The Janissaries were in the Ottoman Empire, an elite force force, who provided the bodyguard of the Sultan and occupied high positions in the administration of the empire.

The foundation is estimated at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. Exact sources for the foundation are not available.
The background for the establishment of the Janissary Corps was the mistrust of the sultans in the loyalty and loyalty of their peasant armies. For this reason, the army leaders began to kidnap children of Christian parents or to use prisoners of war. These were forcibly slandered and raised according to the rules of excitement. With this, the sultans created the first standing army of the Ottoman Empire.

From the year 1438, only Christian children from the region of the Balkans were selected for the Janissaries. Depending on the requirement for the troupe, it was about every 40th child was selected. In the acemi-oğlan schools they were then trained with strict discipline and hard work and fed to Islam. The lack of attachment to their families reinforced the cohesion of unity among themselves. Similar to the European Order of Knights or the Order of Malta, the Janissaries practiced in seclusion and complete attachment to the troupe. for example, the inheritance of a deceased member completely in the stock of the unit.


The life of a janissary consisted only of service to the war. They were forbidden to marry or to acquire property. Since they were legally held as slaves, they were also not entitled to pay, only the accommodation and food was provided. Once there was pay, this had more symbolic value.



Badges and equipment:

Due to their slave status and the associated payment only by food and accommodation, the rank insignia of the officers were marked as crossed wooden spoons. Thus, 4 crossed spoons gave the rank of "Aschj-Bashi" (aşcı-başı / "head cook"). Also in the field this symbol was used. Instead of standards such as e.g. When the Roman legions carried them away, the janissaries made large soup kettles.


Sitzender Janitschar, Zeichnung von Gentile Bellini um 1480

Sitting Janissary, drawing by Gentile Bellini around 1480


As headgear they wore a conical, tapered, turban-wrapped felt cap of the Bektashi monks and wore high-heeled boots. Their main armament consisted of a composite bow, but in close combat they also used hatchets, sabers and jatagans. Later, their main armament consisted of firearms.


Türkische Waffen, ausgestellt im Heeresgeschichtliche Museum Wien

Turkish weapons, issued in the Museum of Military History Vienna




The hierarchy was clearly structured by the janissaries:


Hierarchie der Janitscharen

Hierarchy of the Janissaries

The strength of the force was at its peak at the 200,000 men.



Revolts and rebellions:

From the middle of the 15th century, the Janissaries became more and more aware of their indispensability and were no longer satisfied with high positions in the imperial administration but demanded more influence in politics and more freedom, including more pay and the possibility of marriage.

So the sultans had to pay more after a rebellion in 1449, the right to marry they acquired by Sultan Selim II from 1566.

Due to the fact that the Janissaries were able to sell unpleasant sultans, by the acquisition of land tenure, the discipline and dedication declined more and more, also the military successes decreased. So the northern border of the empire moved further and further south after the victories of the European sacred league.

In 1808, Mahmud II ascended the throne as sultan. When the Janissaries set fire to 2,000 houses in Galata in 1810 and were involved in a skirmish in Istanbul in the spring of 1811 with two regiments, the Sultan decided to dissolve the Janissaries and set up a new army called Asākir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye / To form "Victorious army of Mohammed".
Then the janissaries rebelled on 14 and 15 June 1826 again, but this time they lacked the support of the population and the rest of the army. Dozens of them were shot, burned or executed.






You can find the right literature here:


Memoirs of a Janissary

Memoirs of a Janissary Paperback – July 1, 2010

Konstantin Mihailovic, born a Christian Serb in the early 15th century, was kidnapped by Ottoman Turks and brought to Anatolia, where he was trained as a Janissary -- a member of the elite corps of the Ottoman army made up entirely of converted Christian boys. As a Janissary, Mihailovic was an eyewitness to important events such as Sultan Mehmet II's sieges of Belgrade and Constantinople in 1453 and the campaign against Count Dracula. In 1463, his garrison of Janissaries was captured by the Hungarian king, and he opportunistically redeclared his Christian faith. He drew on his unique first-hand experience with the Turks to write his memoirs, which became a "bestseller" in Central and Eastern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. These memoirs were published as a cautionary tale about the heathen customs of the Turks, and as a guide to military practices and customs of the Turkish army. One reason for its success was that the Turks had not only overrun the Balkans but also threatened the heart of Europe with sieges of Vienna between 1529 and 1683. Mihailovic provides salient details of Turkish military subterfuge, the Turks' disregard for truce agreements, and their shocking actions during the battles and beyond, including the standard beheading of the captured kings. The siege and conquest of Constantinople and Trebizond reads like a chronicle of treachery, yet also of military genius. Mihailovic describes magnificent court scenes and encounters with the great Khans of the Tatars and with Hungarian and Serbian kings, as well as scenes from daily life in the Ottoman Empire.

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The Janissaries (Elite)

The Janissaries (Elite) Paperback – May 15, 1995

The Janissaries comprised an élite corps in the service of the Ottoman Empire. It was composed of war captives and Christian youths pressed into service; all of whom were converted to Islam and trained under the strictest discipline. In many ways, Jannisaries reflected Ottoman society, which was itself dominated by a military elite and where there was much greater social mobility than in Europe. On top of this, the Turks looked upon Europe much as the early Americans viewed the Western Frontier – as a land of adventure, mission and opportunity. David Nicolle examines the history, organisation, weapons and uniforms of these élite Turkish troops.

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Lord of Janissaries

Lord of Janissaries (BAEN) Paperback – September 1, 2015

Three best-selling Jerry Pournelle masterpieces in one volume for the first time: Janissaries and Tran. A modern soldier is transported by aliens to a world  filled with warriors through the ages including medieval knights, Roman soldiers. His task: survival.

Some days it just didn't pay to be a soldier. Captain Rick Galloway and his men had been talked into volunteering for a dangeorus mission--only to be ruthlessly abandoned when faceless CIA higher-ups pulled the plug on the operation. They were cut off in hostile teritory, with local troops and their Cuban "advisors" rapidly closing in. And then the alien spaceship landed...

Clan and Crown and Storms of Victory
He didn't want to conquer the world. He had to. Captain Rick Galloway, formerly of the US Army, more recently a mercenary commander, was now Lord Rick on the planet Tran. Rescued by an alien spaceship from certain death when a mercenary assignment went sour, he and his men were dropped on a world distant from Earth, but inhabited by humans transplanted in the past from medieval Europe, from Imperial Rome, and from other now-vanished nations.

Now the time of the Demon Star approaches, whose close approach and fierce heat will render much of Tran uninhabitable. To survive this fiery apocalypse, the warring nations of Tran must be united. Lord Rick doesn't want to conquer the world, but the alternative is certain extinction!

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