The Varangians were the elite forces of the Byzantine army- much like the Praetorian Guard of ancient Rome or the Ottoman Janissaries. They were originally made up exclusively of Vikings (which the empire had been hiring as mercenaries since the 800s), but after the Norman Conquest of England a bunch of exiled Anglo-Saxons were added to the mix. By the 1100s there were so many English that it was commonly being referred to as the ‘Anglo-Varangian’ Guard. As the empire declined, the Varangians also fell on hard times. By the middle of the 1300s they had largely ceased to function and the last mention of them is in the first decade of the 1400s.