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Old August 11th, 2009, 10:52 AM   #1
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THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


Some believe that Christian children kidnapped by the Ottoman Turks is a myth and not did not happen or it was beneficicial to these children. While I do believe that is true to an extent, overall the Devshirme was more destructive on the Christian populations than beneficial.

I am not attacking the Turks as being the only race that has done evil or Islam because all cultures throughout the world have been guilty of evil and crimes against other humans. In one case Angelov takes about how some escaping refugees were apprehended by Venetian pirates who demanded a ransom or they would slaughter them. These Venetians no doubt were Roman Catholics but the devershirme was instituted by the Turks which some claim cannot be supported by Islam. I want to keep focused on this topic but please no bashing or playing the blame game.


Dr Bostom in “The Legacy of Jihad” has compiled a history which are both primary sources and secondary. I had to reread chapters written by two authors who cover this topic, the latter in much more detail.

“Certain Phases of the Conquest of the Balkan Peoples by the Turks” by Dimitar Angelov

“The Impact of Devshirme on Greek Society” by Vasiliki Papoulia


From the perspective of the children’s parents the recruitment of their children for administrative use or to force them into a military elite unit called the Janissaries was kidnapping but to the state it held a vital purpose. For those who lost their children, who were forcefully converted to Islam, it was a great loss.


“Legacy of Jihad;The Impact of Devshirme on Greek Society” by Vasiliki Papoulia. Prometheus Books-2005 pages 555-570

“The Great historian Leopold Von Ranke had such a statement in mind when he the first heroic song of Christos Melionis, which rang out in the mountains only after the abolition of this heavy tithe of blood. On the other hand, one could maintain that this oppressive measure the Turkish rule so hateful that it eventually led to the Greek uprising.” Pg 555


“Certain Phases of the Conquest of the Balkan Peoples by the Turks” by Dimitar Angelov page 472 ‘The payment of this blood tax’ amounted to a terrible and merciless tribute, which caused the ruin of hundreds of thousands of families. The Janissaries, brought up in a spirit of religious fanaticism and imbued with unshakable loyalty to the Sutlan, became a pitiless horde that was the most compliant force in support of the regime and carried out the plans for conquest devised by the Osmanli feudal Lords.

“The Impact of Devshirme on Greek Society”

page 559 “It is obvious that the population resented the recruitment of their children and that this measure could only be carried out by force. Those who refused to surrender their sons – the healthiest and handsomest and the most intelligent – were on the spot put to death by hanging. “

Many fled to cities that were exempt from this, to Christian lands or to Turkish officials who were sympathetic to the plight the Christians.


It was not all bad and for some it was a chance, even though they had to convert to Islam, for some peasant boys to move up in rank and work in civil service or as a janissary warrior – a slave to the Sultan. In many cases Turkish peasants would trade children with Greeks or other Balkan Christians so that their child would have a chance for a better life.

Still, for many Christians the idea of having your son taken by force was painful and many Christians resented this form of kidnapping.

Page 559
“ In the Tubingen manuscript written by Andre Argoros and John Thoilotes and given in 1585 to Martin Crusius, these feelings are vividly described :

You understand, then, my Lord and Christian gentlemen, what sorrows the Greeks bear, and the mothers who are separated form their children at the prime of life. Think ye of the heart-rending sorrow! How many mothers scratch out their cheeks! How many fathers beat their chests with stones! What grief these Christians experience on account of their children who are separated from them while alive and how many mothers say, It would have been better to see them dead and buried in our church, rather than to have them taken alive in order to become Turks and abjure our faith. Better that you had died.” From the Christian Orthodox view once they converted to Islam their fate was Hell so in many of their parents eyes death was preferable to eternity in Hell. According to the author Papoulia some secretly maintained their faith or closet Christians to put it in a modern term.


In time the janisarries recruits became Turks and the need to recruit Christians for this became a thing of the past.

I typed this myself so in when I have more time I will double check for typos.
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Old August 30th, 2009, 05:00 AM   #2

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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


a question arise in the mind that, would you like to lose your son for the shake of his welfare career?

It seem some would say yes as in the case of Turkish parents who exchange their kids with greek families kids.

It was tragedy for those who wouln't like to let it happen no matter their sons enjoyed their military welfare career. For me Cannelidis if i had a beloved son i wouln't like to lose him for the shake of his future military career.

As to the religious aspect of the issue it is not freedom of belieft asimilating them as Muslim/Turk. Yet there were christians in ottoman army even christian fieft holders. I don't think Jannisarries were Al Queda like fanatics in Ottoman society. It seem much absurd.

First of all they were Bektashi Muslim which is one of the most tolerant interpretations.

For christian soldiers in Ottoman army Mehmet II's ferman (Order) :

From every thirty households of unbelievers and Mulim you are to conscript one mounted akıncı.

(Kafirden ve Müslümanlardan otuz eve bir atlü akıncı vaz'edesiz.)

when there are persons among the unbelieverswho are able to serve as akıncıs they are to be registered first and only if it is not possible to find such persons among them are you to register muslims.

(Kafirlerden içlerinden akıncılığa kabil bulunur ise yazalar ve eger bulınmaz ise müslümanlardan yazalar.)

Last edited by Efendi; August 30th, 2009 at 10:55 AM.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 12:31 PM   #3
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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


Thanks Efendi
I recall reading that some janissaries secretly remained Christians and even held Christian services and they would assign someone to preach a lesson but they had to do this in secret. The Spaniards forced Native Americans to convert to the Roman Catholic faith but it is once again the human factor or need to control others. Religion should always be a free choice and never forced on someone but that is my opinion.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 01:01 PM   #4

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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


Its possible that devshirme a.k.a the blood dept, resulted in the population of the christians, so much that those countries have been left with very small population.
That tactic used by the ottomans proved to be very reliable, and the janissaries were a perfect example of soldiers, very disciplined, trained in warfare since kids, also nicely armed.
Also it inflict terror, and keep the christian population at bay. So i must admit, that this tactic, is very resourceful. Of course i don't support it, but im trying to speak from neutral point of view.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 01:11 PM   #5
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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


Quote:
Originally Posted by sturm View Post
Its possible that devshirme a.k.a the blood dept, resulted in the population of the christians, so much that those countries have been left with very small population.
That tactic used by the ottomans proved to be very reliable, and the janissaries were a perfect example of soldiers, very disciplined, trained in warfare since kids, also nicely armed.
Also it inflict terror, and keep the christian population at bay. So i must admit, that this tactic, is very resourceful. Of course i don't support it, but im trying to speak from neutral point of view.
You put it in a nut shell or from all that I have read. Sometimes they showed kindness to their relatives but given the nature of their training they were often brutal to their enemies, Christian or otherwise. At the end, after the Devhirme ended, they started to use Turkish recruits.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 02:57 PM   #6

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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


I know stories of kid taken by the ottomans, made part of the janissaries and send back to his home villige when he grow up to kill his reletives.
Of course this probably is only mythology, and urban legends.
Janissaries were very hardly disciplined as i said, when they were kids they were constantly beaten up, if they didn't follow orders, and train.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 03:06 PM   #7

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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


The decrease of the populations depend on how much Jannisaries with in the empire. They were costly elite soldiers well trained. well paid.

Think about a provinence of 100 thousand of people.
lets assume that there re 25000 (assuming a family consist of 4 people) family in the provinence.

How many of the family should have a young kids who is strong smarth suiteable for being a jannisary? Say 8000 from 8000 family they could requite 8000 Jannisaries (with a pesimistic calculation). If it is a healty calculation it makes %8 decrease in the populations.

It also eliminate the possibility of the Jannisaries marriage to a christian wife so it makes between %8 and %16 . Lets make it %10 decrease in the populations.
Another point to apply to it. We should take account of how much Ottomans demand for Jannisaries.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 03:16 PM   #8

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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


Quote:
Originally Posted by cannelidis1 View Post
Thanks Efendi
I recall reading that some janissaries secretly remained Christians and even held Christian services and they would assign someone to preach a lesson but they had to do this in secret. The Spaniards forced Native Americans to convert to the Roman Catholic faith but it is once again the human factor or need to control others. Religion should always be a free choice and never forced on someone but that is my opinion.
Well Cannelidis thats normal and accepteable for them to practice their religion secretly.

I think religion is matter of hearth and privity of someone which is bussiness of no one.It is not decision of any others.

But Ottoman had some reasons for their own.

My thanks Cannelidis. I think you haven't been around for some day in the forum.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 03:21 PM   #9

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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


As to the amount of Jannisaries(According to David Nicolle):

In "year number" order
1400 : >1,000[7]
1514 : 10,156 [8]
1523 : 12,000[8]
1526 : 7,885[8]
1564 : 13,502[8]
1567-68: 12,798[8]
1574 : 13,599[8]
1603 : 14,000[8]
1609 : 37,627[8]
1660-61: 54,222[8]
1665 : 49,556[8]
1669 : 51,437[8]
1670 : 49,868[8]
1680 : 54,222

Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janissa...f-Nicolle9_6-1
Soory i couln't find more trusteable source.
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Old September 1st, 2009, 03:53 PM   #10
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Re: THE IMPACT OF THE DEVSHIRME


Quote:
Originally Posted by Efendi View Post
Well Cannelidis thats normal and accepteable for them to practice their religion secretly.

I think religion is matter of hearth and privity of someone which is bussiness of no one.It is not decision of any others.

But Ottoman had some reasons for their own.

My thanks Cannelidis. I think you haven't been around for some day in the forum.
From what I understand the Jews did the same when forced to convert to the Roman Catholic faith- not picking on Catholics - in Spain.
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