The Equites Batavi seniores

This page created 23 May 2014, and last modified: 12 December 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Equites Batavi seniores is the fourth of the vexillationes palatinae listed (102/5.6 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned (102/5.218) to his Gallic command. Its shield pattern (100#5), as shown in various manuscripts under the label (100.e) Batavi seniores, 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 (which is missing in the Froben printed edition) features a white boss surrounded by a band that is variously blue (W), indigo (O, P), yellow (M). The interior of the main ground is purple (faded to pink in M, W, and more indigo in P), and is separated from the broad red exterior of the main ground by a thin yellow band .

The name Batavi is tribal, coming from a Germanic tribe that lived in what is now the Netherlands; they provided the empire with many units of auxiliaries in the early empire in particular. Thus a number of other units in the Notitia incorprate the Batavi name, including two more units of Batavi seniores; one (9.24) is the senior-most ranked auxilia palatina unit in the eastern half of the empire, under the command of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence; the other (98/9.39) is the sixth-most senior auxilia palatina unit in the western half of the empire, assigned to the Magister Peditum's Italian command. The shield patterns of these three units do not appear to have any obvious similarities (other than the two infantry units basically being "boss and pillar" designs, albeit distorted in the western unit's case). See also the Equites Batavi iuniores (102/5.10), and also assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command.

Inscriptional evidence for the Equites Batavi seniores comes from the cemetery at Colonia Iulia Concordia (modern Portogruaro in Veneto, Italy), which produced an inscription (ILS 498) mentioning an officer from the BATAVIS EQU SEN, which expands to the "Batavis equ(itibus) sen(ioribus)".


1. Maier, Ingo; "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
2. Hoffmann, Dietrich; "Die Spätrömischen Soldatengrabschriften von Concordia"; Schweizerische Zeitschrift für klassische Altertumswissenschaft, Vol. 20.1 (1963), pp 22-57 (1963); available here (last accessed 8 December 2015). Return


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