The Equites Honoriani seniores

This page created 23 August 2014, and last modified: 7 December 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Equites Honoriani seniores is listed (102/5.19 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the seventh of the 32 vexillationes comitatenses units in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster. Its shield pattern (100#17) as shown in various manuscripts, under the plain label Honoriani (100.r), 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 pattern has a yellow boss (white in B) and a red main ground; it is charged with the front halves of two canids depicted in blue, probably wolves, facing each other. Accordingly, the pattern is essentially the same as that of the next unit in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, the Equites Mauri feroces (102/5.20), except with different colours, as a comparison of the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript shows:

Shield patterns

The same motif of the front parts of two wolves adorsed is also used in the pattern ascribed to the infantry unit the Grati (908/9.53), a unit of auxilia palatina.

The Equites Honoriani seniores would appear to be assigned to both the Magister Equitum's Gallic command (102/5.222), and to that of the Comes Britanniae (102/5.252); presumably representing areaaignment from one command to the other, without the unit being deleted from the roster of the previous command. Although certainty is impossible, it is likely the Gallic posting is the later in time.

The name Honoriani refers to the emperor Honorius, who succeeded his father Theodosius I in 395, around the time the Notitia was first compiled. Note, however, that Honorius had been declared co-Augustus two years earlier, at the age of 7, so the presence of units named after Honorius does not therefore prove they must have been entered into the Notitia so-named at 395 at the earliest. Nonetheless, the presence of large numbers of units named after Honorius in the western half of the Notitia, compared to very few in the east, is one of the clearest indications the eastern portion was not amended much, or even at all, after the death of Theodosius (or even earlier, perhaps 393-4), while the western portion was extensively updated during the first two decades of the 5th century.


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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