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Who commanded the military forces of the lower Rhine in the late Roman empire?

The Notitia Dignitatum gives some neighbouring commanders - the Dux Belgica Secunda, Dux Mogontiacensis and Dux Germania Prima. Did one of these officers exercise additional authority over the forces of the old Germania Inferior province?

Or was the area under the central command of the Praetorian Prefect, and later Magister Militum, for Gaul?

Alternatively, was there originally a Dux Germania Secunda who commanded from (perhaps) Cologne? Was it that this area of the Rhine had been abandoned by the time of the ND, and the Dux Mogontiacensis installed as a replacement commander to hold the new frontier?

The defenses around Cologne were still being maintained in 393 (CIL 13, 8262 records construction work by Arbogast in that year) - so if this withdrawal happened, it must have been soon after that...
I know the Franks often had control over that area; Aetius adopted the heir to the Frankish Throne in 449 to secure the border on the lower Rhine. Roman control beyond Cologne seems to have been abandoned though.
Quote:Who commanded the military forces of the lower Rhine in the late Roman empire?

The Notitia Dignitatum gives some neighbouring commanders - the Dux Belgica Secunda, Dux Mogontiacensis and Dux Germania Prima. Did one of these officers exercise additional authority over the forces of the old Germania Inferior province?

Hello Nathan,

the Dux Germania Prima might have been the Dux of the Germania Inferior province (Germania Secunda).
According to Ralf Scharf (2005, p. 299) the Germania Inferior province was sometimes appreviatet like this: Germania (I)nferior. If reading the letter "I" like a roman One, one might mistake the Germania Inferior/Secunda province (Scharf writes that the old Names of the two Germanias were still used during the fifth century) for the Germania Prima province.

Source: Scharf, R 2005, Der Dux Mogontiacensis und die Notitia Dignitatum: eine Studie zur spätantiken Grenzverteidigung, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin.

http://books.google.de/books/about/Der_D...edir_esc=y

Regards,

Thomas
Thanks Thomas!

Quote:the Dux Germania Prima might have been the Dux of the Germania Inferior province (Germania Secunda).

An ingenious suggestion, but not sure I follow it! The names of the provinces in the Notitia are given as words (prima, secunda) not numerals, so Germaniae I wouldn't work like that, surely?

I've noticed there is quite a bit of German study on this subject, but almost nothing in English - which is a shame, as I can't read German! Is Scharf's view quite widely held, do you know? The few scattered English references seem to conclude that Roman control of the lower Rhine had ceased at some point between Arbogast's rebuilding work at Cologne and the composition of the ND... Although Otto Seeck (it seems) preferred to believe that the Germania Secunda bit had just been missed from the text.
Hi Nathan,

You have to define 'Lower Rhine' as well as the period. Until the late 4th c. the limitanei troop would have been commanded by the Dux for the Lower Rhine. We need not look for a command for each province, and therefore it may have been possible that there was one single Dux Germania or something, rather than a dux germania prima and a dux germania secunda. Of course, the Notitia Dignitatum mentions a seprate dux mogontiacensis (as well as a comes tractus argentoratis), clearly indicatingh a situation where a original command structure had been replaced by new, smaller commands. We may (as Scharf advocates) interpret this as a 'repair job' after the great raids of 406-7, which obliterated part of the limes of the Rhenus.

Practically, the border along the Lower Rhine had been moved south, roughly along the line Colgne-Bavay, which was part of Belgica Prima and Belgica Secunda. A dux germania secunda probably never existed because there was hardly a military frontier in that province after the first decade of the 5th century, and perhaps earlier.

Of course the mobile field armies were commanded by the magister peditum/equitum or the later magister militum per Gallias.
Quote:A dux germania secunda probably never existed because there was hardly a military frontier in that province after the first decade of the 5th century, and perhaps earlier.

Or do you mean the first decade of the 4th century, perhaps? We know that Koln was still occupied in this period - the new fort at Deutz, and some Constantinian inscriptions, proves that. Bonn too has at least one early 4th C inscription to Legio I Minervia. There doesn't seem to be much else for the old Germania Inferior province though - could the Rhine frontier below Koln have been abandoned in the late third century, perhaps, and never properly reoccupied?

Ammianus gives a list of cities 'long since destroyed and abandoned' (18,2,3), including Xanten (Tricensima) and Novaesium - but also (confusingly) Bonn - rebuilt and refortified by Julian in 360. How long ago 'long since' means is unclear - it could be many decades, or perhaps just a few years. Both Constantius and Constantine are recorded as recapturing territory from the barbarians, and the reduced fortifications of Xanten/Tricensima (the name alone suggests that Legio XXX were still associated with the place) look very much like the 'new' fortifications at Amiens, Bavay and elsewhere, probably dated to the late third/ early fourth centuries...

I was just having a look through Google books for some more recent German studies. I wonder if any German speakers could provide the gist of Benjamin Knör's argument here?:

Das spätantike Offizierskorps (4. / 5. Jh.)

(this looks like a really interesting book all round, actually! Is it ever likely to be translated?)
Hello Nathan,


Quote:An ingenious suggestion, but not sure I follow it! The names of the provinces in the Notitia are given as words (prima, secunda) not numerals, so Germaniae I wouldn't work like that, surely?
According to Scharf, during the passing on of the text of the ND, numerals were changed to words (and the other way round). If words sometimes had been abbreviatet, said alternating between numerals and words could have lead to confusing the letter I and the Roman One (see my previous post).


Quote:Is Scharf's view quite widely held, do you know?

Erich Polaschek

A confusion or misspelling of II and I was the reason for the absence of the Germania secunda as a ducat .

Eduard von Nischer

Commanders attested for Germania prima are the Dux Mogontiacensis and the Comes (tractus) Argentoratensis. If one assumed that the Dux Germaniae primae was the commander of all the troops stationed in the eponymous province, he would have to be higher-ranked than he Comes (tractus) Argentoratensis. But as he was lower-ranked, the Dux Germania primae (I) only could be the Dux Germania secundae (II).


So maybe during the first half ofthe 5th century the Roman commander structure at the Rhine looked like this:

Sequania Arrow Dux Sequaniae
Germania prima Arrow Dux Mogontiacensis
Germania secunda/I(nferior) Arrow Dux Germaniae "primae", i.e. I/(maybe) I(nferior)


An additional bit of Scharfs Reasoning: Attributing the Dux Germania I (II?) to Germania secunda would fill the gap in the protection of the Rhine boarder.

Regards,

Thomas
Quote:Or do you mean the first decade of the 4th century, perhaps?
No no, we clearly have military occupation at least up to Nijmegen during the later 4th century, there's no argument about that. The main line of defence was moved south as I described, but that's a 4th c. development, not of the 3rd c. Germanic groups are settled as Laeti in southern Belgium, while Salian Franks are allowed as federates in the noth of Belgium. These Franks were probabl;y settled around Tournai only after the 420s.

Here's a map that I made last weekend for a Dutch Limes-initiative:
It shows places (circles), forts (squares) and smaller defences (triangles) during the later 4th century.
[attachment=7375]limes4deeeuw.jpg[/attachment]
Quote:According to Scharf, during the passing on of the text of the ND, numerals were changed to words (and the other way round). If words sometimes had been abbreviatet, said alternating between numerals and words could have lead to confusing the letter I and the Roman One (see my previous post).
Maybe, but we have many such provinces (Prima/Secunda), are we supposed to think that the I was derived from Inferior there as well? Although it sounds ingenious, as a historian I have learned not to take the theoretical 'scribal error' as the magical answer to textual problems. It is disappointing that other authors take up this theory, which is of course unsupported by evidence. Do we even know for sure that 'Inferior' was shorthened to I and not to INF? It would have been better if Scharf had been able to present other occasions where an Inferior was misatken for a Prima.
Quote:I was just having a look through Google books for some more recent German studies. I wonder if any German speakers could provide the gist of Benjamin Knör's argument here?:
Das spätantike Offizierskorps (4. / 5. Jh.)

The gist is as follows:

Knör thinks that a dux gemania secunda would have been present because there would have been a civil governor whose military tasks were passed to a military command. He mentions Scharfs idea that the governor also had military duties, or that the comand of Germania I also included the troops of Germania II, but in that case, the ND should have a chapter about that.. Then he mentions Scharfs theory about the ND being mistaken due to a spelling error, as described below. Then he briefly discusses the Dux Mogontiacum.

I think both Scharf and Knörr suffer from a wrong supposition. In my opinion, there is a mistake that a) the province of Germania Inferior would have been a military command: military border commands were not exactly the same as the provinces. Sometimes they were larger, later they were smaller. In both instances, they did not stop at a provincial border. Regions commanded by a Comes were even less inclined to cover one province. Also, b) they seem to think that the omission of such a command makes it necessary to invent a mystery that has to be solved. In fact, the ND has other such 'omissions' (one being a supposed British coastal command covering Wales and Cornwall), which may have been there, but did no longer exist by the time the ND was put on paper (c. 394 AD). maybe they were there at one time, or maybe not. Like I said, I think that the Mainzer Ducat was created in answer to a breaking down of the Lower Rhine command, which was never revived.
Quote:Here's a map that I made last weekend for a Dutch Limes-initiative:
It shows places... during the later 4th century.

Thanks Robert, that's an interesting map. Would you say the situation would have looked any different at the beginning of the 4th century?


Quote:In my opinion, there is a mistake that... the province of Germania Inferior would have been a military command

Quote:I think that the Mainzer Ducat was created in answer to a breaking down of the Lower Rhine command, which was never revived.

I don't quite follow what you're suggesting here! What was this 'Lower Rhine command', prior to its collapse in the 4th/5th C? How would it be different to a 'military command... of Germania Inferior'?

It seems inconceivable that the substantial number of military installations below Koln would have had no overall commander... Do you mean that there might have been one 'Dux Germaniae' overseeing the whole length of the Rhine?

I notice that Ammianus (29,4,7) mentions Florenti Germaniae ducis - Florentius the Dux Germaniae! :errr:
Quote:Thanks Robert, that's an interesting map. Would you say the situation would have looked any different at the beginning of the 4th century?
My pleasure.
It's hard to say what would be different, but i expect more fortifications in use along the Rhine, and far less triangle (hillforts, refuges, burgi) in place. We 'only' have the Notitia at hand here, and it's nigh impossible to look back 80 years or so from that document.

Quote:I don't quite follow what you're suggesting here! What was this 'Lower Rhine command', prior to its collapse in the 4th/5th C? How would it be different to a 'military command... of Germania Inferior'?
Two things:
1) although there was a civil governemnt of the province Germania Inferior, the conclusion that THEREFORE there would have been a military commander of Germania Inferior is simply incorrect. The Late Roman military border commands were never exactly the same as the civil administration of the provinces. There may have been a Dux Germania Inferior, but we can't ever be sure.
2) The Mainzer Ducate was a stopgap solution, judging from the units under command of the Dux. Scharf is certainly right about that, meaning this was created after a military disaster wiped out the former military organisation, which was not reinstated. We don't know when this happened, prior to 394 (creation of the ND) or during the early years of the 5th century (when the ND was (in places) updated.

Quote: It seems inconceivable that the substantial number of military installations below Koln would have had no overall commander... Do you mean that there might have been one 'Dux Germaniae' overseeing the whole length of the Rhine?
I notice that Ammianus (29,4,7) mentions Florenti Germaniae ducis - Florentius the Dux Germaniae! :errr:
Sure, in theory, there may have been one Dux Germaniae at one time, perhaps during the mid 350s or something. But alas, this command never made it into the Notitia. Like I said, we have a Dux germania Prima, flanked by the Dux Mogontiacensis and the Comes (tractus) Argentoratensis. For all we know, the Dux Belgica Secunda was responsible for the Lower Rhine, after the command of a theoretical Dux Germaniae was perhaps gone by the time of Julianus?