The Romanenses

This page created 11 October 2014, and last modified: 11 October 2014


The Romanenses is listed as one of the pseudocomitatenses units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. 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 pattern shows a red boss (white in B) encircled by a white band. Surrounding this is a hubbed and tyred wheel in indigo (more purple in B, and faded to pink in M, W) with 8 (M), 9 (O, P, W) or 15 (B) spokes. The sectors between the wheel's spokes are red (but white in W); the shield's rim is also red. Several other units bear similar "spoked wheel" designs in the Noritia; the with the closest pattern in terms of shape, if not colour, is probably the Sagittarii lecti, a unit of auxilia palatina under the Magister Militum per Thracias.

The name Romanenses is unlikely to refer to Rome directly; it probably refers to a unit with the name as part of its cognomen. In the early empire, the men of an auxiliary unit could all be awarded citizenship for some distinguished act of service: thereafter the unit would bear the title civium Romanorum. A great many units were awarded the honour before it became obsolete following the granting of all soldier citizenship empire-wide in 212; nonetheless, three of the units listed in the Notitia are still recorded as bearing this title:

Cohors primae Thracum civium Romanorum, under the Dux Provinciae Pannoniae secundae ripariensis et Saviae
Cohors Apuleia civium Romanorum, under the Dux Armeniae
Cohors scutata civium Romanorum, under the Dux Thebaidos
The Pannonian unit is the most obvious candidate to be identified with the Romaneses, not only because it is geographically much closer to Gaul, but also because two other units from that command appear to have been withdrawn from it and promoted to psudocomitatenses status: the Taurunenses and the Antianenses. If so, this implies the Romanenses are an auxiliary rather than a legionary unit.


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