the Roman empire almost ruined, POSTUMUS, a man of very obscure birth, assumed the purple in Gaul, and held the government with such ability for ten years, that he recruited the provinces, which had been almost ruined, by his great energy and judgment; but he was killed in a mutiny of the army, because he would not deliver up Moguntiacum, which had rebelled against him, to be plundered by the soldiers, at the time when Lucius Aelianus was endeavouring to effect a change of government.


After him Marius, a contemptible mechanic,6 assumed the purple, and was killed two days after. Victorinus then took on himself the government of Gaul; a man of great energy; but, as he was abandoned to excessive licentiousness, and corrupted other men's wives, he was assassinated at Agrippina,7 in the second year of his reign, one of his secretaries having contrived a plot against him.


10 To him succeeded Tetricus, a senator, who, when he was governing Aquitania with the title of prefect, was chosen emperor in his absence, and assumed the purple at Bourdeaux. He had to endure many insurrections among the soldiery. But while these transactions were passing in Gaul, the Persians, in the east, were overthrown by Odenathus, who, having defended Syria and recovered Mesopotamia, penetrated into the country as far as Ctesiphon.


11 Thus, while Gallienus abandoned the government, the Roman empire was saved in the west by Posthumus, and in the east by Odenathus. Meanwhile Gallienus was killed at Milan, together with his brother, in the ninth year of his reign, and CLAUDIUS succeeded him, being chosen by the soldiers, and declared emperor by the senate. Claudius defeated the Goths, who were laying waste Illyricum and Macedonia, in a great battle. He was a frugal and modest man, strictly observant of justice, and well qualified for governing the empire. He was however carried off by disease within two years after he began to reign, and had the title of a god. The senate honoured him with extraordinary distinctions, insomuch that a golden shield was hung up to him in the senate house, and a golden statue erected to him in the Capitol.

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This is Paulus Orosius


22. In the one thousand and tenth year of the City, the twenty-seventh place in the Augustan succession was filled by two emperors: Valerian, who was hailed as Augustus by the army in Raetia, and Gallienus, who was proclaimed Caesar by the Senate at Rome. Gallienus had an unhappy reign lasting fifteen years. During this time the human race had little respite from unusually severe and continuous pestilences. Wickedness, easily forgetful, provokes its own punishment; for impiety, though it feels the scourge when beaten, is too callous to perceive the one scourging it. Leaving out of consideration the earlier persecutions of the Christians, the one inflicted by Decius caused the whole Roman Empire to be harassed by a great plague. But injustice, cheated by poor judgment to its own ruin, deceived itself. For the wicked thought that the plague was a matter of ordinary chance and that death resulting from disease was a natural end and not a punishment.


Within a short time, therefore, their wicked actions again so provoked the anger of God that they received a blow which they long were forced to remember. As soon as Valerian had seized the throne, he began the eighth persecution since Nero's time. He ordered that the Christians be forced by torture into idolatry and that they be killed if they should refuse to worship the Roman gods. As a result, the blood of the saints was shed throughout the length and breadth of the Roman Empire. Immediately, Valerian, the author of this abominable edict, was captured by Sapor, king of the Persians. He who had been emperor of the Roman people grew old among the Persians and suffered the supreme humiliation of slavery. For he was condemned for the term of his life to perform the menial service of helping the king mount his horse, not by giving him his hand, but by bending to the ground and offering his back.


Gallienus became terrified by such an unmistakable judgment of God and was alarmed by the wretched fate of his colleague. He therefore made quick amends by restoring peace to the churches. But, when so many thousands of the saints had been tortured, the captivity of one impious man, even though his punishment lasted throughout his life and was of an exceedingly abhorrent kind, could not atone for the wrong nor satisfy vengeance. The blood of the just cried out to God and demanded to be avenged in the same land where it had been shed. Not only did a righteous judgment exact the penalty upon the one who issued the order, but also upon the agents, informers, accusers, spectators, judges, and finally upon all who had favored the unjust and cruel persecution, even by their silent wish—for God knows all secrets. Most of these men were scattered through the provinces, and the same avenging blow justly smote them all. By God's will the nations stationed on the boundaries of the empire and left there for this purpose were suddenly loosed on every side, and no sooner did the reins of control release them than they invaded all the Roman territories. The Germans made their way through the Alps, Raetia, and the whole of Italy as far west as Ravenna. The Alemanni roamed through the Gallic provinces and even crossed into Italy. An invasion of the Goths ruined Greece, Pontus, and Asia; Dacia beyond the Danube was lost forever. The Quadi and the Sarmatians ravaged the Pannonian provinces. The Further Germans stripped Spain and took possession of it. The Parthians seized Mesopotamia and completely devastated Syria. Throughout the various provinces, there exist today poor and insignificant settlements situated in the ruins of great cities which still bear evidences of their names and tokens of their misfortunes. Our own city Tarraco in Spain is one of these, and we can point to it to console ourselves over our recent misery. Furthermore, lest any part of the Roman body politic should escape being mangled, there were internal conspiracies formed by usurpers. Civil wars arose, and everywhere streams of Roman blood flowed while Romans and barbarians vented their fury. But soon the wrath of God was turned to mercy, and the mere beginning of a punishment rather than an actual penalty was reckoned to be a sufficient satisfaction.


First of all, Ingenuus, who had assumed the imperial purple, was slain at Mursa. Next Postumus usurped the sovereignty in Gaul, but this usurpation brought good fortune to the state. For in the course of ten years he drove out the enemy and restored the lost provinces to their former condition, conquering by the exercise of great bravery and self-restraint. He was killed, however, in a mutiny of the soldiers. Aelianus, while attempting a revolution, was overcome at Mainz. After the death of Postumus, Marius seized the supreme power at that city, but he was killed immediately afterward. The Gauls, acting on their own initiative, then proclaimed Victorinus emperor. It was not long before Victorinus was murdered, and Tetricus, who at the time held the office of governor of the province of Aquitania, succeeded him. This ruler had to put up with many mutinies. In the East, in the meantime, a certain Odenathus gathered together a band of Syrian peasants. They defeated and drove back the Persians, defended Syria, recovered Mesopotamia, and as a result of conquest advanced with their leader as far as Ctesiphon. Gallienus abandoned the state to its fate and was slain while indulging his lust at Milan.

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This is the link I used to find those sources. It claims the battle was midsummer, so food would of been growing, but not near ripe, and consumed at a very high rate. I don't even know if the city was self sufficient for its foodstuffs, or needed grain imports like Rome.


Its not looking like a battle as in battle lines being drawn up on a tactical map, but a unsightly blob.


The barbarians, apparently in three groups, came storming south, this group might of came directly out of the alps, or east.... I can't quite tell. There was also a group west, as well as a break away empire in the west.


If your trying to make a map for your book, I recommend just representing the numerical ratio of the Gauls to the walls makes it highly unlikely they were all within the walls, fighting the romans off, that food was going to be be rapidly consumed by default, and a pestilence was already hitting the population hard. It likely didn't take much convincing to surrender.... as they apparently did. I presume there is no record of this battle because there wasn't much of one to begin with.


Given the Alemmani invaded again 9 after Gallenius death, they likely had many survivors that went home. That, or 300,000 was only a part of a much larger tribe. Yikes....


So, I quit here.


Check out our John Malalas thread.


Edited by Onasander

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The plague came from Egypt, appears to be small pox.


I'm looking for Dendrochronological charts, I'm guessing a drought forced everyone south into roman lands, or a crop failure due to other cause.





I've been looking around, can't find much evidence that Europe has trained climate scientists who study tree rings, however, North and South America does, as well as Africa and Asia. I find this very.... odd, as they are the cheer leaders of the global warming movement.




Theory huns invaded due to drought. So I'm not alone on this hunch.





Before our era




This appears our era:

Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from 250-600 AD coincided with the demise of the western Roman empire and the turmoil of the migration period," the team reported.


"Distinct drying in the 3rd Century paralleled a period of serious crisis in the western Roman empire marked by barbarian invasion, political turmoil and economic dislocation in several provinces of Gaul."


Dr Buntgen explained: "We were aware of these super-big data sets, and we brought them together and analyzed them in a new way to get the climate signal.


"If you have enough wood, the dating is secure. You just need a lot of material and a lot of rings."






Google this PDF:

2500 Years of European Climate Variability and Human Susceptibility


It focuses on the drought periods in Europe, shows that rainfall had been falling, and then suddenly temperatures took a nosedive.


I think the battle of Mediolanum was Romans vs. Some Hungry Refugees, most if whom statistically couldn't fit in the damn city, munching on half grown crops when the Romans showed up.


That's your battle scenario.

Edited by Onasander

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So, where would the Goths put their people outside?

What Gothic encampments are known? Do they pick certain styles of encampment? Close to water, spread out?

I wouldn't know where the encampment was - I don't know of any source or archeology that locates it - and the only description of a gothic camp I can think of was at Adrianople, away from the town and formed as a defensive ring from their wagons, which might have been circumstantial and not necessarily how they would ordinarily lay themselves out, especially since they were not technically a nomadic people even though they migrated and later expanded into Roman territory.


I would have said that the Goths were likely to camp in a concentrated manner anyway - that's normnal behaviour for large groups of human beings whether military or not. They would want to be out of missile range, preferably on suitable dry ground, and whilst a water source nearby wasn't absolutely essential, it was certainly more convenient.

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I kept saying Goths, even though it was the Alamanni.


However, they invaded again a few years later, and obviously survived. The way (Tacitus if I remember) they supposedly sent out colonies was to split their people into thirds, and sent a third out.


I thought about the wagons, but this was supposedly a "battle won in a single day". Even if women and children made up 2-3rds, its 10,000 vs 300,000 and I quite frankly have the severest doubts about Roman Metallurgical ability to make swords that wouldn't warp potentially cutting that much flesh. That would of had to of been going through any commanders mind "What if they resist and I gotta kill them all?"


So by default, I see a very mass jumble. Wagons everywhere, but systematic for defense? Doubt it, as they would of been more inclined to resist.


Likely wide open, perhaps very, to allow what must of been a miniscle cavalry force between scaring the daylights out of them.


Its field after field, and I know NOTHING about Roman irrigation in agriculture, beyond they sometimes used retaining pools (I have a thread on this site on that). For that to work, they gotta be down slope from water, such as a creek or spring, or from that river that was/eventually turned into a Moat.


This is prime refugee encampment area, and if they lasted more than two days before the Romans arrived would of gone all over the farmland staking out smart positions. Just apparently wasn't worth anything collectively defensively.


The question for the long term.... feeding them if your enslaving them.... let's say 1-3 were military age men.... and the Romans did indeed show up and killed those pussies in one day with TEN THOUSAND, and took control of the city. That's 200,000 slaves who still can't fit ibside , much less be caged up and locked down. Perhaps contained by forces up in distant passes, but I recall from the Milan vs Florence (republic vs imperial) rhetoric that Milan is all plains and stretches off to infinity seemingly to the south. I see a lake and mountains to the north, about it. Hard to surround that source.


I'm guessing they were convinced to remain put and they would receive help, and in those first few days after liberation anyone looking at Medio would of thought the place was still occupied by them and not the Romans. How you actually pull off that magician's trick is beyond me. Perhaps they said they had grain for them at locations A, B, C, D, and E and marched them off, breaking them down into smaller units, away from all their junk, and weapons. Even women and children can be dangerous at those numbers. I've seen concert crowds of 9,000 before, If mixed in age, its doable if you have a tenth of their numbers. Especially if your manipulative, keep as many fooled until the last second, and give them no way out or hope.


I can't imagine the glut on the slave markets.


However, 300,000 people are.... Well, a lot. Could the Romans really take that many in, market economics and all? They would of been slaves, not Colonni, but it would be hard for us to tell. Romans would of had a massive tax deficit looming, a giant plummet in the population and productivity from Syria to Asia Minor.... to the point they effectively lost control of the area until Marcus Aurelius (Sure the Dux paid a tribute, but also certain Zenobia didn't).


These slaves would of been a very quick turnover for the empire, and the uber-rich had little (I'm assuming) to buy from the spice-roads. It would of been a currency boon for the imperial forces, and likely helped in pacifying so many uprisings (30 of them, gotta be related to pay issues just a little).


The population rebalance would of favored agriculture, which is good (perhaps not for the slaves) because they would of needed to adapt to the climate change. More irrigation I suppose.


Apparently, according to that climate change article, the area Alps and North experienced a simultaneous depopulation and sudden stop in deforestization, exactly parallel to the forest regrowth (I'm scratching my head as to how they know this). If true, then fields went feral up there.


I'm stumped as to how the Romans dealt realistically with 300,000 refugees turned slaves. Can't easily kill them all (and if you do, where the mass grave), tricky as heck to lie and split them to enslave them piecemeal. A simple ultimatelum or even a voluntary withdrawal on their part may of occurred. I doubt 10,000 guys would of stopped 300,000 people from leaving back North on condition they don't come back.


I can't rule out a battle though.


I just can't explain how they could suffer such a massive defeat (lose 300,000 people) and another tribe, by the same name, thinks its a swell idea to do the same thing again in invading the Roman empire such a short time later.


The battle either wasnt a battle, and enough to convince them their enslavement wasn't that bad, or they just left and then returned again later, expecting rather mild repercussions as before.


Another possibility is, it was no where near 300,000, and that was a number thrown up for propaganda purposes. That article did show insurgent forest growth, so population NORTH of Italy did decrease. But did Roman lands in Europe (east and west) get a sudden population bounce upwards?)


I don't know, I figure this kind of repeated mass enslavement would leave a archeological and historical trail.


I don't know when they started settling the barbarians as defensive populations along the Roman frontier.... I recall the Franks were the third barbarian group invading.


Likewise, at this time, communities in central Asia would start collapsing. Don't think that domino effect caused this yet (that takes time, the guns would be its expression).... but its something to consider for both the Romans and Persians, who both turned sharply to slavery at this time (I'm assuming to support their agricultural base, could be wrong).

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The number of alemanni is probably exaggerated in the texts, as they often are. But even so it is unlikely they would have all been inside the city, it certainly couldn't have billeted/housed them all, though they may just have been able to stay inside for the length of a battle. They may have been divided, some in the city, some camped outside and maybe even some out foraging, thus the ability of some to escape and the alemanni to return several years later. This situation may have led them to be spread out and surprised when the Roman force arrived. The road network in that area was pretty extensive by that point so an attacking force could have arrived quickly and surprised them.

All supposition though, and we don't even know if The alemanni were still besieging when the Romans arrived. A divided German army does allow for the Roman victory however.

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I already considered that, putting the non combatants inside. In order to achieve this, they would of had to be inside before hand. More likely, it would of been a lot of crushing death. The link above mentions a Chinese Air Raid Shelter where 1000 people died trying to get inside. Most of those people were literate and had a understanding of what Atoms were, that the earth was round, and that disease was caused by microbes. Smart people by historical standards. The Alamanni may of possessed many relative virtues for their era, even over the Romans, but by today's standards unquestionably superstitious and in general, a retarded ignorant lot.


I can't say what the rate of panicked retreat eowould be, heads per minute from the fields to the city, as I lack info on their disposition outside, as well as the width of the gates, but I figure mass crushed casualties if the Roman army was seen closing in at sunrise through the mist.... plus you know the leaders are inside the city napping.


Romans didn't use Arabic numerals, so its not a case of accidentally adding a zero. As I said in a post above, I would exploit the weight of the crows to ruin any coordinated defence, but that battle is still taking more than a day, and if they wanted to resist inside, even with the gates open.... throwing down tiles from roofs and stabbing with broken broom handles in doorways, it would take a while, much more than a day, even with machine guns in Roman arms. MOUT is damn difficult using swords and shields, everyone has the advantage of surprise and ability to flank over the besieging force.

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