Janissaries

   Turkish for "new troops," referring to the shock-troops of the Ottoman sultan (qq.v.). They were composed mostly of Christian boys taken in the devshirme (Turkish for "collection"), the levy exacted on non-Muslim male youths living in the sultan's domains. The boys taken in this manner converted to Islam (q.v.) and became the sultan's slaves for life. Some went into the civil administration, others were trained for the janissaries. The janissaries played a crucial role in the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (q.v.) in 1453.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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