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joe

battle of mediolanum 259AD

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Doing some research into the Battle of Mediolanum, any ideas where I can get some info?

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http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Mediolanum

 

I would start with that link, and click on the blue hyperlinks, and rephrase the question using tiers. Tier 1 is your original question, Tier 2 is in reference to your added hyperlink insight.

 

This makes your question much more narrow, and makes any answer we offer up far more pertinent to your particular interests, with an added bonus that it offers you two links for sources, and aids in convincing your teacher your aware of the subject matter and did the research yourself.

 

If you can't find the topic of your particular interest available on wiki, you can Google.... Adding a term that interests you in addition to "The Battle of Mediolanum". If you see a Google book pop up, scroll down and look for the yellow highlighted text, as it is what is actually related to your search. You can source this page number and title too.

 

Or you can ask us a very technical question, even if you don't know the exact words for it, describe the basic idea. It's best to find a element that interests and excites you in any research topic, because if your excited, your forming a storyline effortlessly, and will be a more interesting read for both you and your teacher. Excitement follows it's own, more natural literary formulas, so it's harder to mess up (but hardly impossibly) than trying for a blander, more academic style. You can tell if a author loves their topic, so always try to, even if you initially don't.

 

If I was to approach this very wide topic, my interest would fall on why it provoked such a strong reaction in how the state administered and maintained armies AFTER it. I would compare the reforms POST-BATTLE to the actualities of the battle, and isolate where they backfired, then go look into the ideological assumptions that PRECEED it, and explain why the Romans thought it was such a good idea, but didn't turn out so well in this battle, causing change. It would be an explanation of chain of effects, looking back to a cause, explained in the framework of this battle. If its a long essay, you can also tackle personality traits of historical characters involved, background on factions, include a pic or two from wikipedia (check on the bottom to make sure its public domain, almost always are) and adjust the pics with added info, such as saying (Figure 1) or (Figure 2) with arrows or battle lines drawn.

 

That's just me though, as it would interest me. Many ways to approach this battle, try to figure out what interests you.

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Thanks for the tips. It's actually for a book I'm writing, I have found plenty on the background and consequences/results of the battle, but almost nothing on the actual battle itself. Battle lines, formations, tactics, etc.

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You will find that the sort of detailed information you're looking for is hard to come by regardin g ancient battles for two reasons. Firstly, the ancient historian likely wasn't there, and therefore only reports the brief information that was generally known back at home, and secondly, that there was never much sophistication about tactics, battle lines, and so forth. Ancient battles were usually simple affairs, blocks of men facing off, with cavalry usually taking all the initiative such that battles often started between them for control of the flanks. What you ought to spend more time looking for are the circumstances because that was often a deciding factor. What time of day did the battle start? Who decided the battlefield? Who was suprised? Who had a better plan? Where was the sun? Ancient battles are more often decided the day before than by the sword, all things being equal.

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I see, I'll look into it this weekend.

 

Its important when looking at a battle to consider how both sides came to blows in the first place, as armies just don't (usually) bump into one another by accident and duel it out without a sense of the larger end game beyond.

 

Whether a army is created ad hoc, or preformed and already in garrison, it still needs to be brought together, mobilized, and idealized in how its goring to proceed foreward. Just knowing the enemy is out there, at location A at X time, doesn't give all army the data it needs to positively and successfully meet up and walk away.

 

You need to know your advance, how much supplies you have, allowing for a length of engagement

(usually measured by ratiins carried), resupply and where to meet up. You can't assume the enemy will cooperate in creating the most economic and ideal circumstances for you force, or that he isn't going to break up his force and raid periphial aspects you depend upon to maintain your forces in the field while the main force keeps your force distracted.

 

Likewise, how much of their strategy is based on restricting Romakn movements, limiting intelligence, giving false intelligence, denial of advantages, giving false advantages, appearing to be weakened when not, and the enemies' cunning awareness of your state's ability to replenish your forces in both men and supplies in a timely manner. If they know four example, you have a enemy on the far periphery of your state opposite of yours, they may try to coordinate or at least exploit your divided attention till your state's ability to coordinate and maintain its system snaps. Likeowise, they may fight to deny you potential allies, protect their own alliances, or break up yours.

 

Obviously lots of issues beyond this can pop up. I never look just at the official cause of war, or stated prejudices, but the entirety of the state engine, and the known prejudices inherent in personality types, which are know much better known per situation in statecraft via kinds of government, in each era.

 

Only then does a battle make sense, that it can be rationalized and reason. Every army, no matter howi primitive, has a sense of idealized ldogic too it, but not that many ancient ahrmies had a sense of logic so broad to have a teleology that micromanaged every aspect from A to Z in a campaign that also looked beyond the campaign into the long term, beyond that campaign into long term cycles of war and peace, in the maintence and replenishing of its force. I consider of all ancient states, Zhuge Liang of Western Shu was the most advanced in his understanding of this, as he created a force capable of infinitely campaigning to objectives (willy nilly objectives if need be) while only losing a very small percentage of their forces, be they successful or not, while the enemy ALWAYS experienced painful attrition, had they succeeded or not. A wise state will build a system that eventually drifts into this pattern of lop sided differation, where they can always choose to campaign with the health of their armies intact. His only weakness was his lack of a war college to train new tiger generals, when they died, they never were properly replenished.

 

The Romans were aware their system snapped in this battle. If I recall the Senate tried to make its own army even, like in the days of the republic. Something went terribly off, but I can't say just what it was unless I knew the whole scheme. I'd need to know why certain units were NOT fighting, placed in the rear, where the reinforcements came from, the political rhetoric prior to the engadgment of hostilities, why the Romans netted their assumptions as they did, and relied on the strengths they perceived. A whole tactical synthesis of the politics involved, before I knew what went on in terms of tactical assessments in the battle.

 

Of the battle itself, his scouts or spies found them at Medio, but they didn't apparently have the advantage of surprise, as thus link shows:

 

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0234%3Abook%3D2%3Achapter%3D33

 

They formed up at a river, and rather poorly by Roman thinking- however, it also likely gave the Romans on that wing a major defensive advantage psychologically, as they had no where to run and had to stand their ground. This wasn't a concept Roman Armies consciously knew, but was long exploited with infantry in the east.

 

What it suggests is the Romans, knowing they faced a 5 to 1 numerical disadvantage, didn't launch immediately into an genocidal attack against an unorganized enemy, but rather took a strong, yet obnoxious position impossible to ignore. However, given the 5 to 1 advantage the opposition possessed included women and children, it becomes immediately questionable why they didn't immeiodiately send their families TO THE REAR in retreat prior to engadgment. After all, this wasn't a ignorant force, it invaded the Po valley, damn well knew who the Romans were, and had prior engagements with and without the Romans, keeping the essence of their group together. Sometimes you keep them together, sometimes you send them off.

 

In this case, they clearly couldn't, or thought the Roman army too pussy to seriously worry about. I doubt the latter.

 

They likely prior to the battle corralled them to this location with calvary, causing a contraction of their foraging. The Romans cut off any outside communications and scouting, and made it very apparent any segmenting and sending their women and children away would fail horribly. So they corralled together, and while formulating a plan, the Romans showed up in an impossible position to defeat, but just small enough to entice the men to desperate enough desire to find a way out to counterattack.

 

It ended in 1 day. However, it took more tphan onze day to plan this. Where are the high points within visual vicinity of this city ? In order to give a proper assessment of enemy numbers, both day time observation and night time observation of the number of fires are needed. Spies (or captured enemy, likely women foragers) are good. Spotting good land to defend, and all route in, and route out if it goes bad is needed as well.

 

Its a good idea to get the guys ready to move as soon as they rest, before the enemy is observant enough to figure out their intentions.

 

So wherever this command nexus was, it didn't start the beginning of the operations (calvary did), but it was a crucial beginning phase. Killing and enslaving 300,000 people was just one of the last steps. But this battle none the less shook the Romans. Of left a lasting impact, caused them to adjust how they operated. It effectively ushered in a change between eras. Was it for the better? Note their primary weakness wasn't their inability to fight a war on two fronts, as to do so without military commanders leading insurrections. Prior to this battle the Romans easily had two armies within range, but hlad to fight a civil war instead. Did their reforms change this? No. So did the tactics fit the strategy? Maybe, only if the strategy was limited and didn't unfold into the necessary reforms necessary for avoiding such repeats. It clearly didn't, as all it did was treat the symptoms and not the disease. The fact the Roman senate started building a army shows other possibilities were considered, and that this battle was part and parcel to ending that alternative. So in many ways, the Romans lost by losing the initiative to change when circumstances for change clearly presented themselves. The battle was fought in this backdrop. It wasnt just a movement of men and statistics, on the medium of terrain, but had much larger objectives.

 

My presumptions if course stem from the psychology and known behavior of armies in general from around the world throughout history. It could of unfolded differently, and with better data, which I'll look into this weekend for, I may find something that causes me to change my mind, but it is how I see it now.

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that's given me a lot to think about. thanks.

the link seems to be wrong, it is to a much earlier battle.

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You may be right, I wrote that right before I went to work and Google searched a source:

 

 

Polybius, Histories, book 2, Tactics Against the Gauls

www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc...

Capture of Mediolanum and End of the War ... Battle of Sellasia ...... rendered impossible a manœuvre characteristic of Roman tactics, because he left the lines no room for their deliberate ...

 

I'm not sure what went wrong. As I pledged to look this weekend, I still will. A little red faced now, was bothering me today just how utterly swell it turned out, even though in the John Malalas thread it didn't. But I trusted the authority of Perseus.

Edited by Onasander

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I gotta work out some Chronology issues here, but it looks like Auriolus, who was a Getic volunteer under Galienus, was the actual one who lead the calvary at Mediolanum.

 

I came across his name in Zonaras.

 

Reason I assume this is his name pops up as head of the forces stationed at Galienus, and appears to of worked his way up from head of the stables to a calvary commander (if that isn't the same thing, in some armies it was). "Phronistes"

 

He appears to of been a excellent commander, but is also one of some 30 upaurpers against Galienus. He himself died in rebellion, minus his calvary, ironically in Mediolanum from what I've been able to piece together, holding a bridge.

 

I completely lack any graphics of 'Milan' modern or ancient, so I can't work out a topography here, but I'm assuming he, minus his calvary he had before, tried to not repeat the mistakes of the Germans prior to him, so he took a chockpoint (and apparently failed?).

 

I don't understand this as its also said he succeeded in killing him.

 

There are a few other sources listed that I never read, looking into it now.

 

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aureolus

 

So I really gotta know the lay of the land to figure out how a 10,000 man force , lead by calvary, does this.

 

Its obvious why the rebellions were happening. He abandoned his father to Persian captivity, and had to split his forces in Europe to tackle multiple threats. The Persians were pushed back without issue once Valerius was out of the picture.... general consensus likely assumed the top guys werev the issue. Didn't help he alienated the Christians with his father's pogroms, as the lands Valerian held were increasingly christian, and had a good reason to transmit very negative info about him through the empire. Word would of gotten around fast. Lots of people enslaved and slaughtered.

 

I just gotta figure out more about this Auriolus guy.

 

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aureolus

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During the Augustan age Mediolanum was famous for its schools; it possessed a theater and an amphitheatre (129.5 X 109.3 m[9] A large stone wall encircled the city in Caesar's time, and later was expanded in the late third century AD, by Maximian.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediolanum

 

Okay, obviously Maximian came later, but we still have a wall.

 

So, where can assume:

 

Caesar Era Wall (need to look for evidence of this wall, its actual layout prior to expansion) and at least 1 conceivably defensible bridge.

 

So did the Goths literally occupy the walls, or were they still laying siege? If inside, and numbered 300,000.... how do you take it in a day with just 10,000?

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Republican walls

The oldest wall system was built when Milan (the Mediolanum) became a Roman municipium, in 49 BC. It was essentially square, each side about 700 m long. The walls had 6 main gates, which are usually referred to as "Porta Romana" (in Piazza Missori), "Porta Ticinese" (at Carrobbio), "Porta Vercellina" (where Santa Maria alla Porta church stands, "Porta Orientale" (or Porta Argentea, in via San Paolo), "Porta Jovia" (in via San Giovanni sul Muro), and "Porta Cumana" (at the end of Via Broletto, between Via Cusani and Via del Lauro). Note that some of these names (for example, "Porta Romana" and "Porta Ticinese" are also used to refer to gates of later wall systems located in the same area.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walls_of_Milan

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/49/Storia_di_Milano_%28Roma%29.jpg/375px-Storia_di_Milano_%28Roma%29.jpg

 

The above link is a rough outline of the Republican era walls, what they had to deal with. I obviously can't make heads or tails on what street is what.

 

I recommend a 3-d topography map, and a modern city map, listing where the walls are on both. Secondly, you'll need to know that water layout UNDER the city, Milan likely gobbled up a river or stream under these streets. It be contained in the sewers, isolated from the metro tunnels.

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http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Mediolanum

 

Don't use the map at the top of this wikipage, I've figured out it's a map of Max's Walls, the Republican walls don't map that shape, and I don't know if it had the moat yet.

 

I assume the bridge he died (?) on went over water though.... I don't know how old this bridge is.

 

I'm really scratching my head as to how you storm a wall city with 300,000 hostile Gauls in it in just one day, even if in rubble.

 

300,000 vs 40,000 usual residents (think it was 40,000 prior to being made a imperial capital) likely = not enough food.

 

If this battle took place late fall, early winter.... harvest would be in. Food eaten at 8 times the speed. Plenty of water, no food, escape across alps looking less likely, Roman army showing up. Rome itself is gearing up, so can't push south....

 

Or if prior to the harvest.... food has to be picked in the fields, romans show up, Goths already hungry, not enough supplies, city gets surrounded....

 

Ummm....

 

I don't know yet.

Edited by Onasander

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Okay, this is the best pic I've found, you can see the divisions between the Republic and Max Walls quite well, where the fields are, and streets and population density, both of which would be imperial and perhaps hypothetical.

 

That city can't be taken in a single day, even with machine guns.

 

If the goths were only partially inside, and got caught with their pants down outside foraging or did something stupid like ran after a feint attack and was ambushed, maybe. It just isn't making sense if they actually held the city proper and wanted to hold it. Calvary suck in urban warfare, and infantry don't do too well when you glare vastly outnumbered and have hundreds of thousands throwing tiles off roofs at the troops below.

 

If I recall, Max. Wall was 4.7 miles. My wall at Iskan was 2.5. We would of been utterly crushed with even 100,000 inside its wall.

 

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? Military age men congregate, or spread out? How would a army form up from said encampments and could their tribal leader or general organize a coherent system from inside the walls quick enough for those outside, or were the Romans streaming in from multiple axis confusing the living daylights out of the Goths?

 

Right now, I'm seeing mass chaos, romans descending everywhere, goths coming screaming into the city, the top Gothic troops in the garrison in the city already seeing romans ravaging their people outside the walls, the gates open, opening in, already broken open from the Gothic attack. Streets cramped, troops can't get into position to defend. Romans popping up on the walls. Trumpets bellowing. Arrows falling in.

 

I guess that would be my strategy.... If I didn't care about human rights or war crimes, use the severe weight of the goths, scare the living daylights out of them and hamper military movements for defense.

 

I still am looking into this....

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https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-cq5mDCkNcDU/UDYgh3UEuXI/AAAAAAAAGK8/wPRvrH3fjtw/s604/IMGP5539.JPG

 

Model of the city, Hadrian and Max Walls shown. Its in a Milan museum.

 

 

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1497363&page=22

 

I've been trying to figure out the exact length of the republican walls, so I can calculate how many people could fit inside if it was a flat surface, with room to spare per person. According to anonymous nobody, you can get 625,000 people, standing shoulder to shoulder, into a single square mile.

 

 

http://www.chacha.com/question/how-many-people-can-fit-in-a-square-mile,-shoulder-to-shoulder

 

Obviously, given it wasn't a plane surface, but rather a urbanized environment, it would of been near impossible to get them all inside (not to say they didn't try when the panic struck).

 

Given the romans knew were they were, means they had been there for a while, eating everything.

 

Wow, the Goths didn't plan this out at all. The city under Constantine (I think the 2) had 100,000 people, and they clearly spread well over the area of the original walls.

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http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raetia

https://books.google.com/books?id=fVwtnOBCiCwC&pg=PA290&lpg=PA290&dq=auriolus+cavalry+commander&source=bl&ots=OgyIWIFLsI&sig=vHnMibPdVUlZeY1f46p1lewpOYA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZSIOVYb6Fs2jyASe_4KQBA&ved=0CCwQ6AEwBA

 

So, the Goths may of come down from Raetia.

 

Zonaras said Athens and Thessaloniki were threatened, with Athens rebuilding their walls, and the peninsula wall between Sparta and Athens rebuilt, so they could also of come from that failed campaign.

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