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Roman numerals

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Roman numerals is a numeral system created in acient Rome. The system used in the Middle Ages was slightly modified from the ancient one. Roman numerals are commonly used in inscriptions on churches and monuments, even after Latin fell out of general use.

  • I or i for 1
  • V or v for 5
  • X or x for 10
  • L or l for 50
  • C or c for 100
  • D or d for 500
  • M or m for 1000

For the numbers not assigned a specific symbol, the above given symbols are combined:

  • II or ii for 2
  • III or iii for 3,
  • IV, iv, IIII or iiii for 4
  • VI or vi for 6
  • VII or vii for 7
  • VIII or viii for 8
  • IX or ix for 9

For large numbers (5000 and above), a bar is placed above a base numeral to indicate multiplication by 1000. These are practically never found in inscription relevant to churches.


The notation of Roman numerals has varied through the centuries. Originally, it was common to use IIII to represent "four", because IV represented the god Jupiter (and later YHWH). The subtractive notation (which uses IV instead of IIII) has become universally used only in modern times. For example, Forme of Cury, a manuscript from 1390, uses IX for "nine", but IIII for "four". Another document in the same manuscript, from 1381, uses IV and IX. A third document in the same manuscript uses both IIII and IV, and IX. Constructions such as IIIII for "five", IIX for "eight" or VV for "ten" have also been discovered. Subtractive notation arose from regular Latin usage: the number "18" was duodeviginti or “two from twenty”; the number "19" was undeviginti or “one from twenty”.


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