The Flavia victrix Constantina

This page created 23 March 2014, and last modified: 12 October 2014 (Constantine III commentary added)


The Flavia victrix Constantina is listed as one of the legiones comitatenses in the Magister Peditum's infantry list. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts, under the label Constantici, as below:

Flavia victrix Constantina shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

Note that the unit is actually listed as the Flaviae victrices constantinae id est constantici in the manuscripts, in other words, "the Flavia victrix Constantina, i.e. Constantici"; the latter half of the listing was rather arbitrarily bracketed for deletion by Seeck in his edition despite this clearly being the label attached to the shield pattern.

The pattern features a red boss (in O and P, but faded indigo in M, white in B, and white (outside) and red (inside) in W) and a red main ground. The shield's rim is yellow, as is the band separating the boss from the main ground. An indigo cross, edged in yellow, radiates from the boss to the rim; the overall pattern is thus similar that of the Tertia Flavia Salutis, also known as the Tertiani, under the Comes Africae, as a comparison of the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript shows:

Shield patterns

Although the Flavia victrix Constantina is listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry list, and is assigned a shield pattern, it is not assigned to any regional command. I formerly thought it was possible the unit is the same as the men formerly commanded by the Praefectus militum secundae Flaviae, at Vangiones under the Dux Mogontiacensis; however I no longer believe this is the case: given the similarity in shield patterns to the Tertia Flavia Salutis, and the fact that the next two units in the list of the units under the command of the Comes Africa are a Constantiniani and a Constantiaci, it seems tolerably clear that the one of these two is the Constantici of the Magister Peditum (and not the pseudocomitaenses unit called the Constantiaci. I would suggest the Constantiaci is the Flavia victrix Constantina, and not the Constantiniani, despite the former being listed later in the list of the Comes Africae, given the identity of the names Constantiniani and Secunda Flavia Constantiniana.

Ammianus records (29.5.20) that a portion of the infantry of the "Constantiani" had gone over to Firmus during his revolt; given the spelling, this likely refers to the Constanti(a)ci, and not the Constantiniani.

The name Flavia apparently derives from one of the emperors of the Constantinian (neo-Flavian) dynasty; Constantina implies either Constantine I or II, although one must be careful in that such names may come via a location named after an emperor, as the example of the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia shows. And indeed, one of the major late Roman cities of North Africa was none other than Constantine - and which is still the third largest city in Algeria. The title victrix means "victorious" and granting it was a common way of according a unit a distinction; some legions with particularly long histories could be properly known as the "so-and-so legion, 7 times victorious", for example. A potential fly in the ointment is Constantine III, western Augustus in 421, and father of Valentinian III, whose name was Flavius Constantius, but one would expect any legionary units bearing his name to have pseudocomitatenses status.


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