Tiber River

The Vision of Constantine. October 27, 312.

Constantine was the son of Constantius, who had served as a Caesar (a junior emperor) of the Western Roman Empire under Maximian before succeeding Maximian as Augustus (senior emperor) in 305. Constantius’ death in 306 sparked a conflict over who would succeed him. Though Constantine had the support of his father’s army, he allowed Severus, his father’s Caesar, to become Augustus. Maxentius, the son of Maximian, was angered that he was passed over and declared himself Augustus. He defeated the Severus and Galerius, the Augustus of the East, in 306 and 307. In 311, Maxentius declared war on Constantine, the greatest threat to his power. In the spring of 312, Constantine led his army toward Maxentius in in Rome. After routing Maxentius’ forces in northern Italy, Constantine approached Rome i...

Aqua Traiana. Fresh water to a new Rome. June 24, 109 AD.

On June 24, 109, Emperor Trajan opened the Aqua Traiana aqueduct, channelling fresh spring water from sources around Lake Bracciano to Rome, the bustling capital of his empire. The vast structure traversed the countryside to the Janiculum Hill, where it was used as bathing and drinking water for the locals, and also to power a series of water mills for industrial purposes like processing grain and sawing stone. The springs around Lake Bracciano, about 25 miles northwest of Rome, were an important water source for the Ancient Etruscans. Around the year 100, Trajan started the construction of a nymphaeum at the site—a monument consecrated to the nymphs, young water goddesses—as well as the Aqua Traiana, which has survived up to the present day. Trajan recorded many of his achievements in ima...

The Battle of the Milvian Brigde. October 28, 312 AD.

The Battle of the Milvian Bridge took place between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius on October 28, 312. It takes its name from the Milvian Bridge, an important route over the Tiber river. Constantine won the battle and started on the path that led him to end the Tetrarchy and become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Maxentius drowned in the Tiber during the battle; his body was later taken from the river and decapitated, and his head was paraded through the streets of Rome on the day following the battle. According to chroniclers, the battle marked the beginning of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. Eusebius of Caesarea recounts that Constantine and his soldiers had a vision sent by the Christian God.

The Year of Four Emperors – 69 AD

When January 1, 69 arrived, Servius Sulpicius Galba was on the throne of the Roman Empire, following the suicide of Nero in June the previous year. It was a tumultuous time in the empire, with civil war breaking out in several regions. Galba himself rose to the purple through the machinations of the Praetorian Guard prefect, Nymphidius Sabinus, after the failed attempt of Vindex to promote Galba, while he was governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, to replace Nero. Galba marched into Rome with the Legion VII Galbiana, which would later be renamed VII Genima. Support was tenuous for Galba in the beginning as it was, even though he was confirmed by the Senate. Two of the legions in Gaul refused to support him and instead wanted the governor of their region, Aulus Vitellius Germanicus, proclaimed...

Maxentius, “the Rebel” – October 28, 306 AD

Born c.278 AD, Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius was the son of Maximianus and Eutropia. When his father was promoted to co-emperor of the Roman Empire by Diocletian in 285, it was assumed he would follow in his father’s footsteps and eventually be declared emperor as well. However, when Diocletian and Maximianus retired and abdicated, Maxentius and Constantine I were passed over and the previous Caesars, Constantius Chlorus and Galerius became co-Augustii and promoted Severus II and Maximinus II Daia to co-Caesarii. Constantius Chlorus was the father of Constantine I and Galerius was the father-in-law of Maxentius, through the marriage of his daughter, Valeria Maximilla. After Constantius died in 306, Constantine I was promoted to Caesar. In later 306, the Tetrarchy was planning to disba...

“In This Sign Ye Shall Conquer” – October 28, 312 AD

After the death of Galerius in 311 AD, the Roman Empire was split between four Augustii – Constantine I in the western provinces allied with Licinius I in the Balkans, Pannoniae and Illyria and Maxentius controlling Italy and Africa, allied with Maximinus II Daia in Asia and Egypt. Each of the four viewed the others as hostile, so the alliances that did exist were out of convenience to choose sides for the inevitable civil war. Constantine invaded Italy to confront Maxentius, even though he was vastly outnumbered militarily. What he had on his side was discipline and tactics. The armies of Maxentius had many veterans who were enjoying the finer things in Rome after having served their emperor. The younger recruits were not yet fully trained. Constantine, however, had well-seasoned troops a...

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