Hlorasan Imperial Guard
This article is adapted from the entry for the Imperial Hlorasan Guard in The Encyclopedia of the Hlorasan Army, Ëmbuhlÿbod, 2nd edition (694).
The Hlorasan Imperial Guard was a prestigious mixed infantry-cavalry unit, which varied in size from hundreds to thousands over time. It was formed from select experienced soldiers, who were given further training as both infantry and cavalry. While the Imperial Guard was not commonly engaged in battle, and was not undefeated during its centuries-long history, it was nonetheless considered an intimidating sight on the battlefield or stationed around the emperor’s residence.
Unlike other Hlorasan soldiers, individuals in the Imperial Guard generally didn’t have to worry about equipment such as cooking utensils, unless living away from the imperial residence when not on the move with the emperor. Among the other comforts Imperial Guards had was a higher wage, with part of which they were expected to keep their equipment in optimal condition. Most iconic of this was the armour. With reputation and the threat of divine retribution being the main protectors of the Hlorasan emperors, the Imperial Guards continued to use bronze scale armour even when other types of armour began to be preferred. They wore knee-length scale coat on duty, with slits in the back and front for mobility and horse-riding, either extending over the shoulders or with separate shoulder pieces. Bronze helmets were ubiquitous, with a red-purple crest, which served to mark out the Imperial Guard before their scale armour became distinctive. Some also wore armour on the lower legs and arms, also of bronze; the former was particularly common when on horseback. If employed on the battlefield, horses would usually be protected by similar bronze scale armour covering the chest, shoulders, and haunches, a piece for the head, and often another scale piece for the neck. While their armour was bronze, except for some individuals in the earliest years, the Imperial Guards used iron weapons. This included a sword, a dagger or knife, a heavy spear, and occasionally a bow, arrows, and quiver (usually painted leather and hung at the belt). Under all this weaponry and armour, they wore a long coat (shorter than usual, just below knee-length) over a tunic and loose trousers tucked into calf- to knee-high leather boots. The fabric varied with the climate and weather; mostly it was wool or linen, with some silk, hemp, and cotton. Typically the coat was left a natural colour, generally off-white, as was the tunic, though some chose dyed tunics to offset the loss of colour from the plain coat. The coat worn under armour were decorated less than usual, limited to the border of sleeves and the lower hem. Everyday, more vibrant and ornate coats increased in use under armour in the -300s and -200s.
In theory, all Imperials Guards were trained to be proficient in the sword, spear, bow, and horsemanship. In practice, the unit doesn’t seem to have made much use of archery (though soldiers were inducted into the unit for marksmanship), and there was more of a focus on heavy than light cavalry. Between their sole regular purpose being guard duty and their exemption from all mundane military duties outside of maintaining their arms, equipment, and horses, the Imperial Guards had plenty of time to train to maintain their versatility and specialties (though at some periods there were complaints of falling standards).
To be appointed to the Imperial Guard, candidates had to be Hlorasan citizens with a minimum five years served as a soldier. Depending on the level of conflict at the time there might also be unofficial requirements for combat experience. The citizenship requirement had no duration requirement—some otherwise eligible non-citizen soldiers were granted citizenship in order to join. There were a mix of attributes sought in Imperial Guards. Past acts of military valour were a primary one, while height or general looks fitting the image of the unit was less important but still considered. Unsurprisingly, loyalty to the emperor was also an important factor, though those with a great personal loyalty to the emperor would more likely become one of the emperor’s bodyguards. Candidates were selected by the emperor or by the senior officers of the Imperial Guard, though other high-ranking figures in the government could forward candidates to the emperor.
The origin of the Hlorasan Imperial Guard can be traced back to Tambakhan social institutions. Tambakhan chiefs tended to have a circle of loyal warriors/bodyguards (Tambakhan *ramitaya : Hlorasan zamètya), and the tradition continued with the early Hlorasan kings. The Imperial Guard was established by name in the -710s or -700s, with the unification of the petty kingdoms of the Tambakhan Highlands into a unified Hlorasan state, though it was a century more before the Hlorasan state became truly centralized under one ruler. Although the Imperial Guard had its roots as a zamètya, it soon grew too large to serve as one in the traditional sense, since the members of a zamètya were both bodyguards and friends to their lord. by the -500s at the latest, the emperor had a zamètya distinct from the Imperial Guard. The Imperial Guard continued to fulfill its original purpose of protecting the emperor on the battlefield, which was soon expanded to guarding the imperial residence throughout its history. However, as the empire expanded in the -500s to -300s, detachments could often be found throughout the empire, either protecting various members of the imperial family, or imperial representatives such as governors and generals in restless provinces. The unit was increasingly used by the emperor in attempts to rein in governors of far-flung provinces, by sending out detachments for the governor’s “protection”—in practice to monitor their actions and serve as a reminder that Hloras was still a military power, even if its expansion had ceased. The Imperial Guard broke up along with the empire -110s and -90s. Its members entered the service of one of the new states, retired, or were killed in the numerous conflicts, though some remained in the service of the remaining imperial family.
-710s to -700s
-110s to -90s
Overall training Level
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