The Flavia victrix Constantina

This page created 23 March 2014, and last modified: 2 July 2015 (unit identity commentary expanded)


The Flavia victrix Constantina is listed (98/9.126) as one of the legiones comitatenses in the Magister Peditum's infantry list. Its shield pattern (96#19) is shown in various manuscripts, under the label (96.t) Constantici, as below:

Flavia victrix Constantina shield patterns

Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

Note that the unit is actually listed as the Flaviae victrices constantine id est constantici in the manuscripts, in other words, "the Flavia victrix Constantina, i.e. Constantici"; the latter half of the listing was rather arbitrarily bracketed for deletion by Seeck in his edition (OC. V.252) despite this clearly being the label attached to the shield pattern!

The pattern features a red boss (in O and P, but faded indigo in M, white in B, and white (outside) and red (inside) in W) and a red main ground. The shield's rim is yellow, as is the band separating the boss from the main ground. An indigo cross, edged in yellow, radiates from the boss to the rim; the overall pattern is thus similar that of the Tertia Flavia Salutis (98/9.126), also known as the Tertiani (102/5.200), under the Comes Africae, as a comparison of the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript shows:

Shield patterns

Although the Flavia victrix Constantina is listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry list, and is assigned a shield pattern, it is not apparently assigned to any regional command. I formerly thought it was possible the unit is the same as the men formerly commanded by the Praefectus militum secundae Flaviae (156/8.7), at Vangiones under the Dux Mogontiacensis; however I no longer believe this is the case. Given the similarity in shield pattern to the Tertia Flavia Salutis / Tertiani, and the fact that the next two units in the list of the units under the command of the Comes Africa after the Tertiani are a Constantiniani (102/5.201) and a Constantiaci (102/5.202), it seems tolerably clear to me that the one of these two is likely the Constantici of the Magister Peditum. I would suggest the African Constantiaci is the Flavia victrix Constantina, and not the Constantiniani, which would equate to the Secunda Flavia Constantiniana (98/9.127); this, incidentally, also seems to be how Seeck saw the situation. Note however that there is a pseudocomitaenses unit called (98/9.145) the Constantiaci that also has a strong claim to being the African Constantiaci - the names are identical, after all. But I do not think these are to be equated (contra Maier, here). The Comes Tingitaniae also has a unit listed (102/5.190) as the Constantiniani. Seeck equated this Tingitanian unit with the pseudocomitatenses 98/9.145 Constantiaci; I (like Maier) would see the African and Tingitanian units as duplicates, like so many other African-Tingitanian units, but of the Flavia victrix Constantina (Maier opts for theSecunda Flavia Constantiniana). For reasons more fully explained on my page about the Constantiaci, I believe the pseudocomitatenses unit is more likely to be connected with the men under the Praefectus militum secundae Flaviae than any of the units listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster.

Ammianus records (29.5.20) that a portion of the infantry of the "Constantiani" had gone over to Firmus during his revolt; given the spelling, this likely refers to the Notitia's African Constantiaci, and not the Constantiniani.

The name Flavia apparently derives from one of the emperors of the Constantinian (neo-Flavian) dynasty; Constantina implies either Constantine I or II, although one must be careful in that such names may come via a location named after an emperor, as the example of the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia (98/9.138) shows. After all, one of the major late Roman cities of North Africa was none other than Constantine; indeed, even today it is the third largest city in Algeria. The title victrix means "victorious", and granting it was a common way of according a unit a distinction; some legions with particularly long histories could be properly known as the "so-and-so legion, 7 times victorious", for example. A potential fly in the ointment is Constantine III, western Augustus in 421, and father of Valentinian III, whose name was Flavius Constantius, but one would expect any legionary units bearing his name to be newly-raised and thus have pseudocomitatenses status (or much more likely, be non-legionary).


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