The Cimbriani

This page created 21 June 2014, and last modified: 7 October 2014 (inscription links)


The Cimbriani is the 11th of the 12 legiones palatina listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned to the command of the Comes Africae. 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 is simple, showing a plain yellow boss, an unadorned red main ground (more maroon than red in O, P, when compared to other pattern on the same page that are definitely more red), and a yellow rim. The pattern that is closest to that of the Cimbriani in the Notitia is that of the Lanciarii Sabarienses, another western palatine legion, but assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command; it also features a yellow-rimmed plain maroon main ground, but with a large red boss.

The Cimbriani's position in the list of the units assigned to the Comes Africae seems to indicate that it was a comitatenses unit when the Notitia was first drawn up, but was later promoted to the palatine status it is recorded having in the Magister Peditum's infantry. Six of the 12 palatine legions in the western empire appear to be such recently upgraded units judging by their anomalous positioning in the lists of the field commands they are assigned to. This is somewhat surprising, because their positioning in the illustrations section correctly corresponds to their position in the Magister Peditum's list, and illustrations cannot be updated as easily as text. It may be that the list of the Comes Africae was drawn up quite some time before the list of the Magister Peditum was drawn up, but then we would be left with the problem that the list of the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, which also contains a misplaced legio palatina, seems to bear the hall marks of being modified even more recently than that of the Magister Peditum. This would imply that when the Gallic list was modified, it was not replaced in toto, but amendments were appended to it, in the manner of the constitution of the United States.

The name Cimbriani appears to be tribal in origin, from the Cimbri, a Germanic (or Celto-Germanic) group that inflicted devastating losses on the Romans some 500 years before the Notitia was first compiled, and who originated in Jutland (Denmark). Nonetheless, it is probably more likely to be named after the fort called Cimbriana in lower the Danubian province of Moesia Secunda (modern location uncertain, but identified with Canlia, a 2 hectare fort in southern Romania by J.J.Wilkes, The Roman Danube (2005), available here, at p 215); indeed, the Notitia lists an auxiliary unit under the command of Dux Moesiae secundae called the Milites Cimbriani stationed there.

Inscriptional evidence for the Cimbriani comes from two epitaphs from Lucera in Italy, both mentioning a numero Cimbrorum (AE 1969/70, 159; AE 1983, 246), as well as an inscription from Setif in Algeria (AE 1984, 940) mentioning a cor Cimb, which has been expanded to read a "cor(nicularii) Cimb(rianorum)"; i.e. "an adjutant in the Cimbri".


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.