The battle of the Milvian Bridge was one of the most important battles of the later Roman Empire, and saw Constantine the Great establish himself as the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. We begin with a look at the build-up to the campaign of 312, which really began when Diocletian retired in 305. He had put in place a system that was designed to stop just this sort of problem, but it almost immediately collapsed, as the four co-rulers he'd appointed fought amongst themselves, his former colleague attempted to regain power, and new claimants to power appeared on the scene.
The campaign actually took rather longer than I'd realised, from the spring to October of 312, and involving a campaign in northern Italy, a crossing of the Apennines and the final battle around Rome. The length of the civil war shows that Italy could still be defended in 312, suggesting that the attempts to defend the peninsula in the following century weren't quite as hopeless as is often believed. We then move onto a detailed examination of the sources for the battle, looking at how contradictory they are, and the different possible course of events that they suggest.
There is an interesting section on the possible locations for the battle, which is not as clear cut as you might thing from its popular title. The same is true of the actual course of the battle, and the author suggests his own views on both issues. These sections are well supported by a discussion of the sources, allowing the reader to judge the author's theories for themselves. The result is a good account of this crucial civil war, showing that it was more than just a single battle, and fought between two serious heavyweight figures.
Opposing Commanders and Plans
The Battlefield Today
Author: Ross Cowan