The Lanciarii Lauriacenses

This page created 22 June 2014, and last modified: 22 September 2015 (CIL 3,5670a reference added)


The Lanciarii Lauriacenses is listed (98/9.133 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the third of the 18 pseudocomitatenses units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.109) to the Comes Illyricum. Its shield pattern (97#5), as found in various manuscripts under the label (97.e) Lauriacenses, is shown 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 has a yellow boss, a white rim, and red main ground, and a yellow (green in W) star of 10 points (8 in B) radiating out from the boss; the points clearly touch the rim in W and B, partially do so in P and M, and clearly do not in O; the red field does not reach between the points to the boss in any version. The pattern's closest match is that of the Septimani seniores (98/9.102) under the Comes Hispenias, which differs only in having a white rim, and some additional bands around the boss, albeit still in yellow.

While the name Lanciarii comes from the lancea, a spear suitable for both thrusting and throwing, this does not necessarily imply the Lanciarii Lauriacenses 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, like the Lanciarii Lauriacenses, have no such indication.

The name Lauriacenses comes from Lauriacum (modern Lorch, near Enns in Austria) which fell under the military jurisdiction of the Dux Pannoniae primae et Norici ripensis, and which in the Notitia is given as the location (145.27) of a Praefectus legionis secundae; the unit had been stationed there some centuries by the time of the Notitia's compilation (there is also a fleet stationed there, under a Praefectus classis Lauriacensis; 145.31). Thus it seems tolerably clear that the Lanciarii Lauriacenses originated as a detachment of Legio II Italica. Note that three other units of lanciarii also seem to have originated in Pannonia Prima / Noricum: the Lanciarii Comaginenses (98/9.134), also under the Comes Illyricum; the Lanciarii Augustenses (21.20), under the Magister Militum per Illyricum; and the Lanciarii Sabarienses (98/9.028), in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. As an aside, an inscription (CIL 3,5670a) from Lauriacum dated to 367-375 mentions a commander of MILITES AVXILIARES LAVRIACENSES, showing that not all troops stationed at Lauriacum were legionaries.

Another detachment of Legio II Italica is the Secundani Italiciani (98/9.109), a legiones comitatenses under the Comes Africae. Its shield pattern is not related to that of the Lanciarii Lauriacenses, and neither is that of the Divitenses seniores (98/9.23), yet another detachment of Legio II Italica.


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