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Emperors, Court and Travelling Retinue

I hope you can help. A bit of a rambling selection of questions.... I am interested in the make up of the imperial court, who would have travelled with the Emperor and how the imperial court (not just the Emperor) would have interacted with the senate and local governance when away from Rome. At this point I am interested mainly in the reigns of Caligula and Claudius.

I am also interested in who would have travelled with Caligula when he went to Gesoriacum in AD 40, for his cancelled invasion of Britannia... What members of court, what roles and people, who would have been in his entourage? I think this was before a governor would have been in charge of Gallia Belgica... So would the Proconsul have attended him on a regular basis, assuming a proconsul ran it, or would he simply have been focused on admin of Gallia Belgica? On that note, do we have the name of who was in charge of Gallia Belgica at this point?

Lastly, who accompanied Claudius when he visited Britannia after the successful invasion? What roles were considered essential for him to work effectively locally and to stay in touch with Rome?

Any recommended reading?

Many thanks for any guidance you can give.


(06-01-2016, 01:13 AM)John Moxey Wrote: Any recommended reading?

The classic work on this subject is Fergus Millar's The Emperor in the Roman World. A more accessible popular study is Michael Sommer's The Complete Roman Emperor.

I'm not so familiar with the situation in the earlier Principiate, but the imperial entourage in later times would have included all the major offices of state, allowing the emperor to conduct the business of empire on the move. So, along with the emperor's lictors and a bodyguard of praetorians, under the command of the Praetorian Prefect, there would be the principal imperial secretaries (a memoria, ab epistulis, etc) and their own officia of secretaries and clerks, the Quaestor and his staff, a travelling imperial mint so the emperor could issue coinage en route, quite possibly a selection of senators with their own entourages, and a complete household of slaves to attend the emperor and his ministers: everything from chamberlains to cooks and barbers.

Together with carriage and wagon drivers, slaves belonging to the bodyguards and the imperial offices, and assorted hangers-on (from petitioners to merchants and prostitutes), the travelling retinue could easily have numbered thousands of people. This is supported by documents from across the empire showing the lengthy preparations needed for an imperial visit, which often began months in advance of the emperor's arrival, even if he was only passing through!
Nathan Ross
Many thanks Nathan. Some great info including some light reading Smile ideal!

I am assuming that such books would be about the general case of an imperial bid it, which is ideal to give me structure and roles... Any idea where I might find specific named individuals?

Would imperial secretaries normally be slaves/free men/citizens? The only imperial secretary I am aware of was Narcissus and iirc he was a slave who became a free man?
(06-01-2016, 05:47 PM)John Moxey Wrote: Would imperial secretaries normally be slaves/free men/citizens?

As far as I know, they appear to have been mostly freedmen in the earlier 1st century; the Flavians, and particularly Domitian I think, opened up the higher secretarial posts to members of the equestrian order.

I'm sure Millar covers this (it's been a while since I read his book, and I was mainly taking notes on the late empire stuff!). If you can find any biographies of Caligula or Claudius that take a prosopographic approach (as Brian W Jones does, for example, with Domitian), they may suggest the names and origins, wherever known, of principal office holders in the period.

You might also find some interesting material in the first chapter of Millar's Rome, the Greek World and East ('Emperors at Work' - available partly online and as an essay via JSTOR)
Nathan Ross
Excellent, thanks Nathan. I ordered the recommended books and look forward to giving them a good read.

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