The Mauri cetrati

This page created 2 August 2014, and last modified: 23 September 201 (Maier reference numbers added)


The tenth of the legiones comitatenses units listed (98/9.107 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster is called the Mauricetnati; it is assigned (102/5.107) to the command of the Comes Illyricum under the name Mauri citrati (at least in P, in the Munich manuscript it is Mauri cettnati). Its shield pattern in various manuscripts, under the label Mauricitrati (except in B, with Mauri cetrati), is as 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 pattern shows an indigo boss (white in M, W), encircled by a yellow band (maroon in M). The shield's rim is red, except in B, where it is indigo and broad. Inwards of the rim is a green (O, P) or white (M, W) band; this is lacking in B. Next inwards is a yellow band, and M & W further feature a white band further inwards. The main ground is red (but white in B).

The name Mauri denotes the Moorish peoples, although there is every indication that by this sate the term, as used used in the Roman military, denoted not an ethnicity but a particular kind of military unit, although exactly what is hard to say (probably a light unit; whether of horse or, as in this case, of foot). However, it is also very likely that this meaning had also been superseded with time (most Roman infantry units likely having their own integral light troops by the time of the Notitia), leaving the name doubly fossilized!

Cetrati refers to a small shield, a "cetra", and more classically a "caetra", and which was typical of Spanish light infantry in the Roman republican era. The word was used by Latin-writing authors to cover a multitude of shields smaller than a typical Roman "scutum", and while thus typically used for shields borne by light infantry, it also encompassed the heavy bronze-faced shields carried by Macedonian phalangites, which were however, "just" 60 to 75 cm in diameter. It is possible the men of the Mauri cetrati (assuming this is the "correct" name) carried smaller shields than standard legionaries, but it is also possible, and indeed, quite likely probable, that this name was anachronistic too.

What legionary unit the Mauri cetrati descended from is hard to discern; perhaps they were formerly an auxiliary unit that had been turned into legionary unit at some point.


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.