Children in the Janissary Corps of the Ottoman Empire

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When you think of the military, the thought of children does not usually come to mind. But the Ottoman Empire had a military unit made entirely of young Christian boys. There are two types of elite forces that serve the Sultan: cavalry (The Cavalry of the servants of the Porete) and infantry (Janissary corps). The Janissary corps is also known as the yeniceri ocak, or “new soldiers corps.” and were the slaves of the sultan. They were trained and educated to be the most formidable force in Europe and had tremendous political power. The Janissary corps is organized into ortas (units) with four sub-groups: the camaat (the frontier troops with 101 ortas), beuluks (the bodyguards of the sultan with 61 ortas), sekban (mercenary peasants with 34 ortas), and ajemi (cadets with 34 ortas). The commander of the total 196 Ortas was called an Aga who is a very important figure and is appointed by the Sultan. In the 1300s, the Ottoman Turks captured, selected, and trained Christian boys to join the Janissary corps.
The Janissary corps was created by Sultan Murad I (362-1389). It was created in the 14th century around 1365 to counter the power of Turkish nobles. The janissaries were a symbol of pride and strength that replaced the ghazis, original Arab raiders who had been the force for the Islamic conquest. Devşirme, the practice where Ottoman Turks took Christian boys and converted them to Islam, was how the Janissary corps was created. Christian boys that were taken were Albanians, Serbs, and northern Greeks from around the Balkan Peninsula. They were brought up as Muslims, then sent to an imperial institute: the Palace (Enderun), the Scribes, the Religious, or the Military. Janissaries worked as infantry corp soldiers, civilian adm...

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...ent his new army, Cedid along with other loyal janissaries to attack the barracks. They gave the rebellious janissaries a chance to surrender but they denied. The janissaries' barracks were set on fire and the rest of the Janissaries were exiled in a blood tower in Thessaloniki (known as the Auspicious Incident).
The Ottoman Turks made the Janissary corps by recruiting Christian boys in the 1300s. Although the Janissary corps is a strict system, the soldiers bonded together. Like the Romans and samurai warriors, janissaries represented a time of war where life-long commitment and dedication was essential, they access to a higher status, and was a transitional phase from a peasant army to a professional one. As strict rules became lenient, janissaries became a free man. The Janissary corps ended in 1826 because of corruption and detachment of the strict rules.

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