The Guard of the Khan’s. The job of the Kheshig.

Rising to the top of the Mongol Empire or even just getting the tribes to work together and then stay there has always been a tough job. Therefore the Khan’s needed a suitable tough bodyguard to make sure that when they rose to power they had a strong bunch of guys to help keep them there. The Kheshig, or Blessed in English, had that job. They worked in two shifts the Day and the Night guards and their role saw them excused duty at the frontline. Theirs was the role of loyal guard ready to counter any threats on the Great Khan’s life. They still have descendants in modern Mongolia today known as the Khishigten Clan.

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The Mongols were, and still are, a nomadic people who never went in for hard walled things like Castles and Houses. Whilst this hard lifestyle served them well when they came to dominate China in the East all the way to Poland in the West and Persia to the South it did mean that living conditions were a bit sparse. It is harder to protect your leader when they live in a canvas tent that is very susceptible to sharp swords in the middle of the night rather than one in a nice stone walled castle. In fact a quick ride by and flurry of arrows from the famous short compound bow could easily do the trick. Temujin, as Genghiz was originally known, saw his father poisoned and he was acutely aware for the risk he was putting himself in as he tried to bring together all of the tribes of Mongolia under one devastating banner. Therefore he chose a select band of oath bound followers that would provide him with close protection. It is something that people still need today and a close protection London based company will spend their time protecting both individuals and their interests.

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The day guards numbered seventy and the night time had a compliment of eighty. There was a greater risk at night as we have already mentioned about the lack of solid walls and the absence of Mongolian street lighting. At the start of Genghiz’s campaign if you killed the Khan you killed the whole enterprise. The Kheshig were in charge of all aspects of military life. Generals had to heed them and, although not without risks, it was one of the best paid jobs in the Mongol army, highly prized and a source of great family honour.

It was also an equal opportunities employer. As the Empire expanded Genghiz was quite happy to take men who swore allegiance no matter where they were from. It was quite a common sight to see Mongols alongside people from Korea, China, Persia and even European countries such as Italy and Russia. As long as they bent the knee to the Khan, and they were handy with a weapon, they were in.