Ottoman Empire Military

Apr 2019
67
United States
#1
Can someone explain to me why the Ottoman military was so effective and why most sources say that the Ottoman Empire only had 125,000 troops. It's hard to believe that their military was so small compared to other empires during that time like the Ming.
 
Mar 2016
1,079
Australia
#2
Can someone explain to me why the Ottoman military was so effective
Adopting gunpowder weaponry earlier than most European states, having excellent cavalry because the terrain of Anatolia was suited for it, and in general their army was very experienced because of near-constant warfare with a large variety of countries. They also had a very good run of highly competent rulers that were natural warrior-kings.

and why most sources say that the Ottoman Empire only had 125,000 troops
In what period? The size of the Ottoman army changed over time as their empire expanded, and depending on how much regional autonomy the governors had, how weak central authority was, and if the empire was facing civil strife.

It's hard to believe that their military was so small compared to other empires during that time like the Ming
Literally any country's army looks small compared to Chinese armies, both in ancient, medieval and modern times. It's just the nature of how enormous China's population is. It isn't reflective of other empires being weak in comparison. The Ottomans at their peak in the 16th and 17th centuries had an enormous army that was larger than all of their rivals - the Spanish, the Austrians, the Russians, the Mamluks, etc.
 
Nov 2010
7,540
Cornwall
#3
If you give it some deep thought - to start conquering land you only need to outnumber the forces in front of you - which may just be a town garrison militia, or maybe a few armed peasants. Then you move onto the next villages and things sort of snowball. Unless you happen to come against a sizeable standing army it goes on - and who wants to leave protecting their homes to beef up an army? All adds to the mix if the people aren't that keen on their present rulers
 
Likes: Wazowski13
Apr 2019
67
United States
#4
If you give it some deep thought - to start conquering land you only need to outnumber the forces in front of you - which may just be a town garrison militia, or maybe a few armed peasants. Then you move onto the next villages and things sort of snowball. Unless you happen to come against a sizeable standing army it goes on - and who wants to leave protecting their homes to beef up an army? All adds to the mix if the people aren't that keen on their present rulers
But wouldn't hey need a fairly sizeable military to conquer the Mamluks and Hungary?
 
Mar 2016
758
Antalya
#6
But wouldn't hey need a fairly sizeable military to conquer the Mamluks and Hungary?
I think Ottoman Empire outnumbered most of their opponents. I am pretty sure they had at least an equal force in terms of numbers. I remember Halil Inalcik saying Ottomans thought Europeans how to utilize regulars/peasants in war, effectively teaching them how to field bigger armies, since the enemy -- Ottomans -- always had huge numbers. Europeans had to respond.
 
Apr 2018
259
Italy
#7
Can someone explain to me why the Ottoman military was so effective and why most sources say that the Ottoman Empire only had 125,000 troops. It's hard to believe that their military was so small compared to other empires during that time like the Ming.
Their success derived by adoption of fire weapons early around 1448. This was an advantage expecially against Safavid and Mameluks, who were more conservative. As for numbers they were capable of rising large armies due to their system based from various sources (kapikulu, timariots, azabs ecc.) and for their logistic system( they had military corridors called kol, and in these kol there were food deposits called menzil to supply the army. there were also auxiliar units concerned with logistic also)
 
Likes: Ichon

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,531
#8
Where do you get 125,000 for Ottoman military?

During the 1400-1600s the Ottomans were generally more militarily organized than most European states with the Sultan expected to prove his legitimacy via regular campaigns. The Ottomans also adopted guns en masse for their Janissary infantry ahead of any other European states though the Hungarian Black Army only slighty after the Janissaries also used many handguns.

The other aspect is that the Ottomans allowed warriors to leave for raids into enemy territory as a regular state policy of keep the borders of their enemies under constant pressure but many of the Ottomans that carried out such raids were not part of the regular Ottoman army- but simply raiders drawn by the chance to loot and perhaps distinguish themselves and gain entrance into the ranks of the regular Ottoman army which meant moderate to extreme wealth for skilled individuals.

The full size Ottoman army prior to 1700s was rarely much more than 80,000 regular soldiers but could be swelled by promotion of raiders or raising of regiments from the lower classes. Part of being in the Ottoman army was the expectation not only to provide oneself with the training and equipment necessary to conduct warfare but to train a replacement or even several men at arms depending on the wealth of the land given to the warrior so theoretically if a warrior died on a campaign he was supposed to have been training his replacement already.
 
Likes: Edratman
Nov 2010
7,540
Cornwall
#10
So what was it that made the Janissaries more effective than "regular" Ottoman troops?
It's the old 'professionals' theme, standing out against raised levies. I think I recall they were all Christian child captives, raised in the art of fighting. It's all they did. Similar to a number of mercenary units from the past and things like Templars, Hospitallers etc