The Defensores seniores

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


The Defensores seniores is listed (98/9.141 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as 11th of the 18 pseudocomitatenses units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.145) to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. Its shield pattern (97#13), as shown in various manuscripts under the matching label (97.n) Defensores seniores, is as below:

Defensores seniores 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 has a yellow boss (white in B) surrounded by an indigo (O,P), faded maroon (M,W) or red (B) star with 9 points (8 in B). The main field is white, as is the shield's rim (which is doubled in B). Such stars with 9 points are unusual in the Notitia; the only similar example is that of the Equites Batavi iuniores (102/5.10), and which is also assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command.

It would appear likely that the men of the Defensores seniores are the same men (formerly ?) commanded by the Praefectus numeri defensorum (156/8.11), at Barboniaco, under the Dux Britanniarum. Note that a Defensores iuniores is also assigned (102/5.150) to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command but not listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; this unit is likely the same unit as formerly commanded by the Praefectus militum defensorum (156/8.11), at Confluentibus under the Dux Mogontiacensis; its shield pattern is not recorded in the Notitia. Of course, it is possible these two equivalencies need to be inverted, but I favour the option as stated above for chronological reasons: the British units seem to have been withdrawn into the Gallic army before the German units, and thus the more senior unit is more likely to be the British one.

"Defensores" simply means "the Defenders" and give no clue as to the unit's origins.


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