Quaestura exercitus

Last updated

The quaestura exercitus was an administrative district of the Eastern Roman Empire with a seat in Odessus (present-day Varna) established by Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) on May 18, 536. [1]

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, is the common name given to the surviving Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans". In the West it was labelled the Imperium Graecorum since the Holy Roman Empire, created in 800 AD by Charlemagne and Pope Leo III, was believed to be the restored Roman Empire.

Varna City in Bulgaria

Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Situated strategically in the Gulf of Varna, the city has been a major economic, social and cultural centre for almost three millennia. Varna, historically known as Odessos, grew from a Thracian seaside settlement to a major seaport on the Black Sea.

Justinian I major Eastern Roman emperor who ruled from 527 to 565

Justinian I, traditionally known as Justinian the Great and also Saint Justinian the Great in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire. Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Later Roman empire, and his reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire".

Territorially, the quaestura exercitus contained the Roman provinces of Moesia Inferior and Scythia Minor, located in the lower Danube region, as well as the provinces of Cyprus, Caria, and the Aegean Islands (i.e. the Cyclades). All of these provinces were detached from the Praetorian prefecture of the East and placed under the authority of a new army official known as the quaestor exercitus ("Quaestor of the army"). [2] The authority of the quaestor was the equivalent to that of a magister militum . [3] Since the strategically vital Danubian provinces were economically impoverished, the purpose of the quaestura exercitus was to help support the troops that were stationed there. By connecting the exposed provinces of the Lower Danube with wealthier provinces in the interior of the empire, Justinian was able to transport supplies via the Black Sea. This territorial restructuring relieved both the destitute populations and devastated countryside of the Danubian provinces from sustaining any stationed troops. There is a lack of subsequent evidence on the history of the quaestura exercitus. However, since the position of quaestor was still extant during the mid-570s, this indicates that the overall territorial unit achieved a modicum of success. [2] [3]

Roman province Major Roman administrative territorial entity outside of Italy

The Roman provinces were the lands and people outside of Rome itself that were controlled by the Republic and later the Empire. Each province was ruled by a Roman who was appointed as governor. Although different in many ways, they were similar to the states in Australia or the United States, the regions in the United kingdom or New Zealand, or the prefectures in Japan. Canada refers to some of its territory as provinces.

Scythia Minor ancient region surrounded by the Danube at the north and west and the Black Sea at the east

Scythia Minor or Lesser Scythia was in ancient times the region surrounded by the Danube at the north and west and the Black Sea at the east, roughly corresponding to today's Dobrogea, with a part in Romania, and a part in Bulgaria.

Danube River in Central Europe

The Danube is Europe's second longest river, after the Volga. It is located in Central and Eastern Europe.

Ultimately, the Danubian provinces associated with the quaestura exercitus did not survive the Slav and Avar invasions of the Balkans in the 7th century. However, isolated fortresses on the Danube delta and along the coast of the Black Sea were maintained via supplies by sea. [4] Charles Diehl first raised the suggestion that the great naval corps of the Karabisianoi , which appears in the 680s, was first formed by the remainders of the quaestura. This argument has been adopted by some scholars since but challenged by others, notably Helene Ahrweiler in her study of the Byzantine navy. This question is bound up with the discussion on the respective formations' nature as military-naval or civil-administrative entities. [5]

Pannonian Avars historical ethnical group

The Pannonian Avars were an alliance of several groups of Eurasian nomads of unknown origins.

Balkans Geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe

The Balkans, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range.

Charles Diehl French historian and Byzantine scholar

Charles Diehl was a French historian born in Strasbourg. He was a leading authority on Byzantine art and history.

Lead seals from Moesia Inferior and Scythia Minor provide evidence supporting the existence of the quaestura exercitus. Specifically, thirteen imperial seals (nine of which are from Justinian) demonstrate that communications between officials from Scythia Minor and Constantinople occurred on a somewhat regular basis. [6]

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261). It was the capital of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

Related Research Articles

Theme (Byzantine district) Byzantine district

The themes or themata were the main military/administrative divisions of the middle Byzantine Empire. They were established in the mid-7th century in the aftermath of the Slavic invasion of the Balkans and Muslim conquests of parts of Byzantine territory, and replaced the earlier provincial system established by Diocletian and Constantine the Great. In their origin, the first themes were created from the areas of encampment of the field armies of the East Roman army, and their names corresponded to the military units that had existed in those areas. The theme system reached its apogee in the 9th and 10th centuries, as older themes were split up and the conquest of territory resulted in the creation of new ones. The original theme system underwent significant changes in the 11th and 12th centuries, but the term remained in use as a provincial and financial circumscription until the very end of the Empire.

Justiniana Prima

Justiniana Prima was a Byzantine city that existed from 535 to 615, and currently an archaeological site, known as or Caričin Grad, near modern Lebane in southern Serbia. It was founded by Emperor Justinian I (527-565) and served as the metropolitan seat of the Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima, that had jurisdiction over the provinces of the Diocese of Dacia.

Logothete was an administrative title originating in the eastern Roman Empire. In the middle and late Byzantine Empire, it rose to become a senior administrative title, equivalent to a minister or secretary of state. The title spread to other states influenced by Byzantine culture, such as Bulgaria, Sicily, Serbia, and the Danubian Principalities.

Pannonia Secunda Roman province

The Pannonia Secunda was one of the provinces of the Roman Empire. It was formed in the year 296, during the reign of emperor Diocletian. The capital of the province was Sirmium. Pannonia Secunda included parts of present-day Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The term Thraco-Roman describes the Romanized culture of Thracians under the rule of the Roman Empire.

Diocese of Dacia diocese of the Roman Empire

The Diocese of Dacia was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, in the area of modern western Bulgaria, central Serbia, Montenegro, northern Albania and northern Republic of Macedonia. It was subordinate to the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum. Its capital was at Serdica.

Diocese of the East diocese of the Roman Empire

The Diocese of the East was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of the western Middle East, between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia. During late Antiquity, it was one of the major commercial, agricultural, religious and intellectual areas of the empire, and its strategic location facing the Sassanid Empire and the unruly desert tribes gave it exceptional military importance.

Diocese of Thrace diocese of the Roman Empire

The Diocese of Thrace was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of the eastern Balkan Peninsula. Philippopolis was the capital.

Dardania (Roman province)

Dardania was a Roman province in the Central Balkans, initially an unofficial region in Moesia (87–284), then a province administratively part of the Diocese of Moesia (293–337). It was named after the ancient Thraco-Illyrian tribe of Dardani which inhabited the region prior to the Roman conquests in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.

Serbia in the Roman era

The territory of what is today the Republic of Serbia was under Roman rule for about 600 years, from the 1st century BC until the Slavic arrival of the 6th century. It was administratively divided into Moesia.

Justin (consul 540) Byzantine aristocrat and general

Flavius Mar Petrus Theodorus Valentinus Rusticius Boraides Germanus Iustinus, simply and commonly known as Justin, was an East Roman (Byzantine) aristocrat and general. A member of the Justinian Dynasty and nephew of Emperor Justinian I, he was appointed as one of the last Roman consuls in 540, before going on to assume senior military commands in the Balkans and in Lazica. He fought against the Slavs, the Sassanid Persians and supervised the Byzantine Empire's first contacts with the Avars. At the time of Justinian's death, he was seen as a probable successor, but was beaten to the throne by his cousin, Justin II, who exiled him to Egypt, where he was murdered.

Baduarius was an East Roman (Byzantine) aristocrat, the son-in-law of Byzantine emperor Justin II. Theophanes the Confessor erroneously calls him a brother.

Baduarius was a Byzantine general, active early in the reign of Justinian I in Scythia Minor.

Aedava Dacian fortified settlement

Aedava was a Dacian settlement located south of the Danube in Moesia. In his De Aedificiis, the 6th century AD historian Procopius placed Aedava on the Danubian road between Augustae and Variana. He also mentioned that Emperor Justinian restored the damaged portion of the town defenses.

Justin was a general of the Byzantine Empire, active early in the reign of Emperor Justinian I as commander of the Danubian limes in Moesia Secunda.

Ascum was a general of the Byzantine Empire, active early in the reign of Justinian I. He was in command of the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum. His name is reported by John Malalas. Both Theophanes the Confessor and George Kedrenos render his name "Ακούμ" (Acum).

Chilbudius or Chilbuldius was a Byzantine general, holding the rank of magister militum per Thracias in the early 530s. He was apparently killed in battle c. 533, but an impostor claimed his identity c. 545-546. The only source for both men is Procopius.

Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima

Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima was an Eastern Christian autonomous Archbishopric with see in the city of Justiniana Prima and jurisdiction over the Late Roman Diocese of Dacia in central parts of the Southeastern Europe.

Moesia Prima

Moesia Prima was a frontier province of the late Roman Empire, situated in the central parts of present-day Serbia, along the south bank of the Danube River. Provincial capital was Viminacium, near modern Kostolac in Serbia).

Metropolitanate of Skopje

Metropolitanate of Skopje is an Eastern Orthodox Eparchy, currently under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, an autonomous and canonical branch of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North Macedonia. Its seat is in Skopje. It is a Metropolitan diocese of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, headed by Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski of Ohrid, who is also styled: Metropolitan of Skopje.


  1. Velkov 1977, p. 62.
  2. 1 2 Maas 2005, p. 120.
  3. 1 2 Haldon 1999, p. 68.
  4. Haldon 1999, p. 74.
  5. cf. Brubaker & Haldon 2011 , pp. 725–726 (note 4) and Zuckerman 2005 , pp. 111–119, for a discussion of the controversy and literature.
  6. Curta 2001, pp. 185–186.


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Florin Curta is a Romanian-born American historian, medievalist and archaeologist on Eastern Europe. He works in the field of the Balkan history and is a Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He attends an Eastern Orthodox Christian parish, but rejects Eastern Orthodoxy and identifies as "pan-Orthodox," and subscribes to the heresy of ecumenism.