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Praetorian Guard


Praetorian Guard
Definition: During the late Republic Roman generals had a body guard or cohort called the praetorian guard. The praetorian guard became the military unit that served as the emperor's body guard. They gradually gained enough power to affect the succession of the Roman emperor. The person or persons in charge of the praetorian guard was the praetorian prefect (praefectus praetorio). Constantine disbanded the Praetorian Guard as a military unit in about A.D. 313, making it a civil office responsible for the prefectures into which the empire was divided.


  • "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Roman Law," by Adolf Berger. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Ser., Vol. 43, No. 2. (1953), pp. 333-809.
  • Roman Historical Sources and Institutions, edited by Henry A. Sanders (1904).

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Also Known As: Cohors praetoria
In his The Romans and their World: A Short Introduction, author Brian Campbell traces the role of the praetorian prefect from its position as deputy bodyguard commander to a senior administrative role that served as an equestrian perk.

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