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A mercenary is a soldier who takes part in an armed conflict primarily for financial gain rather than because of national, ideological, or personal loyalty. Although the modern usage of the term is almost universally derogatory and mercenaries are unlawful combatants under several international laws, historically the use of mercenaries is more common than not.

One of the more obvious benefits of mercenary forces is how quickly they can be raised, especially because they often arrive already trained, armed, and often even organized into small units. Another is their presumed lack of any local sympathies or political loyalties. Thus, foreign mercenaries are often used as bodyguards for heads of state, including the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Emperors and the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, still used today. ...

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