The Equites constantes Valentinianenses seniores

This page created 21 June 2014, and last modified: 8 December 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Equites constantes Valentinianenses seniores is listed (102/5.11 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the last of the vexillationes palatinae in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster. Its shield pattern (100#10) as shown in various manuscripts, under the simple label (100.k) Valentinianenses, 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 shows a blue boss (yellow in M, missing in B) encircled in white with a white pillar underneath; the two together are surrounded by an indigo border (faded to pink in M and W; purple in B). The rest of the shield is plain red. It thus bears some resemblance to that of the Comites Alani (102/5.9), a unit of vexillationes palatinae that is in the Magister Peditum's Italian command, at least in shape, if not colour, as the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript show:

Shield patterns

Since the manuscripts state there are ten units of vexillationes palatinae listed in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, while they all appear to actually list just nine, it is tempting to split the very long name Equites constantes Valentinianenses seniores into an Equites constantes and a(n Equites) Valentinianenses seniores as a way of avoiding this problem. However, two things argue against this. The first is that the cavalry roster does not correspond with the cavalry distribution list, since there is an Equites Brachiati iuniores assigned (102/5.221) to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, but there is no listing for it in the cavalry roster, and neither is there an illustration of a shield pattern to accompany it. The second is that, while there is no unit called Equites constantes Valentinianenses seniores assigned to any field commands in the distribution list, there is an Equites constantes Valentinianenses iuniores assigned (102/5.216) to the Magister Peditum's Italian command. These two could well be the same unit (since there is no corresponding Equites constantes Valentinianenses iuniores in the cavalry roster), and even if they are not, the fact that both entries preserve the same lengthy form of title, despite being different, argues the form is genuine.

It may well be that rather than an Equites Brachiati iuniores being "missing" from the cavalry roster (as Seeck assumed), instead it should be the Equites constantes Valentinianenses iuniores that should be inserted, (if anything should), presumably coming at the bottom of the list. All in all, it is better to think of the number "ten" given as the number of vexillationes palatinae in the cavalry roster as simply a mistake due to emendations during the first two decades of the 5th century being inconsistently applied.

The name Valentinianenses presumably refers to either emperor Valentinian I or II, but there seems no way of knowing which (a unit named after Valentinian III would likely not be split into seniores and iuniores detachments, even if it was somehow given such a high rank so quickly after being named). Constantes means constant, steadfast (and is the root from which Constantius Chlorus and his dynasty took their names); it may perhaps refer either to the unit's performance on the field at some point, or its loyalty to the victorious side during a civil war; both kinds of instances are known for other units.


1. Ingo Maier; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 7 December 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return
2. Otto Seeck (Ed.); "Notitia Dignitatum accedunt Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae et Latercula prouinciarum", Weidmann, Berlin, 1876; available here (last accessed 26 October 2015). Return
3. Ingo Maier; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; page 14-15, note 68 (last accessed 7 December). Return


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