The Domestici Equites (West)

This page created 26 May 2014, and last modified: 26 May 2014


In the western half of the Empire, the Count of the Household Horse controls a single mounted bodyguard unit, called the Domestici Equites. 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 pattern is extremely ornate. The boss is quartered purple and red (or white) and surrounded by a blue (or red) band, followed by a golden band; two further concentric circles in yellow follow. A yellow star of 8 (B), 9 (O) or 10 (P, M, W) points radiates outward into a purple field; in between each pair of points is a yellow heart. The rim is yellow, and all devices are depicted as being edged in a thin red line: only the fact the pattern is drawn at an extremely large scale enables this to be done. It thus very closely resembles the pattern of the Domestici Pedites under the Count of the Household Foot.

It is unclear to what extent, if any, the Domestici were military guard units at this (or indeed, any) date as opposed to being purely ceremonial; they seem to have functioned more as a staff officers college than anything else. In the 350s, Ammianus records Constantius being protected on the field by 'praetorian' foot guards who may well be the same as the Domestici pedites, but whether this guard survived into the 5th century as a military force is unclear. We also hear of protectores as bodyguards for commanders, but these do not find any place in the Notitia's organizational scheme.


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