This page created 23 August 2014, and last modified: 18 October 2014 (Equites Constantiani felices link added)
The Equites Mauri feroces is listed as the eighth of the vexillationes comitatenses in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster; it is assigned to the Magister Peditum's Italian command. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is as below:
The pattern features a yellow boss encircled by a green band (white in M, B). The main ground is white; it is charged with the front halves of two canids depicted in red (blue in B), facing each other; they are probably meant to represent wolves. Accordingly, the pattern is essentially the same as that of the previous unit in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster, the Equites Honoriani seniores, except with different colours, as a comparison of the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript shows:
The same motif of the front parts of two wolves adorsed is also used in the pattern ascribed to the infantry unit the Grati, a unit of auxilia palatina.
The name Mauri denotes the Moorish peoples, although there is every indication that by this date the term, as used used in the Roman military, denoted not an ethnicity but a particular kind of military unit. However, exactly what kind is hard to say: possibly a light unit, whether of foot or, as in this case, of horse, because that is how Moors fought when the Romans first encountered them. However, it is also very likely that this meaning had also been superseded with time; 600 years is a long time for a fighting style to remain unchanged, leaving the name doubly fossilized!
The name feroces means ferocious, and while seemingly an apt name for a military unit, it is not a common one in the Notitia; it is borne by only one other unit: the Equites Constantiani feroces, in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, and the name of this unit is in doubt, because it is apparently listed in the Magister Equitum's cavalry roster as the Equites Constantiani felices.
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