This page created 21 June 2014, and last modified: 21 June 2014
The Comites Alani is listed as one of the vexillationes palatinae in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster in the western half of the empire; it is assigned to the Magister Peditum's Italian command. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is as below:
The shield pattern shows a red boss (blue in B) with a red pillar underneath; the two together are surrounded by a white border. The rest of the shield is plain white, except in W, where it is blue. It thus bears some resemblance to that of the Equites constantes Valentinianenses seniores, another unit of vexillationes palatinae, at least in shape, if not colour, as the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript show:
The name Comites means "companions"; specifically, companions-in-arms of the Emperor; it is where the aristocratic title "Count" comes from; all units of Comites in the Notitia are cavalry.
The name Alani is tribal, taken from the Sarmatian Alans who migrated westwards from north of the Caucasus in various stages. During the period the western part of the Notitia was being amended - ca. 395 - 420, one particularly bold and large group of Alans pushed through Roman gaul and into Spain in conjunction with the Germanic Vandals. At least one group of Alans may have already been settled in Gaul prior to this, as the Notitia lists a Praefectus Sarmatarum gentilium, per tractum Rodunensem et Alaunorum in Gaul (Brittany in particular has multiple villages named Allainville). The Comites Alani were likely recruited from among the Alans (at least, initially).
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