To Protect, Serve, and Sell Out: The Mongol Imperial Guard and the Roman Praetorian Guard
Hoyle, William (University of Wyoming)
Vexillum: The Undergraduate Journal of Classical and Medieval Studies, Vol 1 (2011)
In order to successfully maintain and hold secure an empire, rulers often sought to establish a personal bodyguard charged primarily with the preservation of their lives. Such situations were particularly true in the respective cases of the Mongol and Roman Empires, whose elite guards attended their leaders day and night, through peacetime and in open battle. Whereas the Mongol Imperial Guard were created with honest intent and found to be exclusively loyal to their political patron, the khan, the Roman Praetorian Guard were often bribed to sacrifice their own values for the political agendas of the Senate and swayed by their own agendas to oust one emperor for another better suited. This essay compares and contrasts these two imperial corps, their later incarnations, their expectations, and their loyalties and disloyalties within the context of the empire and political patrons they were entrusted to protect. Many differences and similarities can be found between the two sets of soldiers who thrived in two completely different eras of history and in two completely different parts of the world.