The Lanciarii Lauriacenses

This page created 22 June 2014, and last modified: 22 June 2014


The Lanciarii Lauriacenses is listed one of the pseudocomitatenses units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned to the Comes Illyricum. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is 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 shield patten has a yellow boss, a white rim, and red main ground, and a yellow (green in W) star of 10 points (8 in B) radiating out from the boss; the points clearly touch the rim in W and B, partially do so in P and M, and clearly do not in O; the red field does not reach between the points to the boss in any version. The pattern's closest match is that of the Septimani seniores under the Comes Hispenias, which differs only in having a white rim, and some additional bands around the boss, albeit still in yellow.

While the name Lanciarii comes from the lancea, a spear suitable for both thrusting and throwing, this does not necessarily imply the Lanciarii Lauriacenses was equipped with this weapon, since the title lanciarii (or lancearii) had become the designation of elite guards in the later 3rd century; we even hear of mounted lanciarii, as attested by inscriptional evidence (AE 1981, 777) where the gravestone of one Aurelius Gaius describes him as an "ippeus lankiaris". There are a number of lanciarii units listed in the Notitia, some of which are obviously elite units, while some, like the Lanciarii Lauriacenses, have no such indication.

The name Lauriacenses comes from Lauriaco (modern Lorch, near Enns in Austria) in the province of Pannonia Prima, which in the Notitia is given as the location of a Praefectus legionis secundae (there is also a fleet stationed there, under the Praefectus classis Lauriacensis). Thus it may well be that the Lanciarii Lauriacenses originated as a detachment of Legio II Italica. Note that two other units of lanciarii also seem to have originated in Pannonia Prima: the Lanciarii Comaginenses, also under the Comes Illyricum; and the Lanciarii Sabarienses, in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command.

Another detachment of Legio II Italica would appear to be the Secundani Italiciani, a legiones comitatenses under the Comes Africae; its shield pattern is not related.


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