The Bructeri

This page created 17 May 2014, and last modified: 28 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)


In the western half of the empire, the Bructeri is listed as one of auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command under the name Brocteri. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

The shield pattern shows a red winged Victory in the centre (no evidence of a boss is visible) on a yellow ground. Concentric bands surround the ground; working from the ground outwards, they are red, indigo/purple (green in W, missing in M), yellow (white in M, missing in B), and finally red at the rim. The pattern is thus essentially identical to that ascribed to the Felices iuniores Gallicani, further down the Magister Peditum's list.

However, it is evident that this might be the "wrong" shield pattern; like that of some other western auxilia platina units, it may have been shifted from its proper place (or, to be more exact, the label may have been shifted from its proper place), although which pattern (if any) among those shown properly belongs to the unit is not immediately apparent.

Inscriptional evidence for the Bructeri comes from the cemetery at Colonia Iulia Concordia (modern Portogruaro in Veneto, Italy), which produced an inscription (CIL 5, 8768) mentioning the unit in the form of the numero Bruc[.]erum, which expands to "numero Bruc[t]er(or)um"; the date given on the gravestone corresponds to one of either 394, 396 or 402 AD; just the right period for the Notitia. See here for Hoffmann's 1963 analysis (in German).

The name Bructeri is a tribal one; it comes from a German tribe that was particularly active in the 1st century, but still being recorded as opposing Rome in the 4th (at which time the Bructeri seem to usually have been considered to be a sub-tribe of the Franks, although sometimes mentioned separately); the name also occurs in the early 5th century Peutinger itinerarium, and lived on as a regional name under the medieval Carolingians.


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