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Constantine and the Battle of the Milvian Bridge Essay Sample


The Battle of the Milvian Bridge Free Essay Example

The Milvian Bridge Battle occurred between Maxentius and Constantine, the Roman emperors, on October 28, 312. The name of the battle originates from the Milvian Bridge, an essential and considerable path over the Tiber. The Roman Emperor Constantine got the victory that marked the Tetrarchy’s final. He became a prominent and powerful ruler of the Roman Empire. In turn, Maxentius drowned in the Tiber during the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Following the historical information of chroniclers, namely the ones written by Lactantius and Eusebius of Caesarea, the Milvian Bridge Battle was the beginning of Constantine’s converting to Christianity. Lactantius narrated that Constantine and his soldiers had a vision of the Christian God, who promised him to win, if they made a cross sign on their own shields. The Constantine’s arch was honored during the victory’s celebration. However, the historical memorials about him did not openly show Christian symbolism in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (“Battle of the Milvian Bridge”).

As the Roman Emperor, Constantine reinforced his position in Spain, German provinces, and Britain in the fight for the power that started around 309 because of the Tetrarchy’s collapse. He believed in himself as a legitimate emperor of the Western Roman Empire. Constantine created his own army and prepared for the occupation of Italy in 312. Maxentius, who invaded Rome, aspired to get ahead with his own demand, namely the title in the southern part. In his efforts to do this, Maxentius could get necessary resources from African provinces and Italy, including Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica.

While the emperor Constantine was advancing south, he conquered Northern Italy after suppressing Maxentius’ armies in Verona and Turin. Having compassion on the citizens of an area, people started to support him, and his army enlarged to approximately 100,000 warriors. Since Constantine was close to Rome, it was obvious that Maxentius would stay there within the city walls and would compel him to lay siege. Such a strategy of Maxentius had worked in the past when the Roman Emperor faced an invasion of the armed forces of Galerius and Severus. In reality, siege preparations had been completed with a large amount of food already provided to Rome.

Instead, Maxentius chose to go on the warpath and further his army to the Tiber near the Milvian Bridge outside of the city of Rome. This solution is considered to be based on favorable presages and the fact that the Battle of the Milvian Bridge would take place on the day of the anniversary of Maxentius’s ascension to the throne. On October 27, 312, the night before the great battle, Constantine had a vision that led him to fight under the Christian God’s protection.

The author Lactantius claimed that following the instructions of such a vision, Constantine ordered his armed forces to paint the Christian symbol on their shields. Advancing over the Milvian Bridge, Maxentius ordered to destroy for the enemy not to use it. Then, he ordered to create a floating bridge for his own armed forces. On October 28, 312, the Constantine’s army reached the battlefield. While attacking, the Emperor’s forces pushed back Maxentius’ troops slowly, until their defenders were near the Tiber. Realizing that the day was lost, the Emperor Maxentius decided to reverse a strategy and win the battle closer to Rome. Since his army left, it clogged a floating bridge that was the sole way of digression.  Finally, it caused a collapse. People trapped on the north side were either killed or captured by the Constantine’s armed forces. After Maxentius’ armed forces split and eliminated, the Battle of the Milvian Bridge came to the end. The body of the Emperor Maxentius was found in the river, where he sank in attempts to swim across it.
While accidents and sacrifices of the Milvian Bridge Battle are not well-known, it is considered that the army of Maxentius has suffered significantly. When his enemy had died, Constantine felt free to reinforce his power over the Western Roman Empire. The Emperor extended his authority over the whole Roman Empire after overcoming Licinius’s armed forces in the 324 Civil War. Constantine’s discernment prior to the battle is supposed to have led to his final conversion to Christianity (Hickman).

In general, this remarkable story was accepted for centuries, but modern historians, who do not believe in prophetic dreams and insights, have considerable doubts about it. The ancient information on the Milvian Bridge Battle, starting from 313, notes nothing about a dream or vision. It claims that Maxentius composed his army on the coast of the Tiber. The Emperor cut the bridge, but he could digress to Rome across a temporal bridge shaped of boats in the case of a defeat. However, when the cavalry of Constantine charged, Maxentius’s armed forces were driven across the bridge of boats, which afterwards ruined under them. The majority was drowned, including the Emperor Maxentius. His head was cut off, and triumphant Constantine with his armed forces carried his head to the city.

There is another ancient chronicle written within two years from the Milvian Bridge Battle by the Christian author Lactantius. Some time, he had witnessed in the Constantine’s court. The Emperor had a dream to have a divine sign of God on his warriors’ shields. He did it as instructed and referred his victory to the God of all the Christians against all odds. In 315, the Senate devoted a triumphal arc with an inscription in Rome to the Emperor Constantine that might have been created it primarily, since he and his armed forces had won the battle. It had tactfully refrained from claiming which God provided an incitement. Citizens could trust it to Sol Invictus or the Christian divinity or whichever God they decided to choose.

Without doubt, the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian believer, who vigorously spread Christianity without attempting to force it down pagan throats. Galerius and Diocletian had savagely pursued the Christians. Still, in 311, Galerius had provided them with the freedom of worship. In 313, the Constantine’s order of Milan proclaimed that nobody should lose an opportunity to give his heart to the observance of Christianity. The Emperor guaranteed Christian priests the same advantages as pagans had. He used to teach his armed forces to respect Sunday that was the day of the sun. In addition, it was the Christian Sabbath. By 323, the Sol Invictus’s birthday on the twenty fifth of December became the Christ’s birthday. The Roman Emperor aimed to smooth out the theological disagreements among Christians. In 325, he personally visited the Nicaea’s Council, which represented the Trinity’s doctrine. Moreover, the Emperor had built majestic churches, including Santa Sophia in Byzantium, afterwards renamed as Constantinople. When the Emperor died in 337, Christianity became a state religion of the Roman Empire, and Constantine, as a prominent Roman Emperor, considered himself the thirteenth apostle of Jesus Christ (Cavendish).