The Septimani iuniores

This page created 23 March 2014, and last modified: 25 November 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)


The 19th of the 32 units of legiones comitatenses listed (98/9.142 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster is called the Septimani iuniores; it is apparently assigned to both the Magister Peditum's Italian command (102/5.082) and to the command of the Comes Tingitaniae (102/5.191). Its shield pattern (96#9) as shown in various manuscripts, under the label (96.i) Septimani, is as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

The pattern shows a boss either quartered black and white (O, P, M), quartered white only (B), or plain yellow (W). The boss is encircled by two white bands (although the outermost is yellow in W), while the main field is dividing into alternating red and white rays, with 9 of each colour; there is no rim depicted. The most closely matching pattern in the Notitia would appear to be that of the Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani, in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command, which bears a very similar pattern, albeit with different colours.

Since a unit called the Septimani iuniores is assigned to both the Comes Tingitaniae and to the Magister Peditum's Italian command, some explanation is required, complicated by the presence of yet another unit called Septimani iuniores in the Notitia: under the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. The relative positioning of this last unit in the Gallic list, however, indicates this can be safely equated with the pseudocomitatenses unit called the plain Septimani in the Magister Peditum's roster.

Nischer (1923, available here) proposed that the entry in the Italian list was a mistake for Septimani seniores, since in the infantry register, the Regii are preceded by the Septimani seniores, whereas in the Italian list, the Regii are preceded by a Septimani iuniores. This would mean the Tingitani unit would correspond to the shield pattern shown above, and the Italian unit would correspond to that of the Septimani seniores instead. Unfortunately, this merely shifts the problem of duplicated units around, since there is also a Septimani seniores assigned to the "Comes" Hispenias (Nischer proposed there was no duplication; rather, the deletion of a fourth Septimani from the infantry roster).

That it is the Septimani iuniores (depicted above) that is duplicated is a more parsimonious explanation, since while it still involves a duplication of names like Nischer's explanation does, it does not involve any copyist's mistake.

Unit ordering in the...

Magister Peditum's infantry roster

98/9.102 Septimani seniores
98/9.103 Regii
98/9.106 Mattiarii iuniores
98/9.110 Germaniciani iuniores
98/9.116 Septimani iuniores

Magister Peditum's Italian list

102/5.081 Mattiarii iuniores
102/5.082 Septimani iuniores
102/5.083 Regii
102/5.084 Germaniciani

Further, as can be seen by comparing the ordering of the units in the two lists above, it is by no means clear the Regii is even in the "right" position in the Italian list, making Nischer's placement argument weaker than is immediately apparent.

Nonetheless, the duplication of the Septimani iuniores still calls for an explanation. One possibility is that there really were three units so-named, and that the pattern of one has simply been lost from the mansucripts. This is unsatisfying however, because while it is easy to see how there might be two such units, due to a split between the eastern and western portions of the empire, even if both ended up in the west by the time the Notitia was last amended, it is much harder to see how a third unit so-named could have come about. A more likely possibility is that the two comitatenses units are in fact one and the same, but separated in both space (Italy and Tingitania) and in time. In this scenario, the unit would have been transferred from one command to the other during the working lifetime of the Notitia - and simply not deleted from the former command when it was entered into the list of the other. This exact process has clearly happened with many other western units in the Notitia, particularly those associated with the Comes Britanniae which can be found duplicated in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command.

None of these various Septimani units illustrated in the Notitia have similar shield patterns, as the following comparison using the Parisian manuscript images makes clear:

Shield patterns

The name Septimani clearly derives from one the legions numbered VII: the question is which one? Legio VII Gemina Felix was long stationed at Legio (modern Leon in Spain), and indeed, a detachment is still stationed there according to the Notitia - see under the "Comes" Hispenias. The other seventh legion is Legio VII Claudia under the Dux Moesiae primae, long stationed at Viminacium (near modern Kostalac in Serbia). The comitatenses legion the Septima gemina under the Magister Militum per Orientem clearly derives from the Legio VII Gemina Felix, given its name. The Septimani seniores, being assigned to the "Comes" Hispenias in Spain would also seem to be surely derived from the same Spanish unit. And geography would certainly favour the Comes Tingitaniae's Septimani iuniores also being derived from the Spanish unit, since Tingitania was organisationally part of the Roman diocese of Hispania at the time the Notitia was compiled, rather than Africa (and thus the Italian unit as well, if they are one and the same). Since many other pseudocomitaneses units in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command appear to have come from the Danube, it is likely the Septimani (iuniores) is a detachment of Legio VII Claudia. That the Spanish unit would appear to have already provided three detachments to the Moesian unit's none also weighs in in favour of the unit being a detachment of Legio VII Claudia.


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