Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bodyguard II.

This is coolbert:

Bodyguard - - continued.

Varangians. The Northmen!

Far from home - - devoted again nearly to a fault, the Varangian Guard. Those Nordics, Vikings and those persons, mercenaries from what we now call the Scandinavian nations, augmented after 1066 by a contingent of "Englishmen" the personal bodyguard and military force with sworn allegiance to the Byzantine Emperor.

Functioning much as did the Praetorian Guard of ancient Rome. Guarding the capital city and the personage of the sovereign ruler from both outward and inward attack! Attack from: 1. The mob run amok within the city of Constantinople [Miklagarðr (Swedish = Miklagård) (Constantinople)], a riotous, unruly and violent group of street thugs with intent of overthrowing the ruling establishment, 2. Mutinous and insurrectionist military units advancing on the capital city, attempting what we now call a coup d'etat!

"The duties and purpose of the Varangian Guard were . . . as the personal bodyguard of the emperor, swearing an oath of loyalty to him . . . They were headed by a separate officer, the akolouthos, who was usually a native Byzantine."

"The Varangian Guard was only used in battle during critical moments, or where the battle was most fierce."

"The Varangian Guard, also known as the Waring Guard or the Barbarian Guard, emerged in the 11th century in Constantinople as the bodyguard to the emperor. The first mention of this guard appears in 1034, and they were re-organized in the mid eleventh century by Romanus IV."

"Mostly this bodyguard consisted of Danes and Englishmen, many of the latter joined after the defeat at Hastings in 1066, preferring the service to the emperor to life under Norman rule back home in England.
The Varangians were ferocious fighters, with full beards and using two handed battle-axe as their preferred weapon . . . They lived under their own laws, prayed at their own church and elected their own officers."

"the Varangians became famed for their loyalty to the emperor, even their willingness to fight to the death to protect him"

The Varangians, foreigners in a foreign land, an elite military used only during the most crucial and difficult moments of a battle, accompanying the Emperor when in the field on campaign, totally reliant and trusted.

The Varangian having a role most reminiscent of the housecarl from olden times:

"In medieval Scandinavia, housecarls . . . were either non-servile menservants, or household troops in personal service of someone, equivalent to a bodyguard to Scandinavian lords and kings."

And loyal - - displaying a "willingness to fight to the death". As it was with the housecarls accompanying Harold Godwinson at Hastings it was also so with the Varangians serving the Byzantine Emperor.



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