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Janissaries(jăn`ĭsâr'ēz) [Turk.,=recruits], elite corps in the service of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). It was composed of war captives and Christian youths pressed into service; all the recruits were converted to Islam and trained under the strictest discipline. It was originally organized by Sultan Murad I. The Janissaries gained great power in the Ottoman Empire and made and unmade sultans. By 1600, Muslims had begun to enter the corps, largely through bribery, and in the 17th cent. membership in the corps became largely hereditary, while the drafting of Christians gradually ceased. In 1826, Sultan Mahmud IIMahmud II,
1784–1839, Ottoman sultan (1808–39), younger son of Abd al-Hamid I. He was raised to the throne of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) upon the deposition of his brother, Mustafa IV, and continued the reforms of his cousin, Selim III.
..... Click the link for more information. rid himself of the unruly (and by now inefficient) Janissaries by having them massacred in their barracks by his loyal SpahisSpahis
, Ottoman cavalry. The Spahis were organized in the 14th cent. on a feudal basis. The officers held fiefs (timars) granted to them by the sultan and commanded the personal loyalty of the peasants who worked the land.
..... Click the link for more information. .
the regular Turkish infantry, organized in the second half of the 14th century, who, together with the spahis and akinji (cavalry), formed the core of the Ottoman army. Originally, janissaries were youths who had been driven into slavery; later, Christian boys were forcibly recruited. Converted to Islam, they were considered slaves of the sultan and lived in barracks; they were forbidden to marry or maintain their own households. In addition to service in military campaigns, they were assigned garrison duty in the Balkans and the Arab countries. The janissaries were headed by an aga and were closely associated with the Bectashi dervish order.
The decline of the janissaries began in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Members of the corps settled down with families and engaged in trade and handicrafts. Gradually they were transformed into agents of palace revolutions and a support for the forces of feudal-clerical reaction. In 1826 the janissary corps was destroyed by the Turkish sultan Mahmud II.