The Equites armigeri

This page created 9 August 2014, and last modified: 7 December 2015 (references rearranged)


The Equites armigeri is listed (102/5.13 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the first of the 32 vexillationes comitatenses units in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster. Its shield pattern (100#11) as shown in various manuscripts, under the label Armigeri (100.l), 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 shield pattern has a purple rim (faded to pink in M; indigo in P but white in W, B) and a yellow boss (white in B). The main ground is yellow, and features 8 red rays that do not extend to the rim, thus giving something of the impression of a yellow 8-spoked wheel.

No plain Equites armigeri is assigned to any of the western field armies; however there is an Equites armigeri seniores assigned to both the Magister Equitum's Gallic command (102/5.224) and to the Comes Africae (102/5.235). In the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster there is but one unit called Equites armigeri seniores, so it would seem one of the two units so-called in the cavalry distribution list corresponds to the Gallic Equites armigeri, and the other to the African Equites armigeri seniores. It would appear that the plain Equites armigeri is the Gallic unit, as in the cavalry roster, the following troop order (102/5.23-27) is recorded:

Equites stablesiani Africani
Equites Marcomanni
Equites armigeri seniores
Equites sagittarii clibanarii
Equites sagittarii Parthi seniores
while under the Comes Africae, the following troop order (102/5.233-237) is recorded:
Equites stablesiani seniores
Equites Marcomanni
Equites armigeri seniores
Equites clibanarii
Equites Panthosagittarii seniores
The clear parallels for all five units demonstrate the Equites armigeri seniores in the cavalry roster and illustrated above is the African unit.

The name Armigeri should probably imply 'armoured', and given most soldiers were armoured to some extent, likely 'heavily armoured'. Accordingly, some have taken the cavalry armigeri units to be the equivalent of horse catafracts. However, this is just one of many possible explanations of the title - see my discussion on Armigeri for more details. In the Notitia, in addition to the two Equites armigeri (seniores) units mentioned above, six other cavalry units carry the title.

The shield pattern of the Gallic Equites armigeri does not resemble those of any of the other units bearing the name armigeri, but it does show a certain stylistic resemblance to one of the shields depicted for both the western Magister Officiorum and another by the eastern Magister Officiorum, as a comparison of the following patterns shows:

Shield patterns

These patterns are taken from the Parisian manuscript, P. Both the western and eastern Magistri Officiorum have a single unit named not Armigeri, but the related term armaturarum: the Schola armaturarum seniorum (107.4) in the west, and the Schola armaturarum iuniorum (23.7) in the east. See my discussion on scholae for more details.


1. Ingo Maier; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 26 October 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.