Word of the Day – Manica
September 13, 2012 Leave a Comment
The Latin word “manica” means a sleeve. A manica was a type of iron or bronze arm guard, with curved and overlapping metal segments or plates, fastened to leather straps, worn by Roman gladiators called crupellarii, and later by soldiers.
Construction and use
Bishop lists likely components as one shoulder plate, about 35 metal (ferrous or copper alloy) strips, 90-120 leathering rivets, 3 or 4 internal leathers, and one padded lining. The lining may have been a separate component, in order to avoid it being torn by the articulated metal plates. The metal strips were about 25 to 30 mm wide and 0.35 to 0.5 mm in thickness; they were longer at the top of the arm. Each strip had holes at its lower edge, through which flat-headed copper alloy rivets passed from the inside to hold the leather straps in place. It also had a hole punched at each end, which did not have a rivet and presumably served as an attachment point for an organic fastening. The lower few plates were in some cases riveted together, rather than articulated on leather. One depiction appears to show a manica terminating in a hand shape.
The usual arm position depicted for Roman swordsmen is with the upper arm vertical and close to the torso, the forearm extended horizontally with the thumb uppermost. The plates were probably not long enough to cover the whole circumference of the arm, but would have extended from the upper arm down to the thumb, leaving an unprotected area at the back. The plates overlapped upwards, directing any blow to the inside of the elbow which had a particularly dense coverage of multiple plates.
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