The Praetorian Guards were an elite branch of the Roman military dedicated to protecting important Roman figures, especially the Emperor. Originally, the Guard were the bodyguards of Roman officials during the Republican era, but in 27 BC, Emperor Augustus turned the Guard into his personal security force.
Besides this, the Guard also had other duties. They saw heavy combat duty against Germanic tribes and the Dacians during the rule of the Flavian dynasty.
The Guard also played a significant role in the politics of the Roman Empire, being responsible for the accession of Claudius, the murders of Elagabalus and Pertinax, and the lynching of Domitian’s murderers. They could make minor politicians into emperors or break emperors at the height of their power.
The Praetorian Guard would be disbanded in 312 AD under the orders of Emperor Constantine the First.
Battle vs. Samurai (by Kingjofferyjr)
Prologue 1: Far From Home....
The Praetorian rose his sword with his hand and stabbed down on his last enemy. He looked around the field, running red with the blood of both friend and foe. Besides the distant moans of dying men, it was silent. Although he had no idea what India looked like, he knew this wasn't it. These men that he had fought looked nothing like the Indians he had seen in gladitorial battles. They carried strange curved weapons and did not fight like the barbarian scum that he had experienced in past campaigns. They fought with discipline and utilised strange battle tactics that forced his men back on several occasions. He had been on this strange land for just over a day. The storm had blown the generals boat well away from the fleet. There were 100 Praetorians and 150 sailors onboard. The sailors were the first to go in the battle and one by one the Praetorians fell to the numerically superior enemy.
He was alone now. He had no way of returning back to the ship with no sailor but he had several days rations with him and plenty of metal and gold to sell. He set off towards the woods, hoping to find a friendly town to trade his wares. He scavenged weapons from his fallen comrades, said a quick prayer to the Gods and left. He moved quickly but without hurry through the forest. He was conscious that he was deep in enemy territory. Perhaps he would meet reinforcements of the enemy? Or maybe some bandits?. He kept his hasta at the ready with his scutum raised to protect against incoming missles. The forest itself was eerily silent. Every small sound seemed to be amplified, he willed himself to keep his nerve.
He heard a murmuring sound to his left. He swung around to face the potential assailant. He saw nothing. He moved slowly and with purpose, like a wolf stalking a deer. His heart was beating so hard in his chest that he was afraid someone might hear. He stopped still and surveyed his surroundings. He could see little through the dense forest. The sun shining through the trees being shaked by the wind threw shadows across the ground. Although he was scared he kept his hand steady and his shield close to his chest and neck. Perhaps he only imagined the sound? 'No' he thought. No forest creature could have made that sound. He strained his ears, listening for anything out of the ordinary. He heard it again.
This time it was louder. It was definitely made by a human. He crouched down and moved through the trees, watching his step so as not to alert unwanted attention. He brushed a tree branch aside and nearly jumped at what he saw. It was a man with his back turned. Atleast he thought it was a man, it wore such strange and heavy armour that it could have been a statue. He walked towards it until he was only metres away.
The Roman cleared his throat. The man kept his head bowed with his hands clutching a pole dug into the ground. He did not even twitch. The Roman mustered his confidence and said 'I am the guardian of the General from the great Roman Empire, stand up slowly and face me!'. Still the man did not stir. The Roman was furious. 'How dare this man disobey me' he thought. He placed the tip of his spear over the mans shoulder and roared 'You will face me now or you shall face the full wrath of the Roman Praetorian Guard!' This time the man raised his head. He gave the pole in the ground a small tug. The Romans eyes widened in shock as the man grabbed his hasta spear and spun, with a curved spear in his hand.
Prologue 2: The Calm before the Storm
The peasant farmers hidden in the thick bush did not even scare the battle hardened Samurai a little bit. It was a sloppy ambush at best, with the top of their weapons being visible above the leaves. He almost laughed when small boy not much older than 16 made a feeble attempt to attack him from behind. He threw him straight over his back as the boy jumped. He smoothly took the Naginata from his back and in a single motion sliced the boys throat as he lay on the ground, winded from his fall. Another farmer swung a scythe at his head but the warrior simply ducked and stabbed at the mans knee, cutting straight through the skin beneath the knee cap. The man fell in agony as the last man threw himself at the Samurai with his roughly hewn spear raised. The Samurai impaled him mid-jump through the stomach and brought his Naginata over his head, throwing the man behind him as the blade cut through his intestines. He walked over to the man he had stabbed in the knee. He bowed his head in respect before grabbing his jaw and head. He pulled hard, snapping his neck and killing him instantly. He began to bury the bodies out of respect. Although they were his enemies, he could not leave them for the wild animals. It would be against his code. It was hard work digging with no shovel but a shallow grave would have to do. When his work was finished he sat down under the shade of a tree, reflecting on the news he had heard that morning. A strange ship had been spotted near the coast, only 10 miles from his home. The lords sent out an army of six hundred conscript infantry along with three other Samurai to intercept them. His lord had told him that the soldiers had not returned since they had been sent out the day before. A messenger from a coastal outpost sent word of a strange army working its way inland. He had been tasked to find the strange army or what was left of it and bring back information on its whereabouts and strength. Under no circumstances was he to attack though. He had been searching for only a few hours but he knew finding it would be hopeless. In this forest it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. He stabbed his Naginata into the dirt and prayed. Prayed that he could find this strange army and avenge his almost certainly slain brethren. He heard a small rustling sound behind him but stayed still. He could smell the same substance he was so used to seeing that it was almost like water to him. Blood. He could hear the footsteps behind him getting closer. Although tense and alert, he kept his head down and continued to pray. The man behind him coughed and spoke. He did not understand his foreign tongue but he continued to pray, not for his brethren but to help him in battle. He knew just who this man was, and what he had done to his men. He could feel his blood rise but he knew he had to keep calm in hope that he could fight this alien soldier. The man spoke again and a spear was pushed out in front of his face mid-prayer. The ultimate insult.
The Samurai could not help but feel enraged. For the first time he moved. He slapped the spear out of his way and spun stabbing with his Naginata....
The Praetorian just managed to bring his shield up to block the the Naginata. The blow was hard, causing a jolt of shock to travel up his forearm. He stumbled backwards, unsure of himself now, all confidence he once had was gone. He regarded the strange warrior as he rose to his feet. The Samurai stood there and stared right at him through the slits in his decorative mask. Suddenly he brought up his Naginata and twirled it in his hands in an intimidating display. He quickly aimed it at the Roman and charged. The Roman easily swatted the naginata away with his own spear and he swung his shield like a punch but the Samurai ducked. A shoulder to his lower abdomen caused him to buckle over but he stood his ground. The Samurai brought up his naginata and slammed the base of it at the Romans helmet. The Roman could just barely stand up from the barrage of blows but he willed himself to keep fighting. The Samurai stabbed at the Roman to deliver the killing blow but he brought up his shield and blocked the strike. He countered him a stab of his own but it was not powerful enough to penetrate his armour. They circled eachother, neither confident enough to attack. The Samurai edged forward and lunged, aiming the point of his blade at the Romans eyes. The Roman ducked quickly and stabbed at the Samurai's weak armour on his foot. The Samurai raised his foot to dodge the attack and stamped down on the slim piece of wood, splintering the Roman's hasta. The Roman was forced to raise his shield as the blows rained down upon him. He was too slow to block the final blow as it just skimmed his leg, leaving a long cut. The Roman swung his shield and caught the Samurai on the mask, knocking it off and sending him flying to the ground. The Roman quickly drew his gladius and charged but the Samurai swung the base of the naginata at his legs, sending him to the ground. The both jumped to their feet. The Roman drove at the Samurai, blocking his attacks with his shield and swiping with his sword. At last he pushed the Samurai against a tree, disorientated from the hard blows of the gladius and scutum. The Roman brought his sword down upon him but it was blocked by the naginata. It sliced through the wood but it did not penetrate his armour. The Samurai got to his feet and slammed head-first into the Roman. He was sent flying onto his back. The Samurai drew his katana. As the Roman got to his feet they began to exchange low. The Samurai attacked high at the Romans exposed face and neck. His shield blocked every attack, but his arm began to ache. He blocked a heavy swing and stabbed at the Samurai's leg. The gladius just pierced the armour, cutting the Samurai's leg. He swung his shield again into the Samurai's chest, forcing him back and cut down against his head with the scutum. The Samurai fought a wave of dizziness and stood up. He attacked again but this time focused on the Romans arms. He swung and stabbed downwards to attack the inside of his shield. The Roman swung his gladius high but the Samurai slammed his sword against the attack and kicked the Roman in the stomach. The Romans arms fanned out slightly to retain some balance and so the Samurai saw his chance. He slashed at his gauntlets. The force of the swipe caused the Roman to drop his shield.
The Roman was shocked by this manouvre. He held his gladius in both hands as the Samurai attacked with his katana. He blocked the first attack but a stab to the Romans right shoulder penetrated his armour and left a deep cut. A second swipe enlarged the already deep cut on his leg and so he was sent to his knees. He dropped his sword and picked it up with his left hand to block another strike. The katana sliced threw his thumb and cracked the base of the Romans blade. The Roman screamed in agony but a sharp kick to the ribs shut him up. The Samurai regained his control and threw his katana to one side . He watched the Roman lying exhausted and injured on the ground. He could feel himself tire as the adrenaline was washed from his body. He took his tanto dagger from his belt and walked over to the mans body, too tired to question him about his missing brothers. He knelt down and raised the dagger, preparing to deliver the final blow. Suddenly the Roman sprung to ction with his own dagger, the pugio, and stabbed into the Samurai's toes. He rolled away and jumped to his feet as the Samurai roared. He charged at the Roman but he was ready. He ducked under the Samurai's swipe and stabbed into an exposed part of the armour at his hip. A small trickle of blood dripped out. He blocked a stab and slammed the hilt of the pugio into the Samurai's head. The first blow dented his helmet while a second penetrated it. The Samurai swiped at the Romans stomach but he backed off. With his protection compromised he ripped off his helmet. As the Roman advanced he swiped in desperation. The Roman caught the mans hand and arm and twisted it it into and disarmed him. He pushed the Samurai, putting him off balance and swiped at his throat. However the Samurai slammed a fist into the Romans forearm as he swung, damaging the soft tissue and causing him to drop the knife. He moved into the Roman and swung low with his elbow, the Roman doubled over as the Samurai put him in a headlock. He drove a knee into his chest before twisting his body, sending the Roman to the ground. He recovered quickly and easily ducked a punch. He wrapped his arms around the Samurais legs and pushed, sending them to the ground. The Samurai kicked the Roman off of him and jumped to his feet. He attempted to run for his katana behind him but the Roman was too quick. He grabbed him from behind and threw him backwards on his head. The Samurai dazed stood up but a front kick landed him on his back. The Roman picked up the pugio and sat over the Samurai. He brought the knife down on the Samurai but the man caught it inches from his eye. The Romans eyes widened as the knife came further and further away from his face. The Samurai twisted left and right and swung the Roman off him. They both got to their feet. The Roman punched him twice in the face, kneed him him the stomach and ran while wrapping his arms around him, using the momentum to hip throw him to the ground. The Roman made sure the Samurai was unconscious before walking back and picking up his broken spear to finish him off. He turned aroud just in time to see the katana spinning through the air and stab through his stomach. For a second he thought that he could still stand but his legs collapsed beneath him. The Samurai grabbed the sword and pulled, sending a small fountain of blood up over the Romans body. He stabbed downwards as the Roman gasped, the sword penetrating his heart. The Samurai said a prayer when he looked up to see his lord and soldiers burst out of the bushes, their mouths open in shock.
The Praetorian's experience in the Germanic wars and his time as a bodyguard was something to count for, but he simply wasn't packing the weaponry or the skill the Samurai bought to the table. The Japanese aristocrat dominated the places where a majority of this battle took place; With his sword and polearm. When the Praetorian got close enough he had an advantage, but at the end of the day the Samurai wins because he kept him in sword range, where his armor could protect him and his sword sliced through the Roman. To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.
Battle vs. Varangian Guard (by El Alamein)
The sun shimmers beneath a lively fountain that bubbles in the gardens of the Emperor's palace in Rome. The Emperor himself walks, at ease, part of his toga draped over his arm, as he strolls with two of his Praetorian guardsmen. As the men converse in the palace grounds, three figures watch, crouched, hidden in the foliage that lines the neatly-paved walkway snaking through the garden. They carry large swords and axes, bulky and intimidating in their size, but well-situated to remain camouflaged until they choose the moment to strike. With bated breath and nervous, darting eyes, the Varangian guardsmen lying in preparation for ambush tightly grip their weapons and tense up, ready to strike viciously and decisively at a moment's notice. One of the Praetorian guards walking with the Emperor makes a second glance in their direction as he spots a rustle in the bushes and a glint of what appears to be reflected sunlight poking through - as if off a metal surface - but he dismisses it once the glimmer disappears.
Relations have soured between the Eastern and Western spheres of influence of the Roman Empire, as the Byzantine Emperor has slowly manipulated the benefit of geographic separation to grant greater autonomy to the Eastern half. The Roman Emperor is strained, facing threats from barbarians approaching from the north, and finds himself highly agitated by the difficulties presented by the Byzantine upstart. He has dispatched a small group of some of his most trusted Praetorian guardsmen to assassinate the Eastern Roman Emperor in an attempt to quell Byzantine spirits, confident in his men thanks to their training and elite status. Little does he know, however, that the Byzantine Emperor has done the same with a squad of Varangian guardsmen.
The Byzantine Emperor reclines comfortably in the safety of his room, one lone Varangian guard posted outside. One other Viking guard sits, idly scraping a rock along the tip of his spear, in the Emperor's room on a plush chair in the corner, partially concealed by a swath of curtains arcing elegantly over an open window, filtering the late-afternoon sunlight that streams in with a reddish purple hue. Out in the hall, the Varangian guard stands at watch with his sword sheathed and shield strapped to his elbow. He leans lazily, almost nodding off, but snaps at attention when he hears footsteps approaching from down the corridor. Three figures in full Roman battle gear boldly approach, the lead figure proudly holding the Roman standard to signify his position. "We seek audience with the Emperor," the Roman proclaims.
"The Emperor is retired for the day," the Varangian guardsmen warily responds, lowering his free arm toward his sword's hilt. "You may make your visit another time."
"You do not understand," the Roman insists, pressing closer. "We have a message from the Western Roman Empire."
"If it is so important, perhaps you could deliver the message to me, so that I may relay it to the Emperor," the Varangian says, stepping forward to intimidate the smaller Roman.
"Very well," the Praetorian guard answers as he drops the Roman standard, whipping out his gladius lightning-fast and burying the blade into the Varangian guard's chest. The burly Viking splutters blood and crumples as the Praetorian guardsman savagely twists the blade before ripping it out. Turning, he nods at his two companions, who advance, spears extended, scutum shields up, and approach the door.
The Roman Emperor has entered a particularly shady area of the garden, which offers a refreshing cool from the heat of the day. The Varangians look on as their target approaches - but one of the Praetorians moves to stand between the assassins and their target as the men stop to talk. The Varangian captain nods at one of his subordinates, and the soldier creeps forward, pushing a frond aside as he wraps his arm around the mouth of the closest Praetorian soldier and slashes at his throat with his short sword, sending forth a fountain of blood that splatters the horrified Roman Emperor's face. Throwing the body to the ground, the Varangian advances as his fellow assassins emerge from the garden's bushes, brandishing axes and spears with murder in their eyes. The Roman Emperor scrambles behind his bodyguard as the Praetorian soldier raises his scutum and rushes forward, slamming the shield fiercely into the Varangian, stunning the Viking. The Praetorian follows up with a downward hack from his gladius that nicks off the Varangian's chainmail but opens a painful laceration on his neck. Gasping in shock and pain, the Varangian drops his bloodied sword and falls to his knees, his hands plastered desperately across his wound. The Praetorian holds his shield up, deflecting a wild blow from one of the other Varangians, before he finishes off his injured foe with a stab directly to the face, slicing through the thickest portion of his nose and into the base of his brain. The sword gets stuck, though, and as the dead Viking keels over backward he takes the gladius with him. The Praetorian takes a knee and absorbs another hit from the Varangian's dane axe as he reaches down to pick up his fallen ally's hasta spear.
Back in the Byzantine capital, the Byzantine Emperor looks up, startled, as three armed men burst into his room. "We bring a message from the West!" shouts the standard-bearer. "A message of - " He flies backward, cut off in mid sentence, with a massive spear embedded into his torso. He crashes into the wall, bringing down a portrait as he slides lifelessly to the floor, leaving a thin smear of red on the wall behind him. On the other side of the room, near the window, stands the Varangian guard, who readies another spear. He hurls it ferociously, but the Roman assassins knock the projectile aside with their shields. The Byzantine Emperor scrambles to his open window and begins to climb out as the Varangian guard unsheaths his Spathi sword and confronts his Emperor's attackers. The lead Praetorian guardsman approaches with his Hasta, making an early jab at the Varangian that is easily dodged. The Varangian slashes with his sword at the tip of the spear, attempting to break it off, but the Roman swings the spear sideways, making a superficial cut on the Viking warrior's leg. Spurred on by a battle fury, the Varangian guardsman avoids a follow-up attack and makes a violent kick on the Roman's shield, sending him stumbling back into his companion. Taking advantage of the temporary break in fighting, the Varangian spins back to his chair by the window and picks up his round shield, spinning back to face his attackers and flinging the shield at the Romans. The Praetorian guardsman ducks and the shield bounces off the scutum and clatters to the floor by the Emperor's bed, but by the time the Roman has recovered the Varangian has already leaped on top of his shield in a battle fury, unleashing a dizzying barrage of fierce blows that send the Praetorian guardsman to his knees. The Roman offers weak resistance with a feeble poke around his shield with the gladius, but the Varangian knocks aside the sword. He turns to face the other Praetorian, who has by now maneuvered to the Viking's flank, and batters aside a thrust from the spear, splintering the wooden handle and breaking the tip. The disarmed Praetorian scrambles to his feet while the one with the spear pushes the blunted tip into the Varangian's stomach, ramming him into the wall.
The Varangian attackers in the Roman Emperor's garden have been pushed back as the lone Praetorian defender of the Emperor has held his own behind his scutum shield. The shield is in a bad state, though, and has been severely dented after receiving punishing blows from the Varangian attackers' Dane axes. Still, the Viking assassins have grown fatigued by the constant fighting, and have lowered their axes and unsheathed their swords as they circle the Praetorian soldier, attempting to find a way around his shield. Looking nervously back and forth, the Praetorian sees as one of the Varangians breaks left while the other charges head-on. Making a quick decision, the Roman meets the Viking's charge with an approach of his own, ensuring that the Varangian soldier runs right into his spearpoint - a forceful encounter that tears through the Varangian's chaimail and skewers him through the midsection. He tries to slide the dead body off of the spear shaft, but it stays stuck. The Praetorian gives up and turns just in time to ram his final opponent with his scutum. The Varangian backs up and glowers at his foe, twirling his sword before making one final, bold charge. Placing a foot on the slanted surface of the battered scutum, the Viking leaps up and lands behind the Praetorian soldier.
The Praetorian with the broken spear struggles to keep his opponent pinned while his comrade drops the scutum and makes for the window to follow the Byzantine Emperor. As the Roman disappears out the open window, the Varangian gives one final effort and pushes his Praetorian attacker back, pulling the broken spear out of his hands in the process. As the Praetorian guardsman stoops to get a firm grip on his sword, the Varangian swings the broken hasta and cracks his attacker on the head, knocking his helmet off. The Praetorian guardsman falls to the ground, blood trickling from his hairline down his forehead. The Varangian guardsman raises the hasta with two hands over his head and brings the broken weapon down onto the Praetorian's back, splitting his spine in two with the force of the blow and cracking the spear shaft further. He gives the fallen Roman one final kick to the skull before scooping his spathi up and diving out the window, scrambling onto the tiled roof and spotting the last Praetorian attacker cornering the Emperor by an empty guard tower. Roaring to the skies, the Varangian bypasses the ladder and leaps the fifteen feet to the ground, rolling on the landing without breaking stride, and jumping to his feet directly into a sprint as the terrified Praetorian looks from the Emperor to the Varangian rapidly approaching. Before he can so much as turn back to kill the Byzantine Emperor, the Praetorian assassin is tackled to the ground by the Varangian guardsman, who shakes the Roman by his neck and throws him up against the wall. The would-be assassin weakly reaches for his sword on the ground, but the Varangian stomps down on his hand as it clamps down on the gladius' handle. Looking up, squinting through the dying sunlight, the Praetorian guardsman only sees the hulking silhouette of the Viking before the blade of the Spathi sword chops down through his neck and severs his head. Filled with battle fury, the Varangian guardsman picks up the head and hurls it over the wall.
Back in the Roman garden, the Praetorian guardsman throws his scutum down and turns to run from the Varangian assassin, the Roman Emperor a few feet ahead. Catching up, the Praetorian guardsman grabs his Emperor and turns, forcefully keeping his hostage in place, and nods nervously at the Varangian.
"You want the Emperor? Here - here. Take him. T-take him!"
The Varangian plunges his sword into the Emperor's midsection - straight through and into the Praetorian traitor behind him. The two Romans gasp, trembling in pain and fear moments before they both collapse, the Roman Emperor sliding one way and the Praetorian the other. The Varangian soldier pulls his sword out of his victim's bodies and wipes the flat of the blade on the Emperor's white tunic, staining it red. Looking around, he watches as the sun dips below the horizon and the day reaches its end. And from within the shadowy garden, among the bloodied and broken corpses, emerges a battle cry of victory that shakes the very trees themselves.
The Byzantine Emperor shakily composes himself and gives a grateful nod to his bodyguard. The last rays of sunlight dance teasingly, painting fleeting stripes of orange and pink that vanish into a periwinkle dusk. As he stands to return to his room, the Varangian guard places a firm hand on his shoulder.
"You're safe now, sir."
The Praetorian Guard may have had slightly better weapons, with the greater surface area of the scutum shield and the longer shaft of the hasta, but it was ultimately the greater physicality of the Varangian Guards (thanks to their Viking ancestry) and their harder-hitting weapons that were better suited to small-scale combat, that sealed their victory.To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.
Battles here were deemed to be unfair or otherwise not in accordance with wiki standards, and have been removed from the statuses of the warriors and displayed below.
Battle vs. Persian Immortal (by Deathblade 100)
Six Praetorian Guards stand around inside their campsite. One drawing back a Scorpion's string; the others holding a practice drill. A trundling sound fills the air as six Persian Immortals and their chariot arrive. The two forces face each other for a few seconds before the commander of the Persians, who is standing on the back of the chariot, yells out. Three of the Persians notch arrows to their bows and fire. The Romans see this and quickly form the Testudo formation. However, one Praetorian catches an arrow in his neck, hitting the carotid artery. The Praetorian at the Scorpion loads a bolt and aims it at the chariot just as the vehicle drives past a Praetorian, slashing his leg. The Scorpion fires hitting the charioteer and causing the vehicle to flip, killing the charioteer instantly.
The Praetorians draw their Gladius swords and advance. A Persian draws his Sagaris axe and hacks at a Praetorian's neck. A Praetorian tosses a Pilum at the Persians, killing one. A Praetorian throws another Pilum at a Persian and misses, before a Persian swing the counterweight of his spear into the Roman's head and plunges the tip into his heart. A thrust from a Gladius cut the Persian spearman's joy short.
The chariot wounded Praetorian rises up from the dead Persian, before a thrust from an Acinaces took him in the neck. A Persian runs back towards a dead comrade and grabs his Sagaris. A Praetorian unslings his Dolabra pick and hacks with the pick at the Persian axeman's chest, going through the ribs and into the heart. A Praetorian runs a Persian through with his Gladius.
The two Praetorians walk around looking for the last Persian Immortal. As a Praetorian looks around the chariot, the Persian Immortal leader emerges and drives his Acinaces through the Roman's Segmentata armour. The last Praetorian and Persian engage in a duel with their swords, before the Persian leader trips the Praetorian. As the Persian prepares to strike the final blow, the Praetorian unsheathes his Pugio dagger and plunges it into the Persian's chest.
The Praetorian gets back to his feet and yells "For Rome!" in victory.
Winner: Praetorian Guard
The Praetorians got this due to their superior metallurgy. While the Persians best weapon was their bow, the Romans just had the better technology.