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Varangian Guard: 10 Things You Should Know
Exotic, ferocious and heavily armored – this, in a nutshell, defined the eminent presence of the Varangian Guard (Greek: Τάγμα των Βαράγγων, Tágma tōn Varángōn) in the ostentatious court of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire). Probably one of the most famous military units in the realm of history, the Varangian Guard at its height was responsible for the protection of the ‘Roman’ emperor thus alluding to an incredible setup where the powerful ruler was personally dependent on a body of foreign fighters. However beyond their ‘guarding’ duties, the Varangians occasionally took the field – and in this fashion, they carved out a fierce reputation for themselves in both European and Asian theaters of war. So without further ado, let us take a gander at ten incredible facts you should know about the Varangian Guard.
1) The Varangian Question –
The Eastern Roman Empire was still the richest political entity of Europe in the middle ages, and as such its capital of Constantinople tended to attract invaders (in search of plunder) and mercenaries (in search of pay) alike. And as such, the warriors and adventurers of Rus were also enthralled by its riches. Now Rus in itself pertained to a loose federation of Slavic trading towns and villages spread across Russia and Ukraine, and these settlements were ruled by an originally Swedish elite (Vikings from Scandinavia), who had later mixed with the local populace. In any case, bands of these roving fighters gradually started to gravitate towards Constantinople (the Rus called it Miklagard – ‘The Great City’ or ‘City of Michael’), some for raiding purposes and others for trading. And by the late 9th century AD, the Eastern Roman sources referred to them as the Varangians.
Interestingly, the very term Varangian (Old Norse: Væringjar Greek: Βάραγγοι, or Varangoi) is open for etymological debate. Though most scholars tend to agree that it is derived from Old Norse væringi, which is a compound of vár ‘pledge or vow of fidelity’ and gengi ‘companion or fellowship’. Simply put, the term Varangian can be roughly translated to ‘sworn companion’ – which proved to be an apt categorization, as later history was witness to their glorious feats.
2) Forged By The Civil War Of The ‘Greeks’ –Basil II flanked by his royal guards. Illustration by Giuseppe Rava
As with innumerable episodes of history, it was internal turmoil that brought about a significant change in the affairs of an empire. This time around, it was brought on by a civil war in the Eastern Roman Empire that pitted Emperor Basil II Porphyrogenitus against the rebel Vardhas Phokas – who audaciously marched on to Constantinople with his army by 987 AD. Desperate for reinforcements, the emperor called for aid from Vladimir the Great, the Grand Prince of Kievan Rus. Vladimir saw his opportunity in this deal and promptly send away around 6,000 men to the Roman emperor’s aid. According to old sources (like the Russian Primary Chronicle, compiled in 1113 AD), these men were supposedly unruly and unpaid – and hence the Prince was rather happy to ‘ship’ them away to the ‘Greeks’ of the distant realm.
However, on entering the service of Basil II, the group proved its mettle in various encounters, thus ultimately allowing the emperor to crush the rebel army and its commanders. On the political side of affairs, there was another significant development – Vladimir the Great converted to Orthodox Christianity (the state religion of the Eastern Roman Empire) and even married Princess Anna of Byzantine.
This paved the way for further ‘supply’ of warriors from Rus. So by the end of the 10th century (and the beginning of the 11th century), Basil II wholeheartedly made use of his ‘Varangians’, and successfully campaigned far and wide, ranging from the Levant to Georgia. These success ratios tempered the ‘foreign’ Rus warriors into a disciplined body of troops who formed the core of the imperial guard. And so the famed Varangian Guard was forged – symbolizing the might of the Eastern Roman emperor himself.
3) Contrasting Statuses Of Both Mercenaries And Royal Guards –Illustration by Giuseppe Rava
Employing mercenaries was a trademark of Eastern Roman military stratagem even in the earlier centuries. But the recruitment of the Varangians (by Basil II) was certainly different in scope, simply because of the loyalty factor. In essence, as historian Dr. Raffaele D’Amato mentioned (in his book The Varangian Guard: 988-1453), the Varangians were specifically employed to be directly loyal to their paymaster – the Emperor. In that regard, unlike most other mercenaries, they were dedicated, incredibly well trained, furnished with the best of armors, and most importantly devoted to their lord.
This sense of loyalty was manifested many times in the course of history, with one particular incident involving the great Alexios Komnenos. After revolting, Komnenos appeared before the gates of Constantinople with his superior army, while the capital itself was defended only by some imperial soldiers, including the Varangian Guard and a few other mercenaries. But in spite of their precarious situation, the Varangians stayed faithful to Emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiates till the last moment, before the ruler himself abdicated in favor of a bloodless coup. Suffice it to say, the guard was retained after Komnenos came to power.
On the other hand, it begs the question – then why was the Varangian Guard still branded as a mere mercenary group? Well, the answer relates to the practicality of court politics. Unlike other imperial guard regiments, the Varangian Guard was (mostly) not subject to political and courtly intrigues nor were they influenced by the provincial elites and the common citizens. Furthermore, given their direct command under the Emperor, the ‘mercenary’ Varangians actively took part in various encounters around the empire – thus making them an effective crack military unit, as opposed to just serving ceremonial offices of the royal guards.
4) The Anglo-Saxon Connection –
As we mentioned before, the Varangian Guard was initially formed mostly of warriors and adventurers from Rus who tended to have Swedish lineage. However, by the late 11th century, these ‘Scandinavians’ were gradually replaced by the Anglo-Saxons from Britain. There was a socio-political side to this ambit since most of England was overrun by the Normans under William the Conqueror (post-1066 AD).
As a result, the native Anglo-Saxon military elites of these lands had to look for opportunities elsewhere – thus kick-starting mini waves of migration from Britain to Black Sea coasts, and then ultimately to Eastern Roman Empire. Interestingly enough, many Byzantine commanders welcomed these refugees from the British Isles, with some even concocting propaganda measures that proclaimed the arrival of the ‘English’ Anglo-Saxons as being equal to the fealty of the Romano-British soldiers of ancient times (when Britain was a Roman province).
In fact, there are contemporary sources that talk about how English was actually spoken in the streets of Constantinople, thus alluding to the presence of many Anglo-Saxons mercenaries. And almost like poetic justice, just fifteen years after the Battle of Hastings (where the Anglo-Saxons were decisively defeated by the Normans in 1066 AD), a group of ‘English’ veterans got the chance for payback.
This time around they formed the core body of the Varangian Guard (under Alexios Komnenos) while being pitted against the Normans from southern Italy (under Robert Guiscard). Unfortunately for the Anglo-Saxons, they were too eager to challenge their enemy – and so by breaking their formation, the Varangians charged into the right-wing of the Normans. Their initial impact was devastating to Guiscard’s army. But once the tide was stemmed, the Anglo-Saxons were surrounded and woefully outnumbered. Afflicted by weariness and heavy armor, the group was mostly destroyed in a piecemeal manner by Norman counter-charging.
5) Ethnicity And The Numbers Game –Illustration by Giuseppe Rava
We have already talked about how the early members of the Varangian Guard mostly hailed from Rus, while by the late 11th century they were gradually superseded by the Anglo-Saxons. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the guard was exclusively composed of these two groups. In fact, from the initial times, the Swedish Varangians were often accompanied by their Norwegian brethren who arrived directly from Scandinavia (as opposed to Russia). Similarly, by the 11th century, the Danes also arrived on Byzantine shores, along with the Anglo-Saxons. Moreover, according to contemporary sources (like that of Leo of Ostia) – as referenced by Dr. D’Amato, there are mentions of the ‘Gualani’ people serving in the Varangian Guard. Historians are not sure about their origins, with hypotheses identifying ‘Gualani’ as Welsh peoples and in some cases as the Vlachs (of Eastern Europe).
Beyond the melting pot of different nationalities, there is always the question of the actual numbers that were present in the Varangian Guard. During Basil II’s time, the figure was kept at more or less at 6,000 men. But the numbers, in accordance with sources, kept fluctuating after 11th century – though most of them dealt with the Varangians participating in battles, and these warriors were possibly only a part of the entire Varangian Guard in its full capacity. In any case, the figures range from 4,500 men to a paltry 540 men. By late 13th century AD, the numbers were (probably) officially dropped to 3,000 men. By then the Varangian Guard formed one-half of the Taxis (the core army of the Empire of Nicaea), while the other half was formed by the Vardariotai, who were Magyar (Hungarian) in origin.
6) Mixed Tactics And The Pelekys Ax –
With so much talk about the Varangian Guard taking the fields – as mentioned in so many literary sources, there is surprisingly little knowledge about how they actually functioned in the battles in regard to tactics. Now given their penchant for wielding axes and wearing heavy armor, it can be credibly surmised that the Varangian Guard operated as an infantry formation in defensive positions by the emperor’s side.
However, there were instances when the Varangians were arrayed at the front of the army while being backed by the Vardariotai, who operated as experienced horse archers during Alexios Komnenos’ time. In essence, this contrasting composition provided the nigh-perfect tactical scope of shock and missile units. But there were also scenarios when the Varangian Guard was deployed at the back to protect the precious baggage train, while they supported other heavy infantry formations of the Eastern Roman army. Simply put, such changing positions on the field possibly mirrored the adaptable ‘mixed’ tactics preferred by the Varangians – thus confirming their elite military status. In that regard, it was almost customary to allow the Varangians to take the first plunders from a conquered settlement.
In any case, the popular imagery of a Varangian guardsman generally reverts to a tall, heavily armored man bearing a huge ax rested on his shoulder. This imposing ax in question entailed the so-called Pelekys, a deadly two-handed weapon with a long shaft that was akin to the famed Danish ax. To that end, the Varangians were often referred to as the pelekyphoroi in medieval Greek. Now interestingly, while the earlier Pelekys tended to have crescent-shaped heads, the shape varied in later designs, thus alluding to the more ‘personalized’ styles preferred by the guard members. As for its size, the sturdy battle-ax often reached to an impressive length of 140 cm (55-inch) – with a heavy head of 18 cm (7-inch) length and blade-width of 17 cm (6.7-inch).
7) Countering Piracy And Policing Streets –
With their Viking heritage and Rus tradition of distant seafaring, it was expected of the Varangians to have maritime skills. So beyond battlefield maneuvers and palace duties, some of the younger (or less experienced) members of the Varangian Guard were chosen to actually hunt down pirates. These guardsmen were deployed in specially-made light marine crafts called the ousiai, and they worked in unison with the other Nordic and Russian mercenaries.
But other than glorious feats in battles and adventurous sea-raids, the Varangian Guard was also involved in slightly more mundane duties, like policing the streets of Constantinople. They rather carved up a brutal reputation for themselves – who were known to enforce strict laws and arrest the political opponents of the emperor. And as an extension of their perceived ferocity and penchant for violence, few Varangians were also employed as jailers because of their ‘specialization’ in torturing techniques. Interestingly, Georgius Pachymeres, a 13th-century Greek historian, and philosopher, talked about one such chief (epistates) of the prison guards, whose moniker was Erres ek Englinon or ‘Harry from England’.
8) The Emperor’s Wineskins –Illustration by Angus McBride
Now while we mentioned before how the Varangians were employed as rigorous law enforcers in the capital, they themselves were not too reluctant to break certain laws of decorum. As Dr. D’Amato mentioned, One of the reasons for their boisterous nature was possibly due to their notable love for Greek wine. Often derogatorily called the “Emperor’s wineskins”, their absurd levels of drunkenness often landed the guards into trouble – with two particular incidents even involving drunken guardsmen assaulting their own emperor. And beyond the obsession for alcohol (that sometimes turned into abuse), the Varangians were also known for their fascination for visiting brothels, along with the fancy for other ‘Greek’ stuff, like Hippodrome races and spectacles.
9) High Fee For Entry Into The Guard –Illustration by Giuseppe Rava
Now given their status as the elite members of the imperial guard, the Varangians were obviously paid very highly. However, in an odd arrangement, only affluent members were inducted into the guard. The threshold was maintained by a relatively high fee (in gold) that the would-be inductee had to pay the Roman authorities in order to be considered for the role of a Varangian guardsman.
And after passing this monetary ‘test’, the applicant was further examined and evaluated, so as to maintain the quality and discipline of the Varangian Guard. In any case, it should be noted that in most situations, the Varangians on being accepted, acquired far more riches (from compensations, bonuses, and spoils) than their initial fee of entry. So from a realistic perspective, there was no dearth of applicants – with even the rejected ones making names for themselves in the other (albeit less renowned) mercenary companies of the Eastern Roman empire.
10) Harald Hardrada Of The Varangian Guard
In our previous entry, we talked about how the applicant needed to provide a lump-sum amount of gold to be considered for the Varangian Guard. This seemingly unique measure allowed many rich adventurers, princes and even warlords from northern Europe to take their (and their retinue’s) chance to be inducted in this elite mercenary group. One such adventurer was the great Harald Hardrada.
In his teenage years, he had to escape from his native Norway after ending up in a losing battle. The young man made his way to Kievan Rus, and made a name of himself on various military encounters, by fighting for the Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise. But after rising to the rank of a military captain, young Harald took a gamble and made his way to Constantinople, along with 500 of his personal followers. Fortunately for the group, most of them were selected for the Varangian Guard, and thus started Harald’s incredible journey to redemption.
The ‘Viking’ once again proved his worth and fought in various successful assignments in Sicily against both the Muslims and the Normans. According to his skald Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, many conflicts took the still young Harald to Anatolia and Iraq, where he had successfully fought off Arab pirates. After reportedly capturing around eighty Arab strongholds, the Scandinavian even made his way to Jerusalem, to probably oversee a peace agreement made between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Fatimid Caliphate in 1036 AD. However, it was in 1041 AD when the Viking arguably played his most crucial role as a Varangian – by ruthlessly putting down a Bulgarian uprising led by Peter Delyan – which supposedly gained Harald the nickname of “Devastator of the Bulgarians” (Bolgara brennir).
In the latter years, he acquired much wealth and prestige throughout the Roman realm. But in spite of his status as an elite guardsman (possibly holding the rank of Manglabites), he planned to leave Constantinople for Rus, probably because of an ill-favored political climate in the capital. In Rus he married a Russian princess, elevated his status to a Prince, and then triumphantly made a return to his homeland Norway.
In the years between 1046 – 1065 AD, Harald was finally able to gain the kingship of Norway through various political and military machinations (maneuvers that were undoubtedly learned during his time in the Eastern Roman court). And ultimately in 1066 AD, the King of Norway – Harald Hardrada, launched the last ‘Viking’ invasion of England thereby crippling the local Anglo-Saxon resistance, and thus paving the way for the Norman conquest of Britain. And oddly enough, pushing forth the historical cycle, many of the dispossessed Anglo-Saxons of England, in turn, went on to become members of the Varangian Guard in the latter years.
Now while this unique episode serves as a rather extreme example, it does provide some insights into the lives of the Varangian Guardsmen – where the wondrous scope of adventures and actions overshadowed any semblance of normalcy expected from a well-paid, ‘governmental’ military career.
Honorable Mention – The Varangian Bra
The trademark of the Varangian Guard pertained to carrying an imposing ax and wearing of heavy armor (though in rare cases, they were also lightly armed). Relating to the latter, the armor often entailed ringmail shirts that were sometimes reinforced with lamellar (klivanion) or scale armor. The unwieldy hauberk (mail shirt) weighed around a significant 30 lbs, and so the guardsmen adopted a type of chest harness known as the Varangian Bra. Usually made of leather, the harness consisted of a breast strap with two shoulder straps going over each shoulder, which connected the front and rear end of the strap. Possibly inspired by their ‘eternal’ foes – the Sassanid Persians, the Eastern Romans adopted this peculiar armor (along with buckled belts) as a solution for holding the bulky mail shirt together, which in turn allowed for better mobility on the battlefield.
Book References: The Varangian Guard: 988-1453 (By Raffaele D’Amato) / The Varangians of Byzantium (By Sigfús Blöndal and Benedict Benedikz)
What was the Varangian Guard? A brief history of the Viking warriors of the Byzantine empire
Bodyguards to the Byzantine emperors, the Varangian Guard was a military corps in which Norsemen and later Anglo-Saxons made unlikely comrades. But how did the regiment begin, and why was it considered so formidable? Noah Tetzner investigates…
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Published: October 20, 2020 at 4:24 pm
During the Viking Age there existed, within the army of the Byzantine empire, an elite company of mercenaries mostly from Scandinavia. This group was known as the Varangian Guard, a regiment of warriors renowned for their ruthless loyalty and military prowess. Lured by wealth and glory, these were Vikings who had travelled the long road to Constantinople (or Miklagarðr, in Old Norse).
These men sought only to serve, and for this they were handsomely rewarded. Adorned in Byzantine silk, expensive and brilliantly coloured, Old Norse sagas emphasise the lavish appearance of Varangian homecomings. Members of the guard were the highest-paid mercenaries in Byzantine service, and received frequent gifts from the emperor himself.
Illustrious figures such as Harald Sigurðarson (later Harald Hardrada) and the far-travelled Icelander Bolli Bollason followed a long tradition of Scandinavian service in Byzantium. Indeed, Harald’s eventual (and successful) bid for the Norwegian crown was financed by the riches he acquired as a Varangian.
From c989–1070, scores of Scandinavians joined the regiment, and by the end of the 11th century the guard had caught the interest of Anglo-Saxons, who fought alongside their unlikely Viking comrades.
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How did the Vikings reach Constantinople?
Although some Swedes followed Danish and Norwegian voyages to England and beyond, countless others set their sails eastward in search of Arabic silver. The allure of the dirham, a silver coin minted in the Abbasid Caliphate and other Muslim states, enticed the Scandinavians to try to discover its source. By the late eighth century, these coins had been appearing in trading places along Lake Ladoga (in today’s northwestern Russia) and the Baltic, where they came into the hands of Swedish merchants.
Expeditions were organised, and the ‘Volga Vikings’ began exploring the rivers of eastern Europe. The Swedes may have been driven by trade, but their legacy in the east was no more peaceful than the Danish and Norwegian expansion west. Through slave-raiding and tribute-gathering, these Vikings extorted trade goods. They founded settlements or captured existing ones on widely travelled trade routes. Along the way, these Swedes who settled in Eastern Europe, acquired a new name: the ‘Rus’.
The origins of this word, from which Russia gets its name, are ambiguous. Among scholars, it is widely accepted that ‘Rus’ is derived from the word Ruotsi, the Finnish name for the Swedes. Ruotsi, in turn, probably derives from the Old Norse word róðr, meaning ‘a crew of oarsmen’.
Vladimir, overlord of Holmgard (Novgorod), would become the eventual ruler of the Kievan Rus. In c978-80, the Rus prince placed his bid for pre-eminence in a power-struggle against his brothers. Holmgard’s northerly position placed Vladimir closest to Sweden, where he mustered 6,000 recruits, and with this newly formed army he returned east, killed his brothers, and conquered the realm.
Some nine years later, these 6,000 warriors would become the founding members of the Varangian Guard.
The formation of the Varangian Guard
In distant Constantinople, c989, the Byzantine emperor badly needed help. Basil II was up against no less than three challengers and appealed to the Rus ruler for military aid. In exchange for marriage to the emperor’s sister, Vladimir obliged, pledging his army of Swedes. These men turned the tide of Basil’s war, and it was Basil who named them the Varangian Guard.
Why Varangian? Like many Viking Age terms, the etymology of the word is debatable. A widely accepted notion is that it derives from the Old Norse word vár (plural várar) meaning ‘confidence (in)’, ‘faith (in)’ or ‘vow of fidelity’ – therefore, a company of men who had sworn oaths of allegiance and loyalty.
Basil II gained a national treasure in these valorous men of the north. No sword was drawn against him within the empire, nor could any foreigner withstand his might. Revelling in his new-found protection, the emperor founded an imperial bodyguard, thoroughly disciplined and ruthlessly loyal. The Varangian regiment came to replace his disloyal Greek lifeguards.
Keepers of Constantinople
As imperial bodyguards, the Varangians kept close to the emperor, forming the ‘Varangians of the City’, who guarded Constantinople. They stood sentry at the bronze doors of the Great Palace and protected the emperor’s other properties. The guardsmen also performed police duties and were able to carry out delicate tasks (arresting people of high status, for example) because of their imperial loyalty and external origin. For the same reasons, Varangians also acted as jailers, frequently operating at the dreaded prison of Nóumera that was attached to the Great Palace. These guardsmen never left the capital unless the emperor himself required it.
Varangians accompanied their monarch wherever he went, serving him while he attended church and standing near his throne during receptions. The presence of Varangians in Byzantine churches is illuminated by the graffiti they left in Hagia Sophia during the 11th century. On the marble balustrade in the southern gallery of the cathedral, one suspected Varangian used his axe to carve a mostly illegible inscription including the name ‘Halfdan’. Another inscription in the south gallery denotes a man called ‘Are’, a common name in medieval Iceland.
The Varangian Guard at war
When a Byzantine emperor rode out to battle, a detachment of Varangians accompanied him. Contingents were often deployed as shock troops with field armies, as fort garrisons, and on naval duties. In distinction from the Varangians who guarded Constantinople, these units were known as ‘Varangians outside the city’. On the battlefield, they fought as elite infantry, usually in a defensive function. The Varangians were often kept to the rear of the main battle line, held in reserve until the conflict reached a critical point.
The fact that they used Scandinavian equipment along with Byzantine issue is evident in 10th- to 12th-century Norse swords, axe and spearheads found in Bulgaria and Romania. The two-handed broadaxe was a favoured weapon of the Varangians. Along with the contemporary Rus, these weapons gave rise to the epithets by which they were commonly known: the ‘axe-bearers’ or ‘axe-bearing barbarians’.
Byzantine sources provide various examples of Varangians being sent to battlefields across the empire. Some 300-500 guardsmen were commanded by Emperor Alexios Komnenos in northwestern Macedonia, against the Norman attack of 1081. During the Byzantine-Venetian War of 1171, imperial ships carrying ‘men who bear on their shoulders single-edged axes’ followed Venetian ships escaping Constantinople.
Besides these land battles, Varangians were employed for suppressing piracy and other naval matters, because of their seafaring backgrounds. The Heimskringla (the chronicle of the Kings of Norway), written in the 13th century, relays that the Varangian guardsman Harald Sigurðarson, later Harald Hardrada of Norway, was to pay the emperor 100 marks for every pirate vessel he captured.
Famous Varangian Guards
Harald Hardrada is without question the best-known Viking to have joined the ranks of the Varangian Guard. Following the dethronement and death of his half-brother Olaf II of Norway during the battle of Stiklestad in 1030, Harald fled to Kiev, where he held some kind of military post. From Kiev, he went on to the Byzantine empire and joined the Varangian Guard.
Harald served as an officer from 1034 to 1043, campaigning far and wide. From Sicily and Bulgaria to Anatolia and the Holy Land, Harald’s time as a Varangian has been considered the climax of his military career. While the Heimskringla probably exaggerates the favours shown to Harald, it is clear that he made enough money as a Varangian to finance his successful bid for the Norwegian throne.
Fortunate members of the guard were not limited to Norwegian royalty. Ordinary Varangians such as the Icelander Bolli Bollason (who died c1067) returned to their northern homelands bearing the splendours of Byzantium. The Laxdæla Saga, an Icelandic saga written during the 13th century, recounts that Bolli returned to Iceland carrying a gilded sword and wearing the gold-embroidered silk given to him by the emperor. According to the saga, Bolli’s 11 companions were all wearing scarlet and rode in gilded saddles. Wherever the men took shelter, the saga recounts, womenfolk gazed at Bolli and his companions, for they had been Varangians, still covered in the glory of the Byzantine empire.
What happened to the Varangian Guard?
While Scandinavians dominated the ranks during the initial stage of the regiment from c989–1070, the Varangians were destined to become as diverse as the empire that employed them. Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, Anglo-Saxons flocked to the Byzantine empire, eager to join the Varangian Guard.
In 1071, the Byzantine army suffered a disastrous defeat against the Seljuq Turks at the battle of Manzikert. Emperor Romanos IV was captured, and many Varangians were killed while defending the emperor after most of the army had fled. The depleted ranks of the guard were filled, in part, by Anglo-Saxons, though Scandinavians continued to join the regiment.
The Fourth Crusade saw Constantinople besieged in July–August of 1203. During the battle, some 6,000 Varangians manned the city walls, achieving several victories against the invaders. On 17 July, when crusaders destroyed a portion of the seawall with their battering ram, it was a contingent of axe-wielding Varangians who did well to repulse them.
In March–April of 1204, crusaders and Venetians attacked Constantinople once more. The Varangians fought bravely, but after a gate was forced open on 11 April, crusaders rushed in and the Byzantine defenders panicked. On 12 April, the emperor fled, and the Byzantines laid down their arms. Lacking a legitimate ruler to defend, the Varangians followed suit, submitting to the invading army.
The crusaders subjected Constantinople to a brutal three-day sacking, after which the city became part of a crusader state, the Latin empire. The remaining Byzantine leaders created their own successor states, such as the empire of Nicaea, which would recapture Constantinople in 1261 and reinstate the Byzantine empire. There are indications that a company of Varangians served the ‘exiled Byzantine empire’ in Nicaea. The Latin ruler of Constantinople managed to have a personal regiment of Varangians as well.
The primary references to Varangians in the 14th century are linked to ceremonial court and guard duties. Early in the 15th century, English Varangians were denoted in a letter from Byzantine emperor John VII to King Henry IV of England, but aside from this letter and a few obscure references, the Varangian Guard was virtually extinct (and barely Scandinavian). In 1453, the Byzantine Empire would perish at the hands of the Ottoman Sultanate, sealing the fate of this famous mercenary corps.
Noah Tetzner is the host of The History of Vikings podcast, which features scholarly discussions about the history of medieval Scandinavia. His book Viking Warrior vs Frankish Warrior: Francia 799-950 is due to be published by Osprey in 2021
This content was first published by HistoryExtra in 2020
Basil II, the Bulgar Slayer, Brings the Varangians to the Forefront
It was Emperor Basil II, also known as Basil Bulgaroktonos (Bulgar slayer), who truly brought the Varangians to the forefront of Byzantine culture in the 10th century. Born of Macedonian stock , Basil II reigned from 976 to 1025, and is in large part remembered for stabilizing the eastern empire against foreign threats.
The stabilization, however, was in large part due to Varangian aid, given to him by Vladimir I of the Kievan Rus', and cemented because of Vladimir's marriage to Basil's own sister, Anna. With this wedding, the Varangian forces became an interchangeable unit between Rus' and the Byzantine Empire, and they were uniquely tied for as long as the Empire remained.
This is how the Varangians became Christianized . Part of Basil's agreement to allow Vladimir to wed his sister was that Vladimir had to accept Anna's religion. Thus, Vladimir was baptized and Rus' was Christianized not long after.
Initially, the Varangian Guard was utilized as extra fighting power in skirmishes between Byzantium and some of her eastern foes. However, as history shows, with usurpers such as Basil II's own namesake Basil I, the native protectors of the city and of the Emperor could easily be swayed to shift loyalties.
A miniature depicting the defeat of the Georgian king George I ("Georgios of Abasgia") by the Byzantine emperor Basil. ( Public Domain )
Thus Emperor Basil II came to actually trust the Varangians more than his own people, and they were therefore given a more critical role in his armed forces. Princess Anna even notes in her work The Alexiad , the Varangians were uniquely known for their loyalty to the ruling emperor. This is in reference to her father's own seizing of the Byzantine throne.
Eventually, the Varangian Guard became the personal protectors of the emperor himself: an elite, close knit force that remained near the emperor's side at all times. Accompanying him to festivals and parties, religious activities and private affairs, the Varangian Guard remained at all times close to the emperor and his family.
They were the guardians of his bedchambers in the evenings, remaining barracked within the palace to ensure they were always nearby, and went so far as to provide crowd control at illustrious gatherings to ensure the emperor was always protected and always had a way to escape.
The Varangian Guard were a fierce army that protected their Byzantine leader. ( The Deadliest Blogger )
Before we continue this doesn’t explain how the Vikings conquered the territories. We have a whole article on this topic.
The threefold division of England according to the principle of applicable law in Wessex, Mercia and Danelaw arose during the reign of Cnut the Great (1016-1035), and if the Wessex and Mercian law differed from each other only in minor subtleties, then Danelaw was a very special territory of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Danelaw’s legal system was based on Scandinavian law. Attempts to unify the legal systems of both parts of the state, although made by some Anglo-Saxon monarchs, were inconsistent and did not lead to a significant convergence of legal systems.
Differences in the legal practice of the areas of Danish law from the rest of the country were quite numerous. Thus, in Danelaw, the penalty for killing a person was determined by his social status, and not the social status of his senior, as in other regions of the country. The punishment for crimes related to royal jurisdiction in Danelaw was significantly higher, and the sphere of offenses that constituted the exclusive competence of the royal courts was much broader. Scandinavian origin had many legal terms in Danelaw, as well as some judicial procedures.
The Danelaw administrative division was also different from the rest of England. The basic administrative-territorial unit was wapentake, not a hundred, as in other parts of the country, and the counties on the territory of Danish law emerged as areas occupied by individual Viking armies in the 10th century.
For the northern regions of Danelaw, its own system of the Werelds was characteristic, which had no analogues in Anglo-Saxon England and was distinguished by special detailing and enormous fines for the murder of aristocrats. A distinctive feature of the “Area of Five Burgs” was the extensive organization of the judicial system: from the Court of Five Burgas, through the courts of counties and wapentake to the court meetings of the villagers. It was in this region that a prototype of the jury arose, consisting of the twelve most reputable people who brought the defendant to court and participated in the approval of the sentence. The jury, which later became one of the most important features of English law, was of Scandinavian origin and was not known elsewhere in the country in the Anglo-Saxon period.
However, it cannot be said that the Danelaw legal system was directly borrowed from Scandinavia. So nothing is known about the application in the Danelaw of the right to Odal (inalienable family land ownership), which was one of the main distinguishing features of early medieval Scandinavian law. The Scandinavian Tings – people’s meetings also played a role. The Cnut legislation relating to Danelaw was already exclusively Anglo-Saxon.
The legal peculiarities of Danelaw reflected the uniqueness of the society that developed in the eastern regions of England, differing in ethnic composition and social structure from other territories of the kingdom.
King Harald Hardrada of Norway 1016 – 1066
Born – c.1015
Died – 25th September 1066
Father – Sigurd Syr (d. c.1018)
Mother – Asta Gudbrandsdatter (c. 980 – 1030)
Spouses – m. 1045 – Ellisif of Kiev (1025 – 1067), m. 1048 – Tora Torbergsdatter (b. 1025)
Children – By Ellisif – Ingegerd (1046 – 1120), Maria (d. 1066), by Tora – Magnus II King of Norway (1048 – 1069), Olaf III King of Norway (1050 – 1093)
King of Norway – 1046 – 1066
Predecessor – Magnus the Good – 1035 – 1046
Successor – Magnus II (Haraldsson) – 1066 – 1069
First published 2015 updated and re-published Sept 08 2020 @ 10:25 a.m. – Updated – Sep 25, 2020 @ 1:31 am
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2015 – 2020). King Harald Hardrada of Norway. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/harald-hardrada-1016-1066 Last accessed June 16th, 2021
A review of Ancient Black Ops, Episode 6: The Varangian Guard
Greetings r/history denizens! This review focuses upon Ancient Black Ops, Episode 6: The Varangian Guard:
I would also like to provide a shout-out to the ever elegant u/Claidheamh_Righ for suggesting this series, although I don't know if his motivation was either trust in my ability to point out the errors, or sadism. Since the Varangians came from Russia/Scandinavia, my imaginary glass shall be filled with Brännvin. So lets begin!
0.09: The first references to the Dark Ages. Drink!
0.19: The narrator states that the Varangian Guard were an elite special forces. Ignoring the redundancy of the phrase "elite special forces", this comparison is incredibly flawed. Special forces are incredibly small units intended for operations such as sabotage, assassinations and counter-insurgency/terrorism. The Varangian Guard were a professional unit made up of several thousand warriors that fought in pitched battles such as Dyrrhachium and Beroia. They were the equivalent of Marines who could actually shut up about being in the Marines. DRINK!
0.26: The narrator states the Varangians conquered unruly territories across the Byzantine Empire. I almost don't know where to begin with this. If the territories were across the Byzantine Empire, they didn't really need to be conquered. Additionally, the Varangians were always part of a larger army which practiced a combined-arms doctrine. There was never a single instance where the Varangians alone conquered a territory. They were only decisive in the Byzantine Civil War of 989 AD where they helped the Emperor Basil "The Amateur Optometrist" II defeat Bardas Phocas. DRINK!
0.37: The narrator explains that Harald Hardrada helped secure the Varangian's place in history. No, I'm pretty sure being an elite guard unit of one of the longest reigning empires that ever existed did that. DRINK!
0.40: The academic called the prototypical Viking of the era. Considering that Harold lived in the 11th century AD, and Vikings had been active more than 200 years earlier, I think their definition of "prototypical" might be a bit inaccurate. DRINK!
0.45: The narrator just said Harold Hardrada would develop tactics that would transform warfare across the Mediterranean. Excuse me a moment.
SOUNDS OF OBJECTS BEING BROKEN, MASSES OF PEOPLE SCREAMING AND POLICE SIRENS
Okay, now I feel better. Anyway, Harold transformed absolutely nothing. He, and the Vikings/Russians/Varangians in general had zero to teach the Byzantines. The Byzantines could perform false retreats and encircling and out-flanking maneuvers, integrated light missile troops and heavy infantry troops into a formation called the foulkon which could provide both ranged support and a solid battle-line to resist infantry and cavalry assaults, had marching formations that could keep an army together whilst being harassed by mounted archers and were incredibly adept at sieges. They had one of the most well developed military forces in the world at this point. This mistakes requires at least four shots. DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! Oh, to hell with it. DRINK!
0.51: The academic stated that storming a city wall was usually doomed to failure. Given the number of successful sieges the Byzantines engaged in, I am not sure "usually doomed to failure" is the right word to utilise. Antioch, Laodicea, Candia, Kastamon, Tarsus, Preslav and a host of other cities and forts fell to them. DRINK!
0.58: The narrator states Harold Hardrada's string of victories would show the Varangian Guard to be one of the most exceptional special forces of all times. Again, the Varangians were not special forces, and although Harold Hardrada became the commander of the Varangian Guard, it was just one part of a larger army. DRINK!
1.00: I honestly think this has been the most number errors I have ever observed in under one minute. Also, my liver just jumped out of my torso whilst wearing a bowler hat and carrying a pair of suitcases and proceeded to walk out the room.
1.54: The narrator just called the Emperor Basil II the most powerful man in the world. Now, as much as I love the Byzantines, I have to disagree with that. Given the population and income of Song China, one could posit that the Song Emperors or their chancellors had more power (Wang Anshi says 'hi'). Also, the Chalukya dynasty and the other Indian powers could be said to be equal in strength. DRINK!
2.36: I just love how Vladimir the Great walks in like a total pimp and looks at the princess like "How YOU doin?"
2.43: Vladimir the Great gives a smile that says "Heeeeeey, sweet honey-mama!"
2.46: The academic calls Vladimir the prototypical viking. THAT WORD DOES NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS! DRINK!
3.04: The academic says Vladimir had 800 concubines, dozens of wives and engaged in human sacrifices. He also states there was nothing redeeming about him. I politely beg to differ. ALL HAIL THE GRAND PRINCE OF SWAGGER!
3.05: Being serious for a moment, according the Russian Primary Chronicle, after marrying Anna:
"Hereupon Vladimir took the princess and Anastasius and the priests of Kherson, together with the relics of St. Clement and of Phoebus his disciple, and selected also sacred vessels and images for the service. In Kherson he thus founded a church on the mound which had been heaped up in the midst of the city with the earth removed from his embankment this church is standing at the present day. Vladimir also found and appropriated two bronze statues and four bronze horses, which now stand behind the Church of the Holy Virgin, and which the ignorant think are made of marble. As a wedding present for the princess, he gave Kherson over to the Greeks again, and then departed for Kiev."
"Thereafter Vladimir sent heralds throughout the whole city to proclaim that if any inhabitant, rich or poor, did not betake himself to the river, he would risk the prince's displeasure. When the people heard these words, they wept for joy, and exclaimed in their enthusiasm, "If this were not good, the prince and his boyars would not have accepted it." On the morrow the prince went forth to the Dnepr with the priests of the princess and those from Kherson, and a countless multitude assembled. They all went into the water: some stood up to their necks, others to their breasts, the younger near the bank, some of them holding children in their arms, while the adults waded farther out. The priests stood by and offered prayers. There was joy in heaven and upon earth to behold so many souls saved."
Now, Vladimir seemed to embrace his new religion wholeheartedly and went to great efforts to spread it amongst the Rus. This missionary activity hardly gels with the idea of a man without redeeming qualities and would certainly meet the medieval conception of a morally just and upright Ruler. Vladimir was an incredibly fascinating character.
3.22: Okay, I have to give the documentary credit here. The Varangians are using equipment which generally match the time period and would have realistically been a part of their arsenal.
3.26. Aaaaaaand now they've spoiled it. The narrator calls the Varangians the finest special forces in late antiquity. THIS WAS NOT LATE ANTIQUITY. Late antiquity covers the time period from the 3rd century to the 8th century AD. The Varangians were active from the very late 10th century AD on, or 200+ years after late antiquity. DRINK!
4.12: Vikings or members of a German heavy metal band?
4.16: The academic states the Vikings would stop at nothing to slaughter their opponents. This is completely false. True, the Vikings engaged in behavior that horrified Christian Europeans, but they were also very pragmatic and would often prefer to accept silver and other valuable goods in exchange for leaving a region. This was much less risky and more profitable than constantly engaging in battle against native forces. DRINK!
5.15: The academic says the Varangian long-axe was more like a meat cleaver. That is true except for size, balance, design, fighting style and EVERYTHING F#CKING ELSE! This is what a long-axe may have looked like:
http://www.coldsteel-uk.com/store/viking-axe-89va.jpg The blade was quite thin to make the weapon very light and agile. Hardly a "meat-cleaver". DRINK!
5.30: The academic calls the long-axe a lethal weapon. As opposed to the non-lethal weapons the Vikings were famous for using.
6.10: I must reluctantly compliment this documentary for actually discussing how important spears were rather than just focusing on swords as the ultimate tool of destruction. DRINK BECAUSE I AM TOASTING THEM IN PRAISE!
6.27: Realistic demonstration of how two people could actually fight together using a single shield for cover, unlike certain other shows. DRINK BECAUSE I AM TOASTING THEM IN PRAISE!
6.42: Accurate explanation as to the purpose of the wings on a spear. DRINK BECAUSE I AM TOASTING THEM IN PRAISE!
7.12: VARANGIANS BEING BROS!
7.40: The narrator calls Basil II the wealthiest man in the world whilst the ignoring the other major states of the time period. DRINK!
8.59: The narrator claims that in the 11th century the magnificence of Constantinople was without equal. I'm sure Kaifeng or Baghdad would be quite comparable. DRINK!
9.56: The academic says that the Byzantine Empire was legendary for its devious plotting. CULTURAL STEREOTYPING! BYZANTIPHOBIA!
12.38: The academic states acid was used by the Byzantines to blind prisoners. I cannot find any references to his being so. DRINK!
13.08: Torture or college hazing?
13.34: I never thought images of strip bars and sleazy music would ever be used in a documentary about medieval warfare before.
14.00: The academic states that Constantinople was in a lush tropical climate. Just. no. It was a Mediterranean climate, which could be very hot but also absolutely freezing in the winter. Tropical climates have an average temperature of at least 18 degrees C and are much more humid. BAD WEATHER ZONE DRINK!
15.41: Obviously blunt sword. DRINK!
15.55: The Byzantine officer is much too pale. As an inhabitant of the Mediterranean region, he would be olive-skinned or tanned. DRINK!
16.03: The narrator states the Varangians, unlike other Vikings, had to learn discipline. Whilst the Vikings may not have been disciplined in the sense of using a proper marching technique or maintaining their kit (BOOT, WHY IS THERE DUST ON YOUR SHIELD! HIT THE FLOOR AND PUSH UNTIL THE JARL GETS TIRED!), they had enough expertise to build field fortification, maintain close formations on the battlefield and were rarely caught by surprise, all which is a far cry from the image of 'wild' barbarians. DRINK!
16.05: Obviously blunt sword-point. DRINK!
16.14: Hollywood back-scabbard. DRINK!
16.18: The narrator says the Vikings were used to charging head-first into battle, which is why they were never associated with defensive tactics like the shield-wall. DRINK!
16.24: Another blunt sword-point. DRINK!
16.54: Okay, I love this combat sequence.
17.12: Hollywood dual-wield. DRINK!
17.14: The academic states the Varangians would never give ground. Except they did precisely that. At the Battle of Dyrrhachium they were drawn out from the main battle-line, isolated and routed. DRINK!
18.21: The narrator describes a tactic unique to the Vikings called the Boar-Snout. Of course, by unique they mean "used by everyone else". It was a common Roman, Greek and Germanic method of attack which involved assuming a wedge formation. DRINK!
19.02: The effect of this tactic looks less like "bloody melee" and more like "Faster guys, the Sailor Moon Booth is this way!".
Kievan Rus' [ edit | edit source ]
Guests from Overseas, Nicholas Roerich (1899).
Having settled Aldeigja (Ladoga) in the 750s, Scandinavian colonists played an important role in the early ethnogenesis of the Rus' people and in the formation of the Rus' Khaganate. The Varangians (Varyags, in Old East Slavic) are first mentioned by the Primary Chronicle as having exacted tribute from the Slavic and Finnic tribes in 859. The Vikings were rapidly expanding in Northern Europe: England began to pay Danegeld in 859, and the Curonians of Grobin faced an invasion by the Swedes at about the same date. Due largely to geographic considerations, it is often argued that most of the Varangians who traveled and settled in the eastern Baltic, Russia, and lands to the south came from the area of modern Sweden . ⎝]
In the 9th century, the Rus' operated the Volga trade route, which connected Northern Russia (Gardariki) with the Middle East (Serkland). The Volga route declined by the end of the century, and the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks rapidly overtook it in popularity. Apart from Ladoga and Novgorod, Gnezdovo and Gotland were major centres for Varangian trade. ⎞]
The Invitation of the Varangians by Viktor Vasnetsov: Rurik and his brothers Sineus and Truvor arrive in Staraya Ladoga.
According to the Primary Chronicle, in 862, the Finnic and Slavic tribes in the area of Novgorod rebelled against their Varangian rulers, driving them overseas back to Scandinavia, but they soon started to conflict with each other. The disorder prompted the tribes to invite the Varangians back "to come and rule them" and bring peace to the region. Led by Rurik and his brothers Truvor and Sineus, the invited Varangians (called Rus') settled around the town of Holmgård (Novgorod). The Primary Chronicle twice names Rus' among the other Varangian peoples, including Swedes, Normans, Angles, and Gutes ⎟] (Normans was an Old Russian term for Norwegians, while Angles may be interpreted as Danes). In some places the chronicle mentions Slavs and Rus' as different groups, while in other instances it mixes them.
Under the leadership of Rurik's relative Oleg, the Varangian Rus' expanded southwards by capturing Kiev from the Khazars, founding the medieval state of Rus'. Ζ] Attracted by the riches of Constantinople and the Arab world, Varangians initiated a number of Rus'-Byzantine Wars, some of which resulted in advantageous trade treaties. Meanwhile, descendants of Rurik expanded the Russian state and unified the local tribes. Contact with the Byzantine Empire increased, culminating in the Christianization of Kievan Rus' in 988, during the reign of Vladimir the Great.
Longships Are Built in the Land of the Slavs , Nicholas Roerich (1903).
As with the Norse influence in Normandy and the British Isles, Varangian culture did not survive in the East. Instead, the Varangian ruling classes of the two powerful city-states of Novgorod and Kiev were gradually slavicised by the end of the 11th century. ⎠] However, the successor descendants of Rurik were the ruling dynasty of medieval Kievan Rus', the successor principalities of Galicia-Volhynia (after 1199), Chernigov, Vladimir-Suzdal, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and the founders of the Tsardom of Russia. ⎡] The name of the Varangian Rus' or RUS became that of the land of modern Russia and the ethnonym of its population. ⎢] ⎣] Russia is thus one of a few surviving states founded by Norse people.
Most historians tend to agree with the Primary Chronicle that the Varangians organized the native settlements into the political entity of Kievan Rus' in the 880s and gave their name to the land. However, many Russian scholars are opposed to this theory of Germanic influence and have suggested alternative scenarios for this part of Eastern European history. Russian historiography includes a number of Anti-Normanist theories, antagonistic to the Normanist theory of a Scandinavian origin of Varangians. For example, according to Yu. Shilov, Varangians ( Vargi) were supposed to be a tribe of Baltic Slavs without roots to Norse Vikings. ⎤] While this dispute continues, the event of Rurik's arrival in 862 to Northern Russia on the request of its peoples, known as the Invitation of the Varangians (Russian: Призвание Варягов ), continues to be regarded as the traditional starting point of Russian history.
A Brief History of Private Security
Security companies like ours and security guards are something most people take for granted. They are so much a part of their daily lives that they hardly pay any attention to them. If they think about it at all, most believe that private security is a relatively new invention, with some thinking its a phenomenon created from the paranoia and fear present in society since the terrorist attacks of 911 and subsequent attacks. Many people wonder how did private security begin. This article provides a small glimpse of the vast history of private security.
While there&rsquos no doubt that private security companies have flourished since those events, the fact is that the need to hire protection has existed since the first caveman figured out he had something he valued, it was his and his alone, and he wanted it protected from his greedy neighbors. Cave drawings have been found which, according to experts, clearly depict individuals guarding valuables such as livestock and communities. This isn&rsquot surprising considering the territorial nature of human beings and the historical tendency of tribes, nations, and individuals to take what they wanted or needed by force from their neighbors.
Ancient Egypt, Greece, And Rome
The first written historical accounts come from Ancient Egypt. There, the great pharaohs and their court officials hired private security to protect themselves and their possessions. Pharaoh Ramses II, in 1,300 BC, privately hired Nubian Medjai, Syrian, Libyan, and Sardinian warriors to supplement his official military and police forces, as one specific example.
The ancient Greeks developed a sophisticated system of security forces to protect essential government officials as well as the public highways leading into the major cities, which were plagued by rogues and criminals who preyed on travelers.
The practice continued in ancient Rome, where government and wealthy individuals hired private security for protection, often professional soldiers who became mercenaries between the wars and needed the work. About 400 AD, during the Byzantine era, the emperor created the Varangian Guard, a force composed mostly of foreign soldiers, to protect himself and his family. The Romans also wrote the &lsquotwelve tablets&rsquo, considered by many to be the first book of the law, codifying regulations for law enforcement and security forces. They also formed the Praetorian Guard around this time, thought to be the first official police force.
In those times, and for many centuries afterward, in general, only the powerful elite and the wealthy could afford to hire private security.
The Middle Ages
The centuries known as the Middle Ages were violent ones, with wars frequently being waged, in the West and the East. Thus it&rsquos not surprising that private security guards were in high demand, both because there was an urgent need for protection and because there was an abundant supply of highly trained and experienced soldiers for hire. In Japan and China, regional warlords fought vicious battles for land and dominance and plunged both countries into an age of almost continual strife. The encroaching Mongol hordes, attacking across the western boundaries of China, were also a serious threat. The Great Wall of China was built as one response to these invaders. The warlords and their wealthy subjects once again were able to utilize private security forces to protect their land and possessions. In Japan, a semi-religious order of warriors known as Samurai was formed, with special weapons and fighting methods, that often served as private security forces. The famed Ninja assassins were one branch of the Samurai. In both countries, many regular soldiers from the warlord armies served as guards between conflicts and after retirement.
In Europe warfare was also almost continuous during the Middle Ages and the elite and wealthy required protection. Italy was divided into several states each ruled over by powerful families that were often in conflict with each other as well as with invaders from without, and private security forces thrived.
In 1214 AD King John of England was forced, after a war with his royal vassals, to sign the Magna Carta, a declaration of the rights of free men under the law. This paved the way for the Statute of Winchester in 1285 AD, which among other things codified security regulations for towns and villages. This included the duty of citizens to participate in fighting crime, giving them the right to perform a citizen&rsquos arrest and the obligation to take part in a sheriff&rsquos posse to pursue and apprehend criminals when necessary. It also required that towns have gates that were to be manned and closed at night, and for night watches and patrols to be formed to guard the village. We found this article with in-depth details about private security in the middle ages.
The Modern Era
By the 18th century, migration into the cities was well underway in Europe, with a resultant rise in crime. In 1737 taxes were first used to pay for a night patrol in London and other cities, and in 1748 Henry Fielding proposed creating a permanent official professional force of security guards.
America soon followed the example. In 1850 the famed Pinkerton private security firm was formed, followed shortly after that by Brinks and Wells Fargo. You can learn more about Pinkerton here. Henry Ford pioneered the use of private security to guard his factories, and the idea caught on. Mine owners in the coal mining regions hired security guards to protect the mines from attacks and unrest by striking workers. During World War II the U.S. government used private security to protect vital industries. Afterward, the Cold War created a further need for security for protection against espionage and sabotage. Want to learn more about security in the modern era? Read this article
Private security has existed for ages. Private security offices have protected Emperors from would-be assassins and castles from barbarians at their gate. Present day professional security guards like ours protect citizens and property. Rising crime and increasing security threats have caused private security companies to flourish into the present day. They have a very long history of success behind them, and they are needed now more than ever.
Byzantine military philosophy [ edit | edit source ]
It is worth noting that the Empire never developed or understood the concept of a "holy war". [ citation needed ] Its neighbours' concepts of Jihad and Crusade seemed to it gross perversions of scripture or simple excuses for looting and destruction. [ citation needed ] Emperors, generals and military theorists alike found war to be a failing of governance and political relations, to be avoided whenever possible. Only wars waged defensively or to avenge a wrong could in any sense be considered just, and in such cases the Byzantines felt that God would protect them.