The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814

By H. St. L. B. Moss | Go to book overview

APPENDIX A

The Imperial. Machine in the Fourth Century A.D.

I. THE EMPEROR
In theory, still elected by senate and army. Actually, the succession principle was largely dynastic, since the reigning Emperor could indirectly appoint his successor, by naming him Augustus.
II. THE SENATE
Either sons of senators, who had held the praetorship, an office whose main duty now was to pay for the games or public works; or else members of the three orders (illustres, spectabiles, clarissimi), which they had entered either in virtue of their offices or as a reward on retirement. A few became senators by special grace of the Emperor (adlectio).
III. THE COUNCIL
The Consistorium was a development from Hadrian Consilium. It now had permanent members ( Comites Consistoriani), including the chief officials, was in attendance on the Emperor, and met constantly to advise on frontier policy and legislative and administrative problems. It also tried cases of treason.IV. IMPERIAL OFFICIALSThe most important of the officers attending on the Emperor were:
a. The Master of Offices (Magister Officiorum), who controlled a number of miscellaneous departments, dealing with appeals, petitions, embassies, ceremonies, the State Post, the State factories of arms. He also commanded the 'Scholarian' bodyguards (see below), and the agentes in rebus or secret agents sent on delicate missions, and especially used to report on misconduct of officials in the provinces.
b. The Quaestor of the Sacred Palace (Quaestor Sacri Palatii). The supreme legal minister, who drafted laws and Imperial rescripts.
c. The Count of the Sacred Largesse (Comes Sacrarum Largitionum). Finance Minister, controlling Treasury officials, mint, customs, and all financial machinery of the provinces. The revenue of the Emperor's estates was managed by the Comes Rerum Privatarum, who probably, after paying his subordinates, handed over the balance to the Count of the Sacred Largesse,

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