The Valentianenses iuniores

This page created 18 October 2014, and last modified: 28 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)


In the western half of the empire, the Valentinianenses iuniores is listed as one of auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts, under the plain label Valentinianenses, is as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

The shield pattern has an indigo rim (faded to pink in M and to white in Ff; red in B), and a red main ground (white in B). The pattern's main feature is a pink or red head apparently mounted on a white pole (purple in B); such a "head on a stick" motif is a common one for western auxilia palatina units.

However, it is evident that this might be the "wrong" shield pattern; like that of some other western auxilia platina units, it may have been shifted from its proper place (or, to be more exact, the label may have been shifted from its proper place), although which pattern (if any) among those shown properly belongs to the unit is not immediately apparent.

There is no unit called the Valentinianenses iuniores assigned to any of the field armies. There are however two units called the plain Valentinianenses; one is assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, and one is assigned to the Comes Illyricum. Seeck tentatively identified the Valentinianenses iuniores with both of these units. The name Valentinianenses refers to either emperor Valentinian I, II, or III. Since Valentinian III was only born in 419, and acknowledged Caesar in 424, any reference to him must imply a very late revision to the Notitia, and thus would best suit a unit positioned very low down in the listing of a command (such as is the case with the Placidi Valentinianici felices in the Magister Peditum's Italian command). This does not fit the positioning of the Gallic unit, but fits very well the positioning of the Illyrian unit. Nonetheless, I would propose the Illyrian unit may still not have been named after Valentinian III; see below for further details.

Valentinian I reigned from 364 to 375. As a soldier-emperor, he would be an obvious candidate for any unit called Valentinianenses to be named after; nonetheless he would appear to be unlikely, for the Valentinianenses iuniores is immediately preceeded in the Magister Preditum's infantry roster by the Gratianenses iuniores, named after Valentinian I's elder son, the emperor Gratian, who reigned from 375 to 383. If the two units were named after father and son, we would expect the order to be the reverse. The order is perfectly correct however, if the Valentinian referred to is Valentinian II, who was likewise proclaimed Augustus in 375 when his father Valentinian I died, but since he was aged only four at the time, compared to his 16-year old half brother, he, and any unit named after him, would naturally be the one ranked lower in precedence. Note also that the shield patterns of the Gratianenses iuniores and the Valentinianenses iuniores are very similar: just reversing the colours of the rim and the main ground, as can be seen by comparing them, using the relevant patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript:

Shield patterns

In addition to the Valentinianenses iuniores, the Placidi Valentinianici felices, and the two units of plain Valentinianenses mentioned above, there are a number of other units recorded in the Notitia that are named after one of the three emperors Valentinian:

Ala secunda felix Valentiniana, Dux Arabiae
Legio prima Valentiniana, under the Dux Thebaidos
Legio secunda Valentiniana, also under the Dux Thebaidos
Valentinianenses, a legio comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Tharcias
Valentinianenses felices, under the Comes Illyricum
Equites constantes Valentinianenses seniores and/or iuniores, under the Magister Equitum's Gallic command
Note there are also various units named after Valens, brother of Valentinan I, and emperor of the east from 364 to 378, that have similar names, such as the Tertii sagittarii Valentis under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I, the Cohors secunda Valentiana, under the Dux Armeniae, and the Ala prima Valentiana, under the Dux Arabiae (although these last two could possibly be named after one the three emperors Valentinian).

It is notable that among this collection of units, there is no Valentinianenses seniores. Given the pairing of the Gratianenses iuniores and the Valentinianenses iuniores, and the existence of a Gratianenses seniores in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster, together with the unmatched Illyrian unit of Valentinianenses, I ask myself if this Illyrian unit is in fact the missing Valentinianenses seniores, recently assigned to the command. This would not only solve the problem of the Valentinianenses iuniores apparently being assigned to two commands, but also might indicate how many of the problems with the shield mismatches noted above can be solved - see here for details.


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