sabato 5 novembre 2016

Roman Unit: Menapii Seniores

In the past days I wrote other posts regarding Late Roman Imperial units. Today is the time of another unit: Menapii Seniores

I've already posted the links to one of the most important document related the organization of the late Roman army (Notitia Dignitatum) but I have seen that these links are appreciated so I decided to insert them in each post I'll write about this matter
Oxford version:
Paris version:
Munich version:

Menapii Seniores were a unit assigned to Magister Militum Gallic command.
The shield pattern in the Oxford version of the Notitia is reported below

The fourth shield in the fourth line starting from left
Many Roman units in the Notitia have the same name but with a "seniores" or "iuniores" added. It is not clear the real reason to call the same unit in different way. I found different explanations:
- seniores/iuniores was added to the name of the unit after Diocletian's decision to split the Imperium in two parts and consequently the units 
- seniores/iuniores indicated the experience level of the unit. 
Under my point of the view I prefer the first explanation. Please consider that the Menapi iuniores were part of Magister Militum per Thracias command.

Some photos of my miniatures are below

The name Menapii derives from a Belgic tribe, in fact it is possible that the unit was enlisted or stationed in Gaul before joining to the field army. 

One of the miniature  in the second line (a foundry miniature) is equipped with a plumbata mamillata. Below an example of the weapon directly from Notitia Dignitatum

The plumbatae (tribulata and mamillata) started to be used by Romans in 4th century. It is a weapon well described by Vegetio in the De Re Militari (1,17) and by an anonymous in De Rebus Bellicis (10,11). This little dart (around 50 cm) was generally used with the bow to block the enemy advance.

Below a photo very interesting photo that explain as the dart was thrown

(Copyright -
Below a detail of the command group with the vexillifer that carries a labarum with the typical Chi-rho of the Christianity

The tribune of the photo carries a cavalry shield (may be Equites cetrati iuniores) but it was so nice that I decided to bend the rules.

If someone is interested to the Roman army of the late Empire  it is possible to find more details in these books:
- A companion to the Roman Army - Paul ErdKamp - Blackwell Publishing 

- The grand strategy of the Roman Empire: from the first century AD to the third - Edward Luttwak
- L'esercito romano vol III - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano vol IV - Giuseppe Cascarino e Carlo Sansilvestri - Ed Il cerchio
- L'esercito romano: da Augusto alla fine del terzo secolo - Yann Le Bohec - Ed Carocci
- 9 agosto 378. Il giorno dei barbari - Alessandro Barbero - Ed Laterza
- Le Storie - Ammiano Marcellino - Ed Utet

- L'arte della guerra - Flavio Vegezio - Ed Bur

and many Osprey Publishing books.

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