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This webpage reproduces an article in the
English Historical Review
Vol. 31 (1916), pp442‑443

The text is in the public domain:
J. B. Bury died in 1927.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p442 The Date of the Notitia of Constantinople

It is agreed that the Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae was composed in the reign of Theodosius II, but recently Professor Victor Schultze has ventured to assign a more precise date. In his Konstantinopel (1913), p177, he asserts that it was compiled before the building of the new western wall by Anthemius, that is, within the first five years of the reign: 'Die Datierung vor 413 kann nicht bezweifelt werden; vereinzelt mögen später Korrekturen stattgefunden haben.' It can easily be shown that this theory is untenable.

The corrections or additions which Professor Schultze would have to assume include the following: (1) Domum Pulcheriae Augustae (pp232 and 238, ed. Seeck). Pulcheria was created Augusta, 4 July 414. (2) Domum Augustae Eudociae (p237). Eudocia became Augusta, 2 January 423. (3) Domum Augustae Placidiae (ibid.). Placidia was created Augusta at Constantinople early in 424. She had received the dignity at Ravenna in 421, but had not been recognized as such by her nephew Theodosius. The palace in question was doubtless her residence while she was at Constantinople. The assumption that these items are interpolations will involve the further inference that in (4) domos diuinas Augustarum sex (p242) the numeral has been corrected. This hypothesis is in itself possible, but the author's Praefatio forbids us to entertain it. There we are told that the city has been transformed by the care of Theodosius:

quam [sc. urbem], supra conditoris laudem, Theodosii inuicti principis — in nouam faciem uetustate detersa — ita virtus et cura decorauit, ut eius perfectioni, quamuis sit quispiam diligens, nihil possit adiungere (p229).

Now it is certain that no such improvements as are here implied were made during the first five years of the reign of Theodosius II, and these words could not have been written before a date which would make the assumption of interpolations unnecessary. If Professor Schultze is convinced that the Notitia cannot have been compiled after 413, his only resource would be to revise his theory and attribute the document to the last years of Theodosius I.

p443 The difficulty which he finds in admitting a date subsequent to 424, which the internal evidence prima facie suggests, is that the description of the city takes account only of the original Fourteen Regions. It does not enumerate any buildings or localities in the large space which was included between the Theodosian wall, built or begun in 413 under the direction of Anthemius, and the Constantinian wall, and it assigns dimensions to the city which correspond to those of the unenlarged Constantinian city. But the reasonable inference is that for some time after the erection of the new walls, the city still officially consisted only of the Fourteen Regions. This is practically the conclusion of the late Professor van Millingen:

When the Notitia was written, the enlargement of the city by Theodosius was too recent an event to alter old associations of thought and introduce new points of view. 'The City' proper was still what Constantine had made it.1

But Professor van Millingen does not seem to have realized that the Theodosian walls are clearly mentioned in the Notitia — in yet another passage which on Professor Schultze's theory would have to be ascribed to the interpolator:

hoc quoque spatium quod solum apertum maris circulus dereliquit, duplici muro acies turrium extensa custodit (p242).

This is a most important passage, because it enables us definitely to date the document within three years. The wall of Anthemius was a single wall. The outer wall was built by the Prefect Constantine in 447.2 The mention of the duplex murus therefore proves thatº the Notitia was drawn up between 447 and the death of Theodosius, 28 July 450.

J. B. Bury.


The Author's Notes:

1 Byzantine Constantinople, p17. This view had already been expressed by Déthier. I cannot agree with Preger's criticisms on van Millingen, or accept his opinion that the dimensions in the Notitia referred to the Theodosian city (Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 19, 459 seqq., 1910).

2 Van Millingen, p46.


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