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Praetorian guard: 27 BC - AD 312

The praetorian guard (in Latin cohors praetoria) is the body of household troops owing direct allegiance to the Roman emperor - though in practice they murder emperors almost as often as they protect them.

They are established by Augustus in 27 BC, the first year of the empire. From the reign of Tiberius they have their own heavily protected barracks outside the walls of Rome, giving them an independent power which they frequently wield when an emperor displeases them. They are instrumental in the murder of Caligula, the selection of Claudius, the selection and then the removal of Nero, and the murder of several emperors in subsequent centuries. The guard is disbanded by Constantine when he wins power in AD 312.

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