Late Roman Shield Patterns

Dux Mogontiacensis

This page last modified: 8 February 2015 (four more frontpiece illustrations added)


Frontpiece showing towns
Above: Frontpiece from the Bodleian manuscript (O).
The stations depicted are:
Salectio, Taberna,
Vico Iulio, Nemetis, Alta ripa,
Vangionis, Mogontiaco, Bingio,
Bodobrica, Confluentibus, Antonaco.
11 prefects and their units are listed as being under the command of the Duke of Mainz (the numbers beside the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme):

156/8.2 Praefectus militum Pacensium, at Saletione
156/8.3 Praefectus militum Menapiorum, at Tabernis
156/8.4 Praefectus militum Anderetianorum, at Vico Iulio
156/8.5 Praefectus militum vindicum, at Nemetis
156/8.6 Praefectus militum Martensium, at Alta Ripa
156/8.7 Praefectus militum secundae Flaviae, at Vangiones
156/8.8 Praefectus militum armigerorum, at Mogontiaco
156/8.9 Praefectus militum Bingensium, at Bingio
156/8.10 Praefectus militum balistariorum, at Bodobrica
156/8.11 Praefectus militum defensorum, at Confluentibus
156/8.12 Praefectus militum Acincensium, at Antonaco
Frontpiece showing towns
Above: Frontpiece from the printed Froben edition
(B). Like the Bodleian frontpiece, O, that of B shows
contemporary styling, in this case 16th-century
rather than 15th-century Italianate.

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

These would all appear to be limitanei units. However, it is plain that many of these units bear the same names as many of the pseudocomitatenses units of the Gallic Gallic field army commanded by the Magister Equitum and drawn from the infantry rostered under the Magister Peditum.

For instance, the Praefectus militum balistariorum listed would appear to command the same men listed as the Balistarii under the Magister Equitum's command in Gallia, while the Praefectus militum defensorum commands the Defensores iuniores, the Praefectus militum Anderetianorum the Anderetiani, and the Praefectus militum Acincensium the Acincenses. Thus, as with the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani, the Notitia Dignitaum would seem to be here recording a state of affairs that no longer applied when the section recording the Gallic field army was written (the alternative scenario: that the Dux Mogontiacensis section is more up to date than the Gallic section, appears less likely).

The neighbouring Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani also commands a Praefectus militum Martensium, and while these might be two detachments of the same unit, and which also appears in the Gallic field army as the Martenses, the Armorican Martenses may however derive their name from Fanum Martis in Armorica (modern Corseul in Brittany; see my commentary under the Martenses), while the unit under the Dux Mogontiacensis is more likely to derive its name from Legio I Martia, whose presence on the Rhine is attested from Neuf-Brisach near Colmar, where one inscriptional record (AE 1977, 0592) gave [..]G I MAR for "[Le]g(io) I Mart(tia)"; from nearby Equisheim, where another (AE 1941, 0032) gave LEG I MAR; and further down the Rhine, tile stamps from Augusta Raurica (modern Kaiseraugst in Switzerland), along with a gravestone bearing the inscription (CIL 13, 5270) MILITAVIT IN LP M, interpreted as "militavit in l(egione) p(rima) M(artia)", in which case the two units might not have anything in common other than a name.

As the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani also commands a Praefectus militum primae Flaviae, which being based in Constantia, is no doubt the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia of the Gallic field army, we might also expect a Secunda Flavia Gallicana/Constantia somewhere in the Gallic army given that the Dux Mogontiacensis commands a Praefectus militum secundae Flaviae, but no such pseudocomitanses unit is indicated (there is a Constantiniani listed under both the Comes Africae and the Comes Tingitaniae, but this is likely the legiones comitatenses unit Secunda Flavia Constantiniana). Perhaps the unit has somehow simply been omitted by accident from the list of the units serving under the Magister Equitum in Gaul. Looking at the list of legions in Magister Peditum's infantry roster, one stands out: the apparently unassigned Flavia victrix Constantina, a legiones comitatenses unit. However, this is likely the same as the Constantiaci of the Comes Africae. An alternative possibility, given how "Flavia" units in the Notitia are usually called something along the lines of "Constantina" is the other Constantiaci, whose list position would fit much better, as it is listed as a pseudocomitatenses unit in the Magister Peditum's infantry list; further, this unit is also not apparently assigned to any field command.

Although the only unit of Menapii in the Gallic list is the Menapii seniores, the senior-most of legiones comitatenses units in the west, and so possibly unlikely to the same men as those commanded by the Praefectus militum Menapiorum (one might expect a unit that had been recently shifted to the field army to have pseudocomitatenses status), it is notable that under the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani, the only prefect that is not associated with a pseudocomitatenses unit in the Gallic army is the Praefectus militum Ursariensium, which seems to be the commander of the Gallic legiones comitatenses unit the Ursarienses. Thus the Menapii seniores is quite possibly the very same unit as commanded by the Praefectus militum Menapiorum, or at least, a detachment thereof (again, the converse seems a less likely possibility to my mind, but for a contrary conclusion, see van Berchem, 'Some Chapters of the "Notitia Dignitatum"', 1995, available here). Note, however, that there is no Menapii iuniores in the Notitia, so it is possible the men of the Praefectus militum Menapiorum became that unit, which was then wiped out, e.g. in invasions of 407.

Similarly, the Praefectus militum armigerorum likely commands the legiones comitatenses unit Armigeri defensores seniores, listed as being in the Gallic field army. As these units are rated as comitatenses units rather than pseudocomitatenses, it seems reasonable to infer that they were amongst the first withdrawn from the frontier, and that their status in the Gallic army improved with time; while the other units still rated as pseudocomitatenses were later draftees.

Inscriptional evidence (AE 1920, 20) from Buedisheim in western Germany mentions a VETER LEG XXII PRI of the MILT BING; i.e. a veteran of Legio XXII Primigenia and who was a militum Bingensium. Thus it would appear the the men under the Praefectus militum Bingensium at Bingio (Bingum, modern Bingen am Rhein in Germany) are a detachment of Legio XXII Primigenia, which was stationed at Mogontiacum/Mainz from the first century to at least the late 3rd century. Tile stamps from Deutz (Roman Divitia, founded by Constantine I in ca. 310) attesting the legion as LEG XXII CV have been interpreted to mean Legio XXII Constantiana Victrix (see Limes XX: Estudios sobre la frontera romana (Roman frontier studies): 3, Anejos de Gladius 13, 2009, at p 753); since the legion is not attested after Constantine I, who was singularly victorious, and thus not somebody who lost legions, the unit must have acquired a new name in the meantime. For reasons explained on the page for the Tongrecani seniores (98/9.24), I believe it to be that unit.

The following relationships can thus be identified between the officers of the Dux Mogontiacensis and the units of the Gallic field army:

Praefectus militum balistariorum formerly commanded the Balistarii
Praefectus militum defensorum/ formerly commanded the Defensores iuniores (or seniores)
Praefectus militum Anderetianorum formerly commanded the Anderetiani
Praefectus militum Acincensium formerly commanded the Acincenses
Praefectus militum Martensium may have formerly commanded the Martenses
Praefectus militum Menapiorum may have formerly commanded the Menapii seniores
Praefectus militum armigerorum formerly commanded the Armigeri defensores seniores
Praefectus militum secundae Flaviae may have formerly commanded the Constantiaci

The other three units, under the Praefectus militum Pacensium, the Praefectus militum vindicum, and the Praefectus militum Bingensium, might well be found amongst the otherwise unknown units of the Gallic field army (e.g. the Cursarienses iuniores) or have been destroyed in the turmoil following the barbarian invasions of 407 AD and that apparently led to the final units of the Dux' command being withdrawn from the frontier and posted into the Gallic field army.

The following shield patterns can therefore be taken from those given under the Magister Peditum:


Those under O come from the Bodleian manuscript in Oxford, those under P from the Paris manuscript, those under M from the first portion of the Munich manuscript, those under W from the second portion of the Munich manuscript, and those under B from the Froben edition.

Note that the men under the Praefectus militum Acincensium are stationed not at Acinco, but at Antonaco. Acinco is Aquincum, now Budapest, where according to the Notia was stationed, under the command of the Dux Valeriae ripensis, not only part of Legio II Adiutrix, but also (part of) another legion (likely Legio I Adiutrix), and an auxiliary unit of watchmen in a fort on the opposite side of the Danube. Thus the milites Acincenses were likely detached from either Legio I or II Adiutrix on the Danube before being stationed on the Rhine under the Dux Mogontiacensis, and then finally drafted into the Gallic field army. This would complement an ultimate Danubian origin for the men of the Praefectus militum Martensium.

Below are shown the frontpieces from the Parisian manuscript, P; and from the first portion of the Munich manuscript, M, together with the corresponding picture from the second set of illustrations in the Munich manuscript, W:

Frontpiece showing forts Frontpiece showing forts Frontpiece showing forts


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