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Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 9 months ago

Back to Week 20-21: Muslim Empires and Asian Transitions IDs

By Maggie Walston


The Janissaries at your service!

Oil painting of Janissaries

Left! Left! Left, right, left!


  • Ottoman Empire's first standing army composed of prisoners of war and Christian youths pressed into service. The Ottomans were the first state to maintain a standing army since the Roman Empire.
  • All recruits were converted to Islam, expected to remain celibate, and trained under the strictest discipline.
  • Sultan Murad I founded the Janissaries around 1365.
  • By 1600, Muslims had begun to enter the corps, largely through bribery, and in the 17th century, membership became mostly hereditary.
  • Janissaries wore uniforms, were paid in cash as regular soldiers, and marched to distinctive music like a modern marching band.
  • They lived in their barracks and served as policemen and firefighters during peacetime.
  • They used firearms very early, starting in the 15th century. Their main weapon was a musket, but they also used grenades and hand cannons. They proved to be more efficient that cavalry equipped with sword and spear.
  • The Janissaries had a corps for preparing the road, a corps for pitching tents, a corps for baking bread, a corps for distributing weapons, and they had Muslim and Jewish surgeons who would travel with them during campaigns to care for the wounded and sick.
  • Sultan Mahmud II brought an end to the Janissaries in The Auspicious Incident in 1826. By the 17th century, the Janissaries no longer acted as an elite military unit. Many Janissaries were not soldiers and only took money from the Turkish state and dictated its government. The Janissaries were hated throughout Turkey. When they noticed that the Sultan Mahmud II was forming a new army and hiring European gunners, they rebelled, but they Sipahis, or Ottoman cavalry, forced them to retrest to their barracks. In the fight, the Janissary barracks were set ablaze by artillery fire. Many Janissaries died and survivors were either exiled or executed and their possessions were confiscated by the sultan.


Back to Week 20-21: Muslim Empires and Asian Transitions IDs

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