Pagus

Last updated
Approximate pagi in Burgundy, 9th century Les pagis bourguignons au 9esiecle.svg
Approximate pagi in Burgundy, 9th century

A pagus (plural pagi) was a Roman administrative term designating a rural subdivision of a tribal territory, which included individual farms, villages ( vici ), and strongholds ( oppida ) serving as refuges, [1] [2] [3] as well as an early medieval geographical term. From the reign of Diocletian (284–305 AD) onwards, the pagus referred to the smallest administrative unit of a province. [4] These geographical units were used to describe territories in the Merovingian and Carolingian periods, without any necessary political or administrative meaning.

Contents

Etymology

Pāgus is a native Latin word from a root pāg-, a lengthened grade of Indo-European *pag-, a verbal root, "fasten", which in the word may be translated as "boundary staked out on the ground". [5] In semantics, *pag- used in pāgus is a stative verb with an unmarked lexical aspect of state resulting from completed action: "it is having been staked out", converted into a noun by -us, a type recognizable in English adjectives such as surveyed, defined, noted, etc. English does not use the noun: "the surveyed", but Latin characteristically does. Considering that the ancients marked out municipal districts with boundary stones, the root meaning is nothing more than land surveyed for a municipality with stakes and later marked by boundary stones, a process that has not changed over the millennia.

Earlier hypotheses concerning the derivation of pāgus suggested that it is a Greek loan from either πήγηpége, "village well", or πάγοςpágos, "hill-fort". William Smith opposed these on the grounds that neither the well nor the hill-fort appear in the meaning of pāgus. [6]

The word pagus itself is the stem for Romance languages' words for state or country: pays (French), país (Spanish) etc.

Roman usage

In classical Latin, pagus referred to a country district or to a community within a larger polity; [7] Julius Caesar, for instance, refers to pagi within the greater polity of the Celtic Helvetii. [8]

The pagus and vicus (a small nucleated settlement or village) are characteristic of pre-urban organization of the countryside. In Latin epigraphy of the Republican era, pagus refers to local territorial divisions of the peoples of the central Apennines and is assumed to express local social structures as they existed variously. [9]

As an informal designation for a rural district, pagus was a flexible term to encompass the cultural horizons of "folk" whose lives were circumscribed by their locality: agricultural workers, peasants, slaves. Within the reduced area of Diocletian's subdivided provinces, the pagani could have several kinds of focal centers. Some were administered from a city, possibly the seat of a bishop; other pagi were administered from a vicus that might be no more than a cluster of houses and an informal market; yet other pagi in the areas of the great agricultural estates ( latifundia ) were administered through the villa at the center.

The historian of Christianity Peter Brown has pointed out that in its original sense paganus meant a civilian or commoner, one who was excluded from power and thus regarded as of lesser account; away from the administrative center, whether that was the seat of a bishop, a walled town or merely a fortified village, such inhabitants of the outlying districts, the pagi, tended to cling to the old ways and gave their name to "pagans"; the word was used pejoratively by Christians in the Latin West to demean those who declined to convert from the traditional religions of antiquity. [10]

Post-Roman pagus

The concept of the pagus survived the collapse of the Empire of the West. In the Frankish kingdoms of the 8th–9th centuries, however, the pagus had come to serve as a local geographical designation rather than an administrative unit. Particular localities were often named as parts of more than one pagus, sometimes even within the same document. Historians traditionally considered the pagus under the Carolingian Empire to be the territory held by a count, but Carolingian sources never refer to counts of particular pagi, and from the 10th century on the "county" or comitatus was sometimes explicitly contrasted to the pagus. Unlike the comitati, the centers of which are often identifiable as the count's seat, towns are not known to have derived any special political significance from serving as the ostensible centers of pagi. [11]

The majority of modern French pays are roughly coextensive with the old counties (e.g., county of Comminges, county of Ponthieu, etc.) For instance, at the beginning of the 5th century, when the Notitia provinciarum et civitatum Galliae was drawn up, the Provincia Gallia Lugdunensis Secunda formed the ecclesiastical province of Rouen, with six suffragan sees; it contained seven cities ( civitates ). [12] The province of Rouen included the civitas of Rotomagus (Rouen), which formed the pagus Rotomagensis (Roumois); in addition there were the pagiCaletus (Pays de Caux), Vilcassinus (the Vexin), the Tellaus (Talou); Bayeux, the pagus Bajocassinus (Bessin, including briefly in the 9th century the Otlinga Saxonia); that of Lisieux the pagus Lexovinus (Lieuvin); that of Coutances the p. Corilensis and p. Constantinus (Cotentin); that of Avranches the p. Abrincatinus (Avranchin); that of Sez the p. Oximensis (Hiémois), the p. Sagensis and p. Corbonensis (Corbonnais); and that of Evreux the p. Ebroicinus (Evrecin) and p. Madriacensis (pays de Madrie). [12]

The Welsh successor kingdom of Powys derived its name from pagus or pagenses, and gives its name to the modern Welsh county. [13]

The pagus was the equivalent of what English-speaking historians sometimes refer to as the "Carolingian shire", which in German is the Gau . In Latin texts, a canton of the Helvetic Confederacy is rendered pagus.

Notes

  1. Galsterer, Hartmut (2006). "Pagus". Brill's New Pauly. doi:10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e903730.
  2. Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidinow, Esther (2012). The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 1062. ISBN   978-0-19-954556-8.
  3. Hirt, Alfred M. (2012), "Pagus", The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Willey-Blackwell, doi:10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah06236, ISBN   978-1-4443-3838-6
  4. Nicholson, Oliver (2018). The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press. s.v. pagus and pagarch. ISBN   978-0-19-866277-8.
  5. Watkins, Calvert (1992). "Indo-European Roots". pag-. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Third ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  6. Smith, William; Wayte, William; Marindin, George Eden (1891). "Pagus". A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Volume 2 (Third ed.). London: John Murray. pp. 309–311.|volume= has extra text (help)
  7. Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1982, 1985 printing), entry on pagus, p. 1283.
  8. Commentarii de Bello Gallico 1.12.4: nam omnis civitas Helvetia in quattuor pagos divisa est ("for the Helvetian nation as a whole was divided into four cantons"). Pagus in this sense is sometimes translated "tribe"; the choice of "canton" may be influenced by later usage of the word in regard to Helvetia.
  9. Guy Jolyon Bradley, Ancient Umbria: State, Culture, and Identity in Central Italy from the Iron Age to the Augustan Era (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 56 online.
  10. Peter Brown, entry on "Pagan," Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World, edited by G.W. Bowersock, Peter Brown, and Oleg Grabar (Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 625 online: "The adoption of paganus by Latin Christians as an all-embracing, pejorative term for polytheists represents an unforeseen and singularly long-lasting victory, within a religious group, of a word of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning. The evolution occurred only in the Latin west, and in connection with the Latin church. Elsewhere, 'Hellene' or 'gentile' (ethnikos) remained the word for 'pagan'; and paganos continued as a purely secular term, with overtones of the inferior and the commonplace."
  11. West, Charles (2013). Reframing the Feudal Revolution: Political and Social Transformation between Marne and Moselle, c.800–c.1100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 140–143. ISBN   978-1107028869.
  12. 1 2 Latouche, Robert (1911). "Normandy"  . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 749–751.
  13. W., Pickering (1851). The Pillar of Eliseg. Cambrian Archaeological Association. Archaeologia Cambrensis. p. 297.

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

Alemanni

The Alemanni were a confederation of Germanic tribes on the Upper Rhine River. First mentioned by Cassius Dio in the context of the campaign of Caracalla of 213, the Alemanni captured the Agri Decumates in 260, and later expanded into present-day Alsace, and northern Switzerland, leading to the establishment of the Old High German language in those regions, by the eighth century named Alamannia.

Paganism Polytheistic religious groups in pre-Christian Roman territories or modern religious movement

Paganism is a term first used pejoratively in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism or ethnic religions other than Judaism. In the time of the Roman empire, individuals fell into the pagan class either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternative terms in Christian texts were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian. Paganism has broadly connoted the "religion of the peasantry".

Saxons Germanic tribes from the North German Plain

The Saxons were a group of early Germanic peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country near the North Sea coast of northern Germania, what is now Germany. In the late Roman Empire, the name was used to refer to Germanic coastal raiders, and also as a word something like the later "Viking". Their origins appear to be mainly somewhere in or near the above-mentioned German North Sea coast where they are found later, in Carolingian times. In Merovingian times, continental Saxons had also been associated with the activity and settlements on the coast of what later became Normandy. Their precise origins are uncertain, and they are sometimes described as fighting inland, coming into conflict with the Franks and Thuringians. There is possibly a single classical reference to a smaller homeland of an early Saxon tribe, but its interpretation is disputed. According to this proposal, the Saxons' earliest area of settlement is believed to have been Northern Albingia. This general area is close to the probable homeland of the Angles.

A palatine or palatinus is a high-level official attached to imperial or royal courts in Europe since Roman times. The term palatinus was first used in Ancient Rome for chamberlains of the Emperor due to their association with the Palatine Hill. The imperial palace guard, after the rise of Constantine I, were also called the Scholae Palatinae for the same reason. In the Early Middle Ages the title became attached to courts beyond the imperial one; one of the highest level of officials in the papal administration were called the judices palatini. Later the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties had counts palatine, as did the Holy Roman Empire. Related titles were used in Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, the German Empire, and the Duchy of Burgundy, while England, Ireland, and parts of British North America referred to rulers of counties palatine as palatines.

A pontiff was, in Roman antiquity, a member of the most illustrious of the colleges of priests of the Roman religion, the College of Pontiffs. The term "pontiff" was later applied to any high or chief priest and, in Roman Catholic ecclesiastical usage, to a bishop and more particularly to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope or "Roman Pontiff".

Princeps is a Latin word meaning "first in time or order; the first, foremost, chief, the most eminent, distinguished, or noble; the first man, first person". As a title, "princeps" originated in the Roman Republic wherein the leading member of the Senate was designated princeps senatus. It is primarily associated with the Roman emperors as an unofficial title first adopted by Augustus in 23 BCE. Its use in this context continued until the reign of Diocletian at the end of the third century. He preferred the title of dominus, meaning "lord" or "master". As a result, the Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian is termed the "principate" (principatus) and from Diocletian onwards as the "dominate" (dominatus). Other historians define the reign of Augustus to Severus Alexander as the Principate, and the period afterwards as the "Autocracy".

Eparchy is an anglicized Greek word (ἐπαρχία), authentically Latinized as eparchia, which can be loosely translated as the rule or jurisdiction over something, such as a province, prefecture, or territory. It has specific meanings both in politics, history and in the hierarchy of the Eastern Christian churches.

Follis

The follis was a type of coin in the Roman and Byzantine traditions.

County of Hainaut

The County of Hainaut, was a territorial lordship within the medieval Holy Roman Empire, straddling what is now the border of Belgium and France. Its most important towns included Mons, now in Belgium, and Valenciennes, now in France.

Late Latin Written Latin of late antiquity

Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of late antiquity. English dictionary definitions of Late Latin date this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE, and continuing into the 7th century in the Iberian Peninsula. This somewhat ambiguously defined version of Latin was used between the eras of Classical Latin and Medieval Latin. Scholars do not agree exactly when Classical Latin should end or Medieval Latin should begin. However, Late Latin is characterized by an identifiable style.

A nome was a territorial division in ancient Egypt.

<i>Gau</i> (territory) German term for a region within a country

Gau is a Germanic term for a region within a country, often a former or actual province. It was used in the Middle Ages, when it can be seen as roughly corresponding to an English shire. The administrative use of the term was revived as a subdivision during the period of Nazi Germany in 1933–1945. It still appears today in regional names, such as the Rheingau or Allgäu.

Vicus Kind of populated place in the Roman Empire

In Ancient Rome, the vicus designated a village within a rural area (pagus) or the neighbourhood of a larger settlement. During the Republican era, the four regiones of the city of Rome were subdivided into vici. In the 1st century BC, Augustus reorganized the city for administrative purposes into 14 regions, comprising 265 vici. Each vicus had its own board of officials who oversaw local matters. These administrative divisions are recorded as still in effect at least until the mid-4th century.

Poutrocoët was an early medieval pagus in Brittany. The term "Poutrocoët" is Breton, and contemporaries translated it literally into Latin as pagus trans silvam, the "country beyond the forest", as in certain charters in the cartulary of Redon Abbey.

The Caeroesi were a small Belgic-Germanic tribe dwelling in Gallia Belgica during the Iron Age and the Roman period. Their ethnic identity remains uncertain. Caesar described them as part of the Germani Cisrhenani, but their tribal name is probably of Celtic origin. Like other Germani Cisrhenani tribes, it is possible that their old Germanic endonym came to be abandoned after a tribal reorganization, that they received their names from their Celtic neighbours, or else that they were fully or partially assimilated to Celtic culture at the time of the Roman invasion of the region in 57 BC.

Dalmatian city-states

Dalmatian city-states were the Dalmatian localities where the local Romance population survived the Barbarian invasions after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 400s CE. Eight little cities were created by those autochthonous inhabitants that maintained political links with the Byzantine Empire. The original name of the cities was Jadera, Spalatum, Crespa, Arba, Tragurium, Vecla, Ragusium and Cattarum. The language and the laws were initially Latin, but after a few centuries they developed their own neo-Latin language, that lasted until the 19th century. The cities were maritime centres with a huge commerce mainly with the Italian peninsula and with the growing Republic of Venice.

Liugas was a small pagus or gau from the late 8th to mid-11th centuries, near the Meuse river roughly between Liège, Maastricht, and Aachen, an area where Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet today. Much of Liugas was located in the modern Belgian province of Liège in Belgium and South Limburg in the Netherlands. There were only a small number of mentions made of this territory, all between 779 and 1059.

Tardenois

The Tardenois is today a natural region of France. It is known among archeologists for the epipaleolithic culture known as Tardenoisian after its characteristic arrowheads, originally found at Coincy in the Tardenois in 1885. The etymology of "Tardenois" is not known.

The Catuslugi were a small Belgic coastal tribe dwelling around modern-day Incheville (Normandy) during the Roman period.

The Maasgau, Masao, or Maasland, was an early medieval region or pagus, on both sides of the Meuse, a varying distance from a starting point in the city of Maastricht.