Varangian Guard

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The Varangian Guard in the Chronicle of Johannes Skylitzes (12th century)

Warägergarde ( Greek : Τάγμα των Βαράγγων, Tágma tōn Varángōn ) is the name for the bodyguard of the Byzantine emperor, which at least initially consisted of Scandinavian Vikings , who were called Varangians by the Slavs . In this role they replaced the Herculians . The guard was feared for their unconditional obedience and loyalty to the emperor.


The Varangian Guard was established in 988 when the Kiev Grand Duke Vladimir I sent 6,000 Vikings to the Emperor Basil II , who was able to defend his throne with their help. From then on they formed the core of the imperial bodyguard. At first only Scandinavians and Rus served in the Varangian Guard, who used the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks ; from around 1066 Anglo-Saxons were also included. The most famous member of the guard was the future King of Norway , Harald Hardråde . The end of the Varangian Guard came with the conquest of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, when they were the only Byzantine military unit to offer effective resistance.

See also


  • Sigfús Blöndal: The Varangians of Byzantium. An aspect of Byzantine military history. Translated, revised and rewritten by Benedikt S. Benedikz. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 1978, ISBN 0-521-21745-8 (standard work).
  • Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Nordmannen on the Bosporus. The “Varangian Guard” in the service of the Byzantine emperors. In: Carbuncle Combat. No. 3, 2007, ISSN  0944-2677 , pp. 30-32 (overview with source citations in translation and other literature).

Web links

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