The Vindices

This page created 24 April 2014, and last modified: 3 Jule 2014 (Lactantius reference added added)


The Vindices is a unit of auxilia palatina under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence; it is the 9th unit of auxilia palatina is his list. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts 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 shows a yellow ground and a twin-headed zoomorphic motif that is extremely common in the Notitia (over a dozen examples), especially amongst auxilia palatina; the example borne by the Vindices is (faded) purple. In two of the manuscripts (O, M) a small loop-like motif is evident at the top. I am unsure of the significance of this, or even if its shape is accurately rendered: it might be a somewhat distorted miniature wreath, or perhaps even a distorted and rotated staurogram (Lactantius describes (44.5) Constantine I's pre-Milvian dream-vision as being in the form of a staurogram). I would hazard a victory wreath is the most likely interpretation.

The top of the shield was a place that was frequently used for small badges or similar on Tetrarchy-period shield patterns as well as in the Notitia. Of particular relevance to the pattern ascribed to the Vindices is a 4th century Roman weight in the form of a small statue of Constantine I that is now in the Princeton University Museum of Art; the shield clearly shows the zoomorphic motif, surmounted by a Christian staurogram, as shown below:

Zoomorphic Shield on Statue of Constantine
Photo by Bruce M. White of PUAM; object y1955-3257; crude interpretation by myself.

The name Vindices ("the Defenders"; the name can also mean the "the protectors", or even the "Avengers") is rather generic, relating to neither a tribe or a personage. However, the 9th unit under the command of the first of Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence is the Defensores, which also means "the Defenders". It also bears a very similar twin-headed zoomorphic motif, and thus these two would appear to be yet another example of a twinned pair of units split between the two Magistri.


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