Late Roman Shield Patterns

Intra Gallias cum viro illustri magistro equitum Galliarum

This page last modified: 22 December 2015 (Commentary about two apparent Masters of Horse added)


The following cavalry units are listed as being with the Master of Horse in his Gallic command; the numbers in front of the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme):

102/5.218 Equites Batavi seniores (a vexillationes palatinae unit)
102/5.219 Equites Cornuti seniores (i.e. Equites Cornuti iuniores?, a vexillationes palatinae unit; see notes below)
102/5.220 Equites Batavi iuniores (a vexillationes palatinae unit)
102/5.221 Equites Brachiati iuniores (presumably a vexillationes palatinae unit; see notes below)
102/5.222 Equites Honoriani seniores (a vexillationes comitatenses unit)
102/5.223 Equites Honoriani iuniores (i.e. Equites Honoriani Taifali iuniores, a vexillationes comitatenses unit)
102/5.224 Equites armigeri seniores (i.e. Equites armigeri, a vexillationes comitatenses unit)
102/5.225 Equites octavo Dalmatae (a vexillationes comitatenses unit)
102/5.226 Equites Dalmatae Passerentiacenses (i.e. Equites Dalmatae Passerentiaci, a vexillationes comitatenses unit)
102/5.227 Equites prima Gallia (a vexillationes comitatenses unit; Equites primi Gallicani in Seeck)
102/5.228 Equites Mauri alites (a vexillationes comitatenses unit)
102/5.229 Equites Constantiaci feroces (i.e. Equites Constantiani feroces, a vexillationes comitatenses unit)

along with the following infantry units, mostly drawn from those nominally under control of the Magister Peditum:

102/5.115 Mattiaci iuniores (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.116 Leones seniores (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.117 Brachiati iuniores (i.e. Brachiati, an auxilia palatina unit; see notes)
102/5.118 Salii seniores (i.e. Salii, an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.119 Gratianenses (i.e. Gratianenses seniores, an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.120 Brocteri (i.e. Bructeri, an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.121 Ampsivarii (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.122 Valentinianenses (likely the Valentianenses iuniores, an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.123 Batavi (an auxilia palatina unit; deleted by Seeck, see notes)
102/5.124 Batavi iuniores (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.125 Britones (see notes)
102/5.126 Atecotti Honoriani seniores (i.e. Honoriani Atecotti seniores, an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.127 Sagittarii Nervi Gallicani (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.128 Iovii iuniores Gallicani (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.129 Mattiaci iuniores Gallicani (an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.130 Atecotti iuniores Gallicani (presumably an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.131 Ascarii Honoriani seniores (i.e. Honoriani ascarii seniores, an auxilia palatina unit)
102/5.132 Armigeri defensores seniores (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.133 Lanciarii Honoriani Gallicani (i.e. Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani, a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.134 Lanciarii Sabarienses (a legiones palatina unit)
102/5.135 Menapi seniores (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.136 Secundani Britones (i.e. Secunda Britannica, a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.137 Ursarienses (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.138 Praesidienses (i.e. Praesichantes, a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.139 Geminiacenses (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.140 Cortoriacenses (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.141 Honoriani felices Gallicani (a legiones comitatenses unit)
102/5.142 Prima Flavia Gallicana (i.e. Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia, a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.143 Marienses (i.e. Martenses, a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.144 Abrincateni (a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.145 Defensores seniores (a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.146 Mauri Osismiaci (a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.147 Prima Flavia (i.e. Prima Flavia Metis, a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.148 Superventores iuniores (a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.149 Balistarii
102/5.150 Defensores iuniores
102/5.151 Garronenses
102/5.152 Anderetiani
102/5.153 Acincenses
102/5.154 Cornacenses (i.e. Corniacenses, a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.155 Septimani iuniores (i.e. Septimani, a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.156 Cursarienses iuniores
102/5.157 Musmagenses
102/5.158 Romanenses (a pseudocomitatenses unit)
102/5.159 Insidatores
102/5.160 Truncensimani
102/5.161 Abulci
102/5.162 Exploratores

The following prefects and tribunes along with their limitanei units are also listed as being stationed in Gallia, but not under the Magister Equitum's direct command (they are listed as being under the overall command of the Magister Peditum):

156/8.33 Praefectus classis fluminis Rhodani, at Viennae or Arelati
156/8.34 Praefectus classis barcariorum, at Ebruduni Sapaudiae
156/8.35 Praefectus militum musculariorum, at Massiliae Graecorum
156/8.36 Tribunus cohortis primae Flaviae Sapaudicae, at Calaronae
156/8.38 Tribunus cohortis Noevempopulanae, at Lapurdo
156/8.40 Praefectus classis Araricae, at Caballoduno
156/8.42 Praefectus classis Anderetianorum, at Parisius.
In addition to these units, a prefect of Sarmatian and Taifalian settlers is mentioned:

156/8.82 Praefectus Sarmatarum et Taifalorum gentilium, at Pictavis (Poitiers)
and the following prefects of Sarmatian settlers:
156/8.83 Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, throughout the Chora Parisios (Paris district)
156/8.84 Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, between Renos (Reims) and Ambianos (Amiens) in provinciae Belgicae secundae
156/8.85 Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, in the Rodunensem (Rennes?) and Alaunorum (Alanic?) tract
156/8.86 Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, at Lingonas (Langres)
156/8.87 Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, at Au[...missing]
and the following prefects in charge of German settlers:
156/8.51 Praefectus laetorum Teutonicianorum, at Carnunta (Chartres) in Senoniae Lugdunensis
156/8.52 Praefectus laetorum Batavorum et gentilium Suevorum, at Baiocas (Bayeux) and at Constantiae (Coutances) in Lugdunensis secundae
156/8.53 Praefectus laetorum gentilium Suevorum, [at ...missing] and at Ceromannos (Le Mans) in Lugdunensis tertiae
156/8.54 Praefectus laetorum Francorum, at Redonas (Rennes) in Lugdensis tertiae
156/8.55 Praefectus laetorum Lingonensium, dispersed throughout Belgicae primae
156/8.56 Praefectus laetorum Actorum, at Epuso in Belgicae primae
156/8.61 Praefectus laetorum Lagensium, near Tungros (Tongres) in Germaniae secundae
156/8.62 Praefectus laetorum gentilium Suevorum, at Arumbernos (Auvergne) in Aquitanicae primae.
No illustrations accompany the listings of the units comprising the Gallic
military forces. Even the civil officials get short shrift compared to the
equivalent Italian officials: not even the Praetorian Prefect of Gaul
himself gets a picture; the only civil illustration related to Gaul is the
picture below accompanying the Vicar of the Seven Provinces:

Vicarii Septem Provinciarum
Above: Frontpiece of the Vicarii Septem Provinciarum, from the Parisian
manuscript, P. Six consulares are listed (85/6.68 ff) as reporting to
the Vicar, along with eleven praesides (85/6.104 ff); they are
symbolically illustrated in the above picture by women holding bowls of
tributary produce. Interestingly, under the Vicar's own list (124.2 ff),
one of the provincial consulares, that of Belgica prima, is conspicuously
missing. Likewise, there is no military Dux Belgicae primae to correspond to
the Dux Belgicae secundae.

Vicarii Septem Provinciarum
Above: Frontpiece of the Vicarii Septem Provinciarum, from the second set
of illustrations in the Munich manuscript (W).

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

Following the entry (85/6.4) for the Magister peditum in praesenti, the first list of dignitaries for the western portion of the empire gives both a Magister equitum in praesenti (85/6.6) and a Magister equitum per Gallias (85/6.6), who should thus be separate officers. However, while the Magister Peditum has both a nominal command listed (essentially all the infantry and naval forces in the west, albeit spread over sections of the compilation) and an actual command (the Italian field army), this is not the case for either of the two Masters of Horse. The Magister equitum in praesenti has only a nominal command (102/5.1-52; the non-scholae non-limitanei cavalry of the west), while it is the Magister equitum per Gallias who has an actual command: the Gallic field army outlined above (102/5.114-169; 102/5.217-229). It would thus appear the "two" Masters of Horse were in practice one and the same person, and this is how how I treat them - hence my references to "the Master of Horse's Gallic command". Nonetheless, caution is advised: entry 102/5.64 states that the chief of staff of the Magister equitum per Gallias is drawn every other year from that of the Magister equitum in praesenti. While this is already a somewhat odd formulation if the two officers were one and the same, it is incomprehensible if the two offices (without an "r") were the same. The best way to reconcile these contrasting lines of evidence is to take the meaning of magister equitum per Gallias as not "the (officer styled the) 'Master of Horse of Gaul'" but "the (officer styled the) 'Master of Horse', (who just happens to be) in Gaul".

The Batavi entry (102/5.123) was omitted by Seeck. Perhaps Seeck was influenced by the fact that, as Ingo Maier reports, the entry is not present in the Bodleian and Trento manucripts, although it is present in the Parisian and Munich manuscripts, as well as the Vatican manuscript (which Seeck never consulted) and the Froben printed edition (and the other early printed versions which Seeck ignored when preparing his edition). Seeck however didn't mention any of this in the notes accompanying his edition... See the following entry, the Batavi iuniores (102/5.124), for more details.

An Equites Cornuti seniores is assigned to both the Gallic (102/5.219) and the Italian (102/5.123) field armies, while the Equites Cornuti iuniores (102/5.8) is unassigned; clearly either the Gallic or the Italian unit is the seniores while the other is the iuniores. There seems no way of decisively determining which is which. For the sake of simplicity in illustrating their shield patterns below, I will assume that Equites Cornuti iuniores is in the Gallic army, and the Equites Cornuti seniores is in the Italian army.

Only one of the two Equites Brachiati units has its pattern illustrated (100#4), and while it is not entirely clear if it is the Equites brachiati seniores (102/5.5) or iuniores (102/5.221), the pattern is much more likely to be that of the seniores given its position (the Equites Brachiati iuniores comes after the Equites Batavi iuniores (102/5.220) in the Gallic list, while the shield pattern labelled (100#d) Brachiati comes, like the position of the Equites brachiati seniores, before it in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster). Similarly, only one of the two Mattiaci units has a matching illustration - see here for details.

There is a Brachiati listed (98/9.71) in the Magister Peditum's infantry list, albeit in a position inconsistent with the position (102/5.117) of the Brachiati iuniores in the above Gallic list, and its shield pattern is also not recorded (or, at least, it is not labelled as such).

Similarly, a Valentinianenses is also listed under the Comes Illyricum (102/5.112); see the discussion under the Valentianenses iuniores (98/9.065).

The Britones (102/5.125) is most likely to be equated with the Exculcatores iuniores Britanniciani (98/9.82); see under that unit, and also the discussion under the Batavi iuniores (98/9.081.1).

Both a Septimani iuniores (98/9.116) and a Septimani (98/9.147) are listed under the Magister Peditum; as the Septimani iuniores (98/9.116) is a comitatenses unit, it seems that the Septimani iuniores of the Gallic list (102/5.155) is not the same unit, but rather the Septimani (98/9.147), which is a pseudocomitatenses unit. Both would appear to be part of the old Legio VII Gemina Felix; see the comments under the Comes "Hispenias".

The position of the Lanciarii Sabarienses (102/5.134) would indicate it was a comitatenses unit when the Notitia was first drawn up, but later promoted to the palatine status it is recorded having under the list of the Magister Peditum. Half of the 12 palatine legions in the western empire would appear to be such recently upgraded units.

The Martenses, the Abrincateni, the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia, the Mauri Osismiaci, the Superventores iuniores, the Garronnenses, and the Ursarienses all appear to be units drawn from the limitanei force of the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani. The Balistarii, the Defensores iuniores, the Anderetiani. and the Acincenses (and possibly the Martenses) all appear to be units drawn from the Dux Mogontiacensis; the Romanenses possibly from the Dux Pannoniae secundae, and the Insidiatores from the Dux Valeriae ripensis. The Abulci and possibly the Truncensimani appear to be drawn from the men under the Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam (note, however, that the Truncensimani is often instead equated with the Tricensimani of e.g. Ammianus). Similarly, the Defensores seniores would appear to come from the forces of the Dux Britanniarum, and the Exploratores from there and/or the identically named unit under the Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam. The Prima Flavia Metis was evidently stationed in Mettis (modern Metz in France), a town in Belgicae Secundae, in the not too distant past, although it is no longer listed under the Dux of that region. The Secundani Britones seems to be also listed under the command of the Comes Britanniarum.

The origins of the Cursarienses iuniores (102/5.156) are hard to discern. See the unit's page for details.

The Musmagenses (102/5.157) is no doubt from Mosomagus (modern Mouzon, Ardennes, France), another town in Belgicae Secundae, although it too is no longer listed under the Dux of that region. Archaelogical work there reveals Roman coins up to the date of Theodosius (to 395 AD), but not later.

The shield patterns that can be positively or plausibly identified are shown below, as taken from the Parisian manuscript, P. Note that many of the shield patterns listed matching the Magister Peditum's infantry list are in fact mislabelled; see here for more details. Where the label is clearly wrong, but the correct identity is not clear, I have given the illustrated label in quote marks. Where the label is clearly wrong, and the correct label is also reasonably clear, I have given illustrated label in quote marks, and the correct pattern for the correct label, which is identified by appending "i.e.".


While prefects commanding settlers may have commanded "their" laeti as separate military "units", it is at least equally plausible that these prefects were not military officers at all, and if their settlers were conscripted to fight, it would have been in the same way as any other men in the area - by joining "regular" units.

References and Notes:

1. Maier, I.G.; "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. Thus Jones, A.H.M.; "The Later Roman Empire, 284-602; A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey"; Blackwell, Oxford, 1964 (3 volumes); at p 351 of volume 3 talks of the Magister equitum, singular, without comment that there are apparently two such officials listed in the document! Return

3. Elton, Hugh; "Warfare in Roman Europe, AD 340 - 425"; Clarendon, Oxford, 1996, at p 209. Return

4. Seeck, Otto (Ed.); "Notitia Dignitatum accedunt Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae et Latercula prouinciarum", Weidmann, Berlin, 1876; available here (last accessed 26 October 2015). Return

5. Maier, I.G.; "The Barberinus and Munich codices of the 'Notitia Dignitatum omnium'"; Latomus 28.4 (1969) pp. 960-1035; available here (last accessed 12 December 2015). Return

6. "Ammianus" (Ammianus Marcellinus); "Res gestae a fine Corneli Taciti"; 18.9.3; available here in Latin and here in English translation (last accessed 23 December 2015). Return

7. Société Archéologique du Sillon Mosan; "Aspects d'une moyenne capitale régionale à travers les siècles: Mouzon, autrefois Mosomagus" (last accessed 23 December 2015). Return

8. Elton, Hugh; "Warfare in Roman Europe, AD 340 - 425"; Clarendon, Oxford, 1996, at p 130. Return


Return to the Notitia index page.