Marissa: But what is also pretty interesting to consider is that many, many people did not resist or even resent devshirme. ... Devshirme System. Averill: Another wrote “Your Majesty, my prosperous and generous Sultan, may you be healthy! The idea that one person can have ownership of another has taken countless forms. Averill: For about 200 years, between the 14th and 16th centuries, devshirme was the primary way the Janissaries were repopulated. The two men had grown close as children, and shortly after he took the throne, Suleiman appointed Ibrahim his vizier. …new force, Murad developed the devşirme system of recruiting the best Christian youths from southeastern Europe. Medmed II | Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons. “Marissa: Yet, as we already mentioned, having a son in the Janissary corp could be quite advantageous”. I, Your humble servant, praise be to God, was granted the honour of adopting Islam and even circumcised myself with my own hand… Your servant, the new Muslim, Mustaga from Karlovo.”9. …was the notorious system called devşirme, under which Christian boys aged 10 and above were taken off for training in the imperial administration and the Janissary corps, an elite army division. The vast, dramatic story of the Ottoman Empire helps Westerners better grasp the current complexities of the Middle East. Averill: The journey of the tributes is worth noting. +0.5 Yearly legitimacy 2. Averill: For about 200 years, the devshirme system, with its ‘taxation’ every three or four years, was necessary to fill out the ranks of the Ottoman bureaucracy and military. Dr. Devshirme (Ottoman Turkish: دوشيرمه ‎, devşirme; usually translated as “child levy” or “blood tax”) was the Ottoman Empire practice of forcibly recruiting soldiers and bureaucrats from among the children of their Balkan Christian subjects. Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback. The were to be humble and polite, reverent in the presence of their superiors. The De­vshirme came up out of the kul sys­tem of slav­ery that de­vel­oped in the early cen­turies of the Ot­toman Em­pire and which reached this final de­vel­op­ment dur­ing the reign of Sul­tan Bayazit I. Some Turkish goats | Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Coming up this October, Secrets of the Read more…, In today’s episode we are discussing some laws in the United States that governed the bodies and lives of enslaved people and follow how those laws changed, or didn’t change, through emancipation and into the Read more…, © 2017 The Producers of Dig: A History Podcast, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window). Christians who engaged in specialised activities which were important to the Ottoman state were likewise exempt from the tax on their children by way of recognition of the importance of their labours for the empire. Dervishes were Sufi ascetic, almost saint-like, who would have had a decent enough following to be noticed by the Sultan. I think that way we’ll be able to really highlight the ways the devshirme was a process of enslavement, but also the kind of slavery that would encourage people to submit to enslavement. Wherever they come, the protogeros assembled the inhabitants with their sons. . But in most ways, this system was very different from the chattel slavery of the Atlantic. While the corps barely functioned that way at the time they were writing, it was still, in theory, the standard. By the second half of the sixteenth century, it was just 12,789 (in 1568) and 13,599 (in 1574). (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Those who compose the one, are sent to Anatolia, where they are trained to agricultural labor, and instructed in the Mussulman faith; or they are retained about the seraglio, where they carry wood and water, and are employed in the gardens, in the boats, or upon the public buildings, always under the direction of an overseer, who with a stick compels them to work.” Here he seems to begin conflating the devshirme boys and war captives, or at least not differentiating between those kinds of enslaved boys. He ultimately fell out of favor with the sultan, and was executed at Topkapi Palace. Charles Hamilton Argo, “Ottoman Political Spectacle: Reconsidering the Devsirme in the Ottoman Balkans, 1400-1700,” University of Arkansas Dissertations (2005), Lela Ivanokovic, “Controversy about the Devshirme: Vehicle for Social Advancement or an Inhumane Act,” Georgetown University Dissertations (2013), Anton Minkov, “Conversion to Islam as Reflected in Kisve Bahasi Petitions: An Aspect of Ottoman Social Life in the Balkans, 1670-1730,” McGill University Dissertations (2000), Evgeni Radushev, “‘Peasant Janissaries?’” Journal of Social History (Winter 2008). While they were fed and watered as one would expect of a group that would be turned into soldiers They would have been dressed in red jackets and hats so that they would be easily visible, to discourage kidnapping or escapes. Because remember like 5 minutes ago we said that Janissaries were not allowed to get married or have children. When we talk about “baptism” here, we’re using the broader definition meaning “a person’s initiation into a particular activity or role, typically one perceived as difficult.”. This system is seen not only in the Islamic states and the Ottomans, but in all the traditional empires. The children taken as spoils of war from European nations had very different experiences than those collected as devshirme tribute from the already conquered lands in Ottoman control. And as the Janissary corps itself changed, so too did the devshirme system. “Let officers be stationed at Gallipoli,” he said, “and as the Christians pass by, let them choose the fairest and strongest of the Christian boys to become your soldiers.” Agreeing, the sultan issued an edict. It’s effectively a manual for how a Janissary should expect to live, but it also provides some interesting commentary on the changing nature of the Janissary corp. © 2015-2021 DIG: A HISTORY PODCAST. For some, it could change their lives (once the rules loosened, and boys were able to keep ties with their families in the Balkans, and sent money back) – but even if it changed their lives, that didn’t make it any easier. Devshirme. They carried with them a written decree, the “firman,” and where ever they showed up, the villagers had to come out and present their sons. He even broke Ottoman law by building an Orthodox church for his brother, a priest, in the Bosnian town of Ravanci.6. With the nepotism and thousands of citizens volunteering to join the corp, it was unimaginably bloated. The different types of trade used by the empires were one of the biggest differences between them. Mahmud II | Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons, Averill: In 1826, Sultan Mahmud II secretly trained a new artillery corp without the Janissary hierarchy’s knowledge. And this was just when they got permission to start doing this; as evidenced by Mehmed Pasha, there were plenty of devshirme ‘recruits’ who were taking some kind of wife or lover on the side, having children with her, and then putting those children into the ranks of the Janissaries without permission of the sultan. What the corps had been known for — keen and superior battle prowess and firearm use — was a thing of the past. You seem to glorify the slave system because a FEW slaves received “good jobs” but you forget that the vast majority lived in near poverty, with only a military life, and the vast majority died in the many wars the sultan waged. Devşirme: The Tribute of Children, Slavery and the Ottoman Empire Between 1522 and 1536, the second most powerful man in the Ottoman empire was Ibrahim Pasha.The most surprising thing about Ibrahim Pasha is not his diplomatic successes or his untimely demise. Some resisted, some embraced the devshirme system. - Devshirme (Ottoman Turkish: دوشيرمه ‎, devşirme, literally "lifting" or "collecting"), also known as the blood tax or tribute in blood, was chiefly the practice where by the Ottoman Empire sent military officers to take boys, ages 8 to 18, from their families in Eastern and Southeastern Europe … They preferred Balkan farm boys, but also targeted Anatolian Christians. Marissa: Ibrahim Pasha was born to Orthodox Christian parents in Epirus, a region that was then part of the Republic of Venice and is now shared between Greece and Albania. Subject to strict rules, including celibacy, they were organized into three unequal divisions (cemaat, bölükhalkı, and segban) and commanded by an ağā.…, …required to pay included the devşirme, an occasional levy on male children who were taken from Christian households to be converted to Islam and trained as members of the administrative elite of the empire, including the military Janissary corps. This dichotomy was officially ended in 1920–23, when the Ankara-based Turkish regime favoured Turkey as a sole official name, which had been one of the European names of the stat… There were many who embraced it, who even requested it for their sons and themselves. Research how many died at Malta the previous year. In theory the process of the devshirme was to sever a child’s ties with his family. The history of slave rebels and resistance in the Caribbean is a rich and complicated story. Because these Christian communities were had been conquered by the Ottomans, however, this is a sort of conundrum for scholars of the Ottoman empire. Like our friend Ibrahim Pasha, who was known for improving his blood relations’ lives considerably once he attained the position of Grand Vizier, many devshirme children grew up to be extremely powerful allies for their families. Thanks for listening, Danica. I particularly love his devil-may-care attitude with just building churches when it was illegal to do that. Its colossal dimensions guaranteed it a military surplus that allowed it to recover from any defeat in a very short time, as happened in Lepanto, and to undertake campaigns simultaneously on different … A painting depicting the “blood tax” of Christian boys, Suleymannane | Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons. The sultan would collect Christian boys from the Balkans and turn them into his slaves.Usually the boys were around the ages of 8 or 10 but sometimes even as old as 20. What are your thoughts in the practice in Cricassia where parents gave birth to babies specifically to be sold into slavery. They also had restrictions on the ethnic and religious backgrounds of boys they would take. A sultan who thought to cross them paid the ultimate price. He was not allowed to marry or have children or own property without express consent from the sultan. Others posit that he “feathered the nests” of his relatives too liberally. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The Janissary Corps itself, however, changed dramatically, and existed until 1826, when it was violently abolished by the Ottoman sultan. Not being taken as a tax, actually being rich and educated man. Ottoman Empire applied the slave system of the Mamluks to a large extent. The nepotism was rampant. It really captures the heartbreak many felt about devshirme. Two men, hoping to join the corps, wrote directly to the sultan: “Your Majesty, our illustrious and generous Sultan, may you be healthy!
It notes, for example, that the devshirme system was the primary mode of acquiring new Janissaries, and that for the most part this was an involuntary procedure, but that in the mid-15th century, for example, Bosnian Muslims, though recently converted, requested that their children be eligible for the devshirme. Averill: Who would be immune to a goat bribe!? The Grand Vizier was granted power of attorney for all state affairs, and could only be dismissed by the sultan himself. This was particularly the…, …advancement was the system of devşirme, which involved the periodic conscription of Christian boys between the ages of 10 and 20. Some historians theorize that he’d made enemies of too many of the Ottoman elite, including the sultan’s favorite wife, Roxelana. They wanted the smartest, most physically fit, and best-looking boys. In some Western accounts, the two names "Ottoman" and "Turkey" were often used interchangeably. Historical Background Since Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the Great Conqueror of Istanbul, Turkey is run by “Devshirme” system. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Our request of the Sultan is that we two wish to be enlisted in the Janissary Corps and in accordance with the law, be issued with Janissary uniforms. [24] The kuls were mostly prisoners from war, hostages, or … So while there were those who did not want to give up their children to a life of servitude to the sultan, resentment or resistance were not always the standard reactions. Then they were stripped naked, and inspected for bodily defects. Murad II's son; known as the Conqueror; achieved most dramatic feat in Ottoman history by conquering Constantinople. There would have certainly been a range of responses to the capture and enslavement of these children, regardless of the opportunities afforded. The Ottomans kept meticulous records, so the Chief of the Janissaries had precise knowledge of how many children had been taken, where they’d been taken from, and how many Christian families lived in every village under the Empire’s dominion who might be eligible for devshirme at the next conscription issuance. Marissa: Rather than experiencing ‘social death’ of the slavery we see in the Americas, Janissaries were more like intermediaries between the ruling elite and the people, because of their unique roles as police, soldiers, tax collectors, etc, but also business owners and guild members. Marissa: The opening paragraph describes the legal and political goals of devshirme. And we’re your historians for this episode of Dig. Undoubtedly the enslavement of these men through the devshirme system had far from the desired effect. Your two slaves—new Muslims.”7 Clearly these two men understood the relationship of Janissary to Sultan, that of slave to master. That’s kind of hard to conceptualize, coming from a place where chattel slavery is the standard of slave systems. https://www.britannica.com/topic/devsirme, Islamic world: Continuation of Ottoman rule, Ottoman Empire: The triumph of the devşirme. While the first bits were literally painless, obviously the final requirement was not. The ori­gin of the kuls was mostly pris­on­ers from war, hostages or slaves that were pur­chased by the state. Per older Turkish tradition, ⅕ of all the spoils of war went to the Sultan to do with as he pleased. Researched and written by Averill Earls, PhD, Produced by Averill Earls, PhD and Marissa Rhodes.

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