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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 918 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MARCUS AURELIUS VALERIUS MAXENTIUS, Roman emperor from A.D. 306 to 312, was the son of Maximianus Herculius, and the son-in-law of Galerius. Owing to his vices and incapacity he was left out of account in the division of the empire which took place in 305. A variety of causes, however, had produced strong dissatisfaction at Rome with many of the arrangements established by Diocletian, and on the 28th of October 306, the public discontent found expression• in the massacre of those magistrates who remained loyal to Flavius Valerius Severus and in the election of Maxentius to the imperial dignity. With the help of his father, Maxentius was enabled to put Severus to death and to repel the invasion of Galerius; his next steps were first to banish Maximianus, and then, after achieving a military success in Africa against the rebellious governor, L. Domitius Alexander, to declare war against Constantine as having brought about the death of his father Maximianus. His intention of carrying the war into Gaul was anticipated by Constantine, who marched into Italy. Maxentius was defeated at Saxa Rubra near Rome and drowned in the Tiber while attempting to make his way across the Milvian bridge into Rome. He was a man of brutal and worthless character; but although Gibbon's statement that he was " just, humane and even partial towards the afflicted Christians " may be exaggerated, it is probable that he never exhibited any special hostility towards them. See De Broglie, L'Eglise et l'empire Romain au quatrieme sacle (1856-1866), and on the attitude of the Romans towards Christianity generally, app. 8 in vol. ii. of J. B. Bury's edition of Gibbon (Zosimus ii. 9—18; Zonaras xii. 33, xiii. r; Aurelius Victor, Epit. 40; Eutropius, X. 2).

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