JAN-02 Janissaries, Ottoman Empire


SKU: JAN-02 Category:


In the mid-16th Century, a long running conflict between two of the most powerful world religions is building up to a climactic battle in the Mediterranean. Facing each other are the knights of the Order of St. John, a small but formidable and fanatical Christian military Order and the Muslim Janissaries, the fearsome crack troops of Suleyman the Magnificent. The Great Siege of Malta occurred in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire attempted to conquer the Island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The siege lasted nearly four months, from 18th May to 11th September 1565.

The forces of Suliman the Magnificent were impressive. The armies of the Sultan were hated and feared by the common folk of the west, and respected for their fighting prowess by the military. The elite of the troops were, unusually for the time, infantry. The Janissaries were the backbone of the army.

A Janissary was a member of the elite infantry that formed the Ottoman Sultan’s household troops and were considered the first standing army in Europe. The corps was most likely established under the Sultan Orhan (1324-1362). Although the origins remain surrounded in mystery, they were also certainly among the first troops to adopt firearms as their principal weapon.
Janissaries began as elite corps made up through the system of child levy enslavement. They became famed for internal cohesion cemented by strict discipline and order. Unlike typical slaves, they were paid regular salaries. Forbidden to marry before the age of 40 or engage in trade, their complete loyalty to the Sultan was expected.