Janissaries: Wikis


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New Soldier
A Janissary commander confers with the Şeyhülislam of the mid-19th century Ottoman Empire (center)
Active c. 1365–1828
Allegiance Ottoman Caliph
Type Islamic
Size 54,222 members during 1680,
Headquarters Constantinople
Nickname Order of the Temple
Patron Hajji Bektash Wali
Motto [Door Slaves]
March Ceddin deden
Engagements The Battle of Mohacs,
Fall of Constantinople,
Battle of Adrianople (1365),
Battle of Kosovo,
Battle of Varna
and many others.
Last Mahmud II

The Janissaries (from Ottoman Turkish يکيچرى Yeniçeri meaning "new soldier") comprised infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguards. The force was created by the Sultan Murad I from male children levied through the devşirme system from conquered countries in the 14th century[1] and was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 with the Auspicious Incident.[2]



Janissaries battling the Knights Hospitaller during the Siege of Rhodes in 1522.

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. [3] 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.[1] The Janissaries became the first Ottoman standing army, replacing forces that mostly comprised tribal warriors (ghazis) whose loyalty and morale was not always guaranteed.[1]

From Murad I to 1648, the Janissaries were gathered through the devşirme system. This was the conscription of non-Turkish children, notably Balkan Christians, but also Armenian Christians and Albanian and Bosnian Muslims; Jews were never subject to devşirme nor, until the 17th century, were children from Turkic families.

The Janissaries were kapıkulları (sing. kapıkulu), "door servants", neither free men nor ordinary slaves (Turkish kole)[4]. 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 [5] 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. One of the most famous grand viziers, was former Janissary, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. Born in Bosnia, he served three sultans and was de facto ruler of the Ottoman Empire[6] for more than 14 years.

Greek Historian Dimitri Kitsikis in his book, Turk Yunan Imparatorlugu ("Turco-Greek Empire")[7]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).

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.

Janissary characteristics

The Janissary corps were distinctive in a number of ways: they wore uniforms; were paid regular salaries for their service; and marched to music, the mehter.

The Ottoman Empire was the first state to maintain a standing army in Europe since the Roman Empire. The Janissaries have been likened to the Roman Praetorian Guard and they had no equivalent in the Christian armies of the time, where the feudal lords raised troops during wartime.[1] A Janissary battalion was a close-knit community, effectively the soldier's family. They lived in barracks, serving as policemen and firefighters during peacetime.[8]

In a sharp departure from the contemporary practice of paying armies only during wartime, the Janissaries received regular salaries, paid quarterly. (By tradition, the Sultan himself, after authorizing the payments, visited the barracks dressed as a Janissary trooper, and received his pay alongside the other men of the First Division.)[9]

The Janissaries also enjoyed far better support on campaign than their contemporaries. They were part of a well-organized military machine, with one support corps preparing the road and others pitching tents at night and baking the bread. Their weapons and ammunition were transported and re-supplied by the cebeci corps. They campaigned with their own medical teams of Muslim and Jewish surgeons; their sick and wounded were evacuated to dedicated mobile hospitals set up behind the lines.[9]

These differences, along with a war-record that was impressive, made the Janissaries into a subject of interest and study by foreigners in their own time. Although eventually the concept of the modern army incorporated and surpassed most of the distinctions of the Janissary, and the Ottoman Empire dissolved the Janissary corps, the image of the Janissary has remained as one of the symbols of the Ottomans in the western psyche.

In return for their loyalty and their fervour in war, Janissaries gained privileges and benefits. They received a cash salary, received booty during wartime and enjoyed a high living standard and respected social status. At first they had to live in barracks and could not marry until retirement, or engage in any other trade, but by the mid-18th century they had taken up many trades and gained the right to marry and enroll their children in the corps and very few continued to live in the barracks.[8] Many of them became administrators and scholars. Retired or discharged Janissaries received pensions and their children were also looked after. This evolution away from their original military vocation was the major cause of the system's demise.

Recruitment, training and status

The first Janissary units were formed from prisoners of war and slaves, probably as a result of the sultan taking his traditional one-fifth share of his army's booty in kind rather than cash.[3] From the 1380s onwards, their ranks were filled under the devşirme system, where feudal dues were paid by service to the sultan.[3] The "recruits" were mostly Christian youths, reminiscent of Mamelukes.[1] Sultan Murad may have used futuwa groups as a model. Initially the recruiters favored Albanians who formed the largest part of the first units, usually selecting about one boy from forty houses, but the numbers could be changed to correspond with the need for soldiers. Boys aged 14-18 were preferred, though ages 8-20 could be taken.[10]

As borders of the Ottoman Empire expanded, the devşirme was extended to include Bulgarians, Armenians, Croats, Bosnians, Serbs and later Romanians, Georgians, Poles, Ukrainians, southern Russians, and Black Africans.

The Janissaries first began enrolling outside the devşirme system during the reign of Sultan Murad III (1546-1595) and abandoned devşirme recruitment completely during the 17th century. After this period, volunteers were enrolled, mostly of Muslim origin.[9]

The Janissaries’ reputation increased to the point that by 1683, Sultan Mehmet IV abolished the devşirme, as increasing numbers of originally Muslim Turkish families had already enrolled their own sons into the force hoping for a lucrative career.[citation needed] Every governor wanted to have his own Janissary troops.


A 15th century Janissary drawing by Gentile Bellini who also painted the renowned portrait of Sultan Mehmed II.

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.

Janissary corps

The corps was organized in ortas (equivalent to battalion). An orta was headed by çorbaci. All ortas together would comprise the proper Janissary corps and its organization named ocak (literally "hearth"). Suleiman I had 165 ortas but the number over time increased to 196. The Sultan was the supreme commander of the Army and the Janissaries in particular, but the corps was organized and led by their supreme ağa (commander). The corps was divided into three sub-corps:

  • the cemaat (frontier troops; also spelled jemaat), with 101 ortas
  • the beyliks or beuluks (the Sultan's own bodyguard), with 61 ortas
  • the sekban or seirnen, with 34 ortas

In addition there were also 34 ortas of the ajemi (cadets). A semi-autonomous Janissary corps permanently based in Algiers.

Originally Janissaries could be promoted only through seniority and within their own orta. They would leave the unit only to assume command of another. Only Janissaries' own commanding officers could punish them. The rank names were based on positions in a kitchen staff or troop of hunters, perhaps to emphasise that Janissaries were servants of the Sultan.

Local Janissaries, stationed in a town or city for a long time, were known as yerliyyas.

Corps strength

Year Strength
1400 >1,000[11]
1514 10,156 [12]
1523 12,000[12]
1526 7,885[12]
1564 13,502[12]
1567-68 12,798[12]
1574 13,599[12]
1603 14,000[12]
1609 37,627[12]
1660-61 54,222[12]
1665 49,556[12]
1669 51,437[12]
1670 49,868[12]
1680 54,222[12]

The full strength of the Janissary troops varied from maybe 100 to more than 200,000. According to David Nicolle, the number of Janissaries in the 14th century was 1,000, and estimated to be 6,000 in 1475, whereas the same source estimates 40,000 as the number of Timariot, the provincial soldiers.[11] After the defeat in 1699, the number was reduced, but it was increased in the 18th century to 113,400 soldiers according to Ottoman, but most were not actual soldiers and were accepted into the army through corrupt means and were only taking salary.[11]


In the first centuries, Janissaries were expert archers, but they began adopting firearms as soon as such became available during the 1440s. The siege of Vienna in 1529 confirmed the reputation of their engineers, e.g. sapping and mining. In melee combat they used axes and sabres. Originally in peacetime they could carry only clubs or cutlasses, unless they served as border troops.

By the early 16th century, the Janissaries were equipped with and were skilled with muskets.[13] In particular, they used a massive 'trench gun', firing an 80-millimetre (3.1 in) ball,[citation needed] which was "feared by their enemies".[13] Janissaries also made extensive use of early grenades and hand cannon, such as the abus gun.[9] Pistols were not initially popular but they became so after the Cretan War (1645–1669).[14]


The Ottoman empire used Janissaries in all its major campaigns, including the 1453 capture of Constantinople, the defeat of the Egyptian Mamluks and wars against Hungary and Austria. Janissary troops were always led to the battle by the Sultan himself, and always had a share of the booty.

Revolts and disbandment

Banquet (Safranpilav) for the Janissaries, given by the Sultan. If they refused the meal, they signaled their disapproval of the Sultan. In this case they accept the meal. Ottoman miniature painting, from the Surname-i Vehbi (1720) at the Topkapı Palace Museum in Istanbul.

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.[15] 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. [15] In 1622, the teenage sultan, Osman II, came to the throne, determined to curb Janissary excesses and outraged at becoming "subject to his own slaves".[15] 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.[15]

In 1807 a Janissary revolt deposed Sultan Selim III, who had tried to modernize the army along Western European lines.[16] His supporters failed to recapture power before Mustafa IV had him killed, but elevated Mahmud II to the throne in 1808.[16] When the Janissaries threatened to oust Mahmud II, he had the captured Mustafa executed and eventually came to a compromise with the Janissaries.[16] 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[17].

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".[2] The sultan informed them, though a fatwa, that he was forming a new army, organised and trained along modern European lines.[2] As predicted, they mutinied, advancing on the sultan's palace.[2] In the ensuing fight, the Janissary barracks were set in flames by artillery fire resulting in 4,000 Janissary fatalities.[2] The survivors were either exiled or executed, and their possessions were confiscated by the Sultan.[2] 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.

Janissary music

Janissaries marching into battle with the Mehter martial tunes played by the Mehterân military band. Ottoman miniature painting, from the Surname-i Vehbi (1720) at the Topkapı Palace Museum in Istanbul.

In modern times, although the Janissary corps no longer exists as a professional fighting force, the tradition of Mehter music is carried on as a cultural and tourist attraction.

The military march music of the Janissaries is characteristic because of its powerful, often shrill sound combining davul (bass drum), zurna (a loud oboe), naffir (trumpet), bells, triangle, and cymbals (zil), among others. Janissary music influenced European classical musicians like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, both of whom composed marches in the Turkish style (Mozart's Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331 (c. 1783), and Beethoven's incidental music for The Ruins of Athens, Op. 113 (1811), and the final movement of Symphony no. 9).

In 1952, the Janissary military band, Mehterân, was organized again under the auspices of the Istanbul Military Museum. They have performances during some national holidays as well as in some parades during days of historical importance. For more details, see Turkish music (style) and Mehter.

See also

Notes and sources



  1. ^ a b c d e Kinross, pp 48–52.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kinross, pp. 456–457.
  3. ^ a b c Nicolle, p. 7.
  4. ^ Shaw, Stanford; Ezel Kural Shaw (1976). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Volume I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 0521212804.
  5. ^ Zürcher, Erik (1999). Arming the State. United States of America: LB Tauris and Co Ltd. pp. 5. ISBN 186064404X.
  6. ^ Imamović, Mustafa (1996). Historija Bošnjaka. Sarajevo: BZK Preporod. ISBN 9958-815-00-1
  7. ^ Kitsikis, Dimitri (1996). Turk Yunan Imparatorlugu. Istanbul,Simurg Kitabevi
  8. ^ a b Goodwin. J, pp. 59, 179-181
  9. ^ a b c d Uzunçarşılı, pp 66-67, 376-377, 405-406, 411-463, 482-483
  10. ^ Bernard Lewis, "The Middle East: a brief history of the last 2,000 years."
  11. ^ a b c Nicolle, pp 9–10.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Agoston, p. 50
  13. ^ a b Nicolle, p.36.
  14. ^ Nicolle, pp 21–22.
  15. ^ a b c d Kinross, pp 292–295
  16. ^ a b c Kinross, pp 431–434.
  17. ^ Levy, Avigdor. "The Ottoman Ulama and the Military Reforms of Sultan Mahmud II." Asian and African Studies 7 (1971): 13 - 39.


  • Agoston, Gabor. Barut, Top ve Tüfek Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun Asker Gücü ve Silah Sanayisi, ISBN 975-6051-41-8.
  • Goodwin, Godfrey (2001). The Janissaries. UK: Saqi Books. ISBN 9780863560552
  • Goodwin, Jason (1998). Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire. New York: H. Holt ISBN 0-8050-4081-1
  • Jelavich, Barbara (1983). History of the Balkans, 18th and 19th Centuries. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521 27458-3
  • Kinross, Patrick (1977). The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire London: Perennial. ISBN 9780688080938
  • Nicolle, David (1995). The Janissaries. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781855324138
  • Shaw, Stanford J. (1976). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (Vol. I). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521291637
  • Shaw, Stanford J. & Shaw, Ezel Kural (1977). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (Vol. II). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521291668
  • Uzunçarşılı, İsmail (1988). Osmanlı Devleti Teşkilatından Kapıkulu Ocakları: Acemi Ocağı ve Yeniçeri Ocağı. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu. ISBN 975-16-0056-1
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JANISSARIES (corrupted from Turkish yeni cheri, new troops), an organized military force constituting until 1826 the standing army of the Ottoman empire. At the outset of her history Turkey possessed no standing army. All Moslems capable of bearing arms served as a kind of volunteer yeomanry known as akinjis; they were summoned by public criers, or, if the occasion required it, by secret messengers. It was under Orkhan that a regular paid army was first organized: the soldiers were known as yaya or piyade. The result was unsatisfactory, as the Turcomans, from whom these troops were recruited, were unaccustomed to fight on foot or to submit to military discipline. Accordingly in 1330, on the advice of Chendereli Kara Khalil, the system known as devshurme or forced levy, was adopted, whereby a certain number of Christian youths (at first 1000) were every year taken from their parents and, after undergoing a period of apprenticeship, were enrolled as yeni cheri or new troops. The venerable saint Haji Bektash, founder of the Bektashi dervishes, blessed the corps and promised them victory; he remained ever after the patron saint of the janissaries.

At first the corps was exclusively recruited by the forced levy of Christian children, for which purpose the officer known as tournaji-bashi, or head-keeper of the cranes, made periodical tours in the provinces. The fixed organization of the corps dates only from Mahommed II., and its regulations were subsequently modified by Suleiman I. In early days all Christians were enrolled indiscriminately; later those from Albania, Bosnia and Bulgaria were preferred. The recruits while serving their apprenticeship were instructed in the principles of the faith by khojas, but according to D'Ohsson (vii. 327) they were not obliged to become Moslems.

The entire corps, commanded by the aga of the janissaries, was known as the ojak (hearth); it was divided into ortas or units of varying numbers; the oda (room) was the name given to the barracks in which the janissaries were lodged. There were, after the reorganization of Suleiman I., 196 ortas of three classes, viz. the jemaat, comprising 101 ortas, the beuluk, 61 ortas, and the sekban, or seimen, 34 ortas; to these must be added 34 ortas of ajami or apprentices. The strength of the orta varied greatly, sometimes being as low as loo, sometimes rising considerably beyond its nominal war strength of Soo. The distinction between the different classes seems to have been principally in name; in theory the jemaat, or yaya beiler, were specially charged with the duty of frontier-guards; the beuluks had the privilege of serving as the sultan's guards and of keeping the sacred banner in their custody.

Until the accession of Murad III. (1574) the total effective of the janissaries, including the ajami or apprentices, did not exceed 20,000. In 1582 irregularities in the mode of admission to the ranks began. Soon parents themselves begged to have their children enrolled, so great were the privileges attaching to the corps; later the privilege of enlistment was restricted to the children or relatives of former janissaries; eventually the regulations were much relaxed, and any person was admitted, only negroes being excluded. In 1591 the ojak numbered 48,688 men. Under Ibrahim (1640-1648) it was reduced by Kara Mustafa to 17,000; but it soon rose again, and at the accession of Mahommed IV. (1648), the accession-bakshish was distributed to 50,000 Janissaries. During the war of1683-1698the rules for admission were suspended, 30,000 recruits being received at one time, and the effective of the corps rising to 70,000; about 1805 it numbered more than 112,000; it went on increasing until the destruction of the janissaries, when it reached 135,000. It would perhaps be more correct to say that these are the numbers figuring on the pay-sheets, and that they doubtless largely exceed the total of the men actually serving in the ranks.

Promotion to the rank of warrant officer was obtained by long or distinguished service; it was by seniority up to the rank of odabashi, but odabashis were promoted to the rank of chorbaji (commander of an orta) solely by selection. Janissaries advanced in their own orta, which they left only to assume the command of another. Ortas remained permanently stationed in the fortress towns in which they were in garrison, being displaced in time of peace only when some violent animosity broke out between two companies. There were usually 12 in garrison at Belgrade, 14 at Khotin, 16 at Widdin, 20 at Bagdad, &c. The commander was frequently changed. A new chorbaji was usually appointed to the command of an orta stationed at a frontier post; he was then transferred elsewhere, so that in course of time he passed through different provinces.

In time of peace the janissary received no pay. At first his war pay was limited to one aspre per diem, but it was eventually raised to a minimum of three aspres, while veterans received as much as 29 aspres, and retired officers from 30 to 120. The aga received 24,000 piastres per annum; the ordinary pay of a commander was 120 aspres per diem. The aga and several of his subordinates received a percentage of the pay and allowance of the troops; they also inherited the property of deceased janissaries. Moreover, the officers profited largely by retaining the names of dead or fictitious janissaries on the pay-rolls. Rations of mutton, bread and candles were furnished by the government, the supply of rice, butter and vegetables being at the charge of the commandant. The rations would have been entirely inadequate if the janissaries had not been allowed, contrary to the regulations, to pursue different callings, such as those of baker, butcher, glazier, boatman, &c. At first the janissaries bore no other distinctive mark save the white felt cap. Soon the red cap with gold embroidery was substituted. Later a uniform was introduced, of which the distinctive mark was less the colour than the cut of the coat and the shape of the head-dress and turban. The only distinction in the costume of commanding officers was in the colour of their boots, those of the beuluks being red while the others were yellow; subordinate officers wore black boots.

The fundamental laws of the janissaries, which were very early infringed, were as follows: implicit obedience to their officers; perfect accord and union among themselves; abstinence from luxury, extravagance and practices unseemly for a soldier and a brave man; observance of the rules of Haji Bektash and of the religious law; exclusion from the ranks of all save those properly levied; special rules for the infliction of the deathpenalty; promotion to be by seniority; janissaries to be admonished or punished by their own officers only; the infirm and unfit to be pensioned; janissaries were not to let their beards grow, not to marry, nor to leave their barracks, nor to engage in trade; but were to spend their time in drill and in practising the arts of war.

In time of peace the state supplied no arms, and the janissaries on service in the capital were armed only with clubs; they were forbidden to carry any arm save a cutlass, the only exception being at the frontier-posts. In time of war the janissaries provided their own arms, and these might be any which took their fancy. However, they were induced by rivalry to procure the best obtainable and to keep them in perfect order. The banner of the janissaries was of white silk on which verses from the Koran were embroidered in gold. This banner was planted beside the aga's tent in camp, with four other flags in red cases, and his three horse-tails. Each orta had its flag, half-red and half-yellow, placed before the tent of its commander. Each orta had two or three great caldrons used for boiling the soup and pilaw; these were under the guard of subordinate officers. A particular superstition attached to them: if they were lost in battle all the officers were disgraced, and the orta was no longer allowed to parade with its caldrons in public ceremonies. The janissaries were stationed in most of the guard-houses of Constantinople and other large towns. No sentries were on duty, but rounds were sent out two or three times a day. It was customary for the sultan or the grand vizier to bestow largess on an orta which they might visit.

The janissaries conducted themselves with extreme violence and brutality towards civilians. They extorted money from them on every possible pretext: thus, it was their duty to sweep the streets in the immediate vicinity of their barracks, but they forced the civilians, especially if rayas, to perform this task or to pay a bribe. They were themselves subject to severe corporal punishments; if these were to take place publicly the ojak was first asked for its consent.

At first a source of strength to Turkey as being the only wellorganized and disciplined force in the country, the janissaries soon became its bane, thanks to their lawlessness and exactions. One frequent means of exhibiting their discontent was to set fire to Constantinople; 140 such fires are said to have been caused during the 28 years of Ahmed III.'s reign. The janissaries were at all times distinguished for their want of respect towards the sultans; their outbreaks were never due to a real desire for reforms of abuses or of misgovernment, but were solely caused to obtain the downfall of some obnoxious minister.

The first recorded revolt of the janissaries is in 1443, on the occasion of the second accession of Mahommed II., when they broke into rebellion at Adrianople. A similar revolt happened at his death, when Bayazid II. was forced to yield to their demands and thus the custom of the accession-bakshish was established; at the end of his reign it was the janissaries who forced Bayazid to summon Prince Selim and to hand over the reins of power to him. During the Persian campaign of Selim I. they mutinied more than once. Under Osman II. their disorders reached their greatest height and led to the dethronement and murder of the sultan. It would be tedious to recall all their acts of insubordination. Throughout Turkish history they were made use of as instruments by unscrupulous and ambitious statesmen, and in the 17th century they had become a praetorian guard in the worst sense of the word. Sultan Selim III. in despair endeavoured to organize a properly drilled and disciplined force, under the name of nizam-i jedid, to take their place; for some time the janissaries regarded this attempt in sullen silence; a curious detail is that Napoleon's ambassador Sebastiani strongly dissuaded the sultan from taking this step. Again serving as tools, the janissaries dethroned Selim III. and obtained the abolition of the nizam-i-jedid. But after the successful revolution of Bairakdar Pasha of Widdin the new troops were reestablished and drilled: the resentment of the janissaries rose to such a height that they attacked the grand vizier's house, and of ter destroying it marched against the sultan's palace. They were repulsed by cannon, losing 600 men in the affair (1806). But such was the excitement and alarm caused at Constantinople that the nizam-i-jedid, or sekbans as they were now called, had to be suppressed. During the next 20 years the misdeeds and turbulence of the janissaries knew no bounds. Sultan Mahmud II., powerfully impressed by their violence and lawlessness at his accession, and with the example of Mehemet Ali's method of suppressing the Mamlukes before his eyes, determined to rid the state of this scourge; long biding his time, in 1825 he decided to form a corps of regular drilled troops known as eshkenjis. A fetva was obtained from the Sheikh-ul-Islam to the effect that it was the duty of Moslems to acquire military science. The imperial decree announcing the formation of the new troops was promulgated at a grand council, and the high dignitaries present (including certain of the principal officers of the janissaries who concurred) undertook to comply with its provisions. But the janissaries rose in revolt, and on the 10th of June 1826, began to collect on the Et Meidan square at Constantinople; at mid-. night they attacked the house of the aga of janissaries, and, finding he had made good his escape, proceeded to overturn the caldrons of as many ortas as they could find, thus forcing the troops of those ortas to join the insurrection. Then they pillaged and robbed throughout the town. Meanwhile the government was collecting its forces; the ulema, consulted by the sultan, gave the following fetva: "If unjust and violent men attack their brethren, fight against the aggressors and send them before their natural judge !" On this the sacred standard of the prophet was unfurled, and war was formally declared against these disturbers of order. Cannon were brought against the Et Meidan, which was surrounded by troops. Ibrahim Aga, known as Kara Jehennum, the commander of the artillery, made a last appeal to the janissaries to surrender; they refused, and fire was opened upon them. Such as escaped were shot down as they fled; the barracks where many found refuge were burnt; those who were taken prisoner were brought before the grand vizier and hanged. Before many days were over the corps had ceased to exist, and the janissaries, the glory of Turkey's early days and the scourge of the country for the last two centuries, had passed for ever from the page of her history.

See M. d'Ohsson, Tableaux de l'empire ottoman (Paris, 1787-1820); Ahmed Vefyk, Lehje-i-osmanie (Constantinople, 1290-1874); A. Djevad Bey, Etat militaire ottoman (Constantinople, 1885).

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