Denomination: AE24 Follies (Bronze) Date: 306 - 312 AD
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. The divided empire had many claimants to the throne, and he was left out of 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. Maxentius was proclaimed Caesar by the Praetorian guard during the uprising.
With the help of his father, Maxentius was enabled to put Severus to death and to repel the invasion of Galerius. After achieving a military success in Africa against the rebellious governor, L. Domitius Alexander, his next step was 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.
After Constantine's victory, Maxentius was systematically vilified and presented as a cruel, bloodthirsty and incompetent tyrant. While he was not counted under the persecutors of the Christians by early sources like Lactantius, under the influence of the official propaganda, later Christian tradition framed Maxentius as hostile to Christianity as well. This image has left its traces in all of our sources and has dominated the view of Maxentius well into the 20th century, when a more extensive use and analysis of non-literary sources like coins and inscriptions have led to a more balanced image.