He ultimately fell out of favor with the sultan, and was executed at Topkapi Palace. The two men had grown close as children, and shortly after he took the throne, Suleiman appointed Ibrahim his vizier. We are not sensationalizing or glorifying here, but examining a system of slavery that looks very different (to Americans in particular) from other forms of enslavement. Averill: What I think is interesting about this song is how it absolves the church leaders of their compliance with the recruitment officers. You catch and shackle the old and the archpriests, Ibrahim was not the first or last enslaved man elevated to the status of Grand Vizier. Most scholars agree that, starting in the 1300s, the Ottomans had a particular process of collecting new kul called devshirme, a sort of human tax paid by Christians to their Ottoman overlords to fill the ranks of the enslaved army, the Janissary corp. Plus, the membership benefits of being part of the Janissaries were so enticing by the 17th century, that thousands were converting to Islam and putting in their bid to try and get an appointment. Your humble servant, etc.”8, Marissa: And yet another wrote, “Your Majesty, blessed and happy, my Sultan! For all these reasons, many Balkan towns acquired a cosmopolitan atmosphere. +3 Number of states 4. We probably unconsciously dedicated 3 of 4 episodes to those stories because these are issues that we need to study, to understand he impact that it had on the enslaved, and that it continues to have on the descendants of the enslaved, on the very fabric of our nations, in our country and throughout the Americas. According to the European’s source, “[those in] whom traces of a higher character are discernible, are placed in one of the four seraglios of Adrianople or Galata, or the old or new one at Constantinople. Very few of the general captives of war made their way into the Janissary corp. And many maintained those ties with their non-Muslim families back home, which made their loyalties all the more fractured. 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. Marissa: One of the reasons folks were clamoring to become Janissaries in the 17th century was that the Janissaries effectively had a total monopoly of power. Marissa: Clearly a sense of anger and devastation here. The men who wrote these letters were effectively rural peasants. They lived only at his pleasure, and every lira to their name was only at the sultan’s discretion. He was taken from his home, his family left hundreds of miles behind. But yes, there would have been many who resisted and resented the devshirme enslavement process because that’s what it was — the enslavement of children. 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. They are exercised in shooting with the bow and arquebuse (basically an early firearm) by day, and spend the night in a long, lighted hall, with an overseer, who walks up and down, and permits no one to stir. 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. © 2015-2021 DIG: A HISTORY PODCAST. The Devshirme was the systematic gathering of Christian boys from the Balkans who are forcibly brought to the Ottoman Empire. The officers would select boys from the best families, seeking the best possible future soldiers. 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). Very regimented, very controlled, and very much unfree. −10% Unjustified demands 3. By the second half of the sixteenth century, it was just 12,789 (in 1568) and 13,599 (in 1574). The Ottoman Empire, "The Palace" (Erdem, p.1,2) Employment of slaves: it is commonly concluded in modern historiography that what differentiated the Ottoman military-governmental slave system from its Muslim predecessors was the introduction of the child-levy, the Devshirme. Visiting Fellow, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University; Associate Professor of Ottoman History, Department of History, Akdeniz University. We, Your slaves, wish to be granted the honour to adopt Islam. In his tenure as Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha reformed the Egyptian civil and military structure to affirm Egypt’s place and loyalty in the Ottoman Empire, and convinced Charles V to make Hungary a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. If he was stationed as a policeman or tax collector, he was sent far from his blood relations. As the Janissaries grew however, and gained considerable leverage in the empire, they began to renegotiate the terms of their enslavement pretty significantly. They preferred Balkan farm boys, but also targeted Anatolian Christians. The devshirme system.
Noncompliance meant punishment. Marissa: So the strictness surrounding family ties eroded pretty quickly. He was collected by a small contingent of soldiers; the first must have just been ordinary soldiers, but after the Janissary Corps was established, it was the Janissaries who did the collection. Members of the corps were more interested in their economic ventures than in keeping ahead of the military curve. By the system known as devşirme (the notorious “blood tax”), numbers of Christian children were periodically recruited into the Turkish army and administration, where they were Islamized and assigned to wherever their services were required. They were selected to continue their education in the Enderun, the Palace School, and the rest were sent to become soldiers. They were marched to the pasha’s palace, and then divided. He appointed other devshirme recruits who were related to him to really cushy palace jobs. …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. Many put their children on the payroll ridiculously early, well before they could even conceivably be helpful or do any actual work. Dervishes were Sufi ascetic, almost saint-like, who would have had a decent enough following to be noticed by the Sultan. A painting depicting the “blood tax” of Christian boys, Suleymannane | Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons. Research how many died at Malta the previous year. one of the most powerful and longest lasting empires in the history of the world 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. As we know from other sources, this usually involved going first to the local priest, getting a list of all the boys and their ages, and then calling those families specifically into the center of town to do the selection. Such exemptions were included in the surrender terms granted to Jannina, Galata, the Morea, Chios, etc. It's not an example of tolerance if someone is … Ottoman Empire applied the slave system of the Mamluks to a large extent. Teachers come every morning, who remain with them until evening, and teach them to read and write.” Depending on what age they were taken, the captives could be in the palace service for at least three years; if they were chosen to stay longer, it was because they exhibited great promise. What is most surprising about Ibrahim Pasha, the second most powerful man in the Ottoman Empire between 1522-36, is that he was a slave. 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. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. By the 16th century, they were already a formidable and volatile force. They might become personal attendants to the sultan, provincial administrators, or even rise to be vezir-i a*-zam, the grand vezir. The Janissaries avoided taking a boy from a family that had no other boys, to prevent disruption of the family’s ability to work their land and, by extension, to pay their taxes. Rumelia was also a centre of Ottoman Islāmic culture, which flourished in the religious schools (medreses) and mosques in Üsküb, İstip (Stip), Prizren, Pristina, Monastir, and Edirne. It was useless to expect any exhibit of valour from the corps once Turks penetrated it. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The ori­gin of the kuls was mostly pris­on­ers from war, hostages or slaves that were pur­chased by the state. Clearly by 1500, that rule had been renegotiated. There is an estimate that about 500,000 boys were taken into military slavery. Here not only the younger continue to obey the elders in silence and submission, but all are governed with such strictness that no one is permitted to spend the night abroad, and whoever is punished is compelled to kiss the hand of him who inflicts the punishment.”5. Averill: So we’re not talking about a glamorous life here. Devshirme is not even the only slavery system in which enslaved people could achieve high-ranking positions. 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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. Non-Muslims in parts of the empire had to hand over some of their children as a tax under the devshirme (“gathering”) system introduced in the 14th century. But in most ways, this system was very different from the chattel slavery of the Atlantic. Sometimes the ruse worked, but usually it didn’t. This is a topic I have a continued interest in. Wherever they come, the protogeros assembled the inhabitants with their sons. In consequence, many of the timars…, …as a reservoir of the devşirme (levy of Christian boys), who held the highest posts in the Ottoman army and government. In addition to bearing the honorific “Pasha,” which is an honorific kind of like European knighthood or peerage, he served for 13 years as the Grand Vizier to Suleiman the Magnificent. And imperial Islamic empires, like the Mughals, Abbasids, etcetera, almost all had a class of enslaved soldiers. Most devshirme children were collected from the Balkans. Marissa: So from pretty early on in the devshirme history, there were really mixed responses to the ‘enslavement’ system. In June he issued an order he knew the Janissaries would defy. 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. https://www.britannica.com/topic/devsirme, Islamic world: Continuation of Ottoman rule, Ottoman Empire: The triumph of the devşirme. Marissa: So again, the ideal age was seven, when a boy was, presumably, more malleable into a loyal servant to the sultan. He intervened in the affairs of his family’s Orthodox Christian church hierarchy to ensure they got to keep church positions. . In the palace they learned Turkish and Arabic languages and literature, the Qu’ran, Muslim jurisprudence, theology, or law, and were given military training. - 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 … Averill: Talk about going the extra mile. Averill: One of the important things to remember about the devshirme system was that it, and the Janissary corp it fed into, were constantly changing institutions. Some scholars contend that it ended formally in 1639, though others push that closer to 1700. All rights reserved. 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.