|312||Battle of Milvian Bridge (Battle of Saxa Rubra)||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Outcome:||Victory of Constantine I over the army of the Western emperor, Maxentius||28 October 312|
|War & Enemy:||
Romans (Civil War)
Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy (306-324 AD)
|The Battlefield|| Location:
The bridge was on the Tiber river outside the Roman walls, less than 12 km from Rome. Today the site is Ponte Milvio in North Rome.
| Modern Country:
|The Byzantines(emperor: Tetrarchy)||The Enemies|
|Commander:||Constantine I the Great||Maxentius, Augustus of the West|
|Background story:||The underlying causes of the conflict were the rivalries inherent in Diocletian’s Tetrarchy which became obvious after Diocletian stepped down in 305. In the power struggle that began around 309, Constantine consolidated his position in Britain, Gaul, the Germanic provinces, and Spain. Believing himself to be the rightful emperor of the Western Roman Empire, he invaded Italy in 312. To the south, Maxentius, who occupied Rome, sought to defend his own claim to the title.|
As Constanine neared Rome, it was expected that Maxentius would stay within the city walls and force him to lay siege. Surprisingly, Maxentius decided to fight in open battle and chose to make his stand in front of the Milvian Bridge (perhaps because that day was the anniversary of his accession, which was generally considered a good omen).
The vision of Constantine: "In this sign you shall conquer"
Advancing over the Milvian Bridge, Maxentius ordered to destroy it, so that it could not be used by the enemy. He then ordered a pontoon bridge constructed for his own army's use. On October 28, Constantine's forces arrived on the battlefield. Attacking, his troops slowly pushed back Maxentius’ men until their backs were at the river.
Seeing that he was loosing, Maxentius decided to retreat. As his army withdrew, it clogged the pontoon bridge, its only way back, ultimately causing it to collapse. Those trapped on the north bank were either captured or slaughtered by Constantine's men. With Maxentius' army split and decimated, the battle came to a close. Maxentius was drowned in an attempt to swim across.
|Noteworthy:||On the evening before the battle, Constantine had a vision as he looked toward the setting sun. A cross appeared emblazoned on the face of the sun, with the Greek letters XP (Jesus Christ) and the phrase "Εν τούτω Νίκα" (In Hoc Signo Vinces )|
|Aftermath:||Maxentius' body was fished out of the Tiber and decapitated. His head was paraded through the streets of Rome and later it was sent to Carthage as proof of his downfall.
Constantine became the only Augustus of the West.