The Felices iuniores Gallicani

This page created 12 October 2014, and last modified: 30 October 2014 (Frankfurt fragment image added)


In the western half of the empire, the Felices iuniores Gallicani is listed as one of the auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts under the label Felices iuniores is as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

The shield pattern shows a red winged Victory in the centre (white in W) on a yellow ground. Concentric bands surround the central yellow ground; working outwards, they are white (present only in M), red (absent in B), indigo/violet (more purple in B, and faded to maroon in M, W, and especially Ff), yellow (missing in W, B), and finally, red at the rim. The pattern is thus essentially identical to that ascribed to the Bructeri further up the Magister Peditum's roster.

Although there is evidence that many labels attached to the shield patterns illustrating the western auxilia platina have been shifted from their proper places, it is not clear that this has happened to this unit; it may well be labelled with the correct shield pattern.

No unit called the Felices iuniores Gallicani is listed among the various field armies. There is a plain Felices iuniores assigned to the Magister Peditum's Italian command, but this is clearly a separate unit. The name Gallicani refers to the region of Gaul, and probably indicates the unit was either stationed somewhere there before attached to a field army, or else that it was formed there, perhaps by splitting it off the Felices iuniores. The name Felices is a very common name for units in the Notitia, with over twenty units bearing the name; it means "fortunate, lucky", as well as "fruitful, fertile, productive"; the first of these meanings is probably more likely for a military unit.

Nonetheless, an alternative explanation comes to my mind. A unit called the Placidi Valentinianici felices is found in about the right place in the Magister Peditum's Italian command to correspond to the Felices iuniores Gallicani - i.e. not quite the final unit of auxilia platina in the list. Thus unit is named after Flavius Placidius Valentinianus, i.e. the emperor Valentinian III, proclaimed as Augustus in 425 at the age of 6, but whom had been given other imperial titles as early as 421. His regent was none other than his mother Galla Pacidia, and it may be the unit was named after the pair of them, possibly something like the Felices iuniores Galla Placidi Valentiniaci in full; in this case the felices epithet might well indeed mean "fruitful" given the mother-son relationship. Of course, this is speculative; the Placidi Valentinianici felices is probably more likely named for the child emperor alone, and not his mother, in which case the unit may have nothing to do with Felices iuniores Gallicani; but then one would need an explanation for not one but two missing units: both the Placidi Valentinianici felices in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster, and the Felices iuniores Gallicani among the field armies (that auxilia palatina could be named after women is demonstrated by the example of the Sagittarii dominici under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II, named after Valens' wife, Albia Dominica).


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.