Varangian Guard

The Varangian guards’ loyalties lay with the position of Emperor, not the man that sat on the throne. This was made clear in 969 when the guards failed to avenge the death by assassination of Emperor Nikephoros II. A servant had managed to call for the guards while the Emperor was being attacked, but when they arrived he was dead. They immediately knelt before John Tzimiskes, Nikephoros’ murderer and hailed him as Emperor. “Alive they would have defended him to the last breath: dead there was no point in avenging him. They had a new master now.”

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