Late Roman Shield Patterns

Comes Africae

This page created 18 December, 2002, and last modified: 7 February 2015 (bottom three frontpiece illustrations added)


Frontpiece showing towns
Above: Frontpiece from the Bodleian manuscript (O).
The stations depicted are: Thamalensis, Montensis, Bazensis,
Gemellensis, Tubuniensis, Zabensis, Tubusubditani,
Thamallomensis, Baleretani, Columntensis,
Tablatensis, Caputcellensis, Tillabarenses,
Tangenses, Bidenses, Badenses.

Frontpiece showing towns
Above: Frontpiece from the Munich manuscript (M).
Like the O version, the M illustration shows anachronistic
contemporary influences; in this case, 16th-century German rather
than 15th-century Italian.

The following commanders of Limitanei units (or detachments of units) are listed as being at the disposal of the Count of Africa (the numbers in front of the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme):

128.3 Praepositus limitis Thamallensis
128.4 Praepositus limitis Montensis, in the fort at Leptitanis
128.5 Praepositus limitis Bazensis
128.6 Praepositus limitis Gemellensis
128.7 Praepositus limitis Tubuniensis
128.9 Praepositus limitis Zabensis
128.10 Praepositus limitis Tubusubditani
128.11 Praepositus limitis Thamallomensis
128.12 Praepositus limitis Balaretensis
128.13 Praepositus limitis Columnatensis
128.14 Praepositus limitis Tablatensis
128.15 Praepositus limitis Caputcellensis
128.16 Praepositus limitis Secundaeforum, in the fort at Tillibanensibus
128.17 Praepositus limitis Taugensis
128.18 Praepositus limitis Bidensis
128.19 Praepositus limitis Badensis
In addition, the following infantry units are listed as being under the command of the Count of Africa, drawn from the Magister Peditum's Infantry roster:
102/5.193 Celtae iuniores (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.194 Armigeri propugnatores seniores (a legiones palatinae unit)
102/5.195 Armigeri propugnatores iuniores (a legiones palatinae unit)
102/5.196 Secundani Italiciani (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.197 Cimbriani (a legiones palatina unit)
102/5.198 Primani (i.e. Prima Flavia Pacis , a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.199 Secundani (i.e. Secunda Flavia Virtutis , a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.200 Tertiani (i.e. Tertia Flavia Salutis , a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.201 Constantiniani (i.e. Secunda Flavia Constantiniana, a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.202 Constantiaci (i.e. Flaviae victrices constantinae id est Constantici, a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.203 Tertio Augustani (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.204 Fortenses (a legiones comitatenses unit)
along with the following cavalry units, drawn from the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster:
102/5.231 Equites stablesiani italiciani (a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.232 Equites scutarii seniores (i.e. Equites scutarii , a vexillationes comitatenses; but see notes)
102/5.233 Equites stablesiani seniores (i.e. Equites stablesiani Africani , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.234 Equites Marcomanni (a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.235 Equites armigeri seniores (a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.236 Equites clibanarii (i.e. Equites sagittarii clibanarii , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.237 Equites Panthosagittarii seniores (i.e. Equites sagittarii Parthi seniores , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.238 Equites cetrati seniores (i.e. Equites citrati seniores , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.239 Equites primi sagittarii (i.e. Equites primo sagittarii, a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.240 Equites secundo sagittarii (a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.241 Equites tertio sagittarii (a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.242 Equites quarto sagittarii (a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.243 Equites Parthi sagittarii iuniores (i.e. Equites sagittarii Parthi iuniores , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.244 Equites crinati iuniores (i.e. Equites citrati iuniores , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.245 Equites promoti iuniores (a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.246 Equites scutarii iuniores comitatenses (i.e. Sagittarii iuniores, a vexillationes comitatenses; see notes)
102/5.247 Equites Honoriani iuniores (i.e. Honoriani iuniores , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.248 Equites scutarii iuniores scholae secundi (i.e. Equites secundi scutarii iuniores , a vexillationes comitatenses)
102/5.249 Equites armigeri iuniores (i.e. Armigeri iuniores, a vexillationes comitatenses)

Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

Note that Seeck bracketed (OC.VII.195) the descriptor comitatenses in the Equites scutarii iuniores comitatenses in his edition as something to be deleted; why he did this is unknown... This unit would appear to be the same as the Sagittarii iuniores of the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, given their position in their respective lists, although the differences in their names means this identification is by no means secure.

Another unit named Fortenses, also a legiones comitatenses, with a separate shield pattern, is listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster, but stationed in Spain , but its position in the Magister Peditum's list compared with this one makes the assignment of the two shield patterns to the two units certain. This African Fortenses legion would appear to be the same as the Milites Fortenses under the Dux Tripolitanae.

Seeck identified the Constantiaci with the Flaviae victrices constantinae id est Constantici, and the Constantiniani with the Secunda Flavia Constantiniana; Jones swapped Seeck's assignments around. I now believe Seeck was right (formerly I believed neither were...).

The positioning of the Cimbriani and the Armigeri propugnatores seniores and iuniores, after the Celtae iuniores, indicates that they were comitatenses units when the Notitia was first drawn up, but later promoted to the palatine status they are recorded having under the list of the Magister Peditum. Half of the 12 palatine legions in the western empire are such recently upgraded units.

Whether none, some, or all of the limitanei units are identical to any of the comitanses units listed under the Comes' command is hard to say, as there is no indication of the limitanei units' titles, just their geographical station.

The inordinate amount of cavalry present suggests to me that there has been a mistake here, and that some of these really belong, as I argue under the "Comes" Hispenias, to that officer (since he has none), perhaps all those from the Equites promoti iuniores and below (and therefore likely including the Comites iuniores in addition?), because the Equites citrati seniores is placed out of position just above this division.

"Another" unit of Equites scutarii seniores is found under the Comes Tingitaniae. Similarly, "another" Praepositus limitis Caputcellensis is listed under the Dux et praeses provinciae Mauritaniae et Caesariensis, and similarly for the Praepositus limitis Columnatensis; these may very well be the same units, but separated in time rather than space.

Below are shown the appropriate shield patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript, P:


It is noteworthy that only a single unit of auxilia palatina is included - noteworthy not just because this is a small number for such a large command, but also because it is a small odd number; such units seem to have normally been brigaded in pairs.

Below are shown the frontpieces from the Parisian manuscript, P; the Froben printed edition, B; and the second set of pictures in the Munich manuscript, W:

Frontpiece showing forts Frontpiece showing forts Frontpiece showing forts


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