The Constantiani

This page created 5 April 2014, and last modified: 29 November 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)


In the eastern half of the empire, the fourth of the 18 units of unit of auxilia palatina listed (9.27 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) under the command of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence (i.e. the Magister Militum Praesentalis I) is called the Constantiani. Its shield pattern (8#2) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (8.b) Constantiani, is as below:

Shield patterns

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

The pattern shows a yellow boss encircled with a red band and with a red pillar underneath giving a "key-hole" shape that is found on many other auxilia palatina units in the notitia; the shield rim is also red. The main ground is white, and features four rosettes (absent in B) in red, plus an indigo disc (purple in B, faded to maroon in W and alsmost to white in M) at the 12 o'clock position, bordered in red; this is presumably meant to represent an imago (imperial portrait) as found in many other shield patterns in the Notitia, but minus the actual portrait (perhaps as much due to space constraints as anything).

Although the shield pattern does not closely resemble that of any other unit, its simple circular motifs and common colours ensure it is somewhat similar to the patterns of a great many other units. In particular, that ascribed to the Tubantes, under the command of the Magister Militum Praesentalis II, is somewhat similar: both share an apparent imago at the top, both have a large yellow boss, and both have a pillar beneath the boss. But the overall impression isn't particularly similar, on account of the different ground colours, and the lack of differentiated boss and shield rim in the Tubantes, as well as the lack of spotting. So, all-in-all, suggestive, but hardly case proven. See also here for more details for matches and mismatches between the two Praesental Magistri.

Due to the prolific nature of the Imperial dynasty established by Constantine Chlorus, the name Constantiani, or variations thereof, is shared with many other units in the Notitia. However, the name need not be directly derived: many places were named after members of the dynasty, and some units may have taken their names from being stationed at such a place (e.g. see the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia for one such example). In this case, however, a direct dynastic name is assured: note that fourth unit under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence is the very similarly-named Constantiniani.


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