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THE IMPERIAL ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM IN THE NINTH CENTURY
(1) Sources for institutional history.
FOR the history of the administrative institutions of the Roman Empire in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries A.D., we have material which is relatively ample. We have the lawbooks of Theodosius and Justinian, and the Notitia Dignitatum, of which the latest portions date from about A.D. 4.25. We have further the letters of Cassiodorus, written in his oflicial capacity as quaestor in the palace of Ravenna, and, although he is concerned with the Imperial institutions as they were modified to suit the conditions of the Ostrogothic kingdom, the oflices and functions were so little altered that the information supplied by Cassiodorus is, as Mommsen perceived, of the highest value not only for the administration of Ravenna but also of Constantinople. In addition to these authoritative documents, we have the mutilated treatise nepi. dpxéiv of John the Lydian, which, rambling though it is, furnishes precious material, the author having been himself an oflicial in the reigns of Anastasius, Justin I, and Justinian. These sources—supplemented by inscriptions and the incidental notices to be found in literature—render it possible to obtain a sufiiciently clear and fairly complete general view of the civil and military administration as it was organized by Diocletian and Constantine, and as it was modified in details down to the reign of Justinian. But after the death of Justinian we enter upon a period of about three hundred years which is absolutely destitute of documents bearing directly upon the administrative service. We have no source in the form of a code; for the only lawbook that survives, the Ecloga of Leo III, does not deal with public law, and casts no light on the civil and military administration. We have nothing in the form of a Notitia of ofiices, no oflicial correspondence like that of Cassiodorus, no treatise like that of John the Lydian. Moreover, in the seventh and eighth centuries there is very little literature, and inscriptions on stone are few and far between.1 Our only compensation is a very small one ; we now begin to get inscribed lead seals of oflicials, which become numerous in the eighth and ninth centuries. At last, about the middle of the ninth century, a new series of sources relating to the oflicial service of the Empire begins. The first of these is a notitia or raK-rixo'v, as it was called, of the chief dignitaries and oflicials in order of rank, dating from the early years of the reign of Michael III. It is a bare list, but about half a century later comes the Klétorologion of Philotheos, which is by far the most important source for the organization of the Imperial civil service in the early Middle Ages. And then about half a century later still we have the Ceremonial book compiled by Constantine VII. This collection contains a great many older documents, some dating from the ninth century, and two or three even from the eighth. We have also other writings of Constantine VII, especially the mp2 r6311 flao-imxé‘w ragaaiwv and some chapters of the De administrando imperio.
Now these documents of the ninth and tenth centuries show us an administrative system quite different from that which prevailed in the days of Justinian. It is probably due, at least in part, to the nature of the documents that this later system has never been thoroughly examined. For the documents, though of oflicial origin, are not directly concerned with administration; they are concerned with ceremonial and court precedence, and while they reveal a picture of the world of oflicialdom, they tell little of the serious duties of the ofiicials. They have not therefore invited systematic investigation, like the Codex Theodosianus or the Notitia Dignitatum. One department indeed of the administration has, during the last twenty years, received particular attention, namely, the general administration ot the provinces, the system of Themes. We have now a valuable study of the subject by the late Professor H. Gelzer, who ha also partially examined the military organization. It must be added that the judicial machinery has been’ partly explored by Zachariii. von Lingenthal. But the general civil administration and the great ministerial bureaux at Constantinople have not been studied at all. This neglect has been a serious drawback for students of the history of the Eastern Roman Empire. We can observe its effects in most of the works that are published on the subject. We can see that the writers do not attach clear and definite ideas to the oflicial titles which are mentioned in their pages; they often confound distinct ofiices, and they confound oflices with orders of rank. Schlumberger’s magnificent work on Byzantine Seals may be cited in illustration; it is marred by many confusions between different ofi'icials and difierent departments.
' For the administration of Egypt the papyri supply considerable material, even for the period from Justinian to the Saracen conquest. Particular attention may be called to the documents dating from the early Saracen period in Papyri in the British Museum, ed. ‘Kenyon, vol. iv (accessible to me, before publication, through the editor's kindness). But the Egyptian material helps little for the general administrative changes with which we are here concerned.
It is therefore a task of urgent importance to reconstruct, so far as we can, the official organization of the later Empire at the earliest period for which we have sufficient evidence. It is true that at no period of Byzantine history have we documents that can be remotely compared with the Codes of Theodosius and Justinian or with the Notitia Dignitatum ; but we must make the best of what we have.
Now the most important document we possess, the only one that gives us anything like a full notitia of the bureaux and officials, is the Klétorologion of Philotheos, which was compiled in the reign of Leo VI, in the year A.D. 899. It is therefore the proper startingpoint for an investigation of the subject. We may say that for the institutional history of the ninth and tenth centuries it holds the same position, in relative importance, which the Notitia Dignitatum occupies for the fourth and fifth.
Once the actual organization existing in the time of Leo VI has been worked out, a further problem presents itself, namely, to trace the steps by which it developed out of the organization existing in the time of Justinian. The evidence of our literary sources shows us that in all main essentials the later system existed in the eighth century. The transformations were efiected between the end of the sixth century and the middle of the eighth, in the darkest period of Imperial history, for which we have little more than meagre secondhand chronicles and a few incidental notices in ecclesiastical documents.
In practice, however, it is impossible to separate the two investigations, namely, that of the institutions actually existing in the ninth century, and that of their history. The principal object of the present study is to determine the details of the ninth-century organization, but, as Philotheos, our main guide, only gives the names of the oflicials and does not indicate their functions, we are obliged to trace the oflices, so far as we can, into the past, in order to dicover what they were. In the case of many of the subordinate ofiicials we have no data, and must leave their functions undetermined.
(2) Text of Philotheos.
As the foundation of these investigations, a critical text of Philotheos is indispensable. The Klétorologion has come down to us as part of the second book (cc. 52=54) of the De Cerimoniis of Constantine Porphyrogenuetos. But it was an independent treatise ; it formed no part of Constantine’s treatise, but was appended to it, along with other documents, probably by the Emperor’s literary executors, shortly after his death, as I have shown in a study which I published on the Ceremonial Book in 1907.1
The treatise known as De Cerimoniis was first published by Leich and Reiske at Leipzig, in 1751-4, in two volumes. It was re-edited by Bekker for the Bonn edition of the Byzantine historians in 1829. Bekker consulted but did not make a complete collection of the MS.
The sole MS. in which this work of Constantine has come down to us is preserved in the Stadtbibliothek of Leipzig (Rep. i, 17). It is a fine large quarto parchment; the titles and lists of contents are in red ink, and the initials at the beginnings of chapters are coloured. It seems to have been written about the end of the eleventh century. It contains 265 folia, but fi. 1—212 are occupied by another treatise of Constantine, which in the Bonn edition curiously appears as an appendix to Book I of the De Cerimoniis. I have shown that it is an entirely distinct treatise.2 It concerns military expeditions conducted by the Emperor in person, and I have designated it as nepi. 113v Bao'iluxéiv 'rafaotow.
Until recently our only source for the text of the Work of Philotheos was the Leipzig MS. But some years ago Theodor Uspenski, the Director of the Russian Archaeological Institute at Constantinople, found a portion of the text in a Greek codex in the Patriarchal library at Jerusalem. This MS. is numbered 39 in the Catalogue of Papadopoulos-Kerameus.3 It was written in the twelfth or thirteenth century. The portion of the treatise which it contains (ff. 181-3, 192-4) is unfortunately small, corresponding to less than eleven pages of the Bonn edition. The fragment begins with 'ro'pos‘ B’: p. ‘726,4 and ends at We rdfiw ripiéoewcrau = p. 736. Uspenski collated the fragment with the Bonn text and published his collation in Vol. III of the Izviestiia of the Russian Archaeological Institute at Constantinople (pp. 98 sqq. Sofia, 1899). The occurrence of this fragment in the Jerusalem MS. illustrates the fact that the Klétorologion circulated quite independently of the De Cerimoniis, with which it has been accidentally connected. Uspenski observes (p. 101) that ‘it is impossible to doubt that as a practical manual the treatise of Philotheos must have been difiused in separate copies ’.
‘ English Historical Review, April, 1907.
2 English Historical Review, July, 1907, p. 439.
5 iIzpotrohvutrmr) Blfihwar'lxrl, p. 115.
‘ I_ refer throughout to the pages of Bekker's ed. which are entered in the margin of my text, and in most cases add the line for the convenience of those who care to refer to that ed.
But for the main bulk of the text we depend exclusively on the Leipzig MS. With a view to the text which I now publish, I had photographs made (by kind permission of the Oberbibliothekar) of the 27 folia which contain the treatise (cc. 52, 53).1 A comparison shows that the Bonn text is by no means trustworthy or accurate. The MS. itself is also a very careless copy of the original. It is full of errors, which were left undetected by Reiske and Bekker. Bekker did not study the subject at all, and Reiske, although he published a learned commentary, never made a methodical examination of the oificial organization, and therefore was not in a position to criticize and control the text, or to detect inconsistencies and mistakes.
The paucity of paragraphs and the absence of any tabular arrangement render the Bonn edition extremely inconvenient for practical use. I have endeavoured to remedy this defect. In introducing tabular arrangement I am only reverting to the form which the author undoubtedly adopted himself. For tabular arrangement is partly preserved in the Lipsiensis, and there can be hardly any doubt that Philotheos wrote his lists of ofiices in the form of a 'n'i'vaf or tabula.
(3) Contents and sources g” the Klétorologion. The Taktikon Uspenski.
The superscription of the Klétorologion states that it was compiled in September of Indiction 3= A.M. 6408 (=September 1, 899August 31, 900), i. e. September, A. D. 899. The author describes himself as ‘Imperial protospatharios and atriklines ’. The duty of the atriklinai was to conduct the ceremonial of the Imperial banquets in the palace, to receive the guests and arrange them in order of precedence. In the MS. we find the form dpnxMvns‘ as well as drpixMvns, but the latter is the true form of the word, which is evidently derived
1 The Exdecm of Epiphanios, which Philotheos appended to his treatise, and which appears as c. 54, does not concern my purpose, and l have omitted it. I may note here that (except in a few cases like aéxpe-rov, Ton-orqpryn'ls) l have not normalized the orthographical variations of the MS. but have retained the double forms Kapio'ia 1 nap-ham, dhhagiim-ra : -1']p.a1-a, o'rpalroprs : ~mpsc, cirpixhivqr 2 cipruchi'vrlr (but not tip-rank), &c.