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Janissaries

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Janissaries

From Wikipedia

The Janissaries were infantry Musketeer units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguards. The force was created by the Sultan Murad I from Christian boys levied through the devÅŸirme system from conquered countries in the 14th century and was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in the Auspicious Incident.

The origins of the Janissaries are shrouded in myth though traditional accounts credit Orhan I – an early Ottoman bey, who reigned from 1326 to 1359 – as the founder. Modern historians, such as Patrick Kinross, put the date slightly later, around 1365, under Orhan's son, Murad I, the first sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The Janissaries became the first Ottoman standing army, replacing forces that mostly contained tribal warriors (ghazis) whose loyalty and morale were not always guaranteed. From Murad I to 1648, the Janissaries were gathered through the devşirme system. This was the recruiting of non-Turkish children, notably Balkan Christians; Jews were never subject to devşirme, nor were children from Turkic families. In early days, all Christians were enrolled indiscriminately; later, those from Albania, Greece, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria were preferred.

The Janissaries were kapıkulları (sing. kapıkulu), "door servants" or "slaves of the Porte", neither free men nor ordinary slaves (Turkish: köle). They were subject to strict discipline, but they were paid salaries and pensions on retirement, and were free to marry; those conscripted through devşirme formed a distinctive social class which quickly became the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire, rivaling the Turkish aristocracy in one of the four royal institutions: the Palace, the Scribes, the Religious and the Military. The brightest of the Janissaries were sent to the Palace institution (Enderun), where the possibility of a glittering career beckoned.

According to military historian Michael Antonucci, every five years the Turkish administrators would scour their regions for the strongest sons of the sultan's Christian subjects. These boys, usually between the ages of 10 and 12, were then taken from their parents and given to the Turkish families in the provinces to learn Turkish language and customs, and the rules of Islam; these boys were then enrolled in Janissary training. The recruit was immediately indoctrinated into the religion of Islam. He was supervised 24 hours a day and subjected to severe discipline: he was prohibited from growing a beard, taking up a skill other than war, or marrying. The Janissaries were extremely well disciplined (a rarity in the Middle Ages).

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