The Germaniciani seniores

This page created 1 October 2014, and last modified: 29 July 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Germaniciani seniores is listed (21.18 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the fourth of the eight legiones comitatenses under the comamnd of the Magister Militum per Illyricum. Its shield pattern (20#8) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (20.h) Germaniciani seniores, 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 is extremely simple, being a plain yellow field with a red rim and boss (W gives the boss a small yellow inner disc); the pattern, or at least, its shape, is thus the same as that borne by several other units in the Notitia. None, however, bear both the same pattern and the same colours, although the Cimbriani (98/9.31) comes very close, as it essentially just reverses the colours, as a comparison of the corresponding images from the Parisian manuscript (P) shows:

Shield patterns

The name Germaniciani means "from Germany"; presumably the unit was either recruited there, or served there before joining the field army. There is an outside chance the unit could be named after a legon that bore the cognomen "Germanica", such as Legio II Traiana Fortis Germanica, which in the Notitia is stationed in Egypt under the Dux Thebaidos as Legio secunda Traiana (56/7.13), at Appollonos superioris, but that the Cimbriani not only has a similar shield pattern, but also has a similarly Germanic-sounding name is suggestive of a similar "from Germany" origin. Note that in the Notitia as has come down to us, coverage of the province of Germania secunda is much reduced, while that of Germania prima is almost entirely absent, clearly reflecting the aftermath of the Germanic invasions across the Rhine in 406/7.

Complementing the Germaniciani seniores in the east is the Germaniciani iuniores (98/9.110) in the west, a legio comitatenses in the Magister Peditum's Italian command. Further, also serving under the Magister Militum per Illyricum is a vexillatio comitatenses called the Equites Germaniciani seniores (21.4; there is apparently no Equites Germaniciani iuniores in the Notitia).

In addition to the above-mentioned units of Germaniciani, there is a cavalry Ala Germanorum under the Dux Thebaidos (56/7.23). The name for this unit might well mean the "squadron of the Germans", but could also translate to "the squadron of the brothers"; in a Roman military context, however, units sharing a "parent" formation are usually termed Gemina, which derives from "geminus"; examples in the Notitia include the Septima gemina (15.18) and the Decima gemina (15.19) under the Magister Militum per Orientem.

Assuming the unit's name Germaniciani means "from Germany", it is hard to divine which limitanei legion the unit may have been detached from, if any, since so many legions were stationed somewhere in Germania over the years.


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