Armenian-History.com
All about Armenians and Armenian History
 

Armenian boys recruited to fight for Islam - Janissaries (Yanichars)

|
Visits: 2320
Written by Smbat Minasyan

Sultan Murad IIt was Sultan Murad (Murat) I (1359-1389) during the latter part of the Fourteenth century who transformed the Turkish army from mere plunderers into a regimented military organization. To bolster his army's strength Murad initiated a program to recruit young boys from Armenian and Greek families and developed them into a well trained, highly disciplined and coordinated militia and called it Janissaries (new soldiers).  

Each Armenian family was required to give its brightest son to be enlisted as a Janissary for the services of the Sultan, similar to the conscription of the Memluks from the Caucasus centuries earlier. The Janissaries were brought up as Moslems imbued with an unquestioned loyalty to the Sultan and became members of a privileged military elite. As fighters by avocation they lived their lives with uncompromising devotion to the cause of Islam. In times of peace they kept order and guarded the imperial palaces. In times of war their ferocious brutality proved to be vital for the conduct of the war.

 

A Janissary drawing by Gentile Bellini (15th century)JanissariesJanissariesThe Janissaries Patrol IzmirThe Ottoman Empire in the 17th century

Year Number of Janissaries in Ottoman Empire

1514

1526

1567-68

1609

1660-61

1665

1669

1670

1680

10156

7885

12798

37627

54222

49556

51437

49868

54222