The Constantini seniores

This page created 29 March 2014, and last modified: 26 September 2014 (Froben image added)


The Constantini seniores is listed as one of the Legiones comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Thracias. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts 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 pattern features a yellow boss (white in W) encircled by a red band, which is in turn encircled by a blue band. The main ground is white, and is charged with a blue bird (white in M, W) standing on the blue band with wings spread, body facing right, and head bent back to the left. The bird appears to be a eagle on O and B, and possibly P (but bereft of its tail), in M it looks more like a magpie, if anything, at least in shape, while the type in W is even harder to discern. The image of an eagle above a central ring (which would thus surround the shield's boss) brings to mind other examples of Roman imagery such as in the Arch of Galerius, where an eagle grasping a wreath of victory is shown over Galerius' (defaced) head:

Tertiodecimani shield patterns
(Picture by J. Matthew Harrington, used under CCA 2.5 license)

It may well be that the simple ring shown in the surviving Notitia manuscripts was a wreath in the original document.

Three other Legiones comitatenses units under the Magister Militum per Thracias, the Tertiodecimani, the Quartodecimani, and the Divitenses Gallicani, have very similar patterns to that of the Quartodecimani, as can be seen below from the following patterns taken from the Paris manuscript:

Shield patterns

Given the seemingly unrelated nature of the names of units, this suggests a simultaneous issuance when all four were perhaps detached from their parent units to join a new formation (such as that of the Magister Militum per Thracias).

The Constantini seniores share the name Constantini with many other units in the Notitia; some take the name from the place in which they had once been (are still are) stationed; others seem to have take it from the persons of either Constantine I or II. Which of these categories the Constantini seniores fit into is unsure. Epigraphic evidence for the Constantini seniores has apparently been found at Odessus (modern Varna in Bulgaria), reported in Constantin Bajenaru (2010), Minor Fortifications in the Balkan Danubian Area from Diocletian to Justinian (available here), at p 21.


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