The Janissaries were the elite fighting units of the Ottoman military. These specially trained and recruited warriors had a modest beginning in the Turkish forces, being originally drafted from the ranks of prisoners of war or Christian slaves. So successful were these foreign-born warriors that the Ottoman developed a system in their provinces, mostly the Balkans, that one child between 8-20 years old out of every 40 Christian families was chosen to go to special schools and training to become a Janissary. The education took many years and included mathematics, language, physical fitness, various weaponry, and discipline. Janissary units became the backbone of the many battles fought by the Ottoman Sultans as they expanded the Turkish Empire in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Originally the Janissaries relied heavily on archery weapons but by the 16th Century had converted to the very skillful use of arquebusiers. By the 18th Century the Ottoman Empire ceased growing and the formidable Janissaries were no longer the aggressive force they had once been.
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