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 comprised tribal warriors (ghazis) whose loyalty and morale was not always guaranteed.
From Murad I to 1648, the Janissaries were gathered through the devşirme system. This was the conscription of non-Turkish children, notably Balkan Christians; Jews were never subject to devşirme, nor were children from Turkic and Armenian families up until the 17th century. In early days all Christians were enrolled indiscriminately; later those from Albania, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria were preferred.
The Janissaries were kapıkulları (sing. kapıkulu), "door servants", 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, displacing the Turkish aristocracy 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, perhaps even becoming grand vizier, the Sultan's powerful chief minister and military deputy.
According to military historian Michael Antonucci, every five years, 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 forcibly taken from their parents and enrolled in Janissary training. The recruit was immediately indoctrinated into the ways 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). Perhaps the most famous Janissary were Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, son of a despot in northern Albania and Sokollu Mehmed Paşa, Serbian peasant from Bosnia who later on became a Grand Vizzier. Companions of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg gave him the nickname of Iskander Bey - "Lord Alexander" - after Alexander the Great. Not completely broken to Islam, Iskander Bey deserted the Janissaries along with 600 partisans and returned to Albania. He immediately seized the city of Kruja and destroyed its Turkish garrison. In less than a month, "Scanderbeg" (as the Europeans pronounced it) was master of Albania. Between 1443 and 1468, Scanderbeg defeated five separate Turkish armies. During the siege of Constantinople, Mehmet II sent a huge force into Albania simply to keep Scanderbeg from attempting to relieve the city. In 1468, George Castriot Scanderbeg died -- the legend is that the Janissaries gathered up his bones and wore them as amulets.
Greek Historian Dimitri Kitsikis in his book, Türk Yunan İmparatorluğu ("Turco-Greek Empire")states that many Christian families were willing to comply with devşirme because of the possibility of great social advancement it offered. Conscripts could one day become Janissary colonels; statesmen who might one day return to their motherland as governor; or even grand vizier or beylerbeyi (governor general), with a seat in the divan (imperial council). A famous grand vizier, was former Janissary, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. Born in Bosnia, he served three sultans and was de facto ruler of the Ottoman Empire for more than 14 years.
The Ukrainian and Serbian languages, which were in close contact with the Ottoman Empire for centuries, adopted the word, changing the pronunciation to yanichar. Cossacks and Serbs used it to refer to any warrior who converted from Christianity to Islam. In Bulgarian the word was pronounced 'enichar' with the same meaning, and the Janissaries were regarded as some of the most fearsome warriors of the Ottomans.
Janissaries trained under strict discipline with hard labour and in practically monastic conditions in acemi oğlan ("rookie" or "cadet") schools, where they were expected to remain celibate. They were also expected to convert to Islam. All did, as Christians were not allowed to bear arms in the Ottoman Empire until the 19th century. Unlike other Muslims, they were expressly forbidden to wear beards, only a moustache. These rules were obeyed by Janissaries, at least until the 18th century when they also began to engage in other crafts and trades, breaking another of the original rules.
For all practical purposes, Janissaries belonged to the Sultan, carrying the title kapıkulu ("door subjects") they were regarded as the protectors of the throne and the Sultan. Janissaries were taught to consider the corps as their home and family, and the Sultan as their father. Only those who proved strong enough earned the rank of true Janissary at the age of twenty-four or twenty-five. The Ocak inherited the property of dead Janissaries, thus amassing wealth (like religious orders and foundations enjoying the "dead hand").
Janissaries also learned to follow the dictates of the dervish saint Hajji Bektash Wali, disciples of whom had blessed the first troops. Bektashi served as a kind of chaplain for Janissaries. In this and in their secluded life, Janissaries resembled Christian military orders like the Johannites of Rhodes.
However, as Janissaries became aware of their own importance they began to desire a better life. By the early 17th century Janissaries had such prestige and influence that they dominated the government. They could mutiny and dictate policy and hinder efforts to modernize the army structure. They could change Sultans as they wished through palace coups. They made themselves landholders and tradesmen. They would also limit the enlistment to the sons of former Janissaries who did not have to go through the original training period in the acemi oğlan, as well as avoiding the physical selection, thereby reducing their military value.
When Janissaries could practically extort money from the Sultan and business and family life replaced martial fervour, their effectiveness as combat troops decreased. The northern borders of the Ottoman Empire slowly began to shrink southwards after the second Battle of Vienna in 1683.
In 1449 they revolted for the first time, demanding higher wages, which they obtained. The stage was set for a decadent evolution, like the Streltsy of Tsar Peter's Russia or Praetorian Guard which had proved the greatest threat to Roman emperors, rather than an effective protection. After 1451, every new Sultan felt obligated to pay each Janissary a reward and raise his pay rank. Sultan Selim II gave janissaries permission to marry in 1566, undermining the exclusivity of loyalty to the dynasty.
By 1622, the Janissaries were a "serious threat" to the stability of the Empire. Through their "greed and indiscipline", they were now a law unto themselves and, against modern European armies, ineffective on the battlefield as a fighting force. In 1622, the teenage sultan, Osman II, after a defeat during war against Poland determined to curb Janissary excesses and outraged at becoming "subject to his own slaves" tried to disband the Janissary corps blaming it for the disaster during Polish war. In the spring, hearing rumours that the Sultan was preparing to move against them, the Janissaries revolted and took the Sultan captive, imprisoning him in the notorious Seven Towers: he was murdered shortly afterwards.
In 1807 a Janissary revolt deposed Sultan Selim III, who had tried to modernize the army along Western European lines. His supporters failed to recapture power before Mustafa IV had him killed, but elevated Mahmud II to the throne in 1808. When the Janissaries threatened to oust Mahmud II, he had the captured Mustafa executed and eventually came to a compromise with the Janissaries. Ever mindful of the Janissary threat, the sultan spent the next years discreetly securing his position. The Janissaries' abuse of power, military ineffectiveness, resistance to reform and the cost of salaries to 135,000 men, many of whom were not actually serving soldiers, had all become intolerable.
By 1826, the sultan was ready to move. Historian Patrick Kinross suggests that Mahmud II incited them to revolt on purpose, describing it as the sultan's "coup against the Janissaries". The sultan informed them, through a fatwa, that he was forming a new army, organised and trained along modern European lines. As predicted, they mutinied, advancing on the sultan's palace. In the ensuing fight, the Janissary barracks were set in flames by artillery fire resulting in 4,000 Janissary fatalities. The survivors were either exiled or executed, and their possessions were confiscated by the Sultan. This event is now called the Auspicious Incident. The last of the Janissaries were then put to death by decapitation in what was later called the blood tower, in Thessaloniki.
Battle vs. British Redcoats (by Samurai234)Edit
In old century Turkey, a small group of British Redcoats are approaching a small city and are preparing to fire a Cannon. Meanwhile, in the city, a small group of Janissaries are relaxing after a hard battle. After the cannon has been loaded, The redcoat commander yells "Fire!", and with that, The Cannon's fuse is lit and the Cannon blows. The Jannissaries hear the explosion and look around for any intruders. The flying Cannonball hits one of the Jannissaries, killing him.
The redcoats enter the city and the two sides scramble. During the struggle, One of the Jannissaries manages to take out one of the Redcoats with his Matchlock musket.
He tries to reload, but is almost shot by a Redcoat with his brown bess. he retreats into an abondoned building, but the Redcoat spots him, and throws a grenade in the room, killing him.
The Redcoat tries to reload his musket, but hears a hissing noise. he turns back and sees an ottoman grenade, which blows up.
The last three redcoats walk up toward a hill, when suddenly something hits one of the redcoats and kills him.
The two redcoats turn and sees an ottoman with an abus gun. he tries to fire the gun again, but the redcoats take him out first with thier muskets.
The two redcoats walk across the field, looking for more enimies, but another Jannissary strikes one of them with his Ottoman axe.
The Redcoat commander quickly mounts a bayonet on his musket and engages the Jannissary in battle. The Jannissary tries to strike the Redcoat, but is promptly stabbed by the redcoat's bayonet.
The Last Janniassry runs toward the redcoat, Yataghan sword in hand. The Redcoat drops his musket and pulls out his Military sword. the two warriors clash sword, each trying to gain an edge. the battle eventually heads over to a cliff. The Janniassry swings, but the redcoat ducks and stabs the Jannisarry in the stomach. He kicks the Jannissary's dead body, and the ottoman solider falls to his Death.
The Redcoat raises his sword in the air and yells "For Great Britian!".
Please consider a contribution by writing an expert's opinion as to why the Red Coats won.
Battle vs. Landsknecht (by Utter noob)Edit
Five ottomans are guarding the border of the Ottoman Empire when a volley of rounds hits the building from a nearby forest and one dies and another is injured. L-5 OJ-4
The Landsknecht reload to have a volley of rounds be fired at them, and two die. L-3 OJ-4
The Landsknecht split up and the ottomans do as well with the injured one trying to walk. When he spots a Landsknecht approaching he draws his axe and tries to charge but trips due to his injured leg. The Landsknecht walks up to him and slits his throat with the zewihander. L-3 OJ-3
The other ottomans spot the other two Landsknecht and one draws a Kilij and the other draws a yatagan. Charge the Landsknecht who both draw katzbalgers and rush their opponents. The first Landsknecht stabbed an ottoman with his katzbalgers then was rushed by another ottoman before he could pull the blade off the dying man, he was decapitated. L-2 OJ-2
The two ottomans gang up on the Landsknecht who couldn’t defend himself from both ottomans at once. L-1 OJ-2
The last Landsknecht fires his arquebus at one of the ottomans and hits him in his head.L-1 OJ-1
The Landsknecht drops his gun and charges the final ottoman with his zweihander and the ottoman lifts his Kilij and slices for the Landsknecht’s throat but is parried and then dodges a slice to his chest. The ottoman slices the Landsknecht’s legs and makes a large cut but isn’t prepared for the stab to the chest he receives. The ottoman dropS to the ground the Landsknecht struggling to continue to stand stabs the ottoman again in the head then holds his blade in the sky and roars in victory. L-1 OJ-X
While the Ottomans had greater mobility, the Landsknechts had better range, experience, training, and far better armor that brought them victory.