The Abrincateni

This page created 23 March 2014, and last modified: 23 September 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Abrincateni is listed (98/9.140 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as 10th of the 18 pseudocomitatenses units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.144) to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command as the Abrineateni. Its shield pattern (97#12) as shown in various manuscripts, under the label (97.m) Abrincateni, is as below:

Abrincateni shield patterns

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

The shield pattern is relatively simple, featuring a red boss (pink in M) surrounded by an indigo band (purple in B, red in M, and faded to pink in W), a white ground, and a red rim; a red disc occupies the 12 o'clock position, which is probably meant to represent an imago, or imperial portrait, such as found on many other shield patterns in the Notitia (the radiating lines visible in the Froben edition picture, B, are actually from an image on the reverse side of the page showing through the paper).

It is likely the men of the Abrincateni are the same men as (formerly ?) commanded by the Praefectus militum Dalmatarum (151.10) at Abrincatis (modern Avranches) under the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani; see under his entry for details. With one exception, all the many other "Dalmatian" units in the Notitia appear to be cavalry units. The exception would appear to be the men commanded by the Tribunus cohortis secundae Dalmatarum (154.27) under the Dux Britanniarum garrisoning Hadrian's wall at Magnis. Nonetheless, outside the Notitia, there is ample inscriptional evidence for infantry Dalmatae units - in Britain alone, in addition to the Cohors secundae Delmatarum equitata, we hear of a Cohors Primae Delmatarum and a Cohors Quartae Delmatarum, so it is possible other units in the Notitia recorded under some other name are former Dalmatian units like the Abrincateni. However, these other British infantry units are all (auxiliary) cohorts; such units were commanded by tribunes at the time of the Notitia, unlike the prefect in charge of the Milites Dalmatarum, who would thus appear to be legionary troops, and not auxiliaries. Exactly what legion the Abrincateni may have descended from, however, is hard to discern.

A number of other infantry units in the western half of the army have the same red-rimmed white shield background that the Abrincateni features, with the central circles being differentiated to some degree. It may be these have some as-yet undiscerned thematic relationship.


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