The Abrincateni

This page created 23 March 2014, and last modified: 11 October 2014 (legionary status comment added)


The Abrincateni is listed as one of the pseudocomitatenses units under the Magister Peditum and assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts as below:

Abrincateni 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 is relatively simple, featuring a red boss surrounded by a purple band; a white ground; and a red rim; a red disc occupies the 12 o'clock position, which is probably meant to represent an imago, or imperial portrait, such as found on many other shield patterns in the Notitia (the radiating lines visible in the Froben edition picture, B, are actually from the image on the reverse side of the page showing through the paper).

It is likely the men of the Abrincateni are the same men as formerly commanded by the Praefectus militum Dalmatarum at Abrincatis (modern Avranches) under the Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani; see under his entry for details. With one exception, all the many other "Dalmatian" units in the Notitia appear to be cavalry units. The exception would appear to be the men commanded by the Tribunus cohortis secundae Dalmatarum under the Dux Britanniarum garrisoning Hadrian's wall at Magnis. Nonetheless, outside the Notitia, there is ample inscriptional evidence for infantry Dalmatae units - in Britain alone, in addition to the Cohors Secundae Delmatarum Equitata, we hear of a Cohors Primae Delmatarum and a Cohors Quartae Delmatarum, so it is possible other units in the Notitia recorded under some other name are former Dalmatian units like the Abrincateni. However, these other British infantry units are all (auxiliary) cohorts; these were commanded by tribunes, unlike the prefect in charge of the Milites Dalmatarum, who would thus appear to be legionary troops, and not auxiliaries.

A number of other infantry units in the western half of the army have the same red-rimmed white shield background that the Abrincateni features, with the central circles being differentiated to some degree. It may be these have some as-yet undiscerned thematic relationship.


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