The abbot Berno of Reichenau, in the opening sentence of his Prologus in Tonarium, some time between 1021 and 1036, called himself the following:

licet parvus meritis, servus tamen Dei Genitricis Virginis municipatum in arce divinae speculationis

though small in merit, still a servant of the Virgin Mother of God citizenship(?) in the ark of divine speculation

I am puzzled how municipatum fits into the rest of the phrase. I figure it is not an adjective here, for it doesn't agree grammatically with servus. Could it perhaps be an accusative object to servus, as in "the one serving the citizenship of the Virgin Mother of God"? But then why servus and not, say, servans?

Sources: Gerbert Migne

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    Can you quote around that passage or at least link to a fuller version? It might have to do with surrounding text.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 19, 2021 at 15:33
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    One thing is certain, ‘arce’ does not mean “ark” (that would be ‘arca’), but is the ablative of ‘arx’, which to me suggest that ‘arce speculationis’ is a watchtower of sorts (‘divinae’). My feeling (sorry) for ‘municipatum’ is it’s a supine-like thing, “for a citizenship,” “to build a dwelling-place,” kinda. But yes, context might help.
    – Batavulus
    Apr 19, 2021 at 18:42
  • @JoonasIlmavirta It's part of the author's salutation, so there isn't much more context than what I quoted.
    – Coemgenus
    Apr 20, 2021 at 23:44
  • @Batavulus Thanks for clarifying. The work is a treatise on music theory that opens a book of Gregorian chants, and so 'speculatio' here is the 'theoria' or the mind's 'seeing' that comes from a study of the liberal arts such as Musica.
    – Coemgenus
    Apr 20, 2021 at 23:56
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    @Coemgenus Thanks! It seems indeed that there wasn't more context of use, but it's always good to check. Sometimes an unexpected accusative is the object of a verb that comes half a page later.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 21, 2021 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


Ah, I had been thinking erroneously of the second declension. But, if municipatus is a noun here, not an adjective, then naturally it would be declined to the fourth declension, whose genitive plural ending -uum was oft elided as -um in Medieval Latin.

I suppose the sentence might then be translated something like this:

servus tamen Dei Genitricis Virginis municipatuum in arce divinae speculationis

still a servant to the dwellings of the Virgin Mother of God in the fortress of divine speculation.

By which I suppose he is referring to the monastic communities.

  • municipatus in ML can mean "warden" or "castellan", some kind of officer. So perhaps, "servant of the wardens ... in the fortress" Apr 22, 2021 at 17:52

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