Battle of Mardia

Battle of Mardia

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Mardia

partof=Wars of Constantine I
date=late 316 or early 317
place=the basin of Ardas River, Greece
result=Constantinian victory
commander1=Constantine I
commander2=Licinius, Valerius Valens
The Battle of Mardia, also known as Battle of Campus Mardiensis ["Anon. Valesianus, 17 : "Quibus frustra remissis, iterum reparato bello, in campo Mardiense ab utroque concurritur et post dubium ac diuturnum proelium Licini partibus inclinatis profuit noctis auxilium."] or Battle of Campus Ardiensis, was fought, probably at modern Harmanli (Bulgaria) in Thrace, [Lenski , p.74] in late 316/early 317 between the forces of Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius.


Open civil war between Constantine and Licinius broke in 316 when the former invaded Licinius' Balkan provinces. After his crushing defeat at the Battle of Cibalae in October, 316, [For the consensus on dating of the battle of Cibalae in 316, see W. Treadgold, 34, D. Potter, 378 and C. Odahl, 164. For the alternative dating in 314 see, for instance, Ramsay MacMullen, "Constantine", Routledge, 1987, 67 and A.H.M. Jones, "Constantine and the Conversion of Europe", The English University Press, 1948, 127] Licinius fled to Sirmium then further south to Adrianople where he collected a second army, under the command of an officer named Valerius Valens whom he raised to the rank of Augustus. Simultaneously, he tried to negotiate with Constantine but the latter, insulted by the elevation of Valens and confident from his recent victory, rejected the peace offer. [D. Potter, 378 and C. Odahl, 164]

The battle

In the meantime, Constantine had moved through the Balkan mountains and established his base at Philippi or Philippopolis. [Anonymous Valesianus, "Origo Constantini", 17. See C. Odahl, 164, for the interpetation of "Philippos" as "Philippi". On the other hand, N.C. Lieu, D. Montserrat, 46, interpet it as "Philippopolis"] Then he led the bulk of his army against Licinius. In the ensuing fierce battle, both sides inflicted heavy injuries on each other until darkness interrupted the indecisive struggle. During the night, Licinius managed to keep his army from disintegration and retreated north-west towards Beroe/Augusta Traiana.C. Odahl, 164] Thus, Constantine was again victorious but not decisively D. Potter, 378]

Another possible location for the battle place is a few km west-southwest of Adrianople (modern Edirne), at the basin of Ardas RiverC. Odahl, 164] (ancient Harpessos ["Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World", Princeton University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-691-03169-X, map 51, G1] ), a tributary of Maritsa River.


Constantine, thinking that Licinius was fleeing to Byzantium in order to retreat to his Asian base, headed to that direction, unintentionally placing Licinius between himself and his communication lines with the West. It seemed that his aggressiveness had turned against him this time. However, both belligerents had reasons to come to terms since Licinius was still in precarious position, so he sent a certain Mestrianus to negotiate with Constantine. [C. Odahl, 165] Even then, Constantine delayed the discussions until he was made sure that the outcome of the war was indeed uncertain. A critical point might be when he received news of a sudden enemy raid that captured his baggage and the royal entourage. [Petrus Patricius, "Excerpta de legationibus ad gentes" at N.C. Lieu, D. Montserrat, 57-58]

According to the peace finalized at Serdica on 1 March 317, Licinius ceded all European territories to Constantine except for Thrace and deposed and executed Valens. Constantine named himself and Licinius consuls while his two sons Crispus and Constantine II (emperor) as well as Licinius' son were appointed Caesars.D. Potter, 378] The peace lasted for about seven years.



* [ Anonymus Valesianus. "Origo Constantini Imperatoris"] at The Latin Library
*Lieu, Samuel N. C., Montserrat Dominic. "From Constantine to Julian: A Source History", Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-4150-9335-X
*Lenski, N.E., "The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine," Cambridge University Press, 2006 ISBN 0521521572
*Odahl, Charles M. "Constantine and the Christian Empire", Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-17485-6
*Potter, David S. "The Roman Empire at Bay AD 180–395", Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-10058-5
*Treadgold, Warren. "A history of the Byzantine State and Society", Stanford University Press 1997. ISBN 0-8047-2630-2
* Zosimus, "Historia Nova" (Greek: "Νέα Ιστορία"), book 1, in "Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae", ed. Bekker, Weber, Bonn, 1837

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