Imperial Guards (Qing China)
The Imperial Guards (Chinese: 侍衛; pinyin: shìwèi) of the Qing dynasty were a select detachment of Manchu and Mongol bannermen responsible for guarding the Forbidden City in Beijing, the emperor, and the emperor's family. The Imperial Guards were divided into three groups: the Guard, the Vanguard, and the Imperial Bodyguard.
The Guard (Manchu: bayara; simplified Chinese: 护军; traditional Chinese: 護軍; pinyin: hùjūn) corps was assigned to protect the imperial palace. Soldiers from the Manchu and Mongol banners could join. The Guard corps was about ten times the size of the Vanguard and Imperial Bodyguard.
The Vanguard (Manchu: gabsihiyan; simplified Chinese: 前锋; traditional Chinese: 前鋒; pinyin: qiánfēng) corps was assigned to march ahead of the emperor when he left the palace. Soldiers from the Manchu and Mongol banners could join. The Vanguard consisted of about 1500 men.
The Imperial Bodyguard (Manchu: hiya; simplified Chinese: 领侍衛; traditional Chinese: 領侍衛; pinyin: lǐngshìwèi) corps was assigned to protect the emperor at all times. Only Manchu bannermen could join, and most members came from the upper three banners. Like the Vanguard, the Imperial Bodyguard consisted of about 1500 men.
- Elliott, Mark C. (2001), The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China, Stanford University Press, ISBN 9780804746847
- Rawski, Evelyn S. (1998), The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions, University of California Press, ISBN 9780520926790
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