The Notitia Dignitatum

Equites scutarii

This page created 28 June 2015, and last modified: 30 June 2015 (56/7.2 entry added)


The following units (or detachments of units) of Equites scutarii are to be found listed in the Notitia (the numbers in front of the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme):

In the eastern half of the empire:
9.13 Equites primi scutarii, one of the vexillationes comitatenses under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I
12.12 Equites secundi scutarii, one of the vexillationes comitatenses under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II
12.13 Equites scutarii, another of the vexillationes comitatenses under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II
15.6 Equites primi scutarii orientales, a vexillationes comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Orientem
56/7.2 Cuneus equitum Maurorum scutariorum, at Lico, under the Dux Thebaidos
59.4 Equites scutarii Illyriciani, at Chermulae, under the Dux Palaestinae
61.2 Equites scutarii Illyriciani, at Motha, under the Dux Arabiae
63.3 Equites scutarii Illyriciani, at Euhari, under the Dux Foenicis
65.2 Equites scutarii Illyriciani, at Seriane, under the Dux Syriae et Eufratensis Syriae
69.2 Equites scutarii Illyriciani, at Amidae, under the Dux Mesopotamiae
69.7 Equites scutarii indigenae Pafenses, at Assara, also under the Dux Mesopotamiae.
And in the western half of the empire:
102/5.22 Equites scutarii , one of the vexillationes comitatenses units listed in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster
102/5.40 Equites secundi scutarii iuniores, another of the vexillationes comitatenses units listed in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, and assigned (102/5.248) to the Comes Africae, as the Equites scutarii iuniores scholae secundi
102/5.232 Equites scutarii seniores, under the Comes Africae
102/5.246 Equites scutarii iuniores, also under the Comes Africae
102/5.252 Equites scutarii Aureliaci, under the the Comes Britanniae
102/5.258 Equites scutarii seniores comitatenses, under the Comes Tingitaniae.
In addition, the following units of Equites scholae are to be found, albeit without explicitly being described as Equites:
under the eastern Magister Officiorum:
23.2 Schola scutariorum prima
23.3 Schola scutariorum secunda
23.5 Schola scutariorum sagittariorum
23.6 Schola scutariorum clibanariorum
and under the western Magister Officiorum:
107.2 Schola scutariorum prima
107.3 Schola scutariorum secunda
107.6 Schola scutatorium tertia.

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

The identities of some the western comital units are not perfectly clear. It is tolerably clear that the unassigned Equites scutarii (102/5.22) should be equated with either the Equites scutarii seniores under the Comes Africae (102/5.232), or with the Equites scutarii seniores comitatenses under the Comes Tingitaniae (102/5.258), or with both (and thus seemingly separated by time as well as space), but which of these three options is most likely is unclear.

While the Equites scutarii iuniores (102/5.246) would appear to be unlisted in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, it may well be equated with the Sagittarii iuniores, an otherwise unassigned vexillationes comitatenses unit listed (102/5.36) in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster. This becomes all the more likely when one considers the immediately preceding and succeeding units of both units in their respective lists are the same.

Finally, the Equites scutarii Aureliaci (102/5.252) also has no corresponding entry in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, but would appear to instead correspond to the Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum, a limitanei unit stationed at Aballaba (154.30) under the Dux Britanniarum.

Only the shield patterns of three of the western units are clearly shown:

Shield patterns
Shield patterns
Shield patterns

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.

The name scutarii ought to imply soldiers bearing relatively large shields (ie.e. scuta), but had long ago come to have another meaning; that of "guardsmen". Most of the units bearing the name scutarii in the Notitia are either self-evidently guards units (the scholae) or else highly ranked; even the provincial limitanei scutarii units are, with very few exceptions, the highest ranked unit in their particular province. That scutarii need not imply a large shield is particularly evident from the name of the Schola scutariorum sagittariorum; assuming this unit was indeed bow-armed, as the name sagittariorum implies, it would seem implausible that its men, mounted on horses as they were, also carried large shields.


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