digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Page from a medieval copy of the Notitia Dignitatum commissioned in 1436 by Pietro Donato, depicting shields of Magister Militum Praesentalis II, a late Roman register of military commands

The Notitia Dignitatum (Latin for "The List of Offices") is a unique document of the late Roman Empire. One of the very few surviving documents of Roman government, it details the administrative organisation of the Eastern and Western Empires, listing several thousand offices from the imperial court down to the provincial level, diplomatic missions and army units. It is usually considered to be up to date for the Western Roman Empire in the 420s and for the Eastern or Byzantine Empire in the 390s. However, no absolute date is given in the text itself and omissions complicate deriving an absolute date from its content.

Copies of the manuscript[edit]

There are several extant 15th and 16th-century copies (plus a color-illuminated 1542 version). All the known and extant copies of this late Roman document are derived, either directly or indirectly, from Codex Spirensis, a codex known to have existed in the library of the cathedral chapter at Speyer in 1542 but which was lost before 1672 and cannot now be located. That book contained a collection of documents (of which the Notitia was the last and largest document, occupying 164 pages) that brought together several previous documents of which one was of the 9th century.[citation needed] The heraldry in illuminated manuscripts of Notitia is thought to copy or imitate no other examples than those from the lost Codex Spirensis.

The 1542 copy, made for Otto Henry, Elector Palatine, was revised with "illustrations more faithful to the originals added at a later date," and is held by the Bavarian State Library.[1]

The most important copy of the Codex is that made for Pietro Donato (1436), illuminated by Peronet Lamy.[citation needed]


For each half of the empire, the Notitia enumerates all major "dignities" (i.e. offices) in its gift, often with their location and even their exact officium (staff, enumerated except for the most junior). These are organised by:


The Notitia presents four main problems, as regards the study of the Empire's military establishment:

  1. The Notitia depicts the Roman army at the end of the 4th century. Therefore its development from the structure of the Principate is largely conjectural, owing to the lack of other evidence.
  2. It was compiled at two different times. The Eastern section apparently dates from c. 395 AD; the Western from c. 420 AD. Furthermore, each section is probably not a contemporaneous "snapshot", but relies on data stretching back as far as twenty years. The Eastern section may contain data from as early as 379, the start of the rule of Theodosius I. The Western section contains data from as early as c400: for example, it shows units deployed in Britain, which must date from before 410, when Roman officialdom lost control in the island. In consequence, there is substantial duplication, with the same unit often listed under different commands. It is impossible to ascertain whether these were detachments of the same unit in different places at the same time, or the same whole unit at different times. Also, it is likely that some units only existed on paper or contained just a skeleton personnel.[2]
  3. The Notitia has many sections missing and lacunae (gaps) within sections. This is doubtless due to accumulated text losses and copying errors as it was repeatedly copied over the centuries: the earliest manuscript we possess today dates from the 15th century. The Notitia cannot therefore provide a comprehensive listing of all units in existence.
  4. The Notitia does not contain any personnel figures. Therefore, the size of individual units, and of the various commands, cannot be ascertained, as we have little other evidence of unit sizes at this time. In turn, this makes it impossible to assess accurately the overall size of the army. Depending on the strength of units, the late 4th century army may, at one extreme, have equalled the size of the 2nd century force (i.e. over 400,000 men);[3] at the other extreme, it may have been far smaller. For example, the forces deployed in Britain c. 400 may have been just 18,000 against c. 55,000 in the 2nd century.[4]


Shield pattern of the armigeri defensores seniores (4th row, third from left)[5][6][7]

The Notitia contains the earliest known depictions of the diagram which later came to be known as yin and yang symbol.[5][6][7] The infantry units armigeri defensores seniores ("shield-bearers") and Mauri Osismiaci had a shield design which corresponds to the dynamic, clockwise version of the symbol.[5] The emblem of the Thebaei, another Western Roman infantry regiment, featured a pattern of concentric circles comparable to its static version. The Roman patterns predate the earliest Taoist versions by almost seven hundred years.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Publication of Offices - Notitia Dignitatum (Sammelhandschrift)". World Digital Library. 1542. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  2. ^ A. Goldsworthy Roman Warfare (2000) 198
  3. ^ P. Heather, Fall of the Roman Empire (2005) 63
  4. ^ D. Mattingly An imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire (2006) 239
  5. ^ a b c d Giovanni Monastra: The "Yin-Yang" among the Insignia of the Roman Empire?, Sophia, Bd. 6, Nr. 2 (2000)
  6. ^ a b Isabelle Robinet: "Taiji tu. Diagram of the Great Ultimate", in: Fabrizio Pregadio (ed.): The Encyclopedia of Taoism A−Z, Routledge, Abingdon (Oxfordshire) 2008, ISBN 978-0-7007-1200-7, pp. 934−936 (934)
  7. ^ a b Helmut Nickel: The Dragon and the Pearl, Metropolitan Museum Journal, Bd. 26 (1991), S. 146, Fn. 5

Sources and references[edit]

  • Notitia Dignitatum, edited by Robert Ireland, in British Archaeological Reports, International Series 63.2.
  • Westermann Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte contains many precise maps
  • Pauly-Wissowa.
  • A.H.M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602. A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-8018-3285-3

External links[edit]


Latin, web versions[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notitia_Dignitatum — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
30 videos foundNext > 

LAPSUS LINGUAE Notitia dignitatum

Limes Romanus

A mai Dunaszekcső területén lévő római települést nem mindig Lugionak hívták. A III. század vége felé a települést az írásos emlékek szerint már Florentia-nak nevezték....


What is Notitia Dignitatum? With images from: El Bibliomata, james_gordon_losangeles, Yale Law Library.

ARRUBIUM Fortress, Macin, Tulcea, Romania

The Arrubium roman castrum is located within the city today Macin, Tulcea. From castrum it keeps ruins. The first document dates around year 100 A.D., in two military diplomas, wich mention...

Roman Forts on the Arabian Frontier - Karak Resources Project (including info about Fort Bashir)

Fort Bashir is one of the Roman forts on the arabic frontier. This video was originally a PowerPoint show, I converted it to a video using Microsoft PowerPoint 2010. "Roman Forts on the...

Soldiers "After the Battle of the Milvian Bridge" in 54mm scale

I was in the mood of painting another roman, so i took the "Vexillarius of the cornuti seniores" from Soldiers from my stash to the workbench. The white metal kit is good, there are only a...

The Roman Wall at Segedunum (Wallsend), UK

SEE MY HISTORY SITE ON FACEBOOK : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alan-Heaths-History-Page/173472422695696 Segedunum marks the western extremity of Hadrian's Wall. The first idea was ...

Templos Egipcios - Edfu (Templo de Horus)

Templos Egipcios - Edfu (Templo de Horus) Edfu (en árabe, إدفو) es una ciudad egipcia situada en la ribera occidental del río Nilo, en un amplio valle, lugar óptimo para el asentamiento...

MUNHOLY experiment DNA official video

Aliens,ufo,dna...experiment dna,anunnaki.

Lapsus Linguae

30 videos foundNext > 

29 news items

The New American
Fri, 26 Sep 2014 11:46:16 -0700

The Notitia Dignitatum (a historic document of the late Roman Empire) listed a number of barbarian military settlements in the empire that were an important source of recruits for the army. Groups of Germanic tribesmen were granted land in the empire ...
Telegraph.co.uk (blog)
Sun, 05 Jan 2014 23:01:58 -0800

With crucial European elections approaching, this is a good time to think about Britain's historical ties with the people of Europe. On this day in 1066, the 6th of January, one of England's most famous kings was crowned. Yet, within a year, the ...
Mon, 08 Dec 2014 00:45:28 -0800

Autre argument, en faveur de Taisey, la notitia dignitatum qui indique les fabriques du pays éduen... à la cité d'Argentomagus, armes de toutes sortes... à la cité de Mâcon, les flèches... à la cité d'Augustodunum, les cuirasses et les balistes... à la ...


Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:37:58 -0700

Or un exemplaire de la Notitia dignitatum - qui nous renseigne sur l'organisation romaine des pays conquis - nous indique qu'une fabrique d'armement s'y trouvait, à Argentomagus. (6). Au III ème siècle, l'empereur romain enfant Salonin qui a succédé à ...


Sun, 02 Nov 2014 11:14:40 -0800

buen tema floja la redaccion. en general esa dieta tambien era propia de los soldados y es mencionada por autores y libros clasicos como la notitia dignitatum. lastima podria haber sido una gran nota. Responder; Reportar. Todo Noticias. 08:06 03/11 ...

Slobodna Dalmacija

Slobodna Dalmacija
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 08:03:45 -0700

Nešto kasniji izvor “Notitia Dignitatum” oko 400. godine spominje da su u carskoj rezidenciji, najvjerojatnije u sjevernom dijelu, radionice za tkanje sukna, dok je južni dio i dalje bio rezidencija članova carske obitelji, a u Palači je 480. godine ...


Fri, 25 Apr 2014 03:46:49 -0700

De Notitia Dignitatum (een belangrijk rijksdocument over de organisatie van het Romeinse staatsapparaat rond 400) vermeldt het bestaan van speciale functionarissen belast met het doen van schenkingen namens de keizer; hun ambtsinsigne toont zakken ...
Le Monde
Fri, 07 Dec 2012 07:58:14 -0800

Diocèses et provinces de l'Empire d'Orient vers 400, d'après la Notitia Dignitatum - Au IVe siècle, Chypre est sous la coupe de Constantinople, qui diffuse dans toute la Méditerranée le triomphe de la nouvelle religion chrétienne dans l'empire romain ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight