The Janissaries of the Ottoman/Turkish Empire
The Janissaries was an elite corp. in the standing army of the Ottoman Empire from the late 14th century to 1826. Highly respected for their military prowess in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Janissaries became a powerful force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, and in government administrations. The janissaries were organized into three unequal divisions: the cemaat, bölükhalki, and segban. The Janissary corps was originally staffed by Christian youths from the Balkan provinces who were converted to Islam on being drafted into the Ottoman service. Another way the Janissaries found new soldiers was by enslaving their enemies and forcing them into service. The sultans gained a great deal by using slave soldiers because they had no ties to family or land and they were remarkably resilient in accepting the ways of Islam. All soldiers must be converted into Islam and taught the proper code of the elite before service. Religious conversion was mandatory and all soldiers were subject to strict rules, including celibacy. In the late 16th century the celibacy rule and other restrictions were relaxed, and by the early 18th century the original method of recruitment was abandoned.
Whenever the Turks invade foreign lands and capture their people an imperial scribe follows immediately behind them, and whatever boys there are, he takes them all into the janissaries and sends them across the sea. There are about two thousand of these boys. He takes boys from the Christians in every village in the land. The boys he takes in his own land are called cilik. Then they take those who are physically built for battle on ships and there they study and train to fight in battles. There the emperor provides for them and gives them a wage. From there he chooses for his own court of those who are to train him. The younger soldier must serve the older, and those who come of age and attain manhood, the sultan assigns to the fortress...
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