The Equites armigeri seniores

This page created 9 August 2014, and last modified: 7 December 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Armigeri iuniores is listed (102/5.25 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the 13th of the vexillationes comitatenses in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned (102/5.239) to the Comes Africae. Its shield pattern (101#3), as shown in various manuscripts under the plain label (101.c) Armigeri, 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 is simple, showing a plain green main field (faded to yellow in M), and a white boss quartered with red (with black in B, white in M, and divided into 6 in W rather than 4). As such, it shares its pattern, if not the colour scheme, with a number of other units in the Notitia, and amongst western cavalry units in particular, the Equites promoti seniores (102/5.4) and the Equites sagittarii Parthi seniores (102/5.27).

Note there are apparently two units of Equites armigeri seniores listed in the western half of the empire: one is assigned to the Comes Africae, while the other (102/5.224) is assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. However, in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster there is but one unit called Equites armigeri seniores; there is however another unit called the plain Equites armigeri (102/5.13). 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.


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


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