Ottoman Empire Military

Mar 2019
106
Victoria, Australia
Janissaries were all originally christians slave-like background. Originally they were very effective I suspect because of their particular upbringing, ideology and style of fighting. They very much acted as the Elites of the army and were treated as such.

The only problem is that over time those janissaries accrued significant power to much of the detriment of the ottoman empire, primarily because they were rather conservative. You can can see much of the same effect with the Streltsy in the Russian Empire. Very good idea at first but gained too much power and prooved difficult to manage later on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Spike117
Mar 2019
106
Victoria, Australia
Only the French had bigger army in 17th century.
Unless I am much mistaken, the ottoman and French where mostly on friendly terms with each other due to natural rivals (Spain, Austria and the likes). They were also good geographic, political and military allies and complimented each other well.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,688
So what was it that made the Janissaries more effective than "regular" Ottoman troops?
Janissaries had quite small numbers- most likely less than 10,000 for their most active periods of fame vs the 50,000+ regular Ottoman army. The whole point behind Janissaries was to give the Sultan a politically reliable military force that was loyal only to him because Janissaries were literally slaves of the Sultan. Being a slave of the person with the highest status was actually fairly prestigious as insults or attacks on the property of the Sultan were attacks on the Sultan himself. The issue was that every time a weak Sultan was in power the Janissaries as a social class gained power until finally becoming a hereditary class which wasn't functioning on merit and also this meant entire families became part of the Janissary class rather than a single soldier representing a family. The cost of maintaining a swollen class of Janissaries meant the Ottoman did not have the funds to modernize as quickly not to mention the Janissaries converted from a meritocracy that might have a vested interest in modernization to a reactionary political force concerned with maintaining their social status.

I think wiki talks about the generally accepted theory that Janissaries began as the Sultan's share of war booty in the form of slaves. Many of these slaves were former warriors without now without a state but considered politically unreliable but their children... many Janissaries were the children of the warrior families of the conquered Christian regions. Becoming a Janissary was difficult but also prestigious and it did not require converting to Islam though most Janissaries did.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sessizlikci
Sep 2016
1,280
Georgia
Unless I am much mistaken, the ottoman and French where mostly on friendly terms with each other due to natural rivals (Spain, Austria and the likes). They were also good geographic, political and military allies and complimented each other well.
Yes, that is true. I was just pointing out the size of French army, since we are discussing how powerful Ottomans were. Though, Louis helped Emperor at Battle of Saint Gotthard in 1664 against Ottomans. French forces consisting of 3500 infantry and 1500 cavalry participated in battle.

France had an army of 150 000 men between 1679 and 1688, when it wasn't involved in any major war. Then, during Nine Years War ( 1688 - 1697 ) France was able to field more than 300 000 men.
Not to mention, that they've also built a large fleet. It could rival English or Dutch ones.
 
Nov 2018
11
Istanbul, Turkey
While They were adopting and improving the gunpowder, they were protecting their Central Asian warstyle traditions that based on horsemen-cavalry. Majority of the army were Sipahi ( cavalry). They were crushing the enemy with their cannons in the battlefield and harrasing the enemy with the continual attacks of Sipahis. Sipahis were charging and retreating, charging and reatreating and repeating this process until the enemy get tired and broken.

This repeated cavalry charges is the main feature of Central Asian-Turkic warstyle.