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Roman soldier with a manica on his right hand.
Author: MatthiasKabel | Under the Creative Commons Attribution license - On the same terms 3.0.

Manica was a Roman bracer made of iron or bronze, used to protect the arm. Manica consisted of curved and overlapping segments of metal plates. This form of armour was originally worn by gladiators – most often the so-called crupellarii – and with time also legionaries.

Bracers (manicae) were used before Roman times. In the Roman Empire, new armour appeared between 21 and 70 CE and became widespread over time. We know about the use of this armour by Roman troops thanks to a small amount of evidence. It is certain that manicae was founded by legionaries during the dack wars during the reign of Trajan (101-102 and 105-106 CE). We know about their use at that time from the Tropaeum Traiani monument and the Trajan’s Column. It is not clear, however, whether the practice of carrying bracers was common.

The additional armour was probably due to the falces weapon used by the Daks, which was a two-handed weapon with great punch power. Trajan’s Column (appears to) shows the custom of wearing manicae only by legionaries. Tropaeum Traiani, in turn, considered to be a better source of information about the then battlefield, presents both legionaries and auxiliary soldiers in bracers.


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