This page created 24 April 2014, and last modified: 30 November 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)
The Tertii sagittarii Valentis is the 8th of 18 units of auxilia palatina listed (9.31 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) under the command of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence (i.e. the Magister Militum Praesentalis I). Its shield pattern (8#6) as shown in various manuscripts, under the matching label (8.f) Tertii sagittarii Valentis, is as below:
The shield pattern shows an indigo-coloured ground (purple in B; faded to maroon in M, W) with a red rim, like many others of the other units assigned to the same command. It further shares a yellow band (white in B) just inside the rim with the patterns ascribed to three such units: the Sagittarii seniores Gallicani, the Sagittarii iuniores Gallicani, and the Raetobarii. What most clearly distinguishes that of the Tertii sagittarii Valentis from the two other sagittarii units is that it appears to lack the winged Victories; it also has some sort of truncated orb at the top. This would appear to be a mis-copied imago (imperial portrait), as a very similarly truncated imago is shown on the pattern attributed to the Mattiaci iuniores under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence (at least in the Bodleian manuscript, O, and the Froben edition, B), and also on one of the shield patterns associated with the eastern Magister Officiorum. These relationships can be seen below comparing the relevant pictures taken from the Bodleian manuscript:
The name Tertii sagittarii Valentis implies (but does not establish) the unit was bow-armed, and that it was raised under the emperor Valens. According to Noel Lenski, following Hoffman (Noel Lenski, Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman state in the fourth century A.D. (2002), page 317, note 322), the unit is only one of only two in the Notitia definitely created by Valens - the other being the Sagittarii dominici under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence, and which bears the name of Valens' wife, Albia Dominica, and which is found in the 8th place amongst the auxilia palatina in the Magister's list, just as the Tertii sagittarii Valentis is found in the 8th place in the list of the first Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence; clearly these units are a matched pair.
Given Valens reigned for a considerable time (364-378) not long before the Notitia was complied, this low number is rather striking, especially when compared to the number of units named after his brother and co-Augustus, Valentinian; Lenski uses this as an indication of the difficuly Valens had in recruiting soldiers. But Lenski makes no mention how the title Tertii sagittarii Valentis might well imply the existence at least two other units of sagittarii Valentis, perhaps lost at Adrianople, which might make Valens' recruiting efforts seem more accomplished than is immediately evident. Moreover, there would appear to be three other units in the Notitia bearing Valens' name: the Secunda Felix Valentis Thebaeorum, a unit of legio comitatenses under the Magister Militum per Orientem, the Ala prima Valentiana, under the Dux Arabiae, and the Ala secunda felix Valentiana, under the Dux Palaestinae. The former might be explained away as a mistake for Secunda Felix Valentiniana Thebaeorum or similar, given there is a Legio secunda Valentiniana under the Dux Thebaidos that the unit is probably derived from. Similarly, one might perhaps explain away Ala secunda felix Valentiana as a mistake for Ala secunda felix Valentiniana, given there is exactly such a unit recorded under the Dux Arabiae; but simultaneously explaining away Ala prima Valentiana as a mistake for Ala prima Valentiniana looks like special pleading.
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