Nothing could be more wrongheaded: the Epitoma rei militaris represents no less than the literary foundation of the discourse of war in Western culture. He thus treats the Epitoma and other texts not, ultimately, as texts, but rather as sources, and the kind of reception he is investigating is not literary it is not based on the relationships among different textual realities but practical: he wants to see how much Vegetius is present in the medieval way of doing war, and occasionally in other fields. Insofar as Allmand is an historian, this is understandable enough, yet this study is entirely dedicated to a text and its reception. The reader will find a great deal of information on manuscripts and medieval translations, glosses, excerpts and imitations, and this is its great strength.

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Shrader Charles R. A multitude of works, both literary and technical, were produced in the Late Roman period. Many, if not most, have been lost and many more were consigned over the centuries to neglect and disuse. A few, however, addressed issues of continuing importance over the ages.

The Epitoma rei militaris of the late fourth century Roman military writer, Flavius Vegetius Rena- tus, was one of those ancient treatises which continued to be copied and read for centuries after their composition. War is perhaps one of the most enduring interests of mankind, and Vegetius' treatise was for an extended period a popular source of information on the and conduct of warfare. As an epitomization of earlier authorities, Vegetius' work provided a convenient discussion of how to wage war, a discussion providing both practical instructions and abstract principles.

He was perhaps born in the eastern part of the empire or in one of the border provinces Pannonia or Illyria and, as he himself tells us, journied widely throughout the empire 2.

Although known to posterity as the author of a major work on military affairs it appears that Vegetius had no practical military experience and held no high military office, confining himself to the duties of his office as comes sacrarum largitionum, or imperial finance minister 3.

His duties did however serve to acquaint him with those military matters, such as recruiting, equipment and training, with which he shows most familiarity. His ignorance of practical, detailed military operations is evident throughout the De re militari 4.

Such knowledge of the actual and employment of military forces in the field as Vegetius does display was gleaned by him from earlier writers and he himself freely admits that his work is a compendium of the.

In its literary format Vegetius' work is thus representative of the general tendency among writers of the late empire period to produce didactic epitomies rather than extensive original works.

Indeed, the role of the De re militari as a compendium of the best military writing of the ancients is important in explaining its later and continued popularity. The five books of the Epitoma rei militaris were written between A.

Book I consists of twenty-eight chapters dealing with the recruiting and training of troops, five chapters of which are devoted to information on the construction and arrangement of camps.

It is in Book I that Vegetius discusses the art of war in his own time and there also clearly reveals the need for a program of renewal of the armies of the empire in the face of increasing pressure from the Germanic tribes on the frontiers. The twenty-five chapters of Book II concern the organization and employment of the legion. Here Vegetius depends most heavily on his sources for his description of the structure and tactics of the legion of the late republic and early empire.

These rules, with their summary listing of the principles of war and military procedure, perhaps served as one of the chief attractions of Vegetius' work in the middle ages.

Vegetius' regulae continued to be repeated by author after author until the beginning of the nineteenth century when they were voided by the greatly changed nature of war and were replaced by the principles provided by writers such as Clausewitz.

Book IV discusses siege warfare, both defensive and offensive, in thirty chapters. Book IV was perhaps that portion of the De re militari of most immediate practical value to the medieval reader and no doubt accounts in large part for the book's great popularity in the middle ages.

Book V, which is often appended to Book IV in the manuscripts, consists of sixteen chapters on naval warfare. As far as I know there is no other treatise, ancient or medieval, which treats the subject of sea warfare as deeply as does Vegetius 7.

It was probably at that time that the chapters were provided with Information on the dissemination and reproduction of the text from A. Revived during the Carolingian renaissance the De re militari was thenceforth frequently copied and widely known throughout Western Europe, becoming perhaps the best known and most often consulted handbook on the art of war.

The popularity of Vegetius' treatise in the middle ages and Renaissance is amply shown by the more than extant manuscripts and fragments dating from the seventh to the century, and these we may reasonably assume represent only a fraction of those in during that period. In general, the production of copies of the De re militari between A. A meagre supply of the treatise before A. A decline in copyings of the treatise followed in the late tenth and the eleventh centuries but was in turn followed by a great revival of interest in the twelfth century.

This revival continued to grow in the thirteenth century, and the Renaissance centuries, the fourteenth and fifteenth, saw a phenomenal increase in the number of available copies of the treatise. Thereafter interest in Vegetius' work, as demonstrated by the frequent printing of the treatise in various languages, remained high until the transformation of warfare brought about by the French Revolution at which point the De re militari came to be regarded mainly as a literary curiosity or historical source.

The temporal distribution of extant copies of the De re militari would thus seem to support E. Rand's contention that interest in the classics did not peak in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and exploded in the fourteenth Of the known, extant manuscript copies of the De re militari 54 appear to have been produced before This total compares well with the figures for other classical writers.

One of the few attempts to give the total number of manuscripts of various classical authors for the period before is the doctoral thesis of Hilda Buttenwieser u. In her computation the many works of Cicero far outnumber all others with more than manuscripts known to. Ovid is represented by and Virgil by The Caesar, Livy and Valerius Maximus are each represented by 41 manuscripts. Among the technical writers the Elder Pliny leads with 52 manuscripts and is followed by Vitruvius with 28, Frontinus with nine, and Columella with seven.

The 54 pre copies of the De re militari which I have uncovered clearly place Vegetius among the more frequently copied classical authors and second in popularity only to the Elder Pliny among the technical writers of antiquity Geographically, the De re militari does not appear to have been significantly restricted in its circulation within Western Europe.

Although the haphazard preservation of medieval books tends to distort our information for some areas, such as Spain and Scandinavia, nevertheless manuscript copies of Vegetius' treatise may have been found almost anywhere in medieval Europe. In general, production of the treatise, and thus interest in it, seems to have followed the general pattern for classical works of other types. Revived in France and the Low Countries during the eighth and ninth centuries, interest in the De re militari continued there at a high level throughout the middle ages and Renaissance.

Known from the earliest time in Italy, the treatise was frequently copied and read in Italy until the Renaissance at which time its popularity and reproduction burgeoned significantly.

The German-speaking areas of Western Europe seem to have evinced less interest in Vegetius' work. The treatise, while known in England in Bede's time, became popular there only after A. Only in the thirteenth century does the De re militari seem to have become known in Spain and Eastern Europe, although given the conditions of endemic warfare in Spain from to we may suspect that the treatise was more widely known in Spain than our extant evidence would suggest.

The transmission of the De re militari from one geographical area to another seems to have followed a well-known pattern of medieval book distribution as well. The treatise was probably introduced into Carolingian France from Insular sources and during the ninth and tenth was distributed outward from France to Germany.

Italy at the same time apparently constituted a separate source and supplied many of the copies of Vegetius' work found in collections. The De re militari seems to have been reintroduced into England from France after the Conquest. Subsequently, English copyings were to be found on the Continent and the interchange of books, including the De re militari, between England and France including the Low Countries , was common.

Such copies of the treatise as existed in medieval Spain may be traced to a French origin as well. The interest of Italian humanists in the treatise insured that Italy would be the source of most fourteenth and fifteenth century copyings and northern France was not far behind as a source of interest in the treatise. In short, the geographical circulation of the De re militari confirms the accepted pattern for diffusion of books, especially the works of classical authors, during the middle ages and Renaissance.

Available in a significant number of copies spread throughout Western Europe between the ninth and sixteenth centuries the Epitoma rei militaris of Flavius Vegetius Renatus provided. The large number of extant manuscripts, many of which can be connected with specific owners or libraries, coupled with the inclusion of Vege- tius' book in numerous medieval booklists and library catalogues, suggests that this late fourth century Roman military treatise was the most popular, and thus perhaps most influential, discussion of the art of war available between A.

The Handlist. The handlist of extant medieval and Renaissance manuscripts of the Epitoma rei militaris which is presented here represents the first stage of what I hope will be a thorough and definitive study of Vegetius' fortuna and influence between A. Any attempted listing of all extant manuscripts of any author's work is bound to be somewhat imperfect and can only portray the extent of our knowledge at a given point in time. My handlist is thus offered in the hope that it will provide a definitive summary and a fresh starting point for those interested in Vegetius and his writing and that the list can be expanded by the reports of those scholars who come across further manuscripts containing the De re militari in the course of their own work.

There have been but two significant attempts to list the surviving manuscripts of the De re militari, that of Vegetius' nineteenth century editor, Carl Lang, and that of a twentieth century editor, the Reverend Leo F.

Stelten I have used both in the composition of my own list, relying perhaps more heavily on Lang than on Stelten whose list came to my attention only after my own was in comparatively final form. Both listings are useful but both also have several defects which I hope I have remedied here. Lang was at the mercy of the inadequate catalogue resources of the nineteenth century and, writing as he did before the upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century, there has been considerable relocation of manuscripts since the appearance of his list.

In the preface of his second edition of the Epitoma rei militaris Lang reported a total of manuscripts of which were in Latin Many of these he was unable to identify positively. Recent progress in manuscript identification and cataloguing, both in the number of collections covered and the thoroughness of their catalogues, permits significant improvements in lists of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts of the classical writers.

Thus, a more thorough investigation of older materials permits the expansion of the total of known Vegetius manuscripts to of which are in Latin, as well as the positive identification of many manuscripts incorrectly or vaguely cited by Lang. Father Stelten's list, which appears as an appendix to his doctoral dissertation, an edition of the first two books of the De re militari, reflects the more available cataloguing knowledge of recent times but, being ancilliary to his main purpose, is also incomplete Father Stelten in his preface provides detailed information on the 19 earlier manuscripts in.

Latin which formed the base of his edition The appendix to his dissertation consists of a summary listing provided to him by the Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes in Paris in May Stelten's listing contains manuscripts, all in Latin, a few of which are identified My own handlist of Vegetius manuscripts is, like Vegetius' work itself, admittedly a composite of previous knowledge to which I have added such items which have come to hand through the kindness of others or my own researches.

I am hopeful that my own list is more thorough and correct than those which have previously appeared since I have had the advantage of better cataloguing and the studies of others and have concentrated my efforts on the compiling of the list itself rather than on collecting the basis for an edition of the text.

The focus of my work here has been to develop a definitive list of all known, extant Vegetius manuscripts as a preliminary to their examination and the publication at a future date of a complete catalogue of such manuscripts along with a significant statement as to the dissemination, ownership and use of the De re militari in the middle ages and Renaissance.

The following handlist contains all extant Vegetius manuscripts presently known to me, and I have listed here only manuscripts which can definitely be connected with a modern library Manuscripts in all languages produced from the seventh century onward are included.

I have not included manuscripts of the many medieval and Renaissance authors who incorporated Vegetius' work into their own even though Lang did include a few such manuscripts I have, however, included manuscripts of collations, notes and variant readings, some of which are of comparatively modern appearance In many cases I have been able to locate and to identify clearly manuscripts cited vaguely by Lang or others, and not a few further manuscripts, both in Latin and in other languages, have been found.

In several cases ghosts and duplications have been eliminated. I have tried to keep the format of this handlist as simple yet as informative as possible.

The manuscripts are grouped by language and then are arranged within each language group alphabetically by the name of the city and library in which they are presently preserved. The arrangement of the manuscripts in the same library is by collections, and by shelf mark within the collection. The listing of information about each manuscript follows a standard sequence which is as follows :.

An alpha-numeric identification number purely numeric for Latin mss : location : library : collection : shelf mark : indication of defects in the text or of the fact that the ms. Date of the Vegetius portion : total number of folios in the ms. A question mark? In a few cases I have used the question mark preceding the identification number for manuscripts which I have been unable to confirm but which I have reason to believe are still extant.

A question mark following an element of in the listing indicates that the information is conjectural or disputed. Where information is lacking I have simply deleted that element of the listing. Such gaps are the subjects of research.



Between and AD, a Roman administrator named Flavius Vegetius Renatus composed the Epitoma rei militaris , also known less formally as De re militari. The author did not have any significant military experience, but instead drew heavily upon earlier writings on warfare to present an idealised, nostalgic and polemically reformist vision for the Roman army in the western provinces. In the late middle ages, De re militari was translated into most European vernaculars and enjoyed its greatest popularity, with over eighty per cent of surviving copies dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.


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Later additions on army organization book 2 , tactics and campaign operations book 3 , and siegecraft and naval warfare book 4 yielded a compendium of ancient military thought, the Epitoma rei militaris of Flavius Vegetius Renatus. Over manuscripts and c. The full story of Vegetius in the medieval era has not been told. Thus, building on the work of Charles R. Shrader and Philippe Richardot 2 , Christopher Allmand, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at University of Liverpool, an esteemed scholar of medieval militaria and especially medieval military texts, has perhaps capped his career with what is likely to be the definitive study of Vegetius in the Middle Ages for the foreseeable future. Appendix two pp.


Shrader Charles R. A multitude of works, both literary and technical, were produced in the Late Roman period. Many, if not most, have been lost and many more were consigned over the centuries to neglect and disuse. A few, however, addressed issues of continuing importance over the ages. The Epitoma rei militaris of the late fourth century Roman military writer, Flavius Vegetius Rena- tus, was one of those ancient treatises which continued to be copied and read for centuries after their composition.

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