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Lancearius of the Dominate era

Тукеев П.Д.

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It is believed that the Roman heavy infantry of the Dominant era was built in six ranks (ordines). The first, second, third, and sixth ranks were composed of Hastati spearmen. The fourth and fifth ranks could consist of archers (saggitarii) and skirmishers (lancearii). The latter will be discussed in this article. Even in the time of Pompey and Caesar, the Roman army lacked light infantry capable of operating in loose formation as skirmishers, scouts, and pursuit forces for fleeing enemies. According to the available information, the auxiliary cohorts could not fully meet the need for light infantry, and some of the legionnaires, mostly young, fast and hardy, were allocated to the antesignans, a temporary light infantry unit. By the time of the Dominatus, the need for light infantry had only increased, especially in the east, where Rome's opponents, the Parthians and later the Sassanid Persians, traditionally used a lot of infantry and cavalry. In addition, the heavy infantry of the Roman army was now mostly defensive, which only increased the army's need for skirmishers. Therefore, since the end of the third century AD, lancearii — light infantry armed with several javelins (light or heavy), and shields-have been constantly appearing in legions and auxiliaries. For these fighters, mobility and stamina meant much more than passive armor protection, so Lancearii could go into battle not only without body armor, but even without helmets. In battle, the Lancearii could, depending on the circumstances, either stand in the fourth rank of the heavy infantry formation and throw javelins from there, or act in a loose formation in front of a phalanx of Hastati spearmen. The Lancearii were also assigned the duties of scouting and chasing retreating enemies. According to Ammianus Marcellinus, the Hastati were expressly forbidden to leave the line for pursuit, a task assigned to the Lancearii and cavalry. The great importance of the lancearii is also confirmed by the fact that there were many independent army units consisting entirely of lancearii, some of which later received the status of Palatine, that is, elite.


The equipment of the lancearii of the Dominant era could consist of the following elements::

Fabric and leather products:

Elements of protective equipment made of metal and wood:

Elements of offensive weapons:

Other elements:

Not all of the equipment items mentioned above were found at the same time in each lancearius. The javelins might be of one type, light or heavy, and the sword might not exist at all.


The lancearius kit is almost the simplest and cheapest available to a dominat, and consists of only clothing, a shield, and a pair of javelins. Clothing collection should start with a red wool manikat tunic, a white linen manikat under tunic, campagi shoes, and a military belt (cingulum militare). As a raincoat, sagum is suitable, as it is simpler and cheaper to manufacture, but with the development of the kit, it makes sense to replace it with chlamys.

The Lancearium of the Dominant era

Related topics

Dominant, Soldier of the Roman Empire of the Dominant era, Late Roman Empire


1) The Roman Army in the IV century. From Constantine to Theodosius. A.V. Bannikov

2) Armies of the Late Roman Empire. AD 284 to 476. History, Organization and Equipment. G. Esposito

3) De Re Militari, Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus

4) Rerum Gestarum, Ammianus Marcellinus

5) Comparative biographies. Plutarch


Lancearii of the dominant period. Hunting mosaic from Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily. IV century AD
Lancearii of the dominant period. Relief from the Arch of Constantine, Rome. IV century AD