The Equites Mauri feroces

This page created 23 August 2014, and last modified: 8 December 2015 (references rearranged)


The Equites Mauri feroces is listed (102/5.20 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the eighth of the vexillationes comitatenses in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned (102/5.215) to the Magister Peditum's Italian command. Its shield pattern (100#18), as shown in various manuscripts under the label (100.s) Mauri feroces, 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 features a yellow boss encircled by a green band (white in M, B). The main ground is white; it is charged with the front halves of two canids depicted in red (blue in B), facing each other; they are probably meant to represent wolves or foxes. Accordingly, the pattern is essentially the same as that of the previous unit in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, the Equites Honoriani seniores (102/5.19), 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 (98/9.53), a unit of auxilia palatina.

The name Mauri denotes the Moorish peoples, although there is every indication that by this date the term, as used used in the Roman military, denoted not an ethnicity but a particular kind of military unit. However, exactly what kind is hard to say: possibly a light unit, whether of foot or, as in this case, of horse, because that is how Moors fought when the Romans first encountered them. However, it is also very likely that this meaning had also been superseded with time; 600 years is a long time for a fighting style to remain unchanged, leaving the name doubly fossilized! See here for further discussion.

The name feroces means ferocious, and while seemingly an apt name for a military unit, it is not a common one in the Notitia; it is borne by only one other unit: the Equites Constantiani feroces (102/5.21), in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command (note that Seeck mis-recorded this entry in his edition as (OC.VI.62) the Equites Constantiani felices; it was only later corrected, in an addendum).


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
2. Otto Seeck (Ed.); "Notitia Dignitatum accedunt Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae et Latercula prouinciarum", Weidmann, Berlin, 1876; available here (last accessed 26 October 2015); at p 337. Return


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