The Lanciarii iuniores (in Illyricum)

This page created 25 September 2014, and last modified: 30 July 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The last of the eight units of legiones comitatenses under the command of the Magister Militum per Illyricum is listed (21.22 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the Lanciarii iuniores. Its shield pattern (20#12) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (20.m) Lanciarii iuniores, 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 shield patten is extremely simple, being just plain white (blue in M) with a red boss and rim; the pattern (but not the colours) is the same as three other units in the Magister Militum per Illyricum's command: the Germaniciani seniores (21.18), the Secundani (21.19), and the Minervii (21.21).

While the name Lanciarii comes from the lancea, a spear suitable for both thrusting and throwing, this does not necessarily imply the Lanciarii iuniores was equipped with this weapon, since the title lanciarii (or lancearii) had become the designation of elite guards in the later 3rd century; we even hear of mounted lanciarii, as attested by inscriptional evidence (AE 1981, 777) where the gravestone of one Aurelius Gaius describes him (in Greek) as an "ippeus lankiaris". There are a number of lanciarii units listed in the Notitia, some of which are obviously elite units, while some have no such indication.

The exact name Lanciarii iuniores is also born by another eastern unit: one of the legiones palatinae (12.21) under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II; the two units are not probably not closely related, if at all, since the Illyrian unit is the lowest-ranking comitatneses unit in its command, while the Praesental unit is an elite palatine unit. 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 LANCIARIURUM IUNIORUM found in Ulmetum (modern Pantelimon in Constanta, Romania). Which of the likely two Lanciarii iuniores units this refers to is unknown.


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