The Divitenses Gallicani

This page created 29 March 2014, and last modified: 11 October 2014 (Froben picture added)


The Divitenses Gallicani 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 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 Constantini seniores), have very similar patterns to that of the Divitenses Gallicani, 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).

There is just one other unit of Divitenses listed in the Notitia: the Divitenses seniores under the Magister Peditum in his Italian command; its shield pattern is unrelated, which would be expected if the Divitenses Gallicani were given a new pattern upon joining the command of the Magister Militum per Thracias. The word Divitenses means "of/from Divitia" (modern Deutz in Germany), which was re-established as Castrum Divitia/Castrum Divitensium by Constantine I in ca. 310 AD as a bridgehead across the Rhine opposite Colonia to better guard the Gallic frontier. Given the lack of a Divitenses iuniores in the Notitia, it may be that the Divitenses Gallicani was called the Divitenses iuniores before it was moved from Gaul to Thrace, and was thereafter given the Gallicani moniker.

Units known to have occupied Divitia in the 4th century include (detachments of) both Legio VIII Augusta and Legio II Italica. Since there are inscriptions (e.g. ILS 2346, ILS 2777) in Italy mentioning "Legio II Italica Divitensium" (see A. H. M. Jones, The later Roman Empire 284-602, hard-back version (1964), Vol.III, p 14, note 43), then it appears the Divitenses Gallicani are likely a descendent of Legio II Italica, raised by Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century just as the Divitenses seniores clearly are. Limitanei detachments of this legion are listed in the Notitia as garrisoning several places in Noricum, under the Dux Pannoniae primae et Norici ripensis, and other non-limitanei units descended from Legio II Italica in addition to the two Divitenses units appear to be the Secundani Italiciani under the Comes Africae and the Lanciarii Lauriacenses under the Comes Illyricum.


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