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JANISSARIES. In the late fourteenth century the government of the Ottoman Empire established an elite slave infantry known as "new troops" or Janissaries (Turkish, yenicen), differentiating them from the traditional levies of free Muslim warriors. Interpreting freely the ancient rules of Islamic warfare, by which a portion of enslaved prisoners taken in battle went to the ruler, the Ottoman government continued the enslaving process in peacetime. It instituted a quadrennial collection (devsirme) ...more

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