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In the
Late Roman Empire The Later Roman Empire spans the period from 284 AD to 641 in the history of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period ...
, usually dated 284 AD to 602 AD, the regional governance district known as the Roman or civil diocese was made up of a grouping of
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
headed by vicars, who were the substitutes or representatives of praetorian prefects (who governed directly the dioceses they were resident in). There were initially twelve dioceses, rising to fourteen by the end of the 4th century. The term ''diocese'' comes from the la, dioecēsis, which derives from the grc-gre, dioíkēsis ('' διοίκησις'') meaning "administration", "management", "assize district", or "group of provinces".


Historical development


Tetrarchy (286-305)

Two major reforms to the administrative divisions of the empire were undertaken during the
Tetrarchy The Tetrarchy was the system instituted by Roman Emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when ...
. The first of these was the multiplication of the number of
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
, which had remained largely unchanged since the time of
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, from 48 at the beginning of
Diocletian Diocletian (; la, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus; born Diocles; 22 December c. 244 – 3 December 311) was from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in , Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become a commander of ...
's reign to around a hundred by the time of his abdication. The multiplication of the provinces was probably undertaken for military, financial, and economic reasons. It brought the
governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, ''governor'' may be t ...
closer to the cities which were responsible for the collection of taxes. It also limited the power of the governors and the autonomy of the cities. At the same time, the status of the provinces was regularized.
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...
lost its unique status and was divided into three provinces, while
Italia Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italia
was 'provincialized' - the numbered ''regiones'' established by Augustus received names and were governed by '' correctores''. The distinction between senatorial and imperial provinces was abolished and hitherto, all governors were appointed by the Emperor. In order to compensate for the weakening of the provinces and to maintain the link between the Imperial centre and the individual provinces, the dioceses were created as a new territorial subdivision above the level of the province. The empire was divided into twelve dioceses. The largest of these, the
Diocese of the East The Diocese of the East ( la, Dioecesis Orientis; el, ) was a diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organizat ...
, encompassed sixteen
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
. Each diocese was governed by an ''agens vices praefectorum praetorio'' (Acting Representatives of the Praetorian Prefects) or simply Vicar (''
vicarius ''Vicarius'' is a Latin word, meaning ''substitute'' or ''deputy''. It is the root of the English word " vicar". History Originally, in ancient Rome, this office was equivalent to the later English "vice-" (as in " deputy"), used as part of the ...
''), under the
Praetorian prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Repub ...
, although some provinces were governed directly by the Praetorian Prefect. These vicars had previously been ad hoc representatives of the prefects, but they were now made into permanent, regularised positions. The vicar controlled the provincial governors (variously titled as ''consulares'', ''correctores'', ''praesides'') and heard appeals of cases decided at the provincial level (parties could decide whether to appeal to the vicar or the praetorian prefect). The provinces governed by
proconsul A proconsul was an official of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose wo ...

proconsul
s (
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...
and
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...
) remained outside the vicars' jurisdiction,. as did the cities of Rome and Constantinople, which were governed by a ''
Praefectus urbi The ''praefectus urbanus'', also called ''praefectus urbi'' or urban prefect in English, was prefect Prefect (from the Latin ''praefectus'', substantive adjectival form of ''praeficere'': "put in front", meaning in charge) is a Magistrate, m ...
'' instead. The vicars had no military powers. Troops stationed in the dioceses fell under the command of a ''
comes rei militaris ''Comes'' ( ), plural ''comites'' ( ), is the Latin word for "companion", either individually or as a member of a collective denominated a "''Comitatus (classical meaning), comitatus''", especially the suite of a magnate, being in some instances s ...
'', who was directly under the control of the ''
magister militum (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic ...
'' and was in charge of the '''' who had the military command of individual provinces. Many modern scholars date the introduction of the dioceses to AD 296–297. A passage of
Lactantius Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325) was an early Christian author who became an advisor to Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his Christian religious policy in its initial stages of emergence, and a tutor to his son Crisp ...

Lactantius
, who was hostile to Diocletian because of his persecution of the Christians, seems to indicate the existence of ''vicarii praefectorum'' in the time of Diocletian: Thus Lactantius refers to the ''vicarii praefectorum'' as being active already in Diocletian's time. Other sources from Diocletian's reign mention one Aurelius Agricolanus who was an ''agens vices praefectorum praetorio'' active in
Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testame ...
and condemned a centurion named Marcellus to be executed for his Christianity, as well as an Aemilianus Rusticianus, who is considered by some scholars to have been the first vicar of the Diocese of the East that we know of. Lactantius also mentions one Sossianus Hierocles as an ''ex vicario'' active in the East in this period. Septimius Valentio is also attested as ''agens vices praefectorum praetorio'' of Rome between 293 and 296. However, these sources do not prove that these ''vicarii'' or ''agentes vices'' were already in charge of dioceses with a well-defined and stable territory. Septimius Valentio in particular was definitely the commander of the
Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
during a period when the Praetorian Prefect was absent from the city, but was not in charge of Italia Suburbicaria. According to Zuckerman, the establishment of the dioceses should instead be dated to around AD 313/14, after the annexation of Armenia into the Roman empire and the meeting of
Constantine Constantine most often refers to: * Constantine the Great Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was a Roman emperor from 306 to 337. Born in Naissus, Dacia Mediterra ...

Constantine
and
Licinius Licinius (; la, Valerius Licinianus Licinius ; (Ancient Greek Λίκινιος) (c. 265 – 325) was Roman emperor from 308 to 324. For most of his reign he was the colleague and rival of Constantine I, with whom he co-authored the Edict of M ...
in
Mediolanum Mediolanum, the ancient city where Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome. Milan served as the capital of the Western Roman Empire, ...
. The matter remains controversial.


Constantinian reforms (326-337)

From 310,
Constantine I Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). Th ...

Constantine I
was one of the
Augusti 300px, Coin of the emperor Diocletian, marked ''Augustus'' (plural ''augusti''; , ; "majestic", "great" or "venerable") was an ancient Roman In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 ...
of the Empire and from 324 he was the sole ruler of the whole state. During his reign, he carried out many crucial reforms creating the administrative and military organisation of the empire which would last until the
fall of the Western Roman Empire The fall of the Western Roman Empire (also called the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome) was the loss of central political control in the Western Roman Empire, a process in which the Empire failed to enforce its rule, and its vast ...
.


Regionalisation of the Praetorian Prefectures

The principal territorial reform undertaken by Constantine, as part of a process of trial-and-error, was the 'regionalisation' of the
Praetorian prefecture The praetorian prefecture ( la, praefectura praetorio; in Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. It ...
. Hitherto, one or two
Praetorian prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Repub ...
s had served as chief minister for the whole empire, with military, judicial, and fiscal responsibilities. The political centralisation under Constantine, which culminated in the reunification of the whole empire under his rule, resulted in an "administrative decentralisation." A single emperor could not control everything, so between 326 and 337, Constantine progressively transformed the 'ministerial' Praetorian Prefect into a 'regional' Prefect, in charge of a specific territory which contained several dioceses and was called a 'Praetorian Prefecture' ('). These Praetorian Prefects had authority over the Vicars and Provincial Governors. Paul Petit argues that the dioceses "themselves prefigured to some degree" the regional praetorian prefectures. Thus, the creation of the praetorian prefectures reduced the utility of the dioceses. The direct link between the prefects and the governors bypassed the Vicars and caused their power to decline; they increasingly became agents carrying out the will of the Praetorian Prefects. However, despite their decreased importance, the vicars played an important role in the court hierarchy - Constantine raised them to the rank of ''clarissimi'' (between the ''consulares'' and the ''proconsulares'').


Creation of the

The other reason for the weakening of the vicars was the regular dispatch of ''
comites ''Comes'' ( ), plural ''comites'' ( ), is the Latin word for "companion", either individually or as a member of a collective denominated a "''Comitatus (classical meaning), comitatus''", especially the suite of a magnate, being in some instances s ...
'', who outranked the vicars and probably had the role of inspecting their conduct.


Territorial adjustments

It was probably
Constantine Constantine most often refers to: * Constantine the Great Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was a Roman emperor from 306 to 337. Born in Naissus, Dacia Mediterra ...

Constantine
in 312 who transformed the ''agens vices prefectorum praetorio'' of Rome, which had been the commander of the troops stationed in the City when the Praetorian Prefect was absent since the Severan period, into the civil vicar of Italia Suburbicaria, as part of his demilitarisation of the city after his victory over
Maxentius Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius (c. 283 – 28 October 312) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughou ...
. Thus, under Constantine, the diocese of Italia was split into the two vicariates of Italia Suburbicaria in the south and Italia Annonaria in the north, under the administration of the '' vicarius urbis Romae'' and the ''vicarius Italiae'' respectively. Italia Suburbicaria and Italia Annonaria were not ''de jure'' dioceses, but vicariates within a single Italian diocese, as the ''Laterculus Veronensis'' and the ''
Notitia Dignitatum Palestine and the River Jordan, from the ''Notitia Dignitatum'' illuminated by Peronet Lamy.">Peronet_Lamy.html" ;"title="River Jordan, from the ''Notitia Dignitatum'' illuminated by Peronet Lamy">River Jordan, from the ''Notitia Dignitatum'' ...
'' show. Constantine I also divided the
diocese of Moesia The Diocese of Moesia ( la, Dioecesis Moesiarum, el, Διοίκησις Μοισίας) was a Roman diocese, diocese of the later Roman Empire, in the area of modern western Bulgaria, central Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, and Greec ...
into the dioceses of
Dacia Dacia (, ; ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the ar ...
and
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
in 327. Under Emperor
Valens Flavius Valens (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ) ...

Valens
(364-378), the
Diocese of Egypt The Diocese of Egypt ( la, Dioecesis Aegypti, el, ) was a diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organizatio ...
was split out of the Diocese of the East. The ''Notitia Dignitatum'' indicates that at some point, the
Diocese of Gaul:''See Christianity in GaulGaul was an important early center of Latin Christianity in late antiquity and the Merovingian period. By the middle of the 3rd century, there were several churches organized in Roman Gaul, and soon after the cessation ...
was suppressed and incorporated into the diocese of the
Septem Provinciae The Diocese of the Seven Provinces ( la, Dioecesis Septem Provinciarum), originally called the Diocese of Vienne ( la, Dioecesis Viennensis) after the city of ''Vienna'' (modern Vienne, Isère, Vienne), was a Roman diocese, diocese of the later Rom ...
. According to the ''Notitia Dignitatum'', the dioceses of Dacia and
Illyricum Illyricum may refer to: * Illyria In classical antiquity, Illyria ( grc, Ἰλλυρία, ''Illyría'' or , ''Illyrís''; la, Illyria, ''Illyricum'') was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by numerous tribes of peopl ...
did not have vicars, but were governed by the Praetorian Prefect of Illyricum directly. Before its suppression, the Diocese of Gaul also seems to have been directly administered by the
Praetorian Prefect of Gaul The Praetorian Prefecture of Gaul ( la, praefectura praetorio Galliarum) was one of four large praetorian prefecture, prefectures into which the Late Roman Empire was divided. History The prefecture was established after the death of Constant ...
. In fact, according to Jones, the diocese in which each Praetorian Prefect was based was generally under their direct control, except for the
Diocese of Thrace The Diocese of Thrace Map of Ancient Thrace made by Abraham Ortelius in 1585, stating both the names Thrace and Europe. Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical ...
, which was administered by a ''vicarius Thraciarum'' even though the Praetorian Prefect of the East had his seat in the diocese. The title of vicar was used in all provinces except for the Diocese of the East, which was governed by a ''comes Orientis'' and Egypt, which continued to be governed by a
Prefect Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
.


Subsequent evolution

The successors of Theodorus made few changes to the administrative subdivisions of the Empire. A few provinces were further subdivided. For example, the provinces of
Epirus sq, Epiri rup, Epiru , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = Historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a culture, cultural, ethnic group, ethn ...
,
Galatia Galatia (; grc, Γαλατία, ''Galatía'', "Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally ...
, Palestina, and
Thebais The Thebaid or Thebais ( grc-gre, Θηβαΐς, ''Thēbaïs'') was a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human geography), and the int ...
were split in two. At the beginning of the 6th century, the province of
Aegyptus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief ...
was also split in two. A separate Vicariate of the
Long Walls Although long walls were built at several locations in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuri ...
was created in Thrace by Anastasius I (491-518).


Fall of the Western Roman empire

Around the end of the 5th century, the majority of the dioceses of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
ceased to exist, following the establishment of the
Barbarian kingdoms A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Bioc ...
. There is no evidence that the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
and
Burgundians The Burgundians ( la, Burgundiōnes, Burgundī; on, Burgundar; ang, Burgendas; grc-gre, Βούργουνδοι) were an early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germa ...
maintained the Roman provincial system; the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe a ...
and
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
did maintain the provinces (governed by ''rectores'' or ''iudices''), but not the dioceses or prefectures. In Italia,
Odoacer Flavius Odoacer ( ; – 493 AD), also spelled Odovacer or Odovacar ( grc, Ὀδόακρος, translit=Odóakros), was a soldier and statesman of Barbarian kingdoms, barbarian background, who deposed the child emperor Romulus Augustulus and bec ...

Odoacer
and then the
Ostrogothic The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic peoples, Germanic people. In the 5th century, they followed the Visigoths in creating one of the two great Goths, Gothic kingdoms within the Roman Empire, based upon the large ...
kings, particularly Theoderic, basically retained the Roman provincial system, including the Praetorian Prefecture of Italia and the two vicariates of Italia Annonaria and Italia Suburbicaria, as well as the various provinces that they contained. When Theoderic conquered
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, ...

Provence
in 508, he also re-established a Diocese of the Gauls, which was promoted to the rank of Prefecture with a capital at
Arelate Arles (, also , ; oc, label=Provençal dialect, Provençal, Arle ; Classical la, Arelate) is a city and Communes of France, commune in the south of France, a Subprefectures in France, subprefecture in the Bouches-du-Rhône Departments of Fran ...
two years later. This Praetorian Prefecture was abolished in 536, during the reign of
Vitiges Vitiges or Vitigis or Witiges (died 542) was king of Ostrogothic Italy The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (Latin: ''Regnum Italiae''), was established by the Germanic peoples, Germanic Ostrogoths in Italian peninsula, It ...
, after the cession of Provence to the Franks. The rationale behind Odoacer and Theoderic's maintenance of the Roman provincial system was that they were officially viceroys of the Roman emperor in Constantinople, for whom Italia nominally continued to form part of the Roman empire. The civilian offices, including the vicars, praesides, and Praetorian Prefects, continued to be filled with Roman citizens, while Barbarians without citizenship were barred from holding them. According to
Cassiodorus Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people ...
, however, the authority of the ''vicarius urbis Romae'' was diminished: in the 4th century, he no longer controlled the ten provinces of Italia Suburbicaria, but only the land within forty miles of the City of Rome.


Justinian's reforms

In 535–536,
Justinian Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...

Justinian
decided to abolish the dioceses of the
East East or Orient is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions , , , and , commonly denoted by their initials N, E, S, and W. East and west are (at s) to north and south, with east ...
,
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...
, and Pontus; their vicars were demoted to simple provincial governors. For example, the ''comes Orientis'' (count of the East) became the title of the governor of Syria I, while the vicars of Asia and Pontus became governors of Phrygia Pacatiana and Galatia I respectively, with the title of ''Comes Iustinianus'' and civilian and military powers. In May 535, Justinian abolished the vicariates of
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
and the Long Walls, in order to improve the defence of the Long Walls by ending the continuous conflicts between the two vicars. He entrusted the administration of the diocese of Thrace to a ''praetor Iustinianus'' with civilian and military powers. A year later, in order to improve the efficiency of provisioning troops garrisoned in Thrace, a new prefecture was introduced, the Prefecture of the Islands, which was governed by a ''quaestor exercitus'' (Quaestor of the army) based in
Odessa Odessa (russian: Оде́сса ) or Odesa ( uk, Оде́са ) is the third most populous List of cities in Ukraine, city and List of hromadas of Ukraine, municipality in Ukraine and a major tourism center, seaport and transport hub located in th ...

Odessa
. This prefecture contained the provinces of Moesia II, Scythia Minor, Insulae (the
Cyclades The CYCLADES computer network A computer network is a set of s sharing resources located on or provided by . The computers use common s over to communicate with each other. These interconnections are made up of technologies, based on phys ...

Cyclades
),
Caria Caria (; from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

Caria
, and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...
. In 539, Justinian also abolished the diocese of Egypt, splitting it into five independent circumscriptions (groups of provinces) governed by ''duces'' with civilian and military authority, who were direct subordinates of the Praetorian prefect of the East. The Prefect of Egypt, formerly in charge of the whole diocese, was renamed the ''dux augustalis'', and left with control over only the provinces of Aegyptus I and Aegyptus II. Essentially, the modifications to the provincial system carried out by Justinian were motivated by the desire to end the conflict between civilian and military officials, and thus moved away from Diocletian's principle of completely separating civilian and military power. In this, according to
J. B. Bury John Bagnell Bury (; 16 October 1861 – 1 June 1927) was an Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping o ...
, Justinian anticipated the introduction of the
themes Theme or themes may refer to: * Theme (arts), the unifying subject or idea of the type of visual work * Theme (Byzantine district), an administrative district in the Byzantine Empire governed by a Strategos * Theme (computing), a custom graphical a ...
in the 7th century. Morevoer, by abolishing the dioceses, Justinian attempted to simplify the bureaucracy and simultaneously decrease the state's expenses, noting that the vicars had become superfluous, since their courts of appeal were used ever less frequently and the provincial governors could be directly controlled by the Praetorian Prefect, by means of the so-called ''tractatores''. Some of Justinian's decisions were subsequently revisited. In fact, thirteen years after the reforms of 535, in 548, Justinian decided to re-establish the diocese of Pontus due to serious internal problems. The vicar of Pontus was also given military powers, in order to effectively oppose the brigands that infested the region. In the same period, five provinces of the former diocese of Asia which had become infested with brigands (
Lycaonia Lycaonia (; el, Λυκαονία, ''Lykaonia'', tr, Likaonya) was a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, ...
,
Pisidia Pisidia (; el, Πισιδία, ''Pisidía''; tr, Pisidya) was a region of ancient Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeni ...
,
Lydia Lydia (Lydian language, Lydian: ‎𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤠, ''Śfarda''; Aramaic: ''Lydia''; el, Λυδία, ''Lȳdíā''; tr, Lidya) was an Iron Age Monarchy, kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the mod ...

Lydia
, and the two
Phrygia In classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related ...
e), were placed under the jurisdiction of a ''biocolytes'' (preventor of violence), in order to maintain order in the region. The jurisdiction of this official was reduced to just Lycaonia and Lydia in 553, since the other three provinces had been pacified.
Novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written ...

Novel
157 of AD 542, concerning
Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain In geography, a pl ...
and
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
is addressed to the ''Comes Orientis'', suggesting that the northern part of the former diocese of the East remained under the authority of the ''Comes Orientis'' in this period. Furthermore, it seems from the fact that a Vicar of Thrace is again attested in 576, it also seems that the diocese of Thrace was revived at some point - perhaps even under Justinian. When Africa and Italia were reconquered, Justinian established
Praetorian prefecture of Africa The praetorian prefecture of Africa ( la, praefectura praetorio Africae) was a major administrative division of the Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation ...
, while the Praetorian Prefecture of Italia returned to Imperial hands after the
Gothic WarGothic War may refer to: *Gothic War (367–369), a war of Thervingi against the Eastern Roman Empire in which the Goths retreated to Montes Serrorum *Gothic War (376–382), Thervingi and Greuthungi against the Roman Empire *Gothic War (401–403), ...
. The whole territory of the Empire in Africa, which had been the
Diocese of Africa The Diocese of Africa ( la, Dioecesis Africae) was a diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of th ...
in the 4th and 5th centuries, was thus promoted to the rank of Prefecture. It was not divided into dioceses. It is unlikely that the Praetorian Prefecture of Italia was subdivided into two vicariates again in the Byzantine period. The authority of the two Italian vicars was definitely much reduced compared to the 5th century. The successors of Justinian continued his policy of concentrating civilian and military power in the hands of a single individual.
MauriceMaurice may refer to: People *Saint Maurice (died 287), Roman legionary and Christian martyr *Maurice (emperor) or Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus (539–602), Byzantine emperor *Maurice (bishop of London) (died 1107), Lord Chancellor and Lor ...
(582-602) transformed the old Prefectures of Italia and Africa into
Exarchate An exarchate is any territorial jurisdiction (secular or ecclesiastical) whose ruler is described as an exarch. Administration of the secular Byzantine Empire * Exarchate of Africa * Exarchate of Ravenna Ecclesiastical administration Cat ...
s governed by an
Exarch The term exarch () comes from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers s ...
, who held both civilian and military authority. The vicars and other civilian officials seem to have lost most of their importance to the exarchs and their subordinates, but did not disappear until the middle of the 7th century AD. After 557, there is no record of ''vicarii'' in Italia, but two ''agentes vices'' of the Praetorian Prefect of Italia with their seats in Genova and Rome are mentioned in
Pope Gregory I Pope Gregory I ( la, Gregorius I; – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was the from 3 September 590 to his death. He is known for instigating the first recorded large-scale mission from Rome, the , to convert the then- ...

Pope Gregory I
's letters. These Italian ''agentes vices'' are no longer attested after the first half of the seventh century.


Disappearance

In the seventh century, as a result of the establishment of the first ''
themes Theme or themes may refer to: * Theme (arts), the unifying subject or idea of the type of visual work * Theme (Byzantine district), an administrative district in the Byzantine Empire governed by a Strategos * Theme (computing), a custom graphical a ...
'' (military districts governed by a ''strategos'' with military and civilian authority) and the invasions of the Arabs and Slavs, the Praetorian Prefectures of the East and of Illyricum disappeared. The last certain attestation of a Praetorian Prefect of the East is in 629, while Illyricum survived to the end of the 7th century, but without any effective power since the majority of the Balkans, aside from
Thessaloniki Thessaloniki (; el, Θεσσαλονίκη, ), also known as Thessalonica (), Saloniki or Salonica () is the second-largest city in Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in So ...

Thessaloniki
, had fallen under the Slavs. Thus the Prefect of Illyricum was renamed the Praetorian Prefect of Thessaloniki. In the same period, the dioceses of Dacia and
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
finally disappeared as a result of the loss of almost all their territory. However, the ''Taktikon Uspenskij'' which was written at the beginning of the 9th century, mentions a Praetorian Prefect of Constantinople and Proconsuls (''anthypatoi'') of the themes, which suggests that the Praetorian Prefecture of the East continued to exist even though it had lost most of its earlier powers and had only a few judicial functions. If the dioceses lost their fiscal functions during the 6th and 7th centuries, it may be that they were replaced by new groupings of provinces under the judicial administration of a Proconsul (''anthypatos''). The provinces continued to exist under the ''themes'' until the second half of the 9th century.


Organisation


Vicars

The ''vicarius'' was a high official appointed by the Emperor and accountable only to him. The position was held by
equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representati ...
who were given the rank of ''perfectissimus'' (before the ''egregii'' and after the ''eminentissimi'').See G. Bloc,
L'Empire romain. Évolution et décadence
', Flammarion, Paris, 1922, vol. II, chapter 2.
Thus, in rank, the vicars were inferior to the governors of the senatorial provinces (the ''consulares''), although they had to exercise political authority over them.
René Rémond René Rémond (; 30 September 1918 – 14 April 2007) was a France, French historian, political science, political scientist and political economist. Born in Lons-le-Saunier, Rémond was the Secretary General of Jeunesses étudiantes Catholiques ( ...
suggests that this paradox was resolved by promoting vicars whose dioceses contained provinces with senatorial governors to the rank of ''clarissimus'', but there is no evidence for this. Initially, the powers of the vicars were considerable: they controlled and monitored the governors (aside from the proconsuls who governed Asia and Africa), administered the collection of taxes, intervened in military affairs in order to fortify the borders, and judged appeals. They were not under the control of the Praetorian Prefect, but only to the Emperor himself. Appeals of their legal decisions went straight to the emperor. The vicars had no real military role and had no troops under their command, which was a significant novelty compared to the Augustan provincial system. This was intended to separate military and civilian power and thus prevent rebellions and civil wars.


See also

* Classical antiquity * Late Antiquity * List of Late Roman provinces * Local government (ancient Roman)


References


Notes


Citations


Sources

* first published in 1889 in two volumes: ** and ** * * * * * * * * * * {{Greek terms for country subdivisions Civil dioceses of the Roman Empire, * Types of administrative division