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Book VII
Note F

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London
1896

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

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!

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Book VII
Note G

Book VII (continued)

Vol. VI
p509
Chapter XIII

Political State of Imperial Italy

Authorities

Sources: —

Our sources of information as to the subject of this chapter are, as will be seen in the course of it, very meagre and unsatisfactory. No history of Italy during the centuries with which we have to deal, from the point of view of a loyal subject of the Empire, nor anything pretending to that title, was ever written. Paulus Diaconus is of course engrossed with Lombard affairs, and hardly notices 'the Greeks' except to mention their wars with his countrymen. The compilation of Papal biographies which goes by the name of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, and which is now generally called the Liber Pontificalis, is on the whole our best source for the greater portion of the period; and this source, scanty for the sixth and seventh, becomes fairly full for the eighth century, and almost copious towards its close.

The Pragmatic Sanction quoted in the early part of this chapter is No. clxiv of the Novels of Justinian. I quote from Teubner's edition (Leipsic, 1881).

The abundant material of all kinds furnished us by the Epistles of Gregory the Great makes us only regret that that valuable source is closed so early, and that nothing like it takes its place afterwards. But for the special purpose of this chapter one of the most important sources is furnished by the folio volume entitled 'I Papiri Diplomatici,' edited by Abbate G. Marini (Rome, 1805). This monument of patient industry has been already referred to in the third volume of this work (p165), where I commented on the deed of gift from Odovacar to Pierius, which is one of the earliest papers contained in it. It consists of about 146 documents written on Egyptian papyrus (those on parchment are expressly excluded), of various dates  p510 from the fifth to the eleventh centuries. The collection suffers somewhat, as it seems to me, from the want of chronological arrangement, the first hundred pages being occupied by comparatively late and uninteresting Papal bulls (ninth to eleventh centuries), but the documents which follow (Nos. 74‑146) are generally of an earlier date (fifth to seventh centuries), and almost all of them are full of interest for our present purpose. Here we see the names and offices of some of the chief citizens of Ravenna. Here we read the attestations of legal documents written in Latin words but in Greek characters by Byzantine merchants or officials, who were either too proud or too imperfectly educated to frame their fingers to write aught but the letters of Hellas.

Here is a specimen of one of these Graeco-Latin attestations.1 Others which are written in the usual character enable us with confidence to decipher this one: —

Ιωαnnhs Ϲουρος nαγουζατροº ουεικι καρετουλε dωναζιο[nις] πορεζονε ειn ιnτεγρω φωndι σσ Βαλοnιαnι κοn ωμεnιβως ad σε γεnεραλιτερ περτιnεnτιβους σικοd σουπεριος λεγετωρ φακτε [ιn] σαnκτα εκκ Ραβεnnατε α σστα Ϲισιβερα hφ dωnατρικι κουαε με πρεσεnτε σιγnουμ σαnκτε κρουκες φικετ εd κοραμ nοβις ει ρελικτα εστ τhστhσ σουσκριψh εd dε κοnσερβαnδὶς ωμnιβος σστις αδ ευαnγελια κορποραλιτερ πρεβουhτ σακραμεnτα ετ αnκ dωnαζιονεμ α σστα Ϲιψισβερα παλαμ Βο ββ dιακοnοn ετ Βικεdωμεnοn τραdε[ταμ] βιdι

This attestation, transliterated into Latin letters, reads as follows: —

Joannes Syrus negociator huic cartule donationis portionis in integro fundi s(upra) s(cripti) Baloniani cum omnibus ad se generaliter pertinentibus sicut superius legitur factae in sancta ecc(lesia) Ravennate a s(upra) s(cripta) Sisivera h(onesta) f(emina) donatrice quae me presente signum Sanctae Crucis fecit et coram nobis ei relecta est, testis subscripsi et de conservandis omnibus s(upra) s(criptis) ad Evangelia corporaliter prebuit sacramenta et hanc donationem a s(upra) s(cripta) Sisivera palam Bo v(irum) v(enerabilem) diaconon et Vicedomenon traditam, vidi

 p511  The instrument records the donation by a woman (probably of Gothic descent) named Sisivera of the whole of her share of the farm Balonianus to the Church of Ravenna. A deacon (probably a Goth), bearing the extraordinary name of Bo (this name is confirmed by the other attestations), is bailiff (Vicedominus) of the Church, and in his presence, and in the presence of the giver, John, a Syrian merchant, gives his attestation to the document.

The reader will observe how the cursive nun (n instead of ν) necessitates for distinction's sake a different form of eta (h instead of η), and that the Latin t is sometimes represented by ζ in the middle of a word and sometimes by d at the end.

In this collection also we have the record of transactions entered into in the closing days of the Gothic domination (541) by clergy 'of the Gothic law,' that is doubtless Arians, who first mortgage, and then sell to 'Isaac the soap-merchant,' part of their property at Classis. This and similar documents of the time of the great Gothic war help us to understand how the ordinary transactions of life, buying and selling, mortgaging of property and making of wills, were still going on amid the tremendous shock of armies and the struggle for life of a great and proud nation. A reflection of a similar kind is suggested by the date of Marini's own book, 1805. The actual publication took place, it is true, during a slight lull in the Napoleonic tempest, when Pope Pius VII (to whom the book is dedicated) had earned a short breathing-time for his Church and City by his coronation of the Emperor at Paris. But the composition of the book was in more troublous times. It must have been in the terrible years of Lodi and Marengo, during the stormy life of the Tiberine Republic, and always amid fears of fresh popular outbreaks and new and more disastrous changes, that the indefatigable Prefect of the Archives of the Holy See, in the seclusion of the Vatican Library, quietly held on his way, deciphering the faint characters on tattered papyri, and storing up the forgotten facts of the sixth and seventh centuries for the benefit of the scholars of a more peaceful age.

The very interesting collection of Monumenti Ravennati by Fantuzzi deals chiefly with the ninth and following centuries, and has, I think, only one document belonging to our period — the Register of donations to the Church of Ravenna from the seventh to the tenth centuries, which stands at the head of the  p512 collection. The very full Index to this so‑called 'Codice Bavaro' at the end of the first volume is an important assistance to the student.a

Of the Guides on whose skill I shall have chiefly to rely in this obscure and difficult period I will here mention but three, though earlier scholars (especially Muratori and Lupi) have given me valuable help.

The great F. C. von Savigny in his 'History of Roman Law in the Middle Ages' (1815‑1831) urges his well-known proposition that there was no break in the traditions of Roman Law and Roman Municipal Institutions, but that they lived on with an uninterrupted existence from the last days of the old Empire to the glorious revival of free popular life in the great Italian Republics.

Against this view not only Troya, whom I have already often quoted, lifted up his voice, but Carl Hegel, the son of the great philosopher, entered a respectful but earnest protest in his 'History of the Municipal Constitution (Städtverfassung) of Italy' (1847). The argument is conducted on both sides with great learning and great fairness, and it is impossible to follow it closely without heightened feelings of admiration for both the disputants. As they treat of the subject with far greater detail than I can hope to do, and are copious and exact in their citations of the original documents, I shall generally refer to them, rather than to the documents themselves, for the proof of my statements. Lastly, Charles Diehl (Maître de Conférences à la Faculté des Lettres de Nancy) published at Paris in 1888 his 'Études sur l'Administration Byzantine dans l'Exarchat de Ravenne,' a work which I have found extremely helpful in my researches into the political history of this obscure period. I have only one complaint to make of the author. Having given us so useful a book, he should surely have judged it worthy of an Index.

Question as to the condition of the Roman population in the seventh and eighth centuries. Now that we have reached the end of the dominion of the Eastern Caesars over all but a few detached fragments of Italy, and that we are also close upon the end of the dominion of the Lombard kings in the same country, it will be well for us to gather up such  p513 fragments of information as the scanty records of the time supply to us concerning the political institutions and social condition of the peninsula during the two centuries of their blended and conflicting rule.b

Bearing of this question on the origin of the Italian Republics. The records, as I have said, are scanty, and the indications which they furnish are faint and difficult to decipher; but they have been scanned with eager scrutiny by great jurists and eminent historians, because in them lies, in part at least, the answer to one of the most interesting questions which were ever presented for solution to a political philosopher. That question is as to the origin and parentage of the great Italian Republics of the Middle Ages.

When we think of the rich and varied life displayed by the commonwealths of Italy from the twelfth to the fifteenth century, of the foreign conquests of one, the world-wide commerce of another, the noble architecture of a third, the wealth of artistic and poetic genius which seemed to be the common heritage of them all, and when we remember that in the earlier period of their history these great gifts of the intellect were allied to not less noble qualities of the soul, fortitude, self-devotion, faith, we are ready to say, perhaps with truth, that never has the human race worked out the problem of self-government in nobler forms than in these glorious republics, greater than the Athens of Pericles by reason of their spiritual capacities, greater than the Rome of the Scipios by reason of their artistic culture. We know, indeed, how soon that splendid dawn was overcast, how rapidly and how fatally the Italy of the Communi degenerated into the Italy of the Tyrants. Still the enquiry must ever be one of deepest interest to every student not  p514 merely of Italian, but of European history — 'Whence did the cities of Italy derive those thoughts of freedom which made them for a time the torch-bearers of human progress in the midst of the anarchy and darkness of feudalism?'

Two schools; the Roman (Savigny), and the anti-Roman (Troya and Hegel). One school of learned and able enquirers says that this torch was kindled from Rome, not the Rome of the Emperors, but the far‑away, yet unforgotten, Rome of the Republic. Another school, equally learned and equally able, denies that there was any possibility of continuous historic development from Rome to Florence and Siena, and maintains that the republican institutions of Italy in the twelfth century were either absolutely self-originated or were the result of contact with Teutonic freedom. I cannot promise the reader that we shall be able to come to any definite solution of this great controversy, much of which of course lies centuries beyond our horizon; but he will at least understand how great the controversy is, and how it lends importance to questions at first sight paltry and pedantic, as to the names and functions of the governing authorities of Italy during these centuries of transition.

Division of Italy into the Empire and the non‑Empire. Though profoundly unfortunate for the country itself both then and in many after-ages, the division of Italy into two sections, one of which still formed part of the Roman Empire, while the other, under the sway of Lombard kings or dukes, was generally hostile to the Empire, and always independent of it, aids the scientific discussion of the problem before us. Scientific value of this division. The actual course of events enables us to eliminate in great measure the barbarian factor from the former section, and to trace the history of Roman institutions by themselves,  p515 where no Teutonic element enters into the equation. In this chapter, therefore, we will deal with the questions of government, law, and social relations as affecting Imperial Italy alone.

Geographical limits of Imperial Italy. Let us briefly recapitulate the facts as to the geographical boundaries of the Imperial territory, which it will be remembered was almost exclusively a sea‑coast dominion. Starting from the north-east, we find the Istrian peninsula undoubtedly Imperial. But when we reach the head of the Adriatic Gulf, the ancient capital of Aquileia with its Patriarch is under Lombard rule, while the little island city of Grado, in which the rival Patriarch has set up his throne, still clings to the Empire. From the mouth of the Tagliamento to that of the Adige a long strip of the coast is for some time retained by the Emperors, and probably bears the name of Ducatus Venetiae. But in the earliest years of the seventh century Patavium and Mons Silicis (Padua and Monselice) were won for the Lombards by King Agilulf: soon afterwards Concordia fell into their power, and when in 640 Opitergium and Altinum were taken by King Rothari, the Eastern Caesar can have had few subjects left in this part of the country, except the indomitable islanders, who between sea and sky were founding upon the lagunes that cluster of settlements which was known by the name of Venetia Maritima.

The mouths of the Po, the city of Ravenna, and a great stretch of the Via Aemilia, with 'hinterland' reaching up to the skirts of the Apennines, formed the large and important district known as the Exarchatus Ravennae. Further inland, Mantua, Cremona, Piacenza, and a few cities on the southern bank of the  p516 Po remained for a generation subject to the Empire, but were detached from it in the earliest years of the seventh century by King Agilulf, rightly incensed by the Exarch's kidnapping of his daughter. We travel down the shore of the Adriatic and come to the Duchy of the Pentapolis, consisting of the five flourishing maritime cities of Ariminum, Pisaurum, Fanum, Senegallia, and Ancona. Another inland Pentapolis, called Annonaria or Provincia Castellorum, included the cities of Aesis, Forum Sempronii, Urbinum, Callis, and Eugubium (Jesi, Fossombrone, Urbino, Cagli, and Gubbio).2 These two provinces together sometimes went by the conjoint name of Decapolis. A long stretch of coast, ill‑supplied with harbours and therefore not belonging to the Empire, marked the spacious territory abandoned to the Lombards, and ruled by the dukes of Spoleto and Benevento. Then rounding the promontory of Mount Garganus, we come to the town of Sipontum, which was Imperial till near the middle of the seventh century,3 and then to the 'heel of Italy, from the river Aufidus to the Bradanus, comprising the seaport towns of Barium, Brundusium, Hydruntum, and Tarentum (Bari, Brindisi, Otranto, and Taranto). All of this region was Imperial land till Romwald of Benevento (between 665 and 675) rent the greater part of it from the Empire, leaving to the Caesar little besides the city of Otranto, which, though  p517 once for a moment4 captured by the Lombards, remained permanently Imperial,c and was at a later period the base of important operations by the Greeks for the reconquest of Southern Italy. As the 'heel,' so also the 'toe' of Italy, from the river Crathis to the Straits of Messina, remained during the whole of our period in the possession of the Empire. So, too, did the important island of Sicily, full of Papal 'patrimonies,' and forming a stronghold of Imperial power. Thorough harassed more than once by the invasions of the Saracens, it was not till the ninth century that they seriously set about the subjugation of the island: and in fact for half a century after the fall of Ravenna, the 'Patrician of Sicily' was the highest representative of the Emperor in the western lands, the duke of Naples himself being subject to his orders.5

Proceeding northwards along the shore of the Tyrrhene Sea, we find in the ancient province of Lucania only Acropolis, and perhaps its near neighbour Paestum, left to the Empire. Entering Campania, we discover that the duke of Naples ruled over a small though wealthy territory, reaching from Salernum at one end to a point due west of Capua (itself a Lombard city) on the other. But the duchy reached very little way inland, and we might probably say with safety that from every part of the region which he ruled the duke of Naples could behold the crater of Vesuvius.

Of much wider extent was the Ducatus Romae, which reached from Gaeta on the south-east to Civita  p518 Vecchia on the north-west, including practically the whole of the ancient province of Latium, a corner of the Sabine territory, and the southern end of Etruria. The changes of fortune that befell the Tuscan and Umbrian cities, by which Rome and Ravenna sought to keep their communications with one another along the Flaminian Way, the cities of Todi, Perugia and Tadino, have been sufficiently described in earlier chapters.

Lastly, the beautiful Riviera ('di Ponente' as well as 'di Levante'), from the river Magra to Mentone,d remained a province of the Empire until about 640, when King Rothari the legislator took Genoa and all her sister cities,6 rased their walls (like Gaiseric the Vandal), and turned the region into the Lombard duchy of Liguria.

Of the islands of Sardinia and Corsica little is known during this period save that their fortunes were not closely interwoven with those of Italy. As they had once been subject to the Vandal kings of Carthage, so now, though restored to the Empire, they were still ruled by the Exarch of Africa. The invasions of these islands by the Lombards, of which we heard in the letter of Pope Gregory the Great, do not seem to have resulted in any abiding settlement. When the Emperor Constans was ruling or misruling Sicily, Sardinia was one of the districts which felt the heavy hand of his tax‑gatherers,7 and soldiers coming from Sardinia as well as from Africa and Imperial Italy deprived his successor, the usurper Mizizius, of throne and life.8 In the eighth century Sardinia as well as Corsica suffered grievously from the incursions  p519 of the Saracens, though it does not appear that these invaders succeeded in formally detaching those islands from the Empire.

Pragmatic Sanction of Justinian, 554. From these outlying dependencies we return to the contemplation of Imperial Italy, that we may enquire into the nature of the political organisation by which the Emperors dwelling in distant Constantinople maintained their hold upon the maritime regions of the peninsula. To begin at the very beginning of our present period, let us listen to the words in which the Emperor Justinian reasserts his dominion over the recovered land. In August, 554, the year after the death of Teias, the year of the final defeat of the Alamannic brethren, Justinian issued a solemn Pragmatic Sanction9 for the government of Italy. This decree, singularly enough, purports to be issued in reply to the petition of Pope Vigilius 'the venerable bishop of the elder Rome,' though that much-harassed pontiff had certainly left Constantinople, and most probably had died before its promulgation. Confirmations and abrogations. The Emperor first solemnly confirms all dispositions which have been made by Athanaric, or his royal mother Amalasuntha, or even Theodahad, as well as all his own acts, and those of his spouse Theodora of pious memory.10 Everything,  p520 on the other hand, done by 'the most wicked tyrant Totila' is to be considered absolutely null and void, 'for we will not allow these law‑abiding days of ours to take any account of what was done by him in the time of his tyranny.'

Fiscal regulations. Many laws follow (which seem to be well and wisely framed) as to the length of prescription requisite to establish a claim after 'the years of warlike confusion which followed the accession of the tyrants.' There is also an evident attempt made to lighten the burden of taxation, and so to guard against any future oppressions by men like Alexander the Scissors, which might goad the provincials to madness. Especially it is ordained that the tribute due from each province shall be exacted by the governors of that province only, and that the great Imperial ministers at headquarters shall not assist in the process. Some precautions are taken for lightening the burden of coemtio. Each province is only to be called upon to furnish tribute in kind out of that sort of produce which naturally grows there, and such tribute when rendered is to be taken at the current market price of the day. Moreover, the landowners of Calabria and Apulia, who have already commuted their coemtio into a money payment (superindictitius titulus), are not to be called on to pay that titulus and provide coemtio as well. And any senator or large tax‑payer11 is to have free leave and licence to visit the court at Constantinople  p521 in order to lay his grievances before the Emperor, as well as to return to Italy and tarry there as long as he will for the improvement of his estate, since it is difficult for absent owners to keep their property in good condition, or to bestow upon it the cultivation which it requires.12

The two most important scenes of the decree, however, in reference to our present subject are the xxiiird and the xiith.

Civil causes not to be tried by military judges. (1) The xxiiird runs as follows: 'We order that all law‑suits between two Romans, or in which one Roman person is concerned, shall be tried by civil judges, since good order does not permit that military judges shall mix themselves up in such matters or causes.'

A 'Roman person' is evidently a native of Italy in contra­distinction to the horde of foreigners who served in the armies of the Empire. The intention of the legislator is that wheresoever the rights of such a Roman person are concerned, whether as plaintiff or defendant, his cause shall be heard before a civil judge, probably the praeses of the province, and not before the harsh and unsympathetic officer of the army, who, however, is recognised as the right person to try matters in dispute between one 'military person' and another.

Bishops associated in the election of Judices. (2) Sect. xii relates to the mode of appointing these civil governors or judices provinciarum: 'Moreover we order that fit and proper persons, able to administer the local government, be chosen as governors (judices) of the provinces by the bishops and chief persons of each province from the inhabitants of the province itself.' This appointment is  p522 to be made without any payment for votes13 and the letters patent of the office (codicilli) are to be handed to the new governor by the minister whose business it is (per competentem judicem) [free of charge]. On these conditions, however, that if they (the judices provinciarum) shall be found to have inflicted any injury on the tax‑payers, or to have exacted anything in excess of the stipulated tribute, or in the coemption to have used too large measures or unjust weights for the solidi, or in any other way to have unrighteously damnified the cultivators, they shall make good the injury out of their own property.

We see here an earnest endeavour to remedy the abuses of provincial administration. The governor of the province is to be a resident therein. This makes it less likely that he will incur the odium of oppressive acts, committed in a district of which he is a native, and where he will spend the remainder of his days. He is to be appointed without suffragium, the technical term for the payments, often of enormous amount, which had been hitherto made to the members of the Imperial household and the great functionaries of Constantinople, in order to secure their influence on behalf of the aspirant to office. Of course, where this suffragium had been paid, the new governor's first care was to recoup himself by wringing it out of the miserable provincials.14 But further, the governor is  p523 to be elected by the principal inhabitants of the province, instead of being merely nominated by the autocratic Emperor. We have here an important recognition of the principle of popular election, a great stride towards what we should call constitutional government. And a part, apparently a leading part in this election, is given to the bishop of the province. Here we have both a proof of the increased power of the higher ecclesiastics (since even the devout Theodosius would never have dreamed of admitting his bishops to a direct share in the government of the Empire), and we have also a pathetic confession of the Emperor's own inability to cope with the corruption and venality of his civil servants. He seems to have perceived that in the great quaking bog of servility and dishonesty by which he felt himself to be surrounded, his only sure standing-ground was to be found in the spiritual Estate, the order of men who wielded a power not of this world, and who, if true to their sacred mission, had nothing to fear and little to hope from the corrupt minions of the court.15

The experiment of popular election of the provincial governors answered so well in Italy, that it was extended by Justinian's successor in 569 to the Eastern portion of the Empire.16 But as we shall soon see, it was but short-lived in either the East or the West.

Weights and measures. Before we part from Justinian's Pragmatic Sanction we must notice one more section, the xixth, which deals with the subject of Weights and Measures: 'In  p524 order,' says the legislator, 'that no occasion for fraud or injury to the provinces [of Italy] may arise, we decree that produce be furnished and money received according to those weights and measures which our Piety hath by these presents entrusted to the keeping of the most blessed Pope and the most ample Senate.'17 Another indication this, of the purely secular business which, by reason of the general respect for his character and confidence in his uprightness, was being pushed off upon the Head of the Church by the Head of the State; and at the same time an interesting evidence that after all its sufferings at the hands of Totila and Teias, the Senate of Rome still lived on, if it were only to act as custodian of the standard yard and the standard pound.

The edict, which is addressed to the Illustrious Grand Chamberlain Narses, and to the Magnificent Antiochus, Prefect of Italy, ends thus: 'All things therefore which our Eternity hath ordained by this divine Pragmatic Sanction, let your Greatness by all means carry into effect and cause to be observed, a penalty of 10 lbs. of gold [£400] impending over all violators of these our commands.' On the whole, the Pragmatic Sanction, notwithstanding its tone of ill‑tempered railing at the defeated heroes of the Gothic nation, was a wise and statesmanlike measure; and I, who have in an earlier volume been compelled to say many hard things concerning the character and  p525 administration of Justinian, gladly recognise that here, in the evening of his days, he makes a generous effort to lighten the burdens of his Italian subjects, and to admit them to a share in his power. But 'in the clash of arms laws are silent.' Even as Pitt's well-meant scheme for Parliamentary Reform foundered in the stormy waters of the great French Revolutionary War, so the perils with which the Empire was soon surrounded, from Lombards in the West, from Avars, Persians, Saracens in the East, destroyed the faint hopes of freedom in the Roman Empire of the sixth and seventh centuries. It is at all times difficult for even the most enlightened despot to unclothe himself of the power with which in the course of generations the holders of his office have come to be invested, and in the face of menacing foreign foes that which was before difficult becomes impossible. We who have lived through the middle of the nineteenth century know what those ominous words 'The city is proclaimed in a state of siege' betoken, how when they are uttered popular liberties are suppressed and all classes lie prostrate under the heel of a military despotism. We remember how even in the greatest democratic republic that the world has ever seen, 'the War‑Power' enabled President Lincoln practically to assume the position of an autocrat, wise and patriotic doubtless, but still an autocrat. And so, in the Empire, the tremendous dangers to which it was exposed, from the time of Justin II to the time of the Iconoclastic Emperors, led to the concentration of all power, civil and military, in the hands of one class of men who were virtually the military lieutenants of the Emperor. Division of the Eastern Empire into themes. In the East, this tendency found its fullest expression  p526 in the change of the provinces into themes, which was begun by Heraclius18 and completed by Leo III. The word theme meant a regiment of soldiers, and thenceforward the military district or theme became the chief administrative unit of the Empire.

In Italy there was perhaps no such sudden and definite change, but all writers are agreed that there was a change, the result of which was to annul the division between civil and military functions which had been created by Diocletian and Constantine,19 and to make the commandant of the garrison in each city which remained faithful to the Empire the one great centre of power, judicial and administrative, as well as military, for that city and for the district of which it was the capital.

Power, civil as well as military, concentrated in the hands of the military officer. This change however, as I have said, was probably a gradual one, and with the poverty of the materials before us we cannot precisely say when it began or when it ended.20 To make the further discussion of the subject clearer, it will be well to subjoin a table of the military and civil officers, as far as they can be ascertained, before this change had taken place which  p527 led to the practical absorption of the latter by the former.

Military Civil

Exarch
(Patricius Italiae)

Praefectus Italiae . . . Praefectus Urbi
(or Praepositus Italiae)

Magister Militum or Dux

Vicarius Italiae . . . Vicarius Urbis

Tribunus or Comes

Praeses Provinciae

The hierarchy of civil offices, it will be seen, was still cast in the mould which was made at the beginning of the fourth century.21 So long as they retained any official vitality at all we must suppose the holders of them to have been concerned with the trying of causes in which private citizens of Italian birth (as opposed to military men and foreign followers of the camp) were concerned; with the collection of revenue; with commissariat business; and perhaps with the maintenance of roads and aqueducts.22 But already, in the time of Gregory the Great, the position of these civil rulers was declining in power and lustre, so that we find the benevolent Pope compassionately relieving the necessities of an ex‑governor23 of Samnium by a yearly pension of four solidi (£2 8s.), and a gift of twenty decimati of wine. The slenderness of our information does not enable us to say definitely when this civil  p528 hierarchy finally vanished from the scene, but, to use the simile of a 'dissolving view,' we may conjecture that all through the seventh century their names were growing fainter and fainter, and those of the military rulers were growing stronger and stronger on the screen of Italian politics.24

 p529  Military dignitaries. I turn then from these shadowy survivals of a great organisation to direct the reader's attention to the other half of the table of dignities, the military rulers who were more and more assuming all the functions of government to themselves, as the delegated servants of the Emperor.

The Exarch. High over all, and practically supreme over Imperial Italy,25 was 'the Most Excellent Exarch.' We shall probably get a good idea of his position by comparing him to the Governor-General of India, only that we must add to the civil functions of that high officer the military functions involved in the absolute personal command of the army. He seems to have uniformly borne the title of Patricius added to that of Exarchus, and he not unfrequently held high rank in the Imperial household, as Cubicularius (Grand Chamberlain) or Cartularius (Keeper of the Records). He was supreme judge in Italy; he made peace and war on his own responsibility, apparently without the necessity of consulting the Emperor; he nominated all the military officers below him, the dukes and tribunes and the like; perhaps also the civil governors, the prefects and the vicars, though of this there does not appear to be any direct proof. After the middle of the seventh century he was, what the Prefect had  p530 been till then, the supreme head of the financial department of the state. This ruler, 'whose exalted power gave effect to the will of the Pious Emperor,'26 was approached with servile prostrations27 by the subjects of his delegated reign. At Ravenna he dwelt doubtless in the palace of the great Theodoric. When he visited Rome, clergy, magistrates, soldiers, all the civic militia order of Rome poured forth to meet him with their crosses and their standards, and led him with jubilations up to the Palatine Hill, where still in faded magnificence rose the cluster of buildings which has given its name to every other palace in the world.

His prerogatives in connection with Pope elections. Not the least important, assuredly, of the prerogatives of the Exarch, was the right transferred to him by his Imperial master of confirming the election of the Pope by the clergy and people of Rome.28 But notwithstanding this prerogative, and although in  p531 a certain sense the Bishop of Rome, as the Emperor's subject, might be held to be under the rule of the Imperial vicegerent, there can be little doubt that, at least from the time of Gregory the Great, the Pope, if he were a man of at all commanding personality, was, and was felt to be, a greater man in Italy than the Exarch. The Exarch was a foreigner, the minion of a court, sometimes holding office for no very long period, re‑called and re‑appointed at the Emperor's pleasure. The Pope was an Italian, often a Roman citizen, speaking the noble old language of statesmanship and war: he alone could awe the turbulent Lombard kings and dukes into reverent submission; round him gathered with increasing fervour, as the seventh and eighth centuries rolled on their course, not only the religious reverence, but the national spirit, the patriotic pride of the Roman people.

I shall briefly discuss the difficult subject of the origin of the Exarch's title, and then review the history of the men who bore it.

Origin of the Exarch's title. The Greek word Exarchus29 seems to have come into use in the days of Justinian, if not before, to denote a military officer of a very high rank,30 and it may perhaps be looked upon as corresponding to our word 'marshal.' It is apparently in this sense only that the term is applied by Theophanes to Narses, whom  p532 he calls 'Exarch of the Romans.'31 Narses not Exarch, For the persistent non‑use of the term Exarch in connection with Narses by all contemporary writers seems clearly to show that he was not in his lifetime called the Exarch of Italy.32

nor Longinus. Neither, as far as we can discover, did Longinus, who ruled Imperial Italy from 567 to 585 (?), and whose feebleness seems to have had much to do with facilitating the conquest of the Lombards, ever bear the title of Exarch. In fact, he is expressly called Prefect of Ravenna33 by Paulus, for which we may doubtless substitute Prefect of Italy as his true title. He was therefore, strictly speaking, only a great civil functionary, with no military command, and this may have been one reason for his failure to cope with the dire necessities of his position.

His successor Smaragdus twice held supreme power at Ravenna, his first tenure of office being probably from 585 to 589. And here we do at last get a contemporary use of the title Exarch. In a letter of Pope Pelagius II to his apocrisiarius Gregory at Constantinople, bearing date October 4, 584,34 we have a sentence saying that 'the Exarch writes he can give us no help, for he is hardly able even to guard his own  p533 district.'35 Here then we have the great military governors, who bore the title of Exarch for 170 years, fairly installed in the palace of Ravenna. It may be a question indeed whether Smaragdus was the first who bore that title. M. Diehl suggests that Baduarius, the son-in‑law of the Emperor Justin II, who came in 575 with a great army to Italy, and was defeated by the Lombards, may have been the first of the Exarchs, but we have no contemporary evidence of the fact, and the theory is at best but a plausible hypothesis.36

List of Exarchs. Smaragdus, as the reader may remember, after his high-handed proceedings towards the Istrian schismatics,37 became insane, and was recalled by his Imperial master, who appointed Romanus Exarch in his stead.38

Romanus, who ruled probably from 589 to 597, was a perpetual thorn in the side of Pope Gregory; unable, according to that Pope's representations, to defend him from the Lombards, and unwilling to make with  p534 the invaders a fair and honourable peace. Probably the fact was that now for the first time, with such a Pontiff as Gregory sitting in St. Peter's chair, the Exarch began to feel how completely he was overshadowed by the Bishop of Rome, and showed too manifestly to all men his ill‑temper and his discontent at the anomalous situation in which he found himself placed.

On the death of Romanus (596 or 597) Callinicus (or, as Paulus calls him, Gallicinus) was appointed to the vacant post, which he held till about the year 602. Though he was more acceptable to the Pope than his predecessor, his dastardly abduction of the daughter of Agilulf, the signal punishment which the injured father inflicted on him, and the damage thereby done to the Imperial cause in Italy, marked his tenure of the high office of the Exarchate with dishonour.

Smaragdus (602‑611), a second time Exarch of Italy, seems to have risen with the rise of the usurper Phocas, and fallen with his fall. It was evidently an especial delight to him to grovel before that base and truculent usurper; since besides the well-known statue and column in the Roman forum, he erected another statue to Phocas at Carthage.39

Joannes (611‑616), after an uneventful rule of five or six years, perished, apparently in a popular tumult.

Eleutherius, an eunuch (616‑620), punished the murderers of his predecessor, suppressed the rebellion  p535 of Joannes Compsinus at Naples, visited Rome, himself tried to grasp the Imperial diadem, and was slain by his own mutinous soldiers at Luceoli.

Into one of these periods we possibly ought to interpolate the Exarchate of Gregory, 'patricius Romanorum,' who, as we learn from Paulus,40 foully murdered the two sons of Gisulf, duke of Friuli, after luring them into the city of Opitergium by a promise to adopt the elder of them, Taso, as his 'son in arms.'

We have also to speak with great uncertainty of the tenure of office of Eusebius, who may not have been an Exarch at all, but an ambassador of the Emperor, but who in some strange way fascinated the young Lombard king Adalwald to his ruin. After this interval of uncertainty we come to Isaac, 'the great ornament of Armenia,' and the husband of 'that chaste turtle-dove Susanna.' His rule, which lasted probably from 625 to 644, was chiefly marked by the loss of the Riviera to the Lombards under Rothari.

Of the Exarchs who immediately followed Isaac, as before remarked,41 we know extremely little. Theodore Calliopas may have ruled for the first time from 644 to 646.

Plato (646‑649), a Monothelete, induced the Patriarch Pyrrhus to break with the Pope and return to Monotheletism.

Olympius (649‑652), Grand Chamberlain, was employed by the Emperor Constans II in his first abortive attempt to arrest Pope Martin, desisted therefrom, was reconciled to the Pope, led his army to fight against the Saracens in Sicily, and died there, probably of camp fever.

 p536  Theodore Calliopas, sent a second time as Exarch to Ravenna (653‑664), signalised his rule by the forcible arrest of Pope Martin.

Gregory, whose tenure of office perhaps extended from 664 to 677,42 is apparently only known by the occurrence of his name in the 'Privilegium' of Constans II, given in 666 to Maurus, archbishop of Ravenna, confirming his independence of the See of Rome. In this Privilegium 'Gregorius Exarchus noster' is mentioned as suggesting the issue of such a document, and is ordered to assist in giving effect to its provisions.

Another Theodore (probably different from Theodore Calliopas) dwelt in the palace at Ravenna from about 677 to 687. The monastery which he built near his palace, his receipt of the news of the election of Pope Conon, the three golden cups which he presented to the church of Ravenna, and the part which he took in the quarrel between his namesake Archbishop Theodore and his clergy, are all recorded in the pages of Agnellus.

Joannes, surnamed Platyn (687‑702), contemporary with Pope Sergius (687‑701), being appealed to in connection with the disputed Papal election of 687, appeared suddenly in Rome with his soldiers. He acquiesced in the election of Sergius, but insisted on taking toll of the Church to the amount of 100 lbs. of gold (£4000).

Theophylact (702‑709), contemporary with Pope John VI (701‑703), returning from Sicily to Rome, was  p537 assailed by the mutinous 'soldiers of Italy,' and hardly escaped through the Pope's intervention. I am not sure that we ought not to recognise in Theodore, 'the patrician' and 'primicerius' of the army of Sicily, an Exarch of Ravenna. To him was entrusted the command of the expedition of vengeance directed by Justinian II against the city of Ravenna in 709.

Joannes, surnamed Rizocopus, about 710 met Pope Constantine at Naples, on his way to Constantinople; himself proceeded to Rome, put four eminent ecclesiastics to death, and, returning to Ravenna, died there shortly after 'by a most disgraceful death, the just judgment of God on his wicked deeds.'

Scholasticus (713‑726), Grand Chamberlain and Exarch, transmitted to Pope Constantine, probably in 713, the letters of the shadow-Emperor Anastasius, in which he assured the Pope of his perfect orthodoxy.

Paulus (726‑727) was sent by Leo III to enforce the iconoclastic edicts in Italy, and to arrest Pope Gregory II. He was prevented by the joint efforts of Romans and Lombards from executing the second part of this order, and was killed in an insurrection by the citizens of Ravenna.

Eutychius (727‑752), the last Exarch of whom we have any mention,43 has figured both as a confederate with Liutprand, and as his antagonist, in the preceding history. He may have been still ruling when Ravenna fell before the assault of Aistulf, but of this we have no certain knowledge.

General character of the Exarchs. This brief summary of the deeds of the Exarchs is derived, we must remember, chiefly from hostile sources. An Exarch who lived on good terms with his ecclesiastical  p538 neighbours left no mark in history, while one who quarrelled with Pope or Archbishop was sure to have his name mentioned unfavourably by the Papal biographer or by Agnellus of Ravenna. Still, even on the one‑sided evidence before us we may fairly pronounce the Exarchs to have been a poor and contemptible race of men. They evidently felt themselves to be strangers and foreigners in the land: and taking no interest in the welfare of Italy, their chief thought probably was how to accumulate sufficient treasure against the day of their return to Constantinople. Feebly oppressive, they were neither loved nor greatly feared by their subjects or their soldiers. Three of them were killed in insurrections or mutinies, and a fourth only just escaped the same fate through the intervention of the Pope. One tried to grasp the Imperial sceptre, but failed, and perished in the attempt. There is no trace of any great work undertaken by them, or of any wise and statesmanlike scheme for lessening the unhappiness of Italy. Even for their own proper business as soldiers they showed no special aptitude. City after city was lost by them to the Lombards, and not regained; and the story of their incompetent rule is at last ended by the capture of the hitherto impregnable city of Ravenna.

Consiliarius. The most important person on the staff of the Exarch was his Consiliarius, who was addressed by the title of 'Most Eloquent,' or 'Magnificent.' This minister was still possibly in theory what he was in the days when this office was held by the historian Procopius, whom I have ventured to call 'Judge-Advocate' to Belisarius.44 A general like Belisarius,  p539 who as general had according to Roman usage the power of trying causes (even though not of a purely military kind) in which soldiers were concerned, required a trained lawyer as his assessor, and such an assessor Belisarius found in the young legist, educated at Berytus, who, fortunately for posterity, was not a mere lawyer, but had also a true historical genius, and wrote for us the story of the wars of his chief.

But as the Exarch, though still in theory a military officer, gradually drew to himself more and more of the functions of a civil governor, of course the power and the responsibility of his legal assessor were proportionately increased, and it does not surprise us to find the Consiliarius (perhaps in the absence of his lord) himself sitting on the judgment-seat, and giving decisions on his own account.45

Magister MilitumDux. Next however to the Exarch in the great official hierarchy stood the Magistri Militum, or Duces. These titles had, by a complete deviation from the usage of the times of Constantine, become practically interchangeable. At that time46 the Magister Militum was a very important minister of State — notwithstanding the division between Masters of the Horse and Masters of the Foot, there were only eight 'Masters' altogether throughout the whole width of the Empire — and the  p540 Dux was a comparatively obscure military officer, merely Spectabilis, and standing below the Comes on the official ladder.

Now, in accordance with the general tendency of affairs under the Eastern Empire, the title of Magister Militum has become cheapened,47 so that there are very likely a dozen of them in Italy alone, but the title of Dux has been raised in dignity, so that he is now distinctly above the Comes. Referring to that which has been said in a previous chapter48 as to the reasons which may have induced the barbarian nations to place the Heretoga above the Graf, we may now perhaps not too rashly venture the suggestion that the usage of the barbarians caused a change in the usage of the Empire, and that the dukes of Campania and Sardinia shone in the reflected glories of the dukes of Benevento and Spoleto.49

 p541  In the same way as the Exarch was supreme throughout Imperial Italy, so the Dux was, or became, during the period which we are now considering, supreme in the province which was under his rule, commanding the troops, nominating all the civil functionaries, fixing the taxation of the province, and constituting in himself the highest court of judicial appeal both in civil and criminal causes, subject always doubtless to an appeal from his decision to that of the Exarch.

Cartularius. In close proximity to the Dux we find an officer of high rank called the Cartularius. In a letter of Pope Stephen III,50 written in 756, the Cartularius is mentioned between the Dux and the Comes. Gregory the Great desires a correspondent to bring the necessities of Rome before the 'Magnificent Man, lord Maurentius the Cartularius.'51 And in the year 638 we find  p542 Maurice the Cartularius, apparently the chief Imperial officer in Rome. He incites the Roman soldiers to rebellion by pointing to the stored‑up treasures of the Lateran, out of which their wages might well be paid: he enters the Lateran palace along with the civil rulers,52 seals up all the treasures of the sacristy, and sends word to the Exarch Isaac, inviting him to come and divide the spoil. Later on (circa 642) he foments a rebellion against Isaac himself, which is suppressed by Donus, Magister Militum; he flies to S. Maria ad Praesepe for shelter, is dragged thence, and sent to Ravenna for execution.53

In all these transactions the Dux Romae is never mentioned. I am disposed to conjecture that what the Consiliarius was to the Exarch, the Cartularius was to the Dux; his assessor, and chief legal adviser, who in his absence acted as his representative, and who may perhaps during some casual vacancy of the office have pushed himself into a position of supremacy, and maintained it by the arts of the military demagogue, till it became necessary for the Exarch to remove him by force.54

Before we part from the Dux and his staff, we must take particular notice of two dukes, who from the scene of their administrative labours possess an especial  p543 interest for us. Dux Romae. The Dux Romae is not mentioned by that name in the letters of Gregory, but it is probable that in the course of the seventh century the Magister Militum at Rome was addressed by that title. For an express mention of a Duke of Rome we must wait till the beginning of the eighth century (711‑713), when a large part of the Roman populace refused to receive Peter as duke because he was the nominee of the heretical emperor Philippicus, and with arms in their hands vindicated the claim of his predecessor Christopher. Evidently by that time the Ducatus Romae had become a well-known office in the state. After the events of 726, and the uprising of the Roman population against the decrees of the Iconoclastic Emperor, the Duke of Rome, though still keeping his high office, seems to have more or less broken off his connection with Ravenna, and become for the remainder of the century the humble servant of the Pope.55

Dux Neapoleos. So too the Duke of Naples, though ruling over a very limited territory, became at an early period, owing to the remote and detached position of his duchy, comparatively independent of the Exarch at Ravenna. This tendency is perhaps indicated by the insurrection of Joannes Compsinus (about 618), though we have no distinct authority for calling him duke, and though his rebellion was soon suppressed. But in the eighth century, though the dukes of Naples did not break off from the Eastern Empire, and in fact fought against the Roman insurgents on behalf of the Iconoclasts, there was an evident tendency on their  p544 part to become hereditary nobles instead of mere nominees of the Emperor, holding office at his pleasure. The Duke of Naples at this time seems to be generally called Consul, as well as Magister Militum. About 768 he joins the office of bishop to that of duke, and in the following century (but this is beyond our horizon), the descendants of this duke-bishop almost succeed in making both dignities, the spiritual and the temporal, hereditary in their family.

Tendency of the Duchies to split up. It should be noticed that from the early part of the eighth century onwards, probably because of the weakened hold of the central government upon them, there was a tendency in the duchies to split up into smaller districts, each of whose rulers assumed the coveted title of Dux. The Papal biographer,56 as we have seen, describes the result of the iconoclastic decree to have been that 'all men throughout Italy, spurning the Emperor's orders, chose dukes for themselves, and thus provided for the Pope's safety and their own.' As a result, we find the number of dukes greatly increased. Perugia, Ferrara, Fermo, Osimo, Ancona, has each its duke, and probably fuller histories of the time would give us many more. How strongly this splitting‑up of the duchies, coinciding with their liberation from Imperial control, would tend towards making the dignity of duke hereditary in certain families, and preparing the way for a feudal nobility in the Italy of the Romans, as well as in the Italy of the Lombards, will be at once perceived by a student of history.

Tribuni. Of the Tribuni, the military officers with civil powers, who came next below the Duces in the Imperial  p545 hierarchy, we are not able to say much. The reader will not need to be reminded how completely in the Imperial age the words 'Tribune' had lost that signification of a defender of popular rights which once belonged to it, and how it was ordinarily applied to a military officer57 ranking above the centurion, and corresponding pretty closely with our 'Colonel.' No doubt, then, the Tribunes who commanded the detachments of troops in the various towns of the province of which the Dux was governor, were essentially and in theory military officers; but we have abundant proof in the letters of Gregory I58 that already, by the end of the sixth century, they joined to their military functions all the ordinary civil duties of the governor of a town. The Tribunes, to whom Gregory writes (and who, though styled magnifici and clarissimi, are nevertheless addressed by him in a tone of patronising condescension which he does not employ to Duces and Magistri Militum), are desired to redress financial grievances, to restore runaway slaves, to assist a niece to recover her uncle's inheritance, and so forth; all of them affairs entirely foreign to a military officer's duties. Thus we see here in a very striking manner how 'the toga' was giving away to 'arms,' the officer stepping into the place of the civil servant in all the  p546 cities of Italy. Perhaps we may even say that the substitution took place earlier in the lower ranks of the services than in the higher; that by the time of Gregory the Tribunus had generally ousted the Judex, though the Dux had not yet entirely replaced the Praeses.

Was Tribunus equivalent to Comes? The same officer who bore the title of Tribunus was also sometimes addressed as Comes, and we are tempted to say that these two titles were interchangeable, like those of Magister Militum and Dux; but it is difficult to speak with any certainty on this subject. 'It is certain' (I borrow here some sentences from the latest French expositor) 'that from the beginning of the eighth century the exact hierarchy of titles begins to get into strange confusion; the ambition to wear a more sonorous name, the desire to amass a larger fortune by the prestige of an important post in the administration lead the chiefs of the Italian aristocracy to beg for dignities and titles from Byzantium, or to assume them on their own authority. Governors of towns call themselves Dukes, great proprietors intrigue for the functions of the Tribune, which become a hereditary title of nobility in their families; and administrative dignities go on multiplying, without any longer necessarily corresponding to real offices in the State.'59

Early history of Venice. The result of this examination into the political organisation of Imperial Italy from the sixth to the eighth century throws an important light on the dark and difficult subject of the early history of Venice. As has been already hinted, we have exceedingly slight authentic and contemporary materials and a too copious supply of imaginative fourteenth-century  p547 romance for the reconstruction of that history. But, to repeat what was said in the preceding chapter, the uniform tradition of all the native historians, coinciding as it does with the contemporary letters of Cassiodorus, seems to prove that for two hundred years, from the close of the fifth century to the close of the seventh, the inhabitants of the islands in the Venetian lagunes were under the sway of rulers called Tribuni (Cassiodorus calls them Tribuni Maritimi), one for each of the twelve islands. About the year 697 they came together and chose one supreme ruler for the whole territory, who was called Dux: these Duces ruled the islands for about forty years, each one holding his office for life. Then annual magistrates, called Magistri Militiae, were appointed in their stead. This experiment, however, was found not to answer, and in 742 a Dux was again appointed, thus reinstating a line of elective life-magistrates, who for 1054 years ruled the cities of the lagunes, and for nearly 1000 years the one central queenly city of the Rialto, and whom history knows as the Doges of Venice. So much our inquiries into the contemporary history of Imperial Italy enable us easily to understand. The Tribuni, each one ruling in his own little island-town, are the Imperial officers whom we should expect to find there. If the islanders were from any cause detached from the rule of Dux Histriae et Venetiae towards the close of the seventh century, during the troublous reign of Justinian II, it was natural that the inhabitants should elect a Dux of their own, hereby illustrating both the tendency towards a splitting‑up of the great duchies into little ones, and the tendency toward popular election which became manifest when events weakened the hold of  p548 the Empire on the loyalty of the Italians. And what we have learned as to the almost equivalent value of the titles Dux and Magister Militum enables us readily to understand why, during the temporary obscuration of the life-ruling Dux, an annual Magister Militiae should be substituted in his place. The point on which we are not entitled to speak is as to the extent to which popular election may have entered into all these official appointments, especially into the appointment of the Tribuni who ruled in the several islands for two centuries. By analogy with the rest of Imperial Italy, we should expect these Tribunes to be nominated by a Duke or an Exarch, and so ultimately to receive their authority from Constantinople. It is possible that the peculiar circumstances which led to the foundation of the cities of the lagunes and their strangely strong geographical position may have rendered them more independent of the officers of the Empire than the other cities which still owned its sway. But, on the other hand, all our information about them comes to us coloured by the fancies of men who lived long after Venice had thrown off the yoke of the Empire; nay, some generations after she herself had borne a share in the sack of Constantinople. Historians like Dandolo and Sabellico, with these thoughts in their minds, were sure to minimise the degree of their ancestors' dependence on the Empire, and to exaggerate the amount of independence possessed by their forefathers. Perhaps too, even their knowledge of Roman history, imperfect as it may have been, led them to think of a Tribune as a sturdy champion of popular rights, like Tiberius or Caius Gracchus, rather than as the sleek, obsequious servant of an absolute master, who was really denoted  p549 by the term Tribunus in the sixth century after Christ.

Question as to survival of the Curiae. We have now gone through all the higher members of the political organisation of Imperial Italy during the Lombard dominion, and have certainly so far seen no germs of freedom which could account for the phenomena afterwards presented by the great Italian Republics. This is fully admitted by Savigny himself, who holds that all the higher ranks of the civil magistracy of the Empire disappeared under the waves of change, but thinks the minor municipal magistracies survived, partly by reason of their very obscurity.60 The question which thus presents itself for solution is whether the local senates or Curiae of the cities of Italy did or did not survive through those centuries of darkness, to the dawn of republican freedom in the twelfth century.

Degradation of the Curiae. To prevent needless repetition I refer my readers to an earlier section of this history61 for a sketch of the rise and fall of the municipal system of the Empire. The reader, if he turns back to that section, will see how the once flourishing and prosperous town-councils of Italy and the provinces became transformed into life-long prisons, in which the unhappy members of a once powerful middle-class were penned like sheep, awaiting the 'loud-clashing shears' of the Imperial tax‑gatherer. At the time of Justinian the condition of these 'Senators' (as they were called with cruel courtesy) was still unaltered. In a law passed in the year 536,62 the Emperor laments in his stately language  p550 that the Senates which were established in every city of the Empire, in imitation of the Senate in the capital, are falling into decay, that there is no longer the same eagerness which there was in old time to perform public services63 to one's native city, but that men are wilfully denuding themselves of their property, and making fictitious presents of it during their lifetime, in order to evade the statutory obligation to leave at least one‑fourth of that property to members of the 'Senate.' The Imperial legislator accordingly raises the proportion which must be thus left, to three-fourths. If a man leave legitimate children, they become perforce 'senators,' and take the whole property with the burden. If he leave only illegitimate offspring, they are to be enrolled in the 'Senate' if they receive a bequest of this three-fourth fraction, otherwise it all goes straight to the Curia. If he leave only daughters, they must either marry husbands who are 'senators,' or relinquish all claim to anything but one‑fourth of their father's estate.64 All these provisions show that we are still face to face with that condition of affairs in connection with the Curia — nominal dignity, but real slavery — which we met with a century and a half before in the legislation of Theodosius and his sons. We see from the letters of Pope Gregory that the same state of things continued half a century after the legislation of Justinian, for he forbids the ordination not only of bigamists, of men who have married widows, of men ignorant of letters, but also of those 'under liability to the Curia,' lest, after having received the sacred  p551 anointing, they should be compelled to return to public business.65

Disappearance of the Curiae in the East. In the East, however, it is clear that, for some reason or other, not even as convenient taxing-machines could the Curiae be kept permanently in existence. It was perhaps the institution of a new order of tax‑gatherers called Vindices, and the assignment to them of the functions formerly discharged, much against their will, by the Decurions, which brought about this change. Certain it is that about the year 890, the Emperor Leo VI, in an edict which I have already quoted,66 abolished the last vestiges of the Curiae, which he described as imposing intolerable burdens, conferring imaginary rights, and 'wandering in a vain and objectless manner round the soil of legality.'

Did they also disappear in the West? This having been the course of affairs in the Eastern Empire, we should certainly expect to find that the Curiae had not a longer life in the West. With war and barbaric invasion raging round them, with the tendency which we have observed in Imperial institutions to imitate those of the Germanic peoples, especially the tendency of offices to become hereditary and thus to prepare the way for a feudal nobility, we certainly should not expect these Curiae, the pale spectres of long-dead republics, to maintain themselves in being for six centuries. The negative conclusion on this subject to which a priori probability leads us is that at which the majority of scholars have arrived as the result of a posteriori reasoning. But one great name, that of Carl Friedrich von Savigny, is inscribed on the  p552 other side of the question, and in deference to that opinion (from which no historical student differs without reluctance) we must look a little more closely at the constitution of the Curiae, such as they undoubtedly still subsisted on the soil of Italy at the end of sixth century.

The Decurionate originally an honour. In the old and flourishing days of the Italian municipalities, as we have seen, the Decurions had been an aristocracy, ruling their native city, and proudly holding themselves aloof from the Plebeii around them. The Album Curiae. It had been an honour eagerly sought after to have one's name inscribed in the Album Curiae.67 Here were to be found first of all the names of the Patroni, or, as we should call them, honorary members; either home-born sons of the Curia, who had passed through all the grades of office up to the highest; or eminent Italians outside the Curia, on whom it had bestowed, as we should say, 'the freedom of the city.' Here, too, were those who were serving, or had served, the office of Duumviri,68 the office which imitated in each provincial town the position of the Roman Consulate, and which shared some of its reflected splendour. Here were other lower functionaries, who, as at Rome, bore the titles of Aedile and Quaestor; and here also was an officer called the Quinquennalis, appointed only once in five years, and whose dignity, corresponding to that of the Roman Censor, seems at one time to have overshadowed even that of the Duumviri themselves.

 p553  In the sixth century, the names, and hardly more than the names, of these municipal magnates still survived. The Duumviri appear to be alluded to under the more general term Magistratus. The continued existence of the Quinquennales depends on the rendering of a doubtful contraction in the papyrus documents of Marini.69 By a series of changes which even the patient labour of German scholars has hardly succeeded in fully developing, the power, such as it was, of the Italian Curia seems to have been concentrated in two officers, unknown in the third century, the Curator and the Defensor.

Curator. 1. The Curator70 seems to have exercised those administrative and financial powers which we in England associate with the title of Mayor — perhaps adding thereto that of Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Corporation. The Curator of a large city like Ravenna was still an important person in the year 600. Gregory the Great addresses him as gloria vestra, consults him about important affairs of state such as peace with the Lombard king, asks him to obtain for certain soldiers their arrears of pay, recommends to his good offices the wife of the Prefect of Rome, who is visiting Ravenna.71 If we may identify  p554 him, as seems probable, with the Major Populi whom we meet with at Naples, he had charge of the gates of that city, and vehemently resented the pretensions of a meddlesome and arrogant bishop to interfere with him in his work of guarding the city, and to raise up a party antagonistic to his government.72

These last letters of Pope Gregory probably indicate to us one reason for the disappearance of the Curator from all our later historical documents. The bishop was rapidly becoming the most important person in all that related to the peaceful administration of the city. Between him and the military governor, the Tribunus, there was left but little room for the popularly-elected Curator or Major Populi, and so in the course of seventh and eighth centuries he vanishes from the scene.73

Defensor. 2. Similar, probably, was the fate of the Defensor, who at the beginning of our period stood at the head of all the local functionaries, taking precedence both of Curator and Duumviri. His office, however, was chiefly a judicial one, and we may therefore, recurring to our English analogy, call him the Recorder, as the Curator is the Mayor of the town. The Defensor Civitatis, that officer whom the Empire had called into existence in order to protect the humbler classes against the rapacity of its own instruments, had gradually grown into an important magistrate, with a court and official retinue of his own.74 He himself had become too often arrogant  p555 and oppressive, a wolf instead of a sheep‑dog to the flock. Then, again, he too, though not one of the down-trodden Curiales, had declined in power and reputation, so, as Justinian himself says75 in his 15th Novel,

'The office of Defensor is so trampled upon in parts of our dominions, that it is considered a disgrace rather than an honour to possess it. For it is now sought after by obscure persons in need of food and clothing, and given to them as a matter of charity rather than of proved fitness. Then the governors remove them at their pleasure for the most trifling fault, or for no fault at all, and put other persons in their room whom they call "place-keepers,"76 and this they do many times a year; so that the men of their staff and the rulers and inhabitants of the city hold the Defensor in utter contempt. Moreover, their judicial acts might as well never take place at all. For if the governors of the provinces order them to do anything in their official capacity, they generally do not presume to keep any record of their acts, looking upon themselves as the humble servants of the governor, whose nod they obey. Or, if they do make a record, in the first place they sell it [to one of the litigants], or secondly, as they have no place for storing their archives, the record is practically lost, and those who may desire to refer to it at a later day have to hunt it up from their heirs, or other successors, and generally find it worthless when they have obtained it.'

Justinian's reforms in the Defensor's office. In order to remedy all these abuses, Justinian ordained that the office of Defensor should be a biennial one, that he should be chosen by the bishop, clergy, and  p556 respectable citizens from among the more influential inhabitants of the city; that each one in his turn should be obliged to accept this public charge,77 and that none, even of 'Illustrious' rank, should be allowed to decline it. If any one after this enactment presumed to refuse to undertake the office, he was to be fined five pounds of gold (£200), and was still to be compelled to act as Defensor. The Defensores were not to be removed from office, nor to have 'place-keepers' appointed in their stead, by the ordinary provincial governors. If there were any complaint against their administration, the Praetorian Prefect alone was empowered to remove them. There were assigned to each Defensor from the staff of provincial servants, one reporter (Exceptor) to take minutes of his decisions, and two Officiales to carry them into effect.

To remedy the inconvenience which had arisen from the loss of documents in the Defensor's office, Justinian further ordered that a public building should be set apart in each city, in which he should store his records, under the care of an officer appointed for that purpose. It was hoped that thus the archives might be kept uninjured, and might be accessible to all men.

The Defensor becomes a judge. Under this law, the Defensor received, perhaps for the first time, the power of deciding civil cases up to the above-mentioned limit of 300 solidi.78 He had also summary criminal jurisdiction in all cases of slight importance and the power of detaining graver offenders in prison, and sending them to the Praetor for trial.  p557 In short, his functions greatly resembled those of an English magistrate, with some of those which belong to a County Court Judge added thereto. Wills also, and voluntary donations, were registered in his court, and the provincial governor was not to seek to deprive him of this 'voluntary jurisdiction.'

The Novel in question was evidently a serious and well-considered attempt to make this popularly chosen judge, who was to be elected from among the local magnates, a great and important part of the machinery of government. As far as it went, it was an attempt to decentralise administration, and to invite the wealthier provincials to take their share in the life of the state.

Continued decline of the Defensor's office. This attempt however, like those previously noticed in the same direction, probably failed under the pressure of the times. We cannot speak with any certainty on the subject, owing to the paucity of our materials, but the letters of Pope Gregory lead us to infer that in his day the office of Defensor Civitatis was not one of any political importance.79 He too, there is reason to think, found himself squeezed out between the Bishop and the Tribunus. The Church and the Army so occupied the ground that there was no room for the delicate plant of local self-government to flourish between them.

Evidence derived from the Ravenna documents. If this is the general conclusion to which our historical materials, slender as they are, seems to lead  p558 us, what, it may well be asked, is the evidence by which Savigny could possibly be led to imagine a continuous life of municipal institutions, lasting on till the twelfth century? The answer is contained in the very interesting documents edited by Marini, which do certainly show that there was more tenacity of life in the old Curial organisation than we should have supposed from the evidence mentioned above. We have here a nearly continuous chain of documents, reaching from the days of Odovacar (circa 480) down to 625, all showing the Curia as still existing as a Court of registry for legal instruments. We have here the records of sales, donations, the appointment of a guardian, wills, the discharge of claims under a will,80 and so on. The documents have almost all come from the archives of the Church at Ravenna, and relate chiefly to that city and its neighbourhood, but there is no reason to doubt that every other in Italy could show many others like them, had they been preserved with equal care. In these documents in Marini's collection, we meet with nearly all the names of magistrates that have been described above. The Defensor, the Quinquennalis, the Magistratus (who is no doubt equivalent to Duumvir), all figure in these papyri as witnesses to the various transactions recorded: and it is often expressly said that the  p559 persons concerned in them have asked that they may be inscribed on the proceedings of the Curia.81 The Curator, however, does not appear, an absence which is by some attributed to his being veiled under the title Quinquennalis, while another suggestion is that as an administrative officer he had no concern in these quasi-judicial proceedings of the Curia.82

It is then on the strength of these most interesting documents that Savigny grounds his theory of the survival of the Curiae through the darkest part of the Middle Ages. It is true that the documents do not bring us down below 625, but it is perhaps fair to argue that this is an accident due to some special circumstances in the history of the Church of Ravenna, and that a more careful storage of the archives would have shown us some of a later date.

But even so, and without insisting too much on the great gap which intervenes between the seventh century and the twelfth, may we not fairly ask, what do these documents prove as to the political state of Italy? We have in them traces of certain courts still lingering on as mere courts of registration. These subscribing and attesting witnesses do not, for anything that the documents show us, possess any power in the city. Their functions are only what we call  p560 notarial functions, and it is but in accordance with what we might have expected that we find the word Curialis used in the ninth century (as Savigny himself admits) as a title equivalent to that of Exceptor, or registrar of the Court.83

To me the nearest analogy to these Curiae of the seventh century, which Savigny regards with such romantic interest, and in which he sees the germs of the glorious Italian Communi of the thirteenth century, is the 'courts baron' and 'courts leet,' which still preserve a lingering existence in our own country. In the absence of a complete system of registration, these little Courts of ours have their value. The steward of the manor (generally a local attorney) and a few copyholders on the estate are aware of their existence, and can tell an intelligent enquirer when they will be held. But they are absolutely without influence on the political condition of the districts in which they meet, and the majority of the inhabitants would never notice their disappearance if they dropped absolutely out of existence. If we can imagine these faint survivals becoming once more great and powerful realities, or rather becoming greater and more powerful than they ever were in the noonday of the feudal system, if we can imagine them making and unmaking ministries, and determining the destiny of England, then, as it seems to me, we may also imagine the Commune of Florence or of Siena descending from the Curiae of the Imperial age.


The Author's Notes:

1 p145.º

2 This is Diehl's statement of the case (p61), correctly deduced, I think, from the words of the anonymous geographer of Ravenna.

3 I think the words of Paulus (H. L. IV.44), who says that the Sclavonians when attacking Aio duke of Benevento in 647 pitched their camp 'non longe a civitate Seponto,' make it probable that the city was then Lombard.

4 In 758.

5 Hegel, Städtverfassung, I.225, quoting Hadrian's letter to Charles the Great (Codex Carolinus, No. 73)º and Constantine Porphyrogenitus de Adm. Imp. c. 27.

6 Paulus, H. L. IV.45.

7 Ibid. V.11.

8 Ibid. V.12.

9 This is the name given in the instrument by which the Emperor Charles VI, in 1724, sought to establish the succession to his dominions in the line of his daughter Maria Theresa. The 'Gallican liberties' also rested on the Pragmatic Sanction issued at Bourges in 1428 by Charles VII, king of France.

10 The acts of Theodoric, who had been dead for twenty-eight years, are not included in the confirmation, probably because the lapse of time rendered such confirmation unnecessary. A special exception is made as to the gift by Theodahad to 'the magnificent Maximus' of the property of a certain Marcian. Half of this donation Justinian remembers that he has bestowed on 'the most glorious Liberius,' to whom it is confirmed. The magnificent Maximus may enjoy the remainder in peace.

11 'Collator.' Does this word mean any one who paid 'lustralis collatio'?

12 § xxvii.

13 'Sine suffragio litis.' The Editor suggests 'militis' for 'litis,' but this also would be a difficult reading. Hegel pronounces 'litis' an undoubted corruption, possibly for 'ejus.'

14 No doubt these payments for suffragium were the prosaic basis for that story of the sale of the provinces by auction, which Claudian tells with so much vigour in his poem, In Eutropium (I.196‑206). See vol. I p683 (2nd edition).

15 This point is well brought out by Hegel, I.142.

16 Nov. 149, c. 1 (quoted by Hegel, I.145).

17 § xix, De Mensuris et Ponderibus: 'Ut autem nulla fraudis vel laesionis provinciarum nascatur occasio, jubemus in illis mensuris vel ponderibus species vel pecunias dari vel suscipi, quae beatissimo Papae vel amplissimo Senatui nostra Pietas in praesenti contradidit.'

18 Or perhaps even before his time; led up to in fact by the changes in administration introduced by Justinian himself. This is the opinion of Prof. Bury, II.339‑351.

19 See vol. I  p213 (607 in 2nd edition).

20 Diehl (pp7‑9) successfully combats the theory advanced by Flavio Biondo (1393‑1462), and silently accepted without any adequate proof by many later writers, that Longinus, first Exarch, removed at one blow all the civil side of the administration of Italy, and made the military officers supreme. Though Hegel does not formally combat this theory, the whole tenour of his remarks (I.176‑7) shows that he did not accept it. The letters of Gregory the Great disprove it, showing as they do that there were still Praefecti and Praesides in his day.

21 See vol. I p227 (1st edition); p620 (2nd edition).

22 See Hegel, I.176.

23 'Sisinnium qui judex Samnii fuit' (Greg. Ep. II.38).º It is, of course, to be noted that Samnium had fallen entirely into the hands of the Lombard duke of Benevento, and this would account in some measure for the change in the fortunes of Sisinnius.

24 For a more minute discussion of the functions of the Praefectus and Vicarii I may refer the reader to Diehl, book II chap. VII pp157‑167. His chief conclusions are these: —

I. The Praefectus per Italiam probably lost all his legislative and most of his administrative functions. He had still considerable judicial authority, but was pre‑eminently a financial officer.

II. The survival of this part of his functions is analogous to what happened in the East, where, when the new thematic government was organised, a financial officer called the protonotarius was placed beside the strategos. The former, though much lower in rank, was yet in a certain sense independent of the latter.

III. The title of the Praefectus per Italiam was Eminentissimus, and he resided at Ravenna, or, more properly speaking, at Classis.

IV. In the East the Praefectus Praetorio is mentioned for the last time in a constitution of Heraclius, 629; and he was undoubtedly suppressed when the themes were organised.

V. In the papyri of Marini the title of Praefectus lingers on till 681. But whatever may have been the date of his final disappearance, from the middle of the seventh century his essential attributes had passed into the hands of the Exarch of Ravenna.

VI. Under the Prefect, there were two Vicarii (bearing the title of Magnificus): one at Rome (the Vicarius Urbis), who governed the ten provinces of the South; the other at Genoa (after his expulsion from Milan), who professed to govern the seven provinces of the North. They, too, seem to have been chiefly concerned with finance.

VII. From the end of the sixth century the Vicarius Romae was nothing more than an urban functionary who was subordinate to the Praefectus Urbis, and who doubtless ended by being confounded with him.

The Vicarius Italiae, if he lingered in obscurity at Genoa during the first years of the seventh century, assuredly disappeared at the moment when the Lombard conquest destroyed the province of Liguria (640).

There is an article by Mommsen on the subject of the Vicarius Romae and Vicarius Italiae in the Neues Archiv, vol. XIV; but it relates chiefly to Ostrogothic times, and I do not understand him as combating Diehl's conclusions with regard to Lombard times.

25 But not Sicily, which from the time of Justinian onwards seems to have been under its own Praetor or Praefectus, independent of the Exarch of Italy. See Diehl, pp169‑172.

26 'Praecelsa potestas per cujus dispositiones voluntas pietatis imperatorum impletur' (Marini, 87; quoted by Diehl).

27 '[Johannicius scriba] prostratus ante pedes Exarchi surrexit,' &c. (Agnellus, 120).

28 This right was transferred by the Emperor to the Exarch in 685, or possibly even as early as 642 (Diehl, p180). Two of the most interesting letters in the Liber Diurnus (the book of common forms for use in the Papal Chancery) are those addressed to an exarch on the occasion of a vacancy in the Papal See. In the first the most Excellent and Transcendent Exarch is informed of the deep sorrow into which the people of Rome are plunged by the death of their Pope. In the second he is told that their mourning is turned into joy by the election of a most holy man as his successor; and the Exarch is intreated speedily to confirm this election, because there are many things both in the city and the rural districts which need his immediate attention, and especially because the ferocity of the enemies who surround Rome will yield to nothing but the rebukes and entreaties of the pope and himself (Liber Diurnus, lix‑lx).

29 Ἔξαρχος.

30 In Justiniani Novella, 130 (Const. CL in Lingenthal's edition), we have the often-recurring expression, τῶν ἐξάρχων καὶ τῶν στρατιωτῶν. This would incline us to say that ἔξαρχος = (simply) 'officer'; but we have also in the same Novel, τῷ ἐξάρχων καὶ τριβοῦνων καὶ κομήτων καὶ διασωστῶν καὶ δελεγατόρων καὶ τῶν ἑκάστου τάγματος πρωτευόντων: where ἔξαρχος is evidently a very high officer, perhaps = the dux or magister militum. (I owe this quotation to Diehl, p15.)

31 Ναρσῆ τοῦ κουβικουλαρίου καὶ ἐξάρχου Ῥωμαίων (A. M. 6044).

32 As Theophanes is only a ninth-century writer, his testimony on such a point as this is not very valuable, even if he did mean to call Narses 'the Exarch.'

33 'Statimque Rosemunda Longino praefecto Ravennae mandavit' (Paulus, H. L. II.29).

34 Troya proposes to refer this letter to Indiction IIII instead of III, and thus to make it 585 rather than 584. One is reluctant to accept a correction of the text too easily, but there seems much to be said for his view.

35 'Et Exarchus scribit nullum nobis posse remedium facere; quippe qui nec ad illas partes custodiendas se testatur posse sufficere' (ap. Troya, IV.1.63). In the letter from Pelagius II to Elias (see vol. V p462) we have an allusion to the peace attained by the labour and pains 'filii nostri excellent­issimi Smaragdi Exarchi et Cartularii sacri palatii.' Troya assigns this letter to the end of 584, or the beginning of 585.

36 It is interesting to observe that at about the same time, and probably as a result of the same tendencies, the chief ruler of Africa received the title of Exarch. In the year 591, Gregory addresses a letter to Gennadius, 'Patrician and Exarch of Africa' (Ep. I.61 (59)). See vol. V p414.

37 See vol. V p195.º

38 On the strength of an inscription remarked by de Rossi (Inscr. Christ. II.454‑455), Diehl would interpolate an Exarch named Julianus (otherwise unheard of) between Smaragdus and Romanus (p208, n. 7).

39 CIL VIII.10529, quoted by Diehl (p171), who rightly argues against the theory of the African's subjection to the Italian Exarch, derived from this piece of fussy servility on the part of Smaragdus.

Thayer's Note: Diehl's judgment was borne out: the Carthage inscription is held to be a forgery. French archaeologist Salomon Reinach, in the course of his epigraphic survey of Carthage in 1883‑1884, saw the inscription and asserted it to have been made in Rome, probably in the 18c. Eph. epigr. 5.1224 (published in 1884, a few years before Hodgkin wrote).

40 H. L. IV.38.

41 See p257, n. 1.

42 The dates of the Exarchs from this point onwards are even more doubtful than those which have gone before. As a rule we only know them by a single entry for each one in the Liber Pontificalis; and all that we are really entitled to say is that each one was contemporary with the Pope in whose biography his name occurs.

43 He may possibly have been Exarch once before. See p455, n.2.º

44 See vol. III p638.º

45 So in Marini (Pap. Dip. No. cxxiii): 'Ex decreto quondam Johannis qui fuit [consiliarius] gloriosae memoriae Johannis Patricii et Exarchi Italiae: nec non ex per judicio [? praejudicio] Procopii viri eloquentissimi Consiliarii Domni viri eloquentissimi Eleutherii Chartularii Exarchi Italiae.' The date of this document is probably about 617. It is of course a mere coincidence, though an interesting one, that this Consiliarius is also named Procopius. See Diehl, pp181‑182.

46 See vol. I pp209‑218 (604‑613, 2nd edition).

47 Thus, as Diehl remarks (p141), 'In 592 we find four Magistri Militum at once in the Roman district' — Aldio at Rome, Velox, Mauritius, and Vitalian in the immediate neighbourhood of Rome (Greg. Ep. II.29.3 and 30).º

Thayer's Note: These citations to Gregory's Letters seem to be off. Aldio appears in II.32, Mauritius and Vitalian on the same page of the M. G. H. in II.33; and Velox I've been unable to find.

48 See vol. V p183.

49 As to the practical convertibility of the titles Magister Militum and Dux, see Hegel, I.180, and Diehl, 141‑142. Hegel says, 'We look on the M. M. as the special commanders of the army, whose generalissimo was the Exarch, whereas the Duces appear as military lieutenant-governors, who are sometimes named after the province over which they preside, sometimes after the city in which they dwell'; and Diehl says, 'At the head of the provincial administration was placed a military governor who generally bore the title of Dux, sometimes also that of Mag. Militum. Certainly, in strictness there is a considerable difference between these two titles. The M. M. is essentially a military chief: he has army-rank, but not an administrative function. . . . The Dux, on the other hand, is at the same time military chief and civil administrator. In the second place, while there is only a single Dux to each province, it is not rare to find many Magistri Militum in the same district, commanding different detachments stationed therein, and doubtless placed under the orders of the provincial Dux.

'Still, in the same way as the Dux, leaving his duchy, sometimes ceases to be a governor in order to discharge simply the office of a general (e.g. the Dux of Perugia commands the Byzantine troops at the attack on Bologna, H. L. VI.54), so inversely, the M. M., though essentially a military officer, may add to his command administrative functions.

'In this case he generally adds to his rank of M. M. the administrative title of Dux, but in practice it is not uncommon to see the two terms used indifferently one for the other. Thus Gregory the Great (Ep. I.49) calls Theodore, governor of Sardinia in 591, by turns Dux and Mag. Militum: the same thing at Naples, where the M. M. Maurentius possesses all the attributes of a Dux (Greg. Ep. IX.38‑69); the same thing also at Ravenna, where the same person is mentioned once with the title of Dux, and a little later with that of Magister Militum.'

50 Codex Carolinus, 9.

51 Ep. I.3.

52 'Judicibus.'

53 See pp170‑173.

54 Comp. Diehl, pp151, 155, for a somewhat different view of the functions of the Cartularius, who, after all, remains somewhat of a puzzle to him. He thinks that the Dux, like the Exarch, had a Consiliarius, who was therefore a different person from the Cartularius (on his staff), but says candidly, 'Dans l'Italie Byzantine aucun texte ne mentionne formellement un consiliarius ou assessor à côté du dux.' This silence seems to me an argument of some weight in favour of the view in the text.

55 See Hegel, I.226‑229, both for the Dux Romae and the Dux Neapoleos.

56 In Vitâ Gregorii II.

57 The fact that we have under the Empire Tribuni rerum nitentium, whose business it was to take charge of the statues and other works of art in public places in Rome, Tribuni voluptatum, who had the superintendence of the public games, and so on, prevents our speaking of the Tribune as an exclusively military officer at this period. Still, even these Tribunes were probably in theory part of the military household of the Emperor by whom they were appointed.

58 See Greg. Ep. IX.4699; XI.24.

59 Diehl, p117.

60 Vol. I p289.

61 Vol. II pp596‑619 (576‑596, 2nd edition).

62 Nov. 38 (Const. xli, ed. Lingenthal).

63 λειτουργήματα.

64 The word βουλευτής, which I have translated 'senator,' is of course equivalent to 'curialis.'

65 'Videndum etiam ne sine litteris aut ne obnoxius curiae compellatur post sacrum ordinem ad actionem publicam redire' (Ep. IV.26).

66 Vol. II p618 (1st ed.), 596 (2nd ed.).

67 The best example of such an Album Curiae is that of Canusium, published by Orelli, No. 3721, and commented upon by Savigny, I.93.

68 Sometimes Quatuorviri. The full title was IIvir or IVvir juri dicundo.

69 Ql (in Marini, 74, 84, 115‑116), which Marini interprets Quinquennalis. But Diehl suggests that perhaps the characters should be read Vlvir laudabilis (p98, n. 8).

70 I follow Marquardt (Römische Staats­verfassung, I.487) in dissenting from Savigny's and Hegel's identification of the Quinquennalis and the Curator. The very name of the former seems to me to be against that identification. How could ordinary administrative functions, the control of the finances, &c., cease for the four years during which there was no Quinquennalis?

71 Greg. Ep. IX.98; X.6; IX.6.

72 Greg. Ep. IX.69104.

73 This is Diehl's view (pp110‑111).

74 For the earlier history of the Defensor, see vol. I pp625‑628 (2nd edition). Some of the later developments also are there alluded to.

75 Const. xxxv, Lingenthal.

76 τοποτηρητάς; loci servatores.

77 Justinian uses here the word λειτουργία, and says, 'We have learned that the men of old times held this to be part of the duty of a citizen.'

78 £180, probably quite equivalent to £300 in our day.

79 We have abundant references to the Defensores Ecclesiae, a numerous and powerful body, but quite distinct from the Defensores Civitatis. The only clear reference to the latter appears to be in Greg. Ep. X.28: 'Sabinianusº vir clarissimus . . . praedictae civitatis defensoris officium tenuit.'

80 This 'Instrumentum Plenariae Securitatis' (lxxx in Marini's collection) was for a long time supposed to be the will of Julius Caesar! It is the discharge given by Gratian, the sub‑deacon, guardian of the young Stephanus, to the widow Germana, for the portion of goods left to Stephanus by his father Collectus. Ducange's Glossary of Mediaeval Latin has been enriched by about thirty words, the names of articles in domestic use, drawn from this document alone.

81 'Gestis municipalibus allegandi tribuerunt licentiam' (cxxii, cxxiii). 'Quod lectum est actis indetur' (lxxiv).

82 This is Diehl's view. 'Le curateur qui depuis le commencement du quatrième siècle est devenu un magistrat municipal élu, a hérité dans la cité des attributions administratives et financières des duumvirs et des édiles : il ne saurait donc participer aux actes de juridiction volontaire réservés au magistrat et à la curie, et, en effet, il ne figure point dans les papyrus de Marini' (p98). I cannot say that the explanation is altogether satisfactory, since Magistratus (= Duumvir) does appear in these documents.

83 Savigny, I.365; Diehl, 107; Hegel, I.303.


Thayer's Notes:

a Although I can only find one volume of Fantuzzi's work online, by good fortune it's Vol. I, the one we need. The register Hodgkin cites starts on p1; the Index starts on p407.

b Nothing better could possibly have been written than "blended and conflicting rule", encapsulating as it does in just four words the essence of the condition of Italy under the Lombards and the Byzantines: if you are just becoming acquainted with the subject, these are the four words to remember and on which to hang the details of the convoluted history of the time.

The phrase is an example of Hodgkin's clear insight, often beautifully expressed in a style vivid yet sober, with few missteps (OK, for balance, here's the howler in his 4636 pages), that has made him for me such a pleasure to read — thank goodness, since I've spent a year of my life on transcribing his book.

c Hodgkin will change his mind: VIII.258 and note.

d Mentone had been part of France, under its present name of Menton, for nearly forty years when Hodgkin's work was published.


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