Knights of the Roman Empire

The Taifal tribal warriors were incorporated into the late Roman Empire's military attachments which bestowed onto them certain titles of authority that can be explained in further detail below:

The following were Taifali military unit titles held under the Imperial command:

Equites Taifali - (Vexillationes comitatenses) a Military Unit under the Magister Equitum - Western Roman Empire
Comites Taifali - (Vexillationes palatinae) a Military Unit under the Magister Militum Praesentalis I - Eastern Byzantine Empire

 

Equites - Translation and meaning

The Roman equestrian order (aka "Mounted Order" Latin: ordo equester, often called "knights") constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians (patricii), a hereditary caste that monopolized political power during the regal era (to 509 BC) and during the early Republic (to 338 BC). A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques (plural: equites).

 

Comites - Translation and meaning

Historically more significant, Comes became a secular title given to trusted courtiers and others, as a mark of imperial confidence, developing into a formal rank, deriving from the "Companions" of Alexander the Great and rather equivalent to the Hellenistic (Philos Basilikos - Friend of the King) or the paladin title of a Holy Roman Empire knight and a papal official, and therefore the title was retained when one was appointed or promoted a post away from court, often in the field or provincial.

The comites (often translated as "counts") became leading officials of the later Roman Empire. They wielded posts of every description, from the army to the civil service, while never surrendering their direct links and access to the emperors. Constantine took the final step of certifying the posts, as comites provinciarum, "counts of the provinces", who were sent out alongside vicars in their dioceses so that they were permanent fixtures of imperial government.

Constantine established a third order of nobility, the comites ("companions of the emperor" the origin of the medieval noble rank of count). This overlapped with senators and equites, drawing members from both. Originally, the comites were a highly exclusive group, comprising the most senior administrative and military officers, such as the commanders of the comitatus, or mobile field armies.

In the late 4th and in the 5th century, therefore, the senatorial class at Rome and Byzantium became the closest equivalent to the equo publico equestrian class of the early Principate. It contained many ancient and illustrious families, some of whom claimed descent from the aristocracy of the Republic.


Vexillationes -  Translation and meaning

A vexillatio (plural vexillationes) was a detachment of a Roman legion formed as a temporary task force created by the Roman army of the Principate. It was named from the standard carried by legionary detachments, the vexillum (plural vexilla), which bore the emblem and name of the parent legion.
 
Although commonly associated with legions, it is likely that vexillationes included auxiliaries. The term is found in the singular, referring to a single detachment, but is usually used in the plural to refer to an army made up of picked detachments. Vexillationes were assembled ad hoc to meet a crisis on Rome's extensive frontiers, to fight in a civil war, or to undertake an offensive against Rome's neighbours. They varied in size and composition, but usually consisted of about 1000 infantry and/or 500 cavalry. Later, under the Dominate, vexillatio refers to a cavalry unit of the Roman army. From the time of Diocletian and the Tetrarchy, and possibly as early as the reign of Gallienus, vexillationes were the usual cavalry units found on campaign. In the 4th century the Vexillationes palatinae and Vexilationes comitatenses of the Roman field armies are thought to have been either 300 or 600 men strong. The Notitia Dignitatum lists 88 vexillationes.

Palatinae -  Translation and meaning

The palatini (Latin for "palace troops") were elite units of the Late Roman army mostly attached to the comitatus praesentales, or imperial escort armies. In the elaborate hierarchy of troop-grades, the palatini ranked below the scholares (members of the elite cavalry regiments called the scholae), but above the comitatenses (regiments of the regional comitatus) and the limitanei (border troops).
 
The term derives from palatium ("palace") a reference to the fact that the regiments originally served in the imperial escort armies only. Later they were also found in the regional comitatus (mobile field armies). There, however, they continued to enjoy higher status and pay than the rest of the comitatus regiments. At the time the Notitia Dignitatum was written (ca. 395 for the Eastern Empire), 80% of the regiments in the eastern comitatus praesentales were graded palatini and 14% of those in the regional comitatus. In the early 3rd century, the Roman military was organized into several provincial armies under the command of the provincial governors, a smaller reserve under the command of the emperor, guard units such as the Praetorian Guard, and the urban cohorts.  Field armies were temporary formations, usually composed of the reserve and/or of detachments drawn from the provincial armies.  In the later 3rd century, due to the frequent wars, field armies could remain together for several years, under the direct command of the emperor, and would require their own recruitment systems.  By the mid 4th century, the Roman military was divided into frontier armies under the command of the provincial duces and permanent field armies under the command of the emperor, the magistri peditum, magistri equitum, or comites. The frontier armies would patrol the borders and oppose small-scale raids. They may have driven off medium-scale attacks without the support of the field armies.  The frontier armies would later be known as limitanei or ripenses. The field armies would respond to larger-scale attacks, would fight against rival emperors, and would conduct any large-scale attacks into neighboring countries.  The field armies would later be known as comitatenses or palatini. The temporary field armies could be referred to as the sacer comitatus, as could the imperial court. The first known written reference to comitatenses was in 325, although there are possibilities from earlier and the first to palatini was not until 365.


Comitatenses -  Translation and meaning

Comitatenses is the Latin plural of comitatensis, originally the adjective derived from comitatus ('company, party, suite'; in this military context it came to the novel meaning of 'the field army'), itself rooting in Comes ('companion', but its specific historical meanings, military and civilian).
 
However, historically it became the accepted name for those Roman imperial troops (legions and auxiliary) which were not merely garrisoned at a limes (fortified border, on the Rhine and Danube in Europe and near Persia and the desert tribes elsewhere) — the limitanei or ripenses, i.e. 'along the shores' — but more mobile line troops; furthermore there were second line troops, named pseudocomitatenses, former limitanei attached to the comitatus; palatini, elite ("palace") units typically assigned to the magister militum; and the scholae palatinae of actual palace guards, usually under the magister officiorum, a senior court official of the Late Empire.