The red cross symbol in warfare goes back to the emperor Constantine's victory over the pagan emperor Maxentius at Milvian Bridge in October 312. The story was recorded by the near-contemporary historian Lactantius: see his De Mortibus Persecutorum, ed. J. L. Creed (Oxford, 1984), 44.4-6, pp. 64-5: Constantine was advised in a dream 'to mark the heavenly sign of God on the shield of his soldiers and then to engage in battle... armed with this sign, the army took up its weapons' and went on to destroy the pagan forces of Emperor Maxentius.

For more information on Constantine, you could try looking up 'Constantine the Great' or 'Emperor Constantine I' in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line.

On the Christian concept of Holy War, see also my essay Serious Violence.

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