Late Roman Shield Patterns

Dux Belgicae secunda

This page created 18 January, 2003, and last modified: 31 December 2015 (references 3 and 4 added)


Frontpiece showing towns
Above: the section from the Bodleian manuscript (O).
The stations depicted are: Litus Saxonicum,
Quartensis, Portuae Patiaci.
Just one cavalry unit, one prefect and his naval contingent, and one tribune with his soldiers are listed as being under the command of the Dux Belgicae secunda (i.e the Duke of second Belgium; the numbers beside the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme):

152.2 Equites Dalmatae, at Marcis on the Saxon Shore (no commander listed)
152.3 Praefectus classis Sambricae, in Quartensi or at Hornensi
152.4 Tribunus militum Nerviorum, at Portu Epatiaci (see notes)
In addition to these three units, at least one prefect of Sarmatian settlers is mentioned elsewhere in the compilation:

156/8.84 Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, between Renos and Tambianos

and 4 prefects of others settlers:

156/8.57 Praefectus laetorum Nerviorum, at Fanomantis
156/8.58 Praefectus laetorum Batavorum Nemetacensium, at Atrabatis
156/8.59 Praefectus laetorum Batavorum Contraginnensium, at Noviomago
156/8.60 Praefectus laetorum gentilium, at Remo and Silvanectas

Their shield patterns are not given. Note that the Praefectus classis Sambricae is actually given as Prefectus class lambrice in O, as Equites classis Sambrice in P, and as Classes iambricae in M; while "Portu Epatiaci" is given as "Portue patiaci" in all three.

Frontpiece showing towns
Above: the entire section from the Munich manuscript (M).

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

It appears that the command of the Dux Belgicae secundae was considerably larger in the past. Jones for instance identified the following units in the Gallic army as originating from the province of Belgica II on the basis of their names being the same as known towns in the province:

102/5.139 Geminiacenses, a legio comitatenses unit from Geminiacum (modern Liberchies, Hainault)
102/5.140 Cortoriacenses, a legio comitatenses unit from Cortoriacum (modern Courtrai/Kortrijk)
102/5.147 Prima Flavia Metis, a pseudocomitatenses unit from Mettis (modern Metz)

They are however not duplicated as being under the command of the Dux Belgicae secundae, in contrast to the many duplicated units under various other Duces, so it seems that this province was perhaps one of the first to have many of its units drafted into the depleted Gallic field army, if we work on the premise that such withdrawals from the border forces took time to be deleted from their place in the Notitia.

Note that there is no section for a "Dux Belgicae primae" in the Notitia, although there are Sarmatian settlers assigned to the province of Belgica I, showing some Roman presence in the province still existed; this may imply it was stripped of its units even earlier. Interestingly, there is a Dux Germania primae listed in the Notitia, Maier's entries 85/6.47 and 98/9.17, although there is no trace of any forces, officers, or towns being allocated to him. This may imply the removal of troops from Germania I took place after the removal of those of Belgica I (not necessarily physically: they for example have just been transferred to the command of e.g. the Dux Mogontiacensis.

Portus Epatiacus has tentatively been identified with the Roman fort at Oudenburg in the Netherlands, while Quartensi would appear to be Quentovicus, near modern Visemarest, La Calotterie, east of Étaples-sur-Mer in northern France.

Below are shown the complete section from the Parisian manuscript, P; and the pictures from 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


1. Maier, Ingo; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 26 October 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return

2. Jones, A.H.M.; "The Later Roman Empire, 284-602; A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey"; Blackwell, Oxford, 1964 (3 volumes); at vol. 3, p 365. Return

3. Mertens, J.; "Oudenburg and the northern sector of the continental Litus Saxonicum"; in "BA Research Report No. 18, The Saxon Shore"; Ed. D.E. Johnston, The Council for British Archaeology (1977); pp 51-62, at p 62, available here (last accessed 1 November 2015). Return

4. Hill, D., Maude, D., Warburton, K., Worthington, M.; "Quentovic defined"; Antiquity, 64 (1990), pp 51-58. Return


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