Yeni Dünya Dergisi 10, 32. " Basilike Papoulia wrote that "...the devishirme was the 'forcible removal', in the form of a tribute, of children of the Christian subjects from their ethnic, religious and cultural environment and their transportation into the Turkish-Islamic environment with the aim of employing them in the service of the Palace, the army, and the state, whereby they were on the one hand to serve the Sultan as slaves and freedmen and on the other to form the ruling class of the State. So without further ado, let us take a gander at the origins, military, and culture of the Ottoman Janissaries – often heralded as the precursor to Eurasia’s first modern standing army. Though not much is known about the armor adopted by the early Ottoman Janissaries of the 14th century, it can be assumed that given their primary role as heavy infantry archers, many of them wore mail hauberks beneath their colorful Dolama coats, while also flaunting their bulbous-shaped Turkish turban helmets. They were taught Turkish language and customs, and were trained under strict, near-monastic conditions. Suffice it say, such high skill levels were rather reinforced by strict discipline, which even entailed the youths to be supervised by specially appointed eunuchs who didn’t allow female company within the training grounds. Acemi Oglani. The Janissaries (Ottoman ينيچرى(yeniçeri), meaning “new soldier”) were members of an elite corps in the army of the Ottoman Empire from the late 14th century till 1826. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. According to David Nicolle, a British historian, the number of the Janissaries in the fourteenth century was 1 000, and up to 6 000 in 1475, while the same source estimates 40 000 Sipahis, the provincial cavalry. RealmofHistory(C)2019. Even the Muslim scholars of the contemporary period didn’t look kindly upon the forcible recruitment of youths, which was perceived as a violation of the rights of the Christian subjects. ), Θεσσαλονίκη 1992, σ. The bevy of instructions, deep guidance, and incessant practicing courses provided by the military officers and professors were quite effective – if we go by the contemporary records documented by their European foes like the French and the Austrians. Miller, B. started to espouse a unique form of syncretism where some elements of traditional Islam were mixed with both pagan Turkish shamanism and Christianity followed by many peasants. Thus the trademark weapon associated with the Ottoman Janissaries at their military peak pertained to the heavier version of the arquebus with longer matchlocks and larger bore (when compared to European firearms). But as history is witness to how time is the ultimate enemy when it comes to the upheaval and corruption of power and influence, the downfall of the Janissaries was borne by their own excesses.  Vladimir Minorsky states, "The most striking manifestation of this fact is the unprecedented system of devshirme, i.e. However, in practical circumstances, the collective decisions regarding the corps were made by the members of the, (Council) that also comprised the commanders of other related units like the, (or banner) pertained to the white silk flag with its specific inscription dedicating their victories to Prophet Mohammed. But arguably the most striking feature of an Ottoman camp was the eerie level of quietness demonstrated by the troops – as documented by many European observers. In many ways, the Ottoman military mirrored the legacy of their Eastern Roman (Byzantine) foes, with the provincial army (Eyalet Askerleri) and the Sultan’s army (Kapikulu Askerleri). Therefore, adult men whose ideological or religious malleability was not easy on a large scale. Certainly janissaries died in battle, as was the case with all military forces, whether cannon fodder or elite guards. The janissaries were, at least while composed of devshirme conscripts, an elite force. The latter, while clinging on to their past glories, had mostly let go of their integral warrior ethos – and thus were averse to prescribed changes (pertaining to their training, equipment, and tactics). Every three to seven years, Ottoman troops traveled to Christian villages and levied this human tax, often referred to as a blood tax by Christians.  James L. Gelvin explains that Ottoman jurists were able to get around this injunction with an extraordinarily creative legal manoeuvre, arguing that although Islamic tradition forbade the enslavement of Christians, Balkan Christians were different because they had converted to Christianity after the advent of Islam. 71-77). The main element of this scope pertained to the Kazan, a huge copper pot of each orta where the daily communal meal of pilav (made of bulgur wheat and butter) was cooked. vane-Janissary Corps Quiz. I, pp. However, beyond contentious (and often biased) perspectives, there is no doubt that the famed Janissary corps of the Ottoman, Like the traditionally unfair historical treatment of the, And while this initial system was replaced by the state-sanctioned levy of Christian subjects by the Ottoman ruling class, as historian, often enjoyed more social benefits and even better opportunities than an ordinary subject (as opposed to oppression), at least till the 17th century. Though not much is known about the armor adopted by the early Ottoman Janissaries of the 14th century, it can be assumed that given their primary role as heavy infantry archers, many of them wore mail hauberks beneath their colorful, coats, while also flaunting their bulbous-shaped Turkish turban helmets. [c], Some scholars point out that the early Ottoman empire did not care about the details of sharia and thus did not see any problems with devshirme. Uluslararasi Sosyal Arastirmalar Dergisi - The Journal of International Social Research 1, 343–366. Guess what they Chose? The cloth usually covered by a lightweight (and possibly waterproof) felt robe or coat called the capinat (or kapinice) and knee-high boots. XI, pp. During this time, they were not only accustomed to labor but also had to practice their ‘new found’ Muslim faith. Interestingly enough, the very same philosophy was also applied 1,400 years ago by the Romans when it came to conscripting their legionaries. The speech includes references to the violent Islamization of children and their hard training in the use of dogs and falcons. Now it should be noted that with the evolving nature of the Devshirme system, not all the youth recruits were trained as Ottoman Janissaries. However, judging by the seemingly flagrant structure and agency of this system, suffice it to say. , Contemporary Ottoman chroniclers had mixed opinions on the practice.
The devşirme system sustained the famed janissary corps, elite Ottoman infantry soldiers who were taken from Christian subjects as boys. The devshirme were collected once every four or five years from rural provinces in Eastern Europe, Southeastern Europe and Anatolia.
An early Greek source mentioning devshirme (paidomazoma) is a speech by Archbishop Isidore of Thessalonica, made on 28 February 1395, titled: "On the abduction of children according to sultan's order and on the Future Judgment".
Moreover, their warrior culture was ingrained in the pursuit of bravery and battlefield glory, with many of the Janissaries competing for badges and medals (and sometimes financial prizes), including the plumed Çelenk that was only awarded for showing courage in face of an overwhelming number of foes. "Paedomazoma" is the Greek term for Devsirme. Among them, the brightest were further appraised and selected as the loyal staff members of the Sultan’s palace, an initial position from where they were destined for higher offices. Janissaries adopted firearms in the fifteenth century and by the sixteenth, the main weapon they used became the musket. [b] The cavalry was commonly known as the Kapikulu Sipahi (The Cavalry of the Servants of the Porte) and the infantry as the Yeni Çeri (transliterated in English as Janissary), meaning "the New Corps". Firearms proved more effective then the cavalry equipped with swords and spears. Bet you wish you studied harder in school eh? This status enabled some of the 'slaves' to become both powerful and wealthy. Selim III (r. 1789-1807) tried to create a Western-style army, the Nizam-ı Cedid (“New Order”), with which to replace the janissaries, but he was deposed by the janissaries first. An increasingly powerful and expensive institution, the Janissaries constituted the first modern standing army in Europe and were highly respected for their prowess. The most talented (the ichoglani) were trained for the highest positions in the empire. On June 15, 1826, the “Auspicious Incident” took place, and Mahmud forced the disbandment of the janissary corps, ending their nearly 500 year history. This was not the case with the Janissaries. Given the extreme inaccuracy and difficulty of use of early firearms such as the musket and arquebus, only a permanent, trained army could effectively use them. And such was the power of this rank that his orders couldn’t even be questioned by the Grand Vizier, thus being directly answerable only to the Sultan.
And while their basic education mirrored that of the iç oğlan, the emphasis was more on obedience and military tactics. The famed Janissary Bayrak (or banner) pertained to the white silk flag with its specific inscription dedicating their victories to Prophet Mohammed. However, in spite of the relatively high status of Janissaries, their initial pay didn’t really reflect their elite position in the Ottoman army. dervish order) were sometimes identified with that of Orthodox Christian saints.
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