History of the bodyguard


Websites, books and articles used in this module. 

Rupert Matthews, Alexander the great at the battle of Thermopylae

Knights Templars doctrines

IBA homepage

ESI homepage

Henrik Bramsborg

Henrik Bramsborg (DK) is a professional bodyguard operating out of Northern Europe. Henrik Bramsborg works as a security professional and is also an author of several books. 


Bodyguard, personal protection specialist, executive protection specialist, close protection officer or even “bullet-catcher”. There have been several titles to the job, but the primary objective has always been the same; to safeguard the boss.

Alexander the Great had them back in year 336 BC; actually he is believed to have had some 200 bodyguards (‘Companions’ or ‘Hetairoi’), specially selected soldiers – As it was solely a military job up until around year 1000, where knights began to travel with merchants, for money, through the holy land as protection.

The Praetorian Guard protected the roman emperor and was sworn to do so with their lives and later the Varangian Guard protected the Byzantine Emperor as eagerly as their roman predecessors. The famous ‘Yeomen of the guard’ in Great Britain assigned to protect their King, were only directly involved in personal protection of the sovereign for a short period of time. These archers were disbanded as protective force and the ‘Yeoman of the guard’ became an exclusive residential security team, protecting the castles of the sovereign instead.

In Asia, the most notorious were the ‘Jin Yi Wei’ Guards/soldiers, who protected the Chinese Emperor Ming and later evolved into a full scale clandestine service. It is claimed, with some right, that the Japanese Samurai were trained bodyguards to their Emperor or Shogun. However, they were mostly cavalry in the ordinary military sense and very few were assigned directly to personal protection.

In our time, the most well known organization protecting an “emperor” is the US Secret service that has been protecting the United States President the last 120 years or so. It is safe to say, that most states have some sort of protective detail assigned to their leader. Whether it is a specially trained military force or a special unit of some other state agency is irrelevant in historic sense. What matters is, that it’s an old trade largely governed by the state, for the state, up until the late 1950ies (when the first superstars like Elvis Presley appeared with designated bodyguards in public).

The history of bodyguards in the private sector is somewhat dimmer. There have been too many histories that simply didn’t hold water. Almost every organization has been a little bit too creative in their descriptive materials and consequently been caught lying/exaggerating about their history or the origins of their founders.

We know that IBA has been around since the late 1980’ies or early 1990’ies. They claim to have been founded in 1957, but we have no evidence of it. However; It STILL makes IBA the oldest private organization in the world, training bodyguards. Today organizations like International Association of Close Protection Officers (IACPO) and International Association of Personal Protection Agents (IAPPA) are slowly expanding their member base, due to a low key appearance which enhances their credibility.

The oldest private School is Executive Security International, in Colorado, USA, founded in early 1981.

Regardless of your motivation to become a bodyguard, it is an honorable job dating back millennia. People, ordinary and extraordinary alike, trusts and respects a person who is willing to face danger in their place – Please don’t let them down.

Elvis Presley had the Memphis Mafia to protect him. The Memphis Mafia was a group of security guards and friends from Memphis that protected him. Elvis was one of the first public figures to be seen with private security.  

The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by Henry VII in 1485.

Originally a 500-man organization set up in 1382 by Emperor Hongwu (Zhu Yuanzhang) to be his personal bodyguards, it was soon entrusted and empowered to watch over his officials. By 1385 they numbered 14,000 and were the emperor's eyes and ears.

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