Notitia Dignitatum

Notitia Dignitatum

Italy — 15th century

The famous ledger for the management of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity

  1. Detailed documentation regarding the management of the Roman Empire during late-antiquity

  2. Additionally, it has eleven treatises on thematic areas that are of interest to historians of various kinds

  3. The texts are true to the originals and are illustrated with 100+ miniatures from 15th century Italy

Notitia Dignitatum

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Notitia Dignitatum

The famous ledger for the management of the Roman Empire from late-antiquity in a 15th century manuscript! The manuscript with the title Descripto orbis terrarium of the Spanish National Library’s manuscript collection contains the famous Notitia Dignitatum as well as eleven additional treatises on thematic areas that are administratively, politically, geographically, topographically, and historically interesting. In this way, the compendium, which has been known in this form since the 9th century, presents an exciting mix of texts from various epochs, authors, and themes. As a special feature, a few of the texts are illustrated with gorgeous miniatures that are always typical for the respective period. A unique, comprehensive glimpse into history!

Notitia Dignitatum

The famous ledger for the management of the Roman Empire from late-antiquity in a 15th century manuscript! The manuscript with the title Descripto orbis terrarium of the Spanish National Library’s manuscript collection contains the famous Notitia Dignitatum as well as eleven additional treatises on thematic areas that are administratively, politically, geographically, topographically, and historically interesting. In this way, the compendium, which has been known in this form since the 9th century, presents an exciting mix of texts from various epochs, authors, and themes. As a special feature, a few of the texts are illustrated with gorgeous miniatures that are always typical for the respective period. A unique, comprehensive glimpse into history!

Exciting Historical Treatises

The manuscript with the signature Ms. Reserva 36 of the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid bears the title Descripto orbis terrarium. The manuscript collects texts about geography, topography, politics, and other themes on 336 pages. This historically significant compendium was already compiled in this form in the 9th century. In the 15th century, this was reproduced in the finest detail for the Madrid codex. 12 treatises altogether – among them the Cosmography of Pseudo-Aethicus, texts about the cities of Rome and Constantinople, and a dispute between Hadrian and Epictetus - give wonderful insight into various historically interesting thematic areas.

The Administration of the Roman Empire

The most famous of the twelve treatises in the manuscript is undoubtedly the so-called Notitia Dignitatum (Notitia dignitatum tam civilium quam militarium): a Roman state ledger, originating from the beginning of the 5th century. It contains a description of the administrative structure of the Roman Empire along with a depiction of the personalities and office holders who were responsible for managing Roman sovereignty. This valuable information about the management structure of the Roman Empire, about the military and political mastery of such a large area, was continuously referred to over the centuries. Thus, Charlemagne himself relied upon the Notitia Dignitatum and formed the organization of his empire according to its rules.

Miniatures in the Flux of the Ages

The Madrid manuscript originated in Italy. The Italian humanists of the 15th century concerned themselves extensively with political and cosmological treatises. The texts in this manuscript are true to the originals and are gorgeously illustrated with over 100 miniatures. These are obliged by the respective taste and style of the text’s period of origin. Therefore, one finds elegant Gothic miniatures and lavish Renaissance adornment, but also schematic charts in the tradition of the Early Middle Ages, or well-arranged tables. Ancient personalities on coins, personifications and symbolic depictions of cities and regions, as well as other depictions illustrate the historically significant text of this manuscript!

Codicology

Size / Format
336 pages / 28.8 × 20.8 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
15th century
Language
Script
Humanistic minuscule
Illustrations
Over 100 miniatures in gold frames, numerous colorful decorative initals with gold leaf

Available facsimile editions:
Notitia Dignitatum – Ms. Reserva 36 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2009
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Detail Picture

Notitia Dignitatum

BALISTA QVADRIROTIS

As the greatest engineers of the ancient world, the Romans also created sophisticated weapons of war such as the Carroballista, a cart-mounted type of mobile field artillery. They were adopted in the 1st century AD and are depicted on the triumphal columns of both Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. The 4th century Roman general Vegetius tells us that each cart was drawn by two armored mules or horses, operated by ten soldiers commanded by an officer, and that each legion had 55 – one per century.

Notitia Dignitatum
Single Page

Notitia Dignitatum

ITALIA, ILLIRICUM, AFRICA

Depicted as three female saints with halos, the three most important provinces of the Western Roman Empire are presented in a lovely miniature with a rich color palette and the judicious use of gold leaf: Italy, Illyria, and Africa. The women are depicted with typified faces and are dressed in similar flowing garments, each holding a basket of bread.

Being the original province and home to the capital, Italy was naturally the most important province in the West. Situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Danube River, Illyria was critical both strategically and as a recruiting ground for the legions. Africa was, except for Italy, the richest province in the West and an important source of grain for the great cities of the empire.

Notitia Dignitatum
Facsimile Editions

#1 Notitia Dignitatum

Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2009
Notitia Dignitatum – Ms. Reserva 36 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Notitia Dignitatum – Ms. Reserva 36 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2009
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Binding: Embossed black leather over board with two metal clasps
Commentary: 1 volume by Elisa Ruiz García and Laura Fernández Fernández
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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