Janissaries (Ottoman Empire)
A force of elite infantry loyal to the Ottoman emperor. The Janissaries were christian slaves, taken from their villages between the ages of seven and ten, and raised to be loyal soldiers of the emperor, whose personal property they were. The Janissaries were trained bowmen whose loyalty and lack of political connections within the Empire made them invaluable to the stronger sultans. Their loyalty was gained both through their strict training, which took up to ten years, and the prospect of great rewards for good service. Some two thirds of the Grand Viziers of the Ottoman Empire up at least until the sixteenth century had been Janissaries, as were many other officials of the empire. It was only when the line of Sultans began to weaken that the Janissaries became kingmakers. The first Janissaries were probably recruited by Orkhan, as a personal bodyguard. Their numbers grew, reaching ten thousand in the fifteenth century.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (10 October 2000), Janissaries (Ottoman Empire), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_janissaries.html