25 Haziran 2007 Pazartesi


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Janissaries comprised infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguard. The force originated in the 14th century; it was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in The Auspicious Incident. The name janissary or janizary derives from the Ottoman Turkish: يكيچرى (yeniçeri) meaning "new soldier", with slight variations in other languages: in Albanian: Jeniçer; in Greek: Γενίτσαροι (Yenitsari); in Bulgarian: еничари (enichari) or яничари (yanichari); in Croatian: Janjičari; in Serbian: Јањичари or Janjičari; in Polish Janczaria or Janczarzy; in Romanian: ieniceri; in Hungarian Janicsárok; in Arabic: الانكشارية.

Origin of the Janissaries

Sultan Murad I of the fledgling Ottoman Empire founded the units around 1365. It was initially formed of Dhimmi (non-Muslims, originally exempted from the military service), especially Christian youths and prisoners-of-war, reminiscent of Mamelukes. Sultan Murad may have also used futuwa groups as a model. Such Janissaries became the first Ottoman standing army, replacing forces that mostly comprised tribal ghazis, whose loyalty and morale could not always be trusted. As corps other than the infantry were added, the totality of the Ottoman standing army corps was called Kapıkulu, however the term Janissary, which formally refers to one of the Kapıkulu corps is often used interchangeably (albeit incorrectly) for all of the Ottoman Kapıkulu Corps.

Significance of the Janissaries

The Janissary corps was significant in a number of ways. The Janissaries wore uniforms, were paid in cash as regular soldiers, and marched to distinctive music, the mehter, similar to a modern marching band. All of these features set the Janissaries apart from most soldiers of the time. The Ottomans were 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. A janissary regiment was effectively the soldier's family. They lived in their barracks and served as policemen and firefighters during peacetime.

The Janissary corps was also distinctive in the regular payment of a cash salary to the troops,

and differed from the contemporary practice of paying troops only during wartime. The Janissaries were paid quarterly and the Sultan himself, after authorizing the payment of the salaries, dressed as a Janissary, visited the barracks and received his salary as a regular trooper of the First Division. The Janissary force became particularly significant when the foot soldier carrying firearms proved more effective than the cavalry equipped with sword and spear. Janissaries adopted firearms very early, starting in 15th century. By the 16th century, the main weapon of the Janissary was the musket. Janissaries also made extensive use of early grenades and hand cannon. The auxiliary support system of the Janissaries also set them apart from their contemporaries. The Janissaries waged war as one part of a well organized military machine. The Ottoman army had a corps to prepare the road, a corps to pitch the tents ahead, a corps to bake the bread. The cebeci corps carried and distributed weapons and ammunition. The Janissary corps had its own internal medical auxiliaries: Muslim and Jewish surgeons who would travel with the corps during campaigns and had organized methods of moving the wounded and the sick to traveling hospitals behind the lines. 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 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.

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