Full Version: Maniples? How long did they exist
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I was reading a book on ancient warfare and in a caption to an illustration they mention a manipular standard. This got me thinking (dangerous). Maniples, as far as I understand were in the early republican armies. How long did they exist? Did they survive the Marian reforms? Were they present in the early empire?
Nobody knows.

There are references to cohorts well before the Marian reforms, and to maniples well after, but some of these references can refer to groups of soldiers without referring to any specific fixed organization. There are some clues suggesting that centuries were usually paired well into the principate; there is the position of the ducenarius in the tetrarchan period and after, but it's possible that the maniple had been replaced and units organized into 5 instead of 6 centuries at some point.
Yes, an interesting thought - which, whilst not a specific element of what I've been looking at do fall out of the work.

Whilst not just thinking of the simple 2-century maniple which we first see used and explained in the Early Republic period but see it as an extension of the 'hands' and 'pairing' principle - and even, the more modern phrasing, it is quite reasonable to consider manipular-tactics as 'the old one-two'. Boxing was certainly a feature of ancient times and this is simply that.

So, pairing centuries is no different to: pairing legions (both Republic and early empire); pairing cohorts (the standard vexillation/common pairing of Ausilia Palatina later); pairing troops (cuneas/standard Greek organisation); pairing consuls.

Given this apparent predilection for 'pairing' and no reason that it didn't work - there is then no reason it should ever have changed - it just may not have been particularly mentioned.
Isn't it true that some of the things like that weren't mentioned, because "everybody knew about it", and there was no need to write about it?
Vegetius and Ammianus, not to mention the strategikon, all write in a manner that gives evidence towards a mainpular-type formation lead by a ducenarius, but it was renamed into the numerus in the late 4th or early 5th century.
Evan, I'm not so sure about that. Ammaianus mentions the name, vegetius also (but for his ancient legion?). You sure about the Strategikon?

However, I think the army could organise the units in whatever form they wanted - by cohort, maniple or whatever. It just seems so that during the army reforms and changes over the late 3rd and early 4th century, the maniple fell out of use as basic tactical unit, while the cohort rose in importance.
Noumeros, in the Strategikon. Pompeius Magnus did a lot of research into the re-establishment of the maniple as it was a viable detatchment from the new smaller legions/palantine units. It was renamed Numerus and then became the noumeros in the strategikon and then the themata, but the Noumeros was slightly larger, around 300-400 men, making it more like 2 maniples/numerii.

Vegetius is both referring to the ancient and modern legion when he writes about maniples. It can be derived using the text itself that the maniple is very much in use.
Vegetius describes cohorts of 5 centuries, so if he's reliable, then these units were not organized into maniples of equal strength. Maurikios describes tagma of 3 or more centuries, and his book emphasizes strength reductions at every turn, so I think these are probably reduced vexillationes rather than expanded maniple-equivalents. Numeri probably weren't all the same strength.
I agree about them not all being the same strength, but I should also note that I do think the maniple/numerus was used in the 4th/5th century. If only I had that link to Pompeius' work. I posted about it before with the link.
I don't think that a maniple and a numerus are the same thing?
The link is here:

I hope Pompeius Magnus doesn't mind me linking to it.
there are indeed some sources that record the survival of the maniples in the post marian army. For example Caesar : " laxare manipulos iussit, quo facilius gladiis uti possent" de bello gallico II, 25 . moreover in some inscriptions appears the word " commanipulares" ( ILS , 2290 )...
The manipular structure clearly survived in the layout of the barracks in legionary fortresses, with the centuries in pairs facing each other. It also survived in the titles of the centurions - retaining echos of the three battle lines (hastati, principes and triarii - the last being called "pili" in the later Republic and the Principate) and the prior and posterior centurions within each maniple. The Romans were great traditionalists and inherently conservative with respect to the army's structure.


There are two references to maniples during the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus (276 AD to 282 AD) in the Historiae Augustae (Probus VIII 2 and X 4). Ignore at your peril.
Quote:I don't think that a maniple and a numerus are the same thing?

I'm with you on this one Robert, I've been led to believe that the 'numerous' was just the term for a group of infantry that was not raised as part of a legion or auxilia unit, probably a hastily raised scratch force if whatever troops were available at the time.

Maniples are mentioned in Ammianus if I remember rightly.
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