The Cursarienses iuniores

This page created 23 December 2015, and last modified: 23 December 2015


The 42nd of the 48 units of infantry listed (102/5.156 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Equititum's Gallic command is called the Cursarienses iuniores. No corresponding unit is listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster, nor is a shield pattern so-labelled to be found in the accompanying insignia illustrations.

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

Jones considered the Cursarienses iuniores to be one and the same as the as men (formerly?) commanded by the Praefectus militum Ursariensium (151.9) at Rotomago (i.e. Rotomagus, modern Rouen in Normandy) under the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani; see under his entry for more details. A gravestone from Amiens (CIL 13.3492) belonging to an IMAG[i]N(ifer) N(umeri) URSARIEN(sium) surely refers to this unit, Amiens being just 100 kilometres from Rouen as the crow flies. Jones' assignment was repeated by Tomlin, although I confess I cannot understand Tomlin's one-line argument for doing so. Tomlin stated "The identification is guaranteed by the bloc of regiments from Occ. 37 drafted to Occ. 7" (i.e. from the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani to the Magister Equititum's Gallic command). But Armorican units were not the only ones drafted into the Gallic command, and those that do absolutely do not appear as a block...

Note that Jones considered the legionary comitatenses unit the Ursarienses (98/9.118) to equate with the limitanei unit the milites Ursarienses (147.8) under the Dux Raetiae primae et secundae; in my opinion, his two assignations should be swapped, so that 151.9 = 98/9.118 (which would thus also argue against Tomlin's assignment).

Even if the Cursarienses in Cursarienses iuniores is a mistake for Ursarienses, it is by no means certain that the unit should equate with either the milites Ursarienses (147.8) or the milites Ursarienses (151.9), because there is also an Auxilia Ursarentia listed (143.25) under the Dux Provinciae Valeriae ripensis, and at least one other unit from that command, the Auxilia insidiatorum (143.28) appears to have joined the Gallic command, as the Insidiatores (102/5.159).

However, it is by no means clear that Cursarienses has an extra "c" in the first place: cursorienses with a much more minor change from an "a" to an "o" would yield a perfectly good name, meaning either "the racers" or "the postmen": the former would be much more suitable in a military context, and indeed, in the form cursores ("Koursores" in Greek) later became an established part of the Byzantine military lexicon.


1. Maier, Ingo; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 7 December 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return

2. Jones, A.H.M.; "The Later Roman Empire, 284-602; A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey"; Blackwell, Oxford, 1964 (3 volumes); at p 365-6 of volume 3. Return

3. Tomlin, Roger; "Seniores-Iuniores in the Late-Roman Field Army"; The American Journal of Philology, XCIII,2 (1972), pp 253-278, at p 274, note 3; available here (last accessed 23 December 2015). Return

4. E.g. the "Taktika" ("Ton en polemois taktikon syntomos") attributed to Leo the Wise, 4.20; in Jacques-Paul Migne, "Patrologiae cursus completus [Series Graeca]" Vol. 107, Apud Garnier Fratres et J.-P. Migne Successores (1863), col 669-1116; available here in Greek with Latin translation (last accessed 22 December 2015). Return


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