The Mattiaci iuniores Gallicani

This page created 13 October 2014, and last modified: 30 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)


The Mattiaci iuniores Gallicani is one of the auxilia palatina units listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts as below:

Shield patterns

Note that the shield is labelled plain Matiaci in O, P and B, and Marciaci in M and W; according to Ingo Maier, who has inspected the Vatican and Trento manuscripts, it is labelled Mattiaci in the Vatican manuscript, and Matciaci in the Trento manuscript (see Maier, I.G., The Barberinus and Munich codices of the 'Notitia Dignitatum omnium': Latomus 28 1969 pp. 960-1035; available here). Also note that the Magister Peditum's roster also apparently splits the unit's name (in P) to a "Matici iuniores" and a "Galliani", while M gives "Mattiaci iuniores" and "Galliani"; only the Froben edition (of the ones online) gives a single entry: "MATIACI iuniores Gallicani". If the unit is in fact two, then either the shield pattern of one would appear to have been lost, or its label (an alternative explanation might be that "Galli(c)ani" is a doublet of the next unit in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster: the Salii Gallicani). The Frankfurt fragment, Ff, has swapped the shield pattern with that of the previous unit, the Felices Valentinianenses, but not the label, hence the label attached to this pattern saying "[....]lentianenses": the first part of the name is obscured by a label, since the fragment was used as a book cover before being recognised for what it is.

The pattern itself shows a plain red main ground, an indigo-violet boss (more purple in B, and faded to maroon in M, W) that is supported by a pillar of the same colour, as is the shield's rim (very faded in Ff); encircling the boss, except for where it meets the pillar, is a white band (in M, the boss and band's colours are swapped). This "boss and pillar" or "keyhole" pattern is very common for auxilia palatina units in the Notitia, although the colour scheme shown for this particular pattern is not. Although there is evidence that many labels attached to the shield patterns illustrating the western auxilia platina have been shifted from their proper places, it is not clear that this has happened to this unit; it may well be labelled with the correct shield pattern (except as noted above for the Frankfurt fragment).

The name Mattiaci is tribal; according to Tacitus in the 1st century, belonging to a German tribe that were neighbours of the Batavians. Mattiacum was a famous spa town in the area from the second century; it is now known as Wiesbaden. In addition to the Mattiaci iuniores Gallicani there are not one but two units of auxilia palatina in the Notitia called the Mattiaci iuniores: the western one is also in the Magister Equitum's gallic command, while the eastern unit is listed as part of the command of the Magister Militum Praesentalis II; their shield patterns are unrelated. Gallicani ought to imply the unit was raised or otherwise came from Gaul, but that would not seem to distinguish it well from the "other" Mattiaci iuniores, given it is also recorded as serving in the Gallic command. Perhaps only one of them served in Gaul when the Mattiaci iuniores Gallicani was formed.


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