The Valentianenses (seniores?)

This page created 13 December 2015, and last modified: 13 December 2015


The second-last of the units listed (102/5.112 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) under the command of the Comes Illyricum is called the Valentinianenses. It is not immediately clear which unit, if any, in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster this unit corresponds to.

Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

Seeck tentatively identified (OC.VII.61) the unit with the Valentianenses iuniores (98/9.65), a unit of auxilia palatina; but he also identified (OC.VII.71) another unit called the plain Valentinianenses (102/5.122), in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, likewise.

The name Valentinianenses refers to either emperor Valentinian I, II, or III. 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 (98/9.64), 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. Valentinian II is thus an excellent candidate.

Since Valentinian III was only born in 419, and only 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, 102/5.87, 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 is less likely to have been named after Valentinian III than Valentinian II. The reason for this requires some background explanation...

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 (61.18), under the Dux Arabiae
Legio prima Valentiniana (56/7.15), under the Dux Thebaidos
Legio secunda Valentiniana (56/7.18), also under the Dux Thebaidos
Valentinianenses (18.31), under the Magister Militum per Thracias
Valentinianenses felices, under the Comes Illyricum
Equites constantes Valentinianenses seniores and/or iuniores, in 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 (9.31) under the first Magister Militum Praesentalis, the Cohors secunda Valentiana, under the Dux Armeniae, and the Ala prima Valentiana (71.29), 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 (98/9.56) 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 some of the problems with the shield pattern-label mismatches among the western auxiliary palatina units be solved - see here for details.

If so, the shield pattern of the Illyrian Valentinianenses might possibly have been that (93#12) labelled (93.m) Augustei:

Shield patterns

The reverse possibility - that it is the Gallic unit that is the Valentinianenses seniores and the Illyrian unit that is the Valentinianenses iuniores - is much less likely, because the Gallic list has its Valentinianenses listed below the Ampsivarii (102/5.121), as is also the case in the infantry roster, whereas a putative Valentinianenses seniores would presumably come at position 98/9.56.1 - above the Ampsivarii (98/9.63).


1. Maier, Ingo; "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. Seeck, Otto (Ed.); "Notitia Dignitatum accedunt Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae et Latercula prouinciarum", Weidmann, Berlin, 1876; available here (last accessed 26 October 2015). Return


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