The Equites prima Gallia

This page created 9 August 2014, and last modified: 12 December 2015 (Trajan's column picture added)


The Equites prima Gallia is listed (102/5.14 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the second of the vexillationes comitatenses in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned (102/5.227) to his Gallic command, as the Equites primi Gallicani. Its shield pattern (100#12) as shown in various manuscripts, under the label Primi gallia (100.m), 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 red rim, and a blue four-pointed star in the middle with concave sides (white in B) with a yellow border that extends to the rim. The four curved vesicae piscis between the yellow border and the red rim are green (faded to yellow in M; while in W, only the top two are green; the bottom two are yellow). No indication of a boss is present. Accordingly, the shape of the pattern, but not the colours, is somewhat similar that of the Equites Constantiani feroces (102/5.21), which is also in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, as a comparison of the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript shows:

Shield patterns

Concave-sided patterns such as this were not an innovation at the time of Notitia; to the right is the shield carried by an auxiliary infantryman in scene 38 of Trajan's column, dating over 250 years before the time of the Notitia's compilation.

Shield from scene 38 of Trajan's column.
Public domain image from Cichorius'
1896 book.

The pattern of the Equites prima Gallia is somewhat similar, at least in some manuscripts, to that ascribed to the infantry unit the Honoriani ascarii seniores (98/9.90), also in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, as can be seen by examining its shield pattern, as found in various manuscripts:

Shield patterns

The name Gallia/Gallicani presumably refers to the region of Gaul, and probably indicates the unit was either stationed as a limitanei unit somewhere there before being attached to the Gallic (or possibly another) field army, or else that it was raised there. Note however that in the Notitia "Gallica" is also used to refer to what is now Galicia in north-west Spain (e.g. in the case of item 102/5.21: Tribunus cohortis secundae Gallicae cohortem Gallicam), and this region just might be what is being referred to, instead of Gaul.


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. Cichorius, Conrad; "Die Reliefs der Traianssäule"; Verlag von Georg Reimer, Berlin (2 volumes, 1896-1900). Return


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