The Undecimani (West)

This page created 16 May 2014, and last modified: 3 August 2015 (Maier reference numbers added)


The 11th of the legiones comitatenses listed (98/9.108 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster appropriately enough called the Undecimani ("the Eleventh"); it is assigned (102/5.186) to the "Comes Hispenias". Its shield pattern (96#1) as shown in various versions of the compilation, under the marching label (96.a) Undecimani, 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 pattern is simple, showing an indigo or main ground (purple in M, faded to maroon in M, W) with a red rim; the boss is white and bears quartering lines, but no other colours. As such, it bears a strong resemblance to many other patterns in the Notitia; indigo with a red rim being the most common colour combination in the document.

Another unit is called the Undecimani in the Notitia (12.20), one of the legiones palatinae under the Magister Militum Praesentalis II; its shield pattern is very different from that of the western Undecimani. Both this and the western legion clearly derive from Legio XI Claudia, dating from the 1st century BC; the only legion numbered "eleven". Under the Empire, this legion was long stationed at Durostorum (modern Silistra in northeast Bulgaria), and which is where one of its detachments was still stationed (76.24) according to the Notitia, under the Dux Moesiae secundae (other detachments of the same legion are listed as garrisoning other locations in Moesia II).

Shown below is the 4th century grave stele of Aurelius Sudecentius from Legio XI, exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum in Aquileia, Italy. He carries a pair of spears apparently suitable for throwing as well as thrusting (and is thus possibly a lanciarius?). His oval shield unfortunately does not show a shield pattern; we have no way of telling which detachment of the 11th he served with.

Grave stele
Photo from the Italian National Archaeological Museum

The western Undecimani likely derives from a detachment of Legio XI Claudia that seems to have served in Mauretania in 298, to judge from, e.g. the funerary stele in Aquileia of Aurelius Dizo, who was a soldier of the 11th, but who died in Mauretania (CIL V 893 = InscrAquil 2772). Mauretania, or at least, the most western part it, called Tingitania at the time of the Notitia, was part of the province of Hispania, since it was easier to access across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain than along the long African coast from Carthage.


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