This page created 29 March 2014, and last modified: 10 October 20154 (mistake regarding the Magister Militum per Illyricum corrected)
In the eastern half of the empire, the least senior unit of the six legiones palatina under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence, i.e the Magister Militum Praesentalis II, is listed (12.21 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the Lanciarii iuniores. Its shield pattern (10#7) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (10.g) Lanciarii iuniores, is as below:
The pattern shows a blue rim (white in M, W), with a yellow inner rim. The boss and two surrounding bands are variously coloured, with the majority colours being, from the inside out, black, red, and yellow. The main ground is yellow (P, M), black (W), or white (O, B), with a black band (white in B) separating it from the yellow inner rim. Some 13 (B), 16 (O, P), or 21 (M) red spokes partition the ground, and in O, P, and M, also overlap the black band.
The shield patten is thus very similar to that of the Lanciarii seniores, under the command of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence.
"The" Lanciarii originated in the Tetrarchy, where they formed the nucleus of the Imperial reserve. In this period, they incorporated some mounted elements, as attested by inscriptional evidence (AE 1981, 777) where Aurelius Gaius' gravestone describes him (in Greek) as a "ippeus lankiaris". No evidence suggests that any of the units named Lanciarii in the Notitia included cavalry at the date of the document's composition (contrarily, only an argument from silence weighs against it...). At what point the Lanciarii were divided between seniores and iuniores is unknown, but it may have been in the early 350s (E.A. Mehamadiev has connected the introduction of iuniores-seniores to the problem of replacing the casualties inflicted in the heavy fighting between Magnentius and Constantius II; see here (in Russian).
There exist a number of other legionary units in the Notitia styled lanciarii in addition to the above two:
Lanciarii Stobenses (18.22), a comitatenses unit under the Magister Militum per Thracias;These units may have originated from standard legionary units rather than Imperial guards. "The" Lanciarii kept their elite status throughout the 4th century, fighting on at the disastrous battle of Adrianople, for example, until all was lost. In this connection, the so-called Missorium of Valentinian, a large silver plate showing either Valentinian I or II plus various guards/soldiers, and thus dating to just a few decades before the Notitia, is very instructive. As shown below, two of the shields, although worn, would appear to be very similar, or (given the wear) even identical, to that of the Lanciarii seniores and iuniores as shown in the Notitia (allowing for the fact that all the shields in the Notitia are shown as being circular, of course). The middle shield of those on the right of the dish, with its numerous spokes, would appear to be closest to the Lanciarii iuniores, while the inner shield of those on the left (and thus closest to the emperor's right hand), with its broad dotted rim, would appear to be closest to that of the Lanciarii seniores.
Lanciarii iuniores (21.22), a comitatenses unit under the Magister Militum per Illyricum;
Lanciarii Augustenses (21.20), another comitatenses unit under the Magister Militum per Illyricum;
Lanciarii Sabarienses (98/9.28), a palatine unit in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command;
Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani (98/9.113; also called the Lanciarii Honoriani Gallicani), a comitatenses unit in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command;
Lanciarii Lauriacenses (98/9.133), a pseudocomitatenses unit under the Comes Illyricum; and
Lanciarii Comaginenses (98/9.134), another pseudocomitatenses unit under the Comes Illyricum.
It is interesting to note that in the Notitia it is the Matiarii iuniores (9.22) that is in the same command as the Lanciarii seniores, while the Matiarii seniores (12.16) is in the same command as the Lanciarii iuniores, and that neither pairing corresponds to two adjacently-ranked units. I would suggest that this implies that the two iuniores units had been relatively recently swapped between the two commands when the Notitia was first compiled.
There is another unit of Lanciarii iuniores listed (21.22) in the Notitia: it is listed as the least senior of the 8 legiones comitatenses units under the the command of the Magister Militum per Illyricum. As it shield pattern looks nothing like those of the two palatine units, it probably derives from a limitanei legion like the other various lanciarii units in the Notitia. Epigraphic evidence for a unit of Lanciarii iuniores comes from an inscription (AE 1922, 71) dated to the 6th century (picture here, approximately 2/3 down the page) in the form MILITUM LANCIARIUM IUNIORUM from Ulmetum (modern Pantelimon in Constanta, Romania); which of the two Lanciarii iuniores units this refers to is unknown, however.
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