This page created 15 September 2014, and last modified: 15 September 2014
The third of the auxilia palatina units listed under the Magister Militum per Illyricum is the Petulantes iuniores. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts as below:
The pattern has a red main field, a yellow boss, and a yellow hound leaping over the boss, facing left (right in B, which being printed, reverses all the shield pattern facings). Other patterns featuring similar animals over the boss are those of the Prima Flavia Gallicana Constantia, a pseudocomitatenses unit in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command; that ascribed to the Ascarii iuniores, a unit of auxilia palatina in Spain; and that of the enigmatic "second" of the two Batavi iuniores auxilia palatina units, as can be seen from a comparison of the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript:
The name Petulantes means "headstrong, bold" (whence "petulant" in English). Only one other unit is so-named in the Noitia: the Petulantes seniores, third-most senior of the western auxilia palatina. When "the" Petulantes were split between seniores and iuniores units is unknown; in the history of Ammianus, only references to "the" Petulantes are found, where they are brigaded with the Celtae (e.g. 20.4.2, 21.3.2, 22.12.6). In the Notitia, the Petulantes seniores are indeed followed by the Celtae seniores; whereas the Petulantes iuniores do not appear to have any obvious partner: the Celtae iuniores are listed under the Comes Africae, where they are the sole unit of auxilia palatna; taking listed rankings into account the "obvious" partner for the Petulantes iuniores would be the next auxilia palatna unit listed in the Magister Militum per Illyricum's command: the Sagittarii lecti.
Thus it would appear that "the" Petulantes and Celtae in Ammianus correspond to the Notitia's Petulantes seniores and Celtae seniores. This is not proof the Petulantes iuniores did not exist in Ammianus' day, however. because he also refers to just "the" Cornuti, seemingly corresponding to the western Cornuti seniores, when an inscription from as early as 356 (AE 1977, 806) describes one Flavius Aemilianus as being a duc e numero Io corn sen, which has been expanded to name the "numerus Ioviorum Cornutorum seniorum" (showing the full name of the unit was somewhat longer than the name recorded in the Notitia - something seen with many other epigraphic sources mentioning Notitia units). This is the earliest attested mention of a unit (as opposed to an individual) described as iuniores, and disproved the long-held theory that the iuniores/seniores divisons happened in Valentianian's reign in the 360s. Recently E.A. Mehamadiev has connected the introduction of iuniores-seniores to the problem of replacing the casualties inflicted in the heavy fighting between Magnentius and Constantius II in the early 350s, and links it with the concerns expressed in the de Rebus Bellicis regarding troop numbers; see E.A. Mehamadiev; Anonymus de Rebus Bellicis and Latin inscriptions from Aquileia: the question of the formation and development divisions seniores-iuniores late Roman army in the 4th C; in Mnemon, Research and publications on the history of the Ancient World; Ed. E.D. Frolova; Issue 13 (2013); p277-291, available here (in Russian).
The shield pattern of the Petulantes iuniores gives a clue as to its possible brigading partner before incorporation into the command of the Magister Militum per Illyricum. Of the three units that share the same leaping animal motif, two are auxilia palatina. The pattern ascribed to the Ascarii iuniores appears to actually belong to the Ascarii seniores, and since their patterns are clearly related (see their corresponding pages for details), it would appear the Ascarii seniores and iuniores were likely brigaded together (and indeed, they are listed together in the Spanish command). The pattern of the (second) western "Batavi iuniores" is likewise similar to that of the Petulantes iuniores, but the placing of the unit is unknown. It may be that it was the original partner of the Petulantes iuniores, but they split at some point - perhaps the Batavi iuniores was disbanded/destroyed, explaining its omission from any of the regional field amy listings (its listing in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster, between two British units, might imply it too was British).
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