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Comitatensis

Багерман А.Я.

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Comitatensis

The adjective Comitatensis, plural Comitatenses is derived from the Latin comitatus, meaning "retinue". In the first and second centuries AD, the comitatus was understood as a retinue of Roman emperors, consisting of his friends and associates.

At the end of the third century AD, the term comitatus still refers to the emperor's personal guard.

For the first time, comitatenses as a special class of soldiers are legally attested in the decree of Constantine of 325 and implies the most privileged part of the army. However, the context suggests that in 325 the comitatenses were still soldiers currently serving directly under the emperor's command.

Ammianus Marcellinus, a military commander and chronicler of the second half of the fourth century AD, also mentions the Comitatenses as troops under the personal command of the emperor and directly attached to him.

Hastati Legio XIIII Comitatensis, reconstruction

Over time, when the emperors ceased to personally participate in military campaigns and increasingly entrusted the leadership of campaigns to their military leaders, the term "komitatens" ceased to refer to the personal troops of the emperors. By the beginning of the fifth century, the term Comitatensis had become simply an honorary title awarded to distinguished military units that did not belong to the emperor's personal guard. This understanding of the term would continue until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476.

In the IV century, for example, Legio XIIII Comitatensis served on the Danube as part of the ripenses-a river flotilla, infantry and coastal border forces, which clearly allows us to attribute this legion of comitatenses to limitans. Thus, the clear division of the late Roman army into stationary limitans and mobile field armies of comitatenses, adopted in the time of Delbruck, now seems to be a simplification that may not fully reflect the real picture.

Related topics

Dominant, Soldiers of the Roman Empire of the Dominant era, Late Roman Empire, Limitans

Literature

1. Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History (Res Gestae), XXI, XXXI

2. Codex Theodosius and the Novellas of the Emperors Valentinian III, Majorian, and Libius Severus on coloniae, rural slaves, and freedmen.(translated by A. Koptev from the edition: Theodosiani libri XVI cum constitutionibus sirmonlianis et leges novellae ad Theodosianum pertinentes. Ed. Th. Mommsen et P. Meyer. Berolini, 1905. Vol. I-II.)

3. Bannikov A.V., Military reforms of Diocletian/The ancient state. Political relations and State forms in the Ancient world//Collection of scientific articles. Edited by profesor E. D. Frolov. St. Petersburg, 2002.

4. Bannikov A.V., Roman army in the IV century (from Constantine to Theodosius) / A.V. Bannikov. - St. Petersburg: Philological Faculty of St. Petersburg State University; Nestor-Istoriya, 2011. - 264 p., ill. - (Historia Militaris).

5. George Baker, Constantine the Great. The First Christian Emperor / Translated from English by L. A. Kalashnikova, Moscow: ZAO Tsentrpoligraf, 2004, 351 p.

6. Mekhamadiev E. A., Military organization of the Late Roman Empire in 253-353: the Epoch of Constantine I the Great and his Dynasty (306-353), St. Petersburg: Peterburgskoe Vostokovedenie, 2019, 424 p.

7. Kholmogorov V. I. Roman strategy in the IV century AD by Ammianus Marcellinus //VDI, No. 3, 1939. pp. 87-97; On. Field army (Comitatenses)of the Roman Empire of the IV century AD. Issue No. 12. No. 86. P. 81-100.

8. Southern, Pat. The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine. — Routledge, 2001.