The Ottoman Muslims and Devshirme
The Ottomans had a horrible practice called devshirme, whereby the sultan’s agents would periodically take one-fifth of all boys from Christian families. Also called Blood Levy, it was introduced by Sultan Orkhan (1326-1359). “On a fixed date, all the fathers were ordered to appear with their children in the public square. The recruiting agents chose the most sturdy, handsome, and intelligent children. Any father who shirked his duty to provide children was severely punished. This system was open to all kinds of abuse. The recruiting agents often took more than the prescribed number of children and sold the ‘surplus’ children back to their parents. Those unable to buy back their children had to accept their being sold into slavery” (Ibn Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim, 1995, p. 231). Parents who resisted were killed. Some parents deliberately mutilated their children to make them unattractive to the recruiting agents. Some of the strongest and fittest of the children enslaved through devshirme were raised to join an elite military corps called Janissaries (“new soldier”) that formed the Sultan’s guard. It lasted from about 1350 to 1826. The slave boys were forced into Islam and trained in strict discipline and warfare. In 1826, Sultan Abdul Mahmud II slaughtered many of the Janissaries and disbanded it as a fighting force.
(Friday Church News Notes, November 20, 2015, www.wayoflife.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)
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