The Noumeroi (Greek: [οἱ ] Νούμεροι, masculine plural) or Noumera ([τὰ] Nούμερα, neuter plural, from the Latin numerus, “number” in the sense of “regiment”) were a Byzantine infantry garrison unit for the imperial capital, Constantinople. Their main task involved the protection of the Great Palace of Constantinople and of the Noumera, one of the city’s prisons.
1 History and functions
2 Command structure
History and functions
The origin and date of establishment of the Noumeroi is unknown. They are first securely attested during the reign of Michael III (r. 842–867): the unit is mentioned in the Taktikon Uspensky of 842/843, and the name of one of its commanders, Leo Lalakon, also survives from the same period. J.B. Bury considered a seal of the 7th–8th centuries mentioning a “droungarios tou nou[merou?]” as an indication of a predecessor of the 9th-century unit, and based on the nomenclature of its subaltern officers hypothesized an origin in the East Roman army of the 6th century, while John Haldon traces its hypothetical lineage to the late 7th century. The unit survived until the 11th century, when it ceases to be mentioned, indicating that it was dissolved.
The precise title of this unit remains uncertain. In Byzantine literature it is documented only in the genitive plural (τῶν Νουμέρων), which leaves unclear whether the unit title was Noumeroi (Νούμεροι) or Noumera (Νούμερα). Modern scholars over the past century have variously favoured both forms. The term noumeros (transliterated from Latin: numerus, in Greek also translated as arithmos) was itself a common term for a regular military unit of indeterminate size used in Late Antiquity. It was only later, in the 8th and possibly even in the 9th century, that the name came to specify this particular unit. The regiment in turn gave its name to the Noumera, a building adjoining the Hippodrome of Constantinople that served as their barracks and as a city prison. The French scholar Rodolphe Guilland identified the 9th-century Noumera with the prison known as Prandiara in earlier times.
The Noumeroi ranked among the imperial tagmata, professional regiments stationed in and around Constantinople. Unlike most of the tagmata, the Noumeroi were composed of infantry and never left Constantinople, being entrusted with guard duties in the city, specifically watching over