Saturday, June 27, 2009

Royal Guardians Profile: The Qing Imperial Guards Brigade

When the Manchurians took power in China and established the "Great Pure Dynasty" they imported their own system of military organization. Known as the Eight Banners the system was designed by the founder of the Qing, Emperor Nurhaci. Based on the tribal-clan structure of the Manchu's nomadic society it allowed large and well trained armies to be gathered very quickly and put directly into action. The Eight Banners included Manchu, Mongol and Han troops though eventually the sheer number of Han soldiers necessitated forming them into their own army. However, the Eight Banners always remained the reliable central core of the Qing Imperial Army. In time they became more professional and more modernly trained. However, from the outset, the Emperor selected the very best warriors from each of the Eight Banners to serve as his guards and personal troops in the Forbidden Purple City. This elite force became known as the Imperial Guards Brigade and they were charged with the personal security of the Emperor and ensuring that no one violated the sacred confines of the Forbidden City and live to tell about it. These forces served throughout the life of the Qing Dynasty and many if not most remained loyal to the Manchu Emperor even after the fall of the dynasty and the establishment of the republic. Many were on hand when the last Emperor was enthroned as Emperor of Manchukuo though in that political entity the Emperor had a new and more modern Imperial Guard that was kept under close watch by the Japanese.


  1. I have a question that maybe you could help with. I'm writing a story that takes place in the area of 1870-1900. Did the Qing Imperial Guards carry rifles at that time, or were they still using swords and bows? Thanks for any info you can give.

  2. They may have had access to modern weapons, but just from what I have seen their primary weapons were still the traditional variety. I would assume they had them but I've never seen any pictures or photos of Imperial guards with modern weapons until the Manchukuo-regime in WW2. The banner system was very tradition-minded and that was certainly even moreso the case when it came to service in the Forbidden City.

  3. thanks a ton! Your info is super useful. ^^


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