Quote of the Day for October 28

I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.

Henry David Thoreau


This Day In History, October 28: Maxentius Becomes Emperor of Rome (306 CE)



Maxentius (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius Augustus; c. 278– 28 October 312) was Roman Emperor from 306 to 312. He was the son of former Emperor Maximian and the son-in-law of Emperor Galerius.


Birth and early life

Maxentius’ exact date of birth is unknown; it was probably around 278. He was the son of the Emperor Maximian and his wife Eutropia.

As his father became emperor in 285, he was regarded as crown prince who would eventually follow his father on the throne. He seems not to have served, however, in any important military or administrative position during the reign of Diocletian and his father. The exact date of his marriage to Valeria Maximilla, daughter of    Gallerius, is unknown. He had two sons, Valerius Romulus (ca. 295 – 309) and an unknown one.

In 305, Diocletian and Maximian abdicated, and the former caesares Constantius and Galerius became Augusti. Although two sons of emperors were available, Constantine and Maxentius, they were passed over for the new tetrarchy, and Severus and Maximinus

Daia were appointed Caesars. Lactantius’ Epitome states that Galerius hated Maxentius and used his influence  with Diocletian to see that Maxentiuswas ignored in the succession; perhaps Diocletian also thought Maxentiuswas not qualified for the military duties of the imperial office. Maxentius retired to an estate some miles from    Rome

When Constantius died in 306, his son Constantine was crowned emperor on July 25 and subsequently  accepted by Galerius into the tetrarchy as CaesarThis set the precedent for Maxentius’ accession later in the  same year.


When rumours reached the capital that the emperors tried to subject the Roman population to the capitation     tax , like every other city of the empire, and wanted to dissolve the remains of the Praetorian Guard which were still stationed at Rome, riots broke out. A group of officers of the city’s garrisons (Zosimus  calls them Marcellianus, Marcellus and Lucianus) turned to Maxentius to accept the imperial purple, probably   judging that the official recognition which was granted to Constantine would not be withheld from Maxentius, son of an emperor as well. Maxentius accepted the honour, promised donations to the city’s troops, and was   publicly acclaimed emperor on October 28, 306.The usurpation obviously went largely without blood shed(Zosimus names only one victim); the prefect of Rome went over to Maxentius and retained his office.   Apparently the conspirators turned to Maximian as well, who had retired to a palace in Lucania, but he declined to resume power for the time being.

Maxentius managed to be recognized as emperor in central and southern Italy, the islands of Corsica, Sardinia  and Sicily,and the African provinces. Northern Italy remained under the control of the western Augustus  Severus, who resided in Milan.

Maxentius refrained from using the titles Augustus or Caesar at first and styled himself princeps invictus   (Undefeated Prince),in the hope of obtaining recognition of his reign by the senior emperor Galerius. However, the latter refused to do so. Apart from his alleged antipathy towards Maxentius, Galerius probably wanted to   deter others from following the examples of Constantine and Maxentius and declaring themselves emperors.  Constantine firmly controlled his father’s army and territories,and Galerius could pretend that his accession was part of the regular succession in the tetrarchy, but neither was the case with Maxentius: he would be the fifth   emperor, and he had only few troops at his command. Galerius reckoned that it would be not too difficult to   quell the usurpation, and early in 307, the Augustus Severus marched on Rome with a large army.

The majority of this army consisted of soldiers who had fought under Maxentius’ father Maximian for years, and as Severus reached Rome, the majority of his army went over to Maxentius, rightful heir of their former  commander, who dealt out a large amount of money. When Maximian himself finally left his retreat and  returned to Rome to assume the imperial office once again and support his son, Severus with the rest of his   army retreated to Ravenna. Shortly after he surrendered to Maximian,who promised that his life be spared.

After the defeat of Severus, Maxentius took possession of northern Italy up to the Alps and the Istrian peninsula to the east,and assumed the title of Augustus, which (in his eyes) had become vacant with the surrender of  Severus.

The joint rule of Maxentius and Maximian in Rome was tested further when Galerius himself marched to Italy in the summer of 307 with an even larger army. While negotiating with the invader,Maxentius could repeat what  he did to Severus: by the promise of large sums of money, and the authority of Maximian, many soldiers of  Galerius defected to him. Galerius was forced to withdraw, plundering Italy on his way. Some time during the   invasion, Severus was put to death by Maxentius, probably at Tres Tabernae near Rome (the exact   circumstances of his death are not certain). After the failed campaign of Galerius, Maxentius’reign over Italy   and Africa was firmly established. Beginning in 307 already, he tried to arrange friendly contacts with   Constantine, and in the summer of that year, Maximian traveled to Gaul, where Constantine married his   daughter Fausta and was in turn appointed Augustus by the senior emperor. However,Constantine tried to   avoid breaking with Galerius, and did not openly support Maxentius during the invasion.

In 308, probably April, Maximian tried to depose his son in an assembly of soldiers in Rome; surprisingly to him, the present troops remained faithful to his son, and he had to flee to Constantine.

In the conference of Carnuntum in the autumn of 308, Maxentius was once again denied recognition as  legitimate emperor,and Licinius was appointed Augustus with the task of regaining the usurper’s domain.

Late in 308, Domitius Alexander was acclaimed emperor in Carthage, and the African provinces seceded from   Maxentianrule. This produced a dangerous situation for Maxentius, as Africa was critical to Rome’s food supply.

Under the command of his praetorian prefect Rufius Volusianus, he sent a small army to Africa which   defeated  and executed Alexander in 310 or 311; Maxentius used the opportunity to seize the wealth of   Alexander’s supporters, and to bring large amounts of grain to Rome. Also in 310, he lost Istria to Licinius, who could not continue the campaign, however, as Galerius fell mortally ill and died the next year.

Maxentius’ eldest son Valerius Romulus died in 309, at the age of about 14, was consecrated and buried in a   mausoleum in the Villa of   Maxentius at the Via Appia. Near the villa, Maxentius also constructed the Circus of Maxentius.

After the death of Maximian in 309 or 310, relations with Constantine rapidly deteriorated, and Maxentius allied with Maximinus to counter an alliance between Constantine and Licinius. He allegedly tried to secure the   province of Raetia north of the Alps, thereby dividing the realms of Constantine and Licinius (reported by   Zosimus); the plan was not carried out, as Constantine acted first.

By the middle of 310 Galerius had become too ill to involve himself in imperial politics. He died soon after April 30, 311. Galerius’ death destabilized what remained of the Tetrarchic system. On hearing the news, Maximinus mobilized against Licinius, and seized Asia Minor before meeting Licinius on the Bosphorus to arrange terms  for peace. Maxentius fortified northern Italy against potential invasions. He also strengthened his support   among the Christians of Italy by allowing them toelect a new Bishop of Rome, Eusebius.

Maxentius was far from secure, however. His early support was dissolving into open protest; by 312, he was a  man barely tolerated, not one actively supported. Without the revenues of the empire, Maxentius was forced to resume taxation in Italy to support his army and his building projects in Rome. The election of a bishop did not aid much, either, as Diocletian’s persecution had split the Italian church into competing factions over the issue of apostasy. The Christians of Italy could easily see that Constantine was more sympathetic to their plight than Maxentius.

In the summer of 311, Maxentius mobilized against Constantine while Licinius was occupied with affairs in the  East. He declared war on Constantine, vowing to avenge his father’s “murder”. Constantine, in an attempt to   prevent Maxentius from forming a hostile alliance with Licinius, forged his own alliance with the man over the winter of 311-12 by offering to him his sister Constantia in marriage. Maximin considered Constantine’s  arrangement with Licinius an affront to his authority. In response, he sent ambassadors to Rome,offering  political recognition to Maxentius in exchange for military support. 

Two alliances, Maximin and Maxentius,Constantine and Licinius, lined up against one another. The emperors   prepared for war.

Overview and legacy

After Constantine’s victory, Maxentius was systematically vilified and presented as a cruel, blood thirsty 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. Maxentius was a prolific builder, whose achievements were overshadowed by Constantine’s issue of a damnatio memoriae against him. Many   buildings in Rome that are commonly associated with Constantine, such as the great basilica in the forum   Romanum, were infact built by Maxentius.


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Daily Horoscopes for Sunday, October 28th


You can be feeling especially enthusiastic about particular interests these days, dear Aries, and you may be drawing people into your life or inspiring people you already know to enjoy the things that motivate you. Today and tomorrow are particularly exciting for research, learning, sharing ideas, and advancing your work or health interests. A Mercury-Jupiter alignment opens your eyes wide related to an intimate or personal matter. You might gain insight into someone’s behavior or find a solution to a problem that previously eluded you. Mercury aspects happening now can open your mind to something you weren’t ready to see in the past. There can be excitement on mental levels. This is a fabulous time for investigation and research or invigorating communications. Talking about your feelings or confidential matters can be a sweet release, and you might learn something important in the process. For some, this can be a time for coming to a satisfying agreement or deal involving money or support. However, up and down energy levels can plague you now as your ruler, Mars, forms a minor challenging aspect with Saturn.


Conversations with people you care about can be wonderful today, dear Taurus, as they can help you see your own feelings and ideas more clearly! This is the power of a boosted Mercury in your opposing sign — others show you things about yourself that you may not acknowledge otherwise. Discussions can be amicable, helpful, open, and rewarding now. Conversations with others stand out as special. It’s a great time for talking through difficulties or putting conflicts behind you. You’re given the benefit of the doubt now. You’re in good shape for public relations, connecting with a counselor or lawyer, and meeting with clients. Look for ways to network with people who share similar hobbies or interests.


Reliable energy is with you for solving personal problems and finding solutions for work and family matters today and tomorrow, dear Gemini. There are also good vibes for relating one on one due to your ruler, Mercury, heading towards alignment with your partnership ruler, Jupiter. You may come together with a significant other or see eye to eye with someone you care about under this influence. You can be inspired by a partner or love interest to excel not only in a relationship but other areas of life as well. With this aspect in play, it can be a good time for opening up conversations with co-workers or people with whom you share your day, taking tests, going on interviews or consultations, seeing health care workers, and seeking out solutions to problems. It’s a good idea to entertain new approaches, methods, and ideas that can improve your life now. You’re hopeful about the future, and opportunities to grow and expand your skills, a business, or project can emerge.


This is a potentially powerful day for creative expression, dear Cancer, making a positive connection, and communication breakthroughs. Problem-solving skills are especially strong with Mercury forming empowering aspects. Jupiter will be entering your work and health sector in less than two weeks, and before it does, it finishes its transit of your creative sector with style! Today and tomorrow are strong for sharing games or ideas with others. You might take a few more risks when it comes to expressing yourself, learning, and connecting. You’re likely to gain a receptive audience now, too, which always helps! You may very well feel lucky. Communications of all kinds are emphasized, but especially those involving creative contacts, children, and romantic interests. Grand ideas regarding these things could emerge now. Hobbies are exciting, and fun interests or opportunities to enjoy yourself can present themselves.


You’re likely to enjoy inspiration with the information coming into your world today and tomorrow, dear Virgo, and you see things clearly regarding family and financial matters. Mercury is transiting your home and family sector, facilitating conversations and thinking along the domestic front, and this is enhanced now, so take advantage. Mind you, your ideas are bigger and more ambitious than usual as Mercury and Jupiter head towards alignment. This is a beautiful time for sharing happy moments with people you care about. You’ll want to speak truths, and you’re inclined to talk about issues clearly and openly. It’s an excellent time for coming up with long-range plans.


You can inspire others today, dear Virgo, so go ahead and share. The natural teacher in you emerges now, and in truth, you have tremendous insight and experience to dispense. You’re entertaining big possibilities as your ruler, Mercury, harmonizes with Pallas and then heads into alignment with Jupiter in your sector of communications. Do be careful that you don’t take on too much because you’re feeling very optimistic, as you’ll regret it later when energy levels aren’t quite so high, but do look for opportunities to expand your mind now. You’re in particularly good shape for enjoying what you’re learning as well as for truly “getting” something that helps you out. You can feel especially enthusiastic about a topic, your studies, or your ideas now. This is a time for seeing a way out of a problem or for understanding a matter more clearly, which comes as a relief.


You can be feeling pleasingly motivated and directed today, dear Libra. Your imagination, creativity, and emotions are playing a large role in your work, learning, and other projects now, and the extra heart you’re putting into the things you do is showing. It’s easy to become absorbed in your projects–you’re inclined to retreat into them, in fact. You may want to plan or map out some strategies for improving your relationship with money, or you could be coming up with fabulous ideas about how to use your resources more efficiently. Today and tomorrow hold substantial energy for making plans and entertaining fabulous ideas. Details may not get much attention now, but today is more about dreaming up possibilities than weighing yourself down with practicalities. The details will follow, eventually!


Your thinking is ahead of its time today, dear Scorpio, and others may be seeing you for your intelligence or unique ideas and advice. Conversations with friends, associates, or your networks can be rousing and inspiring. This is a potentially strong couple of days for communications, problem-solving, socializing, and creative work. While there can be ups and downs, this week is particularly suitable for both practical and innovative thinking. You’re a self-starter and enjoying making executive decisions, but you could also appreciate some positive feedback or encouraging news today. Opportunities to expand your mind, to learn something valuable, or to resolve a conflict may present themselves. This is not the best time for self-discipline or detailed analysis, but it’s fabulous for big-picture thinking, creative visions, and broad ideas. Plus, you’re feeling optimistic now.


You are a little more performance-oriented than usual today, dear Sagittarius, although there remains a lot going on behind the scenes and on the inside. This is a wonderful period for motivation and dedication to a particular project or pursuit, such as a personal interest. Today is good for drawing upon your experience and inner wisdom to further a business goal. Jupiter will enter your sign in less than two weeks, which is pivotal, but before it does, it’s finishing its transit of your privacy sector in style! Today and tomorrow, with Mercury and your ruler, Jupiter, coming together in this sector, you’re likely to see a matter far more clearly. Hindsight is valuable now, as it helps you move forward. This is also a time for drawing upon your wisdom and helping others. You might decide to open up about a private matter with someone you trust. You may have a significant meeting or event that occurs behind the scenes or a new understanding of an issue that has weighed heavily on your conscience. You see things in a more positive and forgiving light, and this is powerful.


This is a potentially strong day for organizing your daily affairs and tending to unfinished business, dear Capricorn. You may be showcasing your knowledge whether or not you’re trying impress! It just seems to come naturally now. You’re also picking up useful information through others. You have more enthusiasm for your dreams and plans as Mercury heads into alignment with Jupiter and brings opportunities to learn, share, and enjoy friendships. Mental connections and contacts can be made. There can be engaging conversations with friends and promising project progressions. Thinking in big, broad terms is helpful now since the details can be sorted out later. Now is the time for stretching your mind and entertaining exciting possibilities rather than hashing out the details.


Today and tomorrow are excellent for focusing on a goal that’s important to you, dear Aquarius. You might choose a particular interest and run with it, pouring a lot of your energy into learning or furthering your understanding of a matter. Thinking along financial and work or business lines is exceptionally bright right now. You have Mercury helping you see solutions to problems related to career or life path goals, and facilitating conversations with people who can help you achieve your goals, too. Jupiter will move out of your career and responsibility sector in less than two weeks, so aim to take full advantage of its benefits as it aligns with Mercury today by doing some important thinking about responsibilities and long-term goals. This alignment stimulates a hunger to learn new things and to come to conclusions and resolutions! It’s a powerful time for optimism and hope or supportive news that excites you about your future. Look for openings and opportunities, particularly involving career, business, friendships, alliances, and reputation.


Energy flows particularly well for relationships and creative pursuits today, dear Pisces, and for all things mental and communicative. You may be taking on the role of mentor right now, or people could be turning to you for guidance. A relationship can expand as you share your ideas, and great energy is with you for attracting love and friendship into your life through shared intellectual interests and your unique visions and perspective. While you may overlook essential points today, you’re also finding more pleasure in learning as Mercury meets up with Jupiter in your spirit sector. This influence can have you feeling excited about a project, idea, or venture. There can be good news or conversations that inspire you.


Courtesy of Astrology Cafe

Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Dresden 26-27 August 1813

At 6 A.M. on 26 August the allies made a general assault which carried the outlying villages and the Gross-Garten, but before they could penetrate the suburbs Napoleon’s troops were pouring across the Elbe bridges. Now the Allies put in another general attack. At every point they met with a rrude reception. Mortier drove Wittgenstein back at Striesen, while his right-hand division drove Pirch and Ziethen out of Gross-Garten. Colloredo’s Austrians got in to a French battery, but the Old Guard threw them out with the bayonet. To the west, between the Weisseritz and the Elbe, Murat, with Latour-Maubourg’s cavalry and Victor’s II Corps, drove back Gyulai and Bianchi.

Even now the Allies did not retire. This time it was not the Tsar, but the King of Prussia whose counsel prevailed. In view of their numbers, he argued it would be too much of a confession of weakness to withdraw. At the same time, though, the Allies were handicapped by the nature of the ground and the skillful dispositions of the French. Lord Cathcart, who was accompanying them—he subsequently died at the Battle of Inkerman in 1854—described the initial situation thus: “The concave arc on which the Allied army was formed was nearly six English miles from right to left; and the convex arc on which Napoleon stood was less than three. The allied line, except at the two extremities, had the advantage of an eminence; but Napoleon’s forces stood with their backs to the defenses of Dresden, sheltered by regular redoubts, and the loop-holed houses of the suburbs were near at hand. This was the attitude in which a much smaller force would have been secure from attack so long as it chose to stand on the defensive; which its concentration placed it in a favourable attitude for assuming the offensive against any weak part of the extended lines of the Allies.” He might have added that the river Weisseritz, running through difficult country, would result in the Allied left remaining isolated for a dangerous period of time in the event of a sudden, unexpected attack. Napoleon contemplated such a move.

On the following day (27 August) the French attacked all along the line. Mortier and Nansouty got around Wittgenstein right flank, but then Nansouty, outnumbered three-to-one by the Russian Reserve Cavalry, was checked. Starting from the Gross-Garten, Gouvion-Saint-Cyr drove back Kleist towards Leubnitz. The Old guard and Marmont (VI Corps) held the Austrians in play, Victor (II Corps) stormed the heights to his front, and Latour-Maubourg’s cavalry, supported by a single brigade of Vandamme’s I Corps, swept around the Austrian left at Burgstädtel.

Around noon the fighting died down, but during the afternoon the French made a decisive stroke west of the Weisseritz. Victor took Ober Gorbtiz, cutting off part of Lichtenstein’s division and compelling Weissenwolff’s to withdraw. French divisions now appeared behind the Austrians’ flank. Murat sent his cavalry, 10 Austrian battalions were cut off and taken prisoner, and the rest of the Austrian left wing departed in flagrant rout, Murat’s sabers reaping a bloody harvest.

It was fortunate indeed for the Allies that napoleon, his soldiers tired out by forced marches and hard fighting, did not press them that afternoon. He was waiting for Vandamme’s corps, which was approaching from the direction of Pirna, to develop an attack against the allies left flank and rear. During the night the Allies withdrew, toiling back in foul weather across the Erzgebirge. Many Poles in the Austrian service deserted, and some of the Prussian Landwehr battalions more or less disintegrated. Still, thanks partly to a chapter of accidents and partly to the gallant resistance of Prince Eugen of Württemberg, Vandamme failed to reach Tӧplitz before the Allies. Prince Eugen, instead of falling back, then attacked Vandamme. Under cover of this move he slipped Ostermann’s division of the Russian Guard across the French front so that it was between Vandamme and Tӧplitz. Prince Eugen’s corps suffered heavily, but he stood at bay the next day (29 August), contesting the last pass across the mountains. Ostermann himself lost an arm but eventually he was reinforced. Vandamme came on again on the 30th, but Wüttemberg was able to keep the French Centre in check, while three Austrian divisions assailed Vandamme’s left. At this stage Kleist, anxious to retire south beyond the mountains of the Erzebirge, arrive in Vandamme’s rear. Vandamme, confident he would soon link with the pursuit from Dresden, held his ground and turned upon Kleist furiously. But blocked mountain roads delayed the French pursuers and Vandamme’s position was soon desperate. General Mouton, seeing retreat down the highroad to Klum to be impossible, escaped by making his division take to the hills, but much of Napoleon’s I Corps, including its out spoken and stout-hearted commander, was compelled to surrender. Vandamme lost 10,000 killed and wounded 7,000 prisoners and 82 guns, but not his spirit. Ill-received by the Tsar, who called him a brigand, he had the temerity to remark, ‘Nobody has ever reproached me with having assassinated my father,’ a pointed reference to the death of the despotic Tsar Paul I in 1801.

The last ten days of August 18113 do not show Napoleon at his best. He had lost more men than the Allies. Against hi single success at Dresden they could show three clear victories against his lieutenants: the Allied plan was working. If ever Napoleon needed a decisive success it was when at Dresden the Allies challenged his hold on Germany. Had those operations ended in disaster for the Army of Bohemia, the allegiance of the Confederation of the Rhine to the French Empire must have been cemented?

Before the battle ended the French had 120,000 men in and around Dresden. The allies brought nearly 220,000. The French had 10,000 casualties, to which must be added those lost at Kulm. Allied casualties in these operations were in the region of 40,00. The French victory was agreat achievement, but was nullified by the catastrophe at Kulm. Coignet, the loyal old grenadier who was now the Emperors baggage-master, was shocked by the criticisms he heard among the staff officers. He wrote: ‘This was a memorable victory; but our generals had had enough of it….They cursed the Emperor: ‘He is a—-,’ They said, ‘who will have us all killed.’ I was dumb with astonishment. I said to myself, ‘We are lost’”


SOURCE:NAOPLEON: The Last Campaigns 1813-15; BY: James Lawford
CONTRIBUTOR: Martin F. Elkins