The Regii

This page created 29 April 2014, and last modified: 23 December 2015 (references rearranged)


In the eastern half of the empire, the most senior of the auxilia palatina units under the command of the second Magister Militum Praesentalis, or Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence, is listed (12.23 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as the Regii. Its shield pattern (10#8) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (10.h) Regii, 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 pattern shows a red ground with a broad indigo rim (purple in B,; faded to maroon in M & W) separated from the red ground by a thin yellow ring. The boss is yellow (white in W, B), surrounded by a blue ring, another thin yellow ring, and finally a multi-pointed indigo/purple/maroon star with 11 points in P, 13 in O, 14 in M, and 19 in W and B) projecting onto the red. Many other shields have such star-like patterns, although few have so many points. Perhaps the most similar pattern is that given to the Daci, a legio palatina unit (12.17) also listed under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II.

The name Regii means "the kings", or alternatively "the king's", and is shared with a legio comitatenses unit (98/9.103) in the Magister Peditum's Italian command. Since the Regii that fought for Julian at the battle of Argentoratum in 357 were brigaded with "the" Batavi (classical Latin has no demonstrative pronoun), which must be an auxilia palatina, the Regii at that battle were presumably also the auxilia palatina unit and not the legionary unit. However, in the Notitia, the Regii have been split, like so many other eastern Praesental units, from their partner, the (eastern) Batavi seniores, as that unit is listed (9.24) as being under the command of the first Magister Militum Praesentalis.

The eastern Regii has been linked with an inscription (CIL 5, 8764) from the cemetery at Colonia Iulia Concordia (modern Portogruaro in Veneto, Italy), which mentions a NUM REG EMES IUDERU, and which was been expanded to "num(ero) Regi(orum) Emes(enorum) Iud(a)e(o)ru(m)". However, this interpretation has not found universal favour (M.P. Speidel, 1996), and in any case might refer to the other Regii, which after all, is found in an Italian command. Speidel himself, however, prefers an interpretation where this inscription does refer to the auxiliary palatina unit (although allowing it may refer to the other Regii), and in particular, to being the men of Crocus, a king of the Alamanni who proclaimed the young Constantine I as Augustus at York, in 306; he dates the raising of the auxilia palatina Regii (and likely the Batavi as well) to the winter of 288/289.

"The" Regii is also mentioned by Procopius as being a unit (in Greek: "telos") of infantry commanded by one Ursicinus, in Belisarius' army defending Rome in 537, as this army originated in the east, and not Italy, the unit was presumably the eastern one.


1. Ingo Maier; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 26 October 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return

2. "Ammianus" (Ammianus Marcellinus); "Res gestae a fine Corneli Taciti"; at 16.12.45, available here in Latin and here in English translation (last accessed 23 December 2015). Return

3. Hoffmann, Dietrich; "Die Spätrömischen Soldatengrabschriften von Concordia"; Schweizerische Zeitschrift für klassische Altertumswissenschaft, Vol. 20.1 (1963), pp 22-57; available here (last accessed 8 December 2015). Return

4. Speidel, M.P.; "Raising New Units for the Late Roman Army"; Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 50 (1996), pp 163-170; available here (last accessed 23 December 2015). Return

5. (anonymous); "Epitome de Caesaribus"; 41.3, available here in Latin and here in English translation (last accessed 23 December 2015). Return

6. "Procopius" (Prokopios o Kaisareus); "De Bello Gothico"; 1.23.3, available here in Greek with Latin translation (at p 109), and here in English translation (last accessed 23 December 2015). Return


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