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~or An Dinette
Linn the young lad,es of Our Lady's Convent Schoo;, Loughborough
WJ"/e fates permIt us Jet',,, be merry,
Pass all we must the fatiil ferry:
And thIS our life too whir's away
With the rotation of the d.,y
'To Enjoy Ille Tlille.' by Rouert Herrick (1591 1674)

optical. photocopYing, recording or otherwise.

without the pilar permission of the copyright owner Enqulncs should IlP

addressed to the Publishers

ISBN 1 85532 697 3



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Punted thlough Wor1d Print LId Hong Kong

Publisher's Note
Readers may WIsh to study thiS title In conjunction with the
following Osprey publications:
MM 140 Ol/oman Turks 1300-1774
MAA 259
Fllte 58 Jamssanes


Editor Sharon van der Merwe

Destgn Alan Hamp

Artist's note
For a catalogue of aN t,rles publIshed by Osprey M,lIrary please wnre to:-

Osprey Marketing, Reed Books, MichelIn House, 81 Fulham Road,

London SW3 6RB

Readers may care to note that lhe original paintings from which the
colour pliltes In thIS book were prepared are available for private
sale. All reproduction copynght Whatsoever IS retained by the
Publisher. All enquiries stlould be addressed to'
Scorpio Gallery, PO Box 475, Halisham, Easl Sussex BN27 2SL
The publishers regret that they can enter into no correspondence
upon thIS l'Th:Jttcr.


EMPIRE 1775-1820


Sultan Selim III receiving an

ambassador at the 'Gate of
Happiness' in the Topkapi

Palace. This anonymous painting

illustrates the formal nature of

the Ottoman court and the uniformed costumes worn by all

those present. (Topkapi Saray
Museum, Istanbul, Turkey)

t the close of the IRth cenLul)' the Ottoman J::mpire still had huge
military potential. [I wa.~ a complex slructure of mil ita I)' pruvinces,
autouomous regions ane! vil"tually indepeudent 'regencies'. Each
prm'ince had a governor or /)a~a, "~th a laIX(~ st;~ff including numerous
military figures. This local adlllinistratioll was primarily coucerned with
the \luslilll population, while tlw (;hl-istian cUIUJnunilies governed
theuls('!\"cs - unless Iheir affairs impinged UpOIl those of the Ottoman
stale itself. SOllIe rq~ions lI"ere of greater Illilital)' significance than
others, and most of thcse were on the frontiers. They included the
Danube valley which had sC'rved as a m~or ehanllel for Ottomau raids
into cenlral Europe 'Iud now fOnlled a vulnerahk opening where lilt'
(;hl-istian Hahshurg Empire (later knowu a.~ Austria-I-lungaJ)') could

Today the village of Pocitelj

stands next to the frontier
between Croatia and BosnlaHercegovina. During the

Napoleonic Wars it was the

Ottoman border town facing
Venetian (SUbsequently French)
Dalmatia. The existing fortifications, like the church tower

and a mosque hidden behind the

trees, are largely Ottoman.

(Author's photograph)

ill\-<lde Otlom:m territor}.

5e\'el':l1 Oltll)'in~ region~
had, hO\\'C\'er, been losl
since Ihr hi~h poinl
of OIlOl11an powrr til
Ihe 161h-17th cenlnrit>s.
Ncvcnhelrss the massi,'c
loss of Irn;LOrv which charaClerised the final cenWI!'
of Ol.lOlllan hisLOI!' hac!
ba re Iv bcgl.lIl.
The l11alll
which the Olloman government CUll enU)' faced
was the Iefusal of many
provincial authorities to
obey the sultan, widespl'ead
thongh small-scale revolLs,
and a slcrp economic decline which underlnilH'd Ihe government\
ahilil)' to finance military campaigns. Despil(' all rhese problems,
however, Ottoman forces conLinued 10 fi~ht harc! and often well. Hutthr
impoverishlllent of the established military ~rollPS meant that a large
proporLioll had 10 find ac!dilional means of making a living, while
man)' became .so drspel-are th:u the)' turned bandit. Pat<ldoxicall}'
perhaps, these same bandit groups would also plO\'ide the Ollomans
with some of their most effective troops bel'01 e fUIHlallletllal militaI)
refomls produced a 'modern' army in the 19th ('entury. In fact the
survival of the Olloman state during these difficuh deC:-1dt>s, and in the
fact> of predatory ehri tian neighboUI . showed iL~ ba.sic srren~th.
Military men sLiIl formed a social elile and Ihe Turks themselves
regarded oldiering as the finest possible career. The Ottoman aml)'
conLinued to fulfil iL~ lr<lditional jobs of border defence, quelling
uprisilll,'S and providing a mobile field force against foreign invasion,
The arlny was al. 0 designed to neutralise its own often bitterly antagonistic rival clements. Ceremonial military costume, weaponry and
decordted horse-harness also conLinued to pia)' a pmmin('nt role in such
Olloman cultural lif('. Even 0, there is no denying thar the Ottoman
at'mies were at their least efIecLive in the lale IRI h cen tmy. They still consisted of kapli<ulu, salaried regular troops, 1110st of whom wereJanissaries,
and a huge variety of topmkll, unpaid irregulars. A large part of the
Janissary corps wa.~ out of g-overnme.nt control and was unwilling to
accept modernisation of its strtlCture, tactics or ",eapol1l)'. The old
kudal Sipahi cav~lry had virtually ceased to exist as a lIIilitary force,
largely h~ving evolved into a peaceful rural arislOcracy. Technical corps
sllch as the artillel)' were in beller condilion since they had accepted
sOl11e degree of modernisaLion during the IRth ccnnllY, whereas the
Ottoman navy was in the worst shape of all.
The Ottoman Empire ' "<IS only capable of rai ing :;0,000 troops for a
major campaign. Consequently, the Ottoman army relied on defensive
strategy and lost th(' military initiative. The e weaknesses had long been
recognised hy the sultan, but the quesLion of wheuler a cure lay in
bringing Ottoman forces back to u1eir original condition or by a

wholesale adoption of western F.umpcan miliwry systems "'ould r('main

unanswered until til(' destruction of li1(, .I:lI1issary corps in 1~~6. II was
also diflicult 10 reform the military while the state was at war. as th('
Ottoman Empire W:'lS on and off rhmughout the Napoleonic era.
Of all the Ottomans' neighbours, Tsarist Russia was the most
predatol)'. It wanted control of the Bosphorus and Dardanelle Straits
and intended 10 dominate the Orthodox Christian Balkan;,. :'I1eanwhile,
Napoleon sa'" OllOm:ln territories as the route to British-ruled India.
Br'itain itself feared bOlh Russian control of the Dardanelles and French
inJ1uence in the Middle East, and consequentl), tended to support the
Ollotnan Empire.



The ceremonial tents of the

Vizier Davut Pa~a on campaign

against the Russians and AustroHungarians In the Balkans, 1788.
(Aquatint by W. Watts, after a

drawing by Luigi Mayer, Bib. Nat.

Cap. d'Estampes, Paris, France)

The Olloman Empire had a larger population than its land conld
actually support which resulted in bloated cities, migration to unlic'rpopulated mountain regions, ,,~dcspread bandilI)' and piracy. It also
meant that Ottoman armies had a ready pool of miliL:.{I)' manpower.
Within O[1olllan Furope there were MusliJn majol-ities in Albania,
Bosnia, Hercegovina, Crele, parts of Bulgaria and most of the cities. The
Muslim population was, however, in J'elative decline becausc it suffered
disproportjonately high militar), casualties in :l state where, officially.
only Mnslims served in the ann)'. ChJ'istian expansion was also tuming
thcMuslirns into a thrr.atened, though socially dominant, (Iile.
Furthen110re, recent Ottoman milit:uy defeats had "'itnessed an
alal'ming new phenomenon; namely the wholesale slaughter of Muslim
populations in lost rerritories. Such 'ethnic cleansing' had not been seen
before, bur was to remain a feawre of most Christian Balkan 'national
liberation' movements dO"~1 to the plTsent da),.
The :'I1uslim population of the Ottoman Empire was largely of the
Sunni persuasion, although there were large Shia minorities in eastern
Anatolia, Syria and Iraq. Non-Muslims were members of one of the mil/f'ls
or brgely autonomous communities into which the entire O[1oman
population was divided; such as the Armenian Christians, Orthodox
Christians, Catholic Christians, and Jews. In rural regions these
non-Ivluslim populations were ruled by their 0\\'11 'notables' who
Jaw and 01"der :mct also for
relations \\~[h the MuslinJ
Greek Christians rnjo),ect a culturalI-' and evrn :1
politically p"i"i!egecl position compared to the
others. blll the Western
European visitor tellded to
be dismissive of these fellow
Christians, and g-ener'ally
advocated alliance with the
dominant Turks.

\'i,itillg \I'{'sl('1'Il ,,,Idiers and diplolllilb had <l cleal' appr ecialioll of
OtlO11lilil milirar'\' Sll ('ngths alld wl'akllrssr,_ Geller<11 KO(']lkr, the
princip<11 ach'i'er 10 th(' lradilional corp" lOld hi, slIpel ior, in I,ondon
lhal their kaden, ,howed no foresighl ill operalions aKainsl the nell1>
alld IITOIe: '\\'hat is expecll'o from "uch troops, or ralher mob LIlliS commil110CCP NOlhing bUI shame and oisgrace, <1nd yrl Ihe)1 h<1I'C fine men,
cxcellcl1l horses, good gell1S, plenty of ammunition, and provision, and
lorage, alld ill short ~real ahundance oLdlllw malerials required LO COIIslilule a fille imll)', bUI llw)' wanl onlel' and sYSlcm, which would noT he
diffintll 10 (',lahli5h if lheir prillcipal officers were nol so a wnishingl>
adl'<'rse 10 allYthing lellding IOwaI'd, it.'
In laet, the Turks and IIlany of lheir \111"liln subjecLs remailled
excellelll mililary m:llerial. \.on[iuenl, a~grcssi\'e and motivated h\'
religiOlls certailll\', their highly u<tditional attitude towards warfare \l'a
illustrated in a lillie-kllown poeln by Wasil' commc1l101-aung a defeal or
the French in HJO I:
\\11en thc mi5beli Ying Frenchillan suddenly s\l'ooped


Egypt'S land,


(after the Treaty of Ku<;:uk Kaynarco
H. - Moldavia
W. - Wallachla
G. - GiJrc;stan
A,- Algiers


Tu -TuniS
Tr, - Tripoli
H -HiJaz


Empire in 1774

Lost 1775-1820

il!i Vassals


l'hither was the army's senl h)' the Cr'eat Sultan's

( onll11and;
Illlt s on the foe o'erthrew and defeated his luckkss
'J hell you went ann sC:-llleren the vile foe Oil evel)
'''1Ien tJ1ey your lightning, life-<:onsuming,
can lion scanned,
The hell-doomed misbelievers knew the \"dllit)'
of all they'd planned.
countless foemen your happy o11icers did
Three full years, day and nighl, Ihey fOllghr
you brand to br-and,
Wr~tched, they fell at your feet and merc)' did
lOU do deserve in glory so to stand!
Bravo! Champion of the Age! Rending ranks
in serrien figh t!
0iuw your sabre hangs o'er the fil-e, sparklilll{
like the stars alnighl!
Soldiers would face extr.Hlrclinary odds 10 eanl a
(plen/{ or jewelled decoration given by the sultan for
courage in the (~lce of a uperior enemy. Perhap as a
result the archaic OUOlllaJl anllies won several victories
again'tmuch su'onger foes du,;ng the er.i of Ihe Frelldl
Revolutionary Viars.
Ottoman Fragmentation
As the

ultan's authority declined, local Muslim 'notau!es' ruse to

power in many prO\~nces, They also a sembled private annies which were
often more nUlllerous, better paid and uetter equipped than those of the
of1icial Ottoman g()\'(~rnors, Some of I hese ayaru
tablished highly
effective regimes with loyal support from the IOGlI populatioll. OU.olllall
regular rroops were similarly thin on the ground in aUlonomous parts of
the Halkans such :-IS Wallachia and Moldavia (modern Romania). VVithin
Anatolia the ultan controlled only a few prminces, the lest ha\'ing been
in a greater or lesser state of rebellion for decades. As one \isitor said: 'It
is governed U)' independelll Agas, or Chief: of Districts; remhed from
oppression, e\'el)' lIIan asserting aud maintaining his 0\\'11, .. and
defending his estates with resolntion and effect. III the eJl.igencies of war
thev have made common cause \\ith the state: they have nmlJibuleci a
<jllole of men tu the war; but upon no account have they suffned Pasas
or OffiC(TS of autl-lOrit} to come amongst them to govern.'
Much the same was Inle of the Ardb-speaking areas, though the
situation in Egypt was diffnent. Here a re\~val of Mamluk power
had resulted in the 'Neo-Mamluk Household Syst('m', . ubstantial
Illililary forces duminated Egypt when the French il1\'3ded in 17YH.
Olloman ;mlhority was yel more nominal in the autunolnu~ )JOllll
Afl'ican regencies - TI;poli, Tunis and Algiers, left to their m\Tl ne\~ces as
long a.s uley recognised ule ultan and contributed fleers to his navy.

A serdengefti agasl or platoon

commander of the 'Head

Sacrificer' elite Janissary assault

troops, This painting forms part

of a collection of an album on
Ottoman costumes produced by
Fenercl Mehmed between 1815
and 1825, (Rahm; M, Koo;; Coli.,
Istanbul, Tur1<ey)

'1'1 eat\, oj

fZii 'Cd, Kaynar a ends Ouoln,lnRussian \\'a,;

Abdnihalllit J becomes sultan.
Ouol11am cede BnkO\ ina to Ilab~i>nr"!{s; dekal of pani. h
invasion of AIg-el ia.
E'L'olern Georgi;J pas es from Persian to Russian sULeraint\'.
1787-92 Ollol11an-Russian war: OUonlans encourag-e allli-Rmsian risings
in Caucasus.
Ilabsburgs auack Ouoman bllpil e :LS all) uf Rnssia.
S<lilll III becomes sultan.
17 9
Pe;Jce of S\'isbtov cu<b Olloman-Habsburg \\ar and re-estab1791
lishe border., of 17 R.
Peace of Ia~i ends Oltol11an-Rw,sian war. and Ri\'er NiSIn
(Dnistel) becomes new border: Spanish e\~eted from Oran in
France annexes Venelian Ionian islands.
FI ench in\'ade Ouoman :gypt: OIlOl11ans form alliance wil h
Britain and Russia;joint Russian and Ouolllan fleet lakes Ionian
islands frolll french; Ali Pa a of Janina takes Pr('veza, \'uniba
and 13utrint fronl French.
apoleon invades Palestine. and is defeated at Acre (2~ March1799
21 May); Napoleon returns to France leaving arlllY in I::lmn.
French defeat Ouoman allempt to n~l:~ke EgypT.
1ROO-6 Ouoman campaigns against Wabhahi fundall1('ntalisLs in Arahia
and rebels in S)Tia.
French evacuate Eg)VI.
Peace of AmiellS end.s Fn'nchOuolllal1 war.
03-05 Americans blockade Tripoli (Libya).
Sian of Serbian ren)lt.
Ollom;Jnsjoin Franct' in \\-ar against Russi;J and Britain; Rus iallS
invade Ouoman terdtory; Sel'bian rt'bel takt' Iklgrade,
BtiLish fleet penelrates Dardanellt's but reLrt':HS with loss; Briti b
im-a.sion of Egn)t is defeated al Ra hid; . ultan S<lim III o\elthrow11 by military l'CVOlt, r'epla cd b) MlIstaJa 1\'; Otto mall na\'\
breaks Ru i;J11 blockadc of Dardarwlks.
o Sultall Mustafa TV o"erthrown. rt'placed by bhmud II.
Ouol11al1 oO'ensi\'c agaillst r..bel S rbs,

Late-16th-century Tur1<ish
flintlock muskets. The

mechanism Is simple and sturdy,

while the triggers lack guards,
like earlier Tur1<:lsh matchlock
muskets. (Author's photograph;

Askeri Muzesi, Istanbul, Tur1<ey)

Ii') I ~

Treaty of I~ucharest enns Russian-Olloman \\'ar, Ollomans cede

lkssarabia (Moldu\'a) lO R!lSsia; I'a~,l of Algiers declares \,'ar OIl
IR12-1 7 SlIlta n 's :1111 hori I)' rei 111 posed Oil mosl of Analoli:,.
Renewed Serbian I"(\olt.
I HI?)
OUOIII,III aUlhorities negotiate Seruiall aUlonomy: A.mel-icms
def{'al AIg-(~riall fleet.
1815-20 Olloman allihoriry reimposed on most ofSHia.
1tl~0-~3 Olloman empire defeated in "'ar wilh Persia.
Slall of Creek revolt in the Pelopollllese allu Aegean islanns.


The French artist Jean Brindisi
produced a large series of
Ottoman costume prints In the
18205, including uniforms and
ceremonial dress trom many

years earlier. This picture shows,

from lett to right: a fuhadarJ or
government representative of the

Janissary Corps, a divan yavu~u.

the official responsible for maintaining order during government

sessions, and a Janissary auxiliary responsible for guarding

foreign embassies.


Olloman armies consisted of salarie-n !W/)J!III!II regulars, tOjJm!dl regional

irregulars, shun-lerm le"ies called lIIiri-as!a'ris, )'Plii IIIji:rat0 cOllsislillg of
lhe elllir'e 1v11151illl populalion oJ'a tOlln called lip for local defence, ann
rill' ~(jI1l"illii\,ol1, a g-c'lwral Illass of Irihal irrq~lIlars. 'V!OSI officel's lacked
formal lraining and many han simph' purchased their ranks. ""eslern
"isilol s wei e aSlOnished lhat a man could bu' weapons and simply
neclare himself 10 be a soldiel lJ)' reg-islering- with ;; .Janissary regimenl,
allaching himself to a senior officer. orjoining the armcd following of a
provincial leader. The fact that the man could jusl as ea ily declare
himself no longer a soldier, and lea'e withont criticism, caused e\'cn
mOlT amale-ment. Fon~ig-rwrs a];,o fOlllH! il hard to disting-uish belween
truejanissaries and their YOl/loks, or anxiliaries, many of whom were Inercenaries who carried uul the janissaries' military
dulie,. The\' could ch;lug-e their 011([, 01 regiment.
whenev<cr i1w)" \\~shcd. A growing cornl1l1mily of
interest between provincial garrisons and local
merchanLS or anisans meallt thai locals enlisled in
Janissary ranks as a form of proreclion and to
enjoy the pl-ivile-ges associated ,,~th the milil,U)'
elite. Thc same was lrue of olher garrison ITg-imenLS, such a, lhe OW/IS. A veT)' differenl siluation
existed in Nonh Africa. Here the janissaries ol",
for example, A.lgiers remained lirsl-generation
volunteers from Turkey or Ihe Balkans
As lhe janis>ari<cs neclined in effectiveness, so
olher infanlry formation arose. Troops rais(~u by
olher prmincial governurs lended 10 be calle-d
Sl'ratlwtu and incluued pionec~rs, Ininers and
hi.Jartis who helped the galTison arlill('I)'. The
Albanians also achiC\'ed a mililary prominence
not seen at any other period in Albanian hisLOn'.
Other Ottoman soluiers of this period came from
very varied backgronnds. A considel-ahle increase
in lhe Irdns-Sahar:lIl slave lrade meam that black
African soldiers of slave origill formed the
bodyguard of lhe Bt'')' of TI"ipoli in Lihya. :--1an~'
came ii'om the same parts of West Afl-ica as slaves
shipped acros, the Allanlic, lhough of conrse

their prospects \\'('n' va,th,IH'ller thall ill th(' ..\lIIel ican pLult,lliuns, En'lI
less well kno\\'n is Ihe blet 1h;1l s')IIle \\'hite sl;I\'('s of Europeall 01 igill \\'('I'e
expuncd in the ui!i!0si' di,eClion, rrom Otlolliall lorth Arrica to
Muslim 't<ttes suuth or the Sa h:1I'a , I\lany Halkan soldiers sern'd ill
lbbsllllrg or Russian armies herore leturllillg tu Ottomall territu" \\ith
exp('rirl1C(' or 'nIodern' \\,;'1I1are,
rl he recruitment or Ottomall cavalr\' \\'as less clear, since the old
feudal Sipahis had largely been replaced b, salaried regulars and Deli
volullteers, The recruitlllellt of I\lanlluks I,'as yen dirrrn'lIl. 1>oth in
Egypt alld ill til(' frw other places \\'here ca\'alry orsl:II'e urigin slill pbved
a role. The hasic S\'Stelll of importing such slaves \\'as. h()\\ever, the sallie
as it had been in the latrr Mi<.ldl( Ages (see !'-IAA ~;jY: Thp ,\falllit/io 12501517). Most Mamluks were still of Geurgiall or Cit cassian origill, though
Malllluk rallks 1I0W inchldrd free-1>om \ZlIreis, ])usnians, Alhanians.
Anatolian Tllrks, a few con\'crted Armenians and .1('IVS, as \\'cll as sOllie
convened \\,estern European prisoner -{)f~war. In additioll to soldiers of
slave or captive origin, Malllluk lea<.lers hired IIlercenal'ies, illcluding
foreign sp('cialisls, an<.l 10\\'- talUS Sm-nt;lS or 'saddlns' \\'ho supposedl~
included Egyptian Cllristians IIla.sCjuerading as Muslims,
The lillie that is knO\\11 ahout recruitlllellt fur the techllical corps,
such as art iller\' and murt<tr men, illdicates that a large proportion came
from Bosnia and other ])alkan \1llslim populations, fro 11 I ex- 'ipahi GWahymen whu hadlosl their fiefs during various re!orms, alld frurn hired
foreigll IIlet cellaries, The Ottoman navy harltraditionally relied on noncomhatant Christian ailors, with gnnne"s and marines recnlited from
Turkish and other Mllslim coa.slal populations. Pl,ior to the ethnic
cleansing of the l!JLh century rhe Greek islallds and particularly Crelc
"ere, of cuurse, home to substantial Muslim comlliunities.
Eumpean mercenaries includerl extraordinary adventurers. Fll'iti h
officers aboard a ship off the Anatolian coast in 180 I were astonished
when a white bearded old 'Turk' climbed al.)()ard
and started speaking Gaelic to sUllie lTighlanrl
troops. He had fled to Ihe OUoman Empire
around 1760, ha\ing killed a man in a duel, then
joined the sultan's army where he rose to the rank
of artillery general. This was probahly Tngliz
Mustafa, born Campbell, who together with a
Frenchman named Allbert continued refonns
to the Siiralfi 'Rapid FiIT' Artillery Corps
est<thlished hy the FranCO-Hungarian Baron
Fran;ois de TOll in the T770s, On the other side
of the Mediterranean, the Bey of Tripuli's
chamberlain \1-<iS a Russian ITnegade, and the
commander of Tripoli's fleet was Peter Lyle who
had jumped ship fi'orn the British navy, The
designer o( Algiers' new harbour defences was the
ex-Swedish consul SchulLLe, and one of the De;:
of Algiers' best cannon-maker wa.s F,'an(ois
Dupont, late of the French king's artillery.
Muhammad Ali the new governor of Egypt
was the must emhusiastic milital)' moderniser in
the Ottoman Empire alld he also enlisted



Late 18th,early 19th century

padded leather archery target
used by Sipahi cavalry during
training. (Author's photograph:

Askeri Muzesi, Istanbul, Turkey)

BCLOW French watercolour

painting of Ottoman uniforms in
Egypt or Syria, c.1800. Left and
centre: senior Janissary officers;
right: Deli auxiliary cavalryman
from the rear. (Bib. Nat., Cep.
d'Estampes, Paris, France)

w('slerners. including some captured oming his remarkable defeat of the

Hritish ilwasion of 1807.
Ranking Structure

Leather case to hold a small

drum which would have been
attached to the front of a cavalry
officer's or NCO's saddle and
used to help reassemble
dispersed horsemen. (Author's
photograph; National Historical
Museum Conservation
Dept. Store, Moscow,

Titles could ha\e dill"erent meaning in diffet-ent area.s 01 lypes of unil.

Hasically, however, ranks ran as follows:
Administrative officers:
Supenrisor of a corps,
Commander of a regimell[ or large unil,
T.ienlenanl or assistant to a commanding oflicer,
Kethl~l(la Yel;
[xecutivf" Officer,
Chief Sui be,
<;avu~ Ha i
Kapu (;ukadar
Operational officers:
Odaba I
Colonel's as i tant,
landal-d nearer,
~\I Ba I
Chief Cook,
v\':H('r Bearer
These leLsl lhree were middle-ranking field oflicers. There \wre also
valious l/Iii/{1:Lim and Imill/kpt, junior officers or oroerlies, and the [(1T'1I..1
(sergeanl or disciplinary officer).
Each sfluad of men was commanded by a spr buliik or
bOliilib04l (corporal or junior CO). Promotiou was
slrictly by seniority \,ithin thc f"xisting t-:lIlks.
Theoretically, only officers above the rank of [orban
could marry. Each unit also had apprentices, usually
from amongsl the sons of men air ady in that
corps, who learned the u-ade while helping "rith
equipment and animals. Each o[ak (corps) was
divided into m1a (reg-imenLS), these being
ubdi\ided into biiliih (squads).


The weaknesse of the OUolllan army during these decade may have
been exaggerated. Certainly Ottoman forces \,-cre successful in ambush
and small-scalf" counterattacks, and \-\'eslern ad\risers advocated
defensive guerrilla call1paigns, making full u e of mountainous ten-ain
and avoiding open bartJe. As a result, severdl invading forces wele
di\rided, harassed and defeaterl in deGlil. Ottoman infantl)' and cavalry
scattered in the face of artillery bombardment but were able to
reas emble very quickly, even in broken terrain. During an artack lhe
infantry advanced in groups of 40 to 50, one rank or group advancing
and firing while the second reloaded, maintaining their steady advance'
and in the face of considerable losses. The final charge would then be
made Mthollt support or resen'es. Cavall) played a minimal role and fortifications increased in irnporGlnce, ranging from small wooden jJolnnkw


Print by Jean Brindisi illustrating

uniforms of the modernised
Humbaraci Mortar Corps. Left to
right: Tlmarlt l supported by a
government fief Or estate,

Ulufe/i, paid directly by the state,

Tlmar/, Subay" or officer.


to 1Il<' Inain flonticr fOrlleSM:S "hel(' OIlOl11an architecL~ n~ed \\'cstelll

theories of l11ilitan archil(TllIl'e, TIH'sC wCle slrengthened during the
earl\'\'ears 01 Suhan :\1<Ihl11l1l II's rei~n, and 1H'\\'corpsoffrolllicrguarc!l
WCI e created,
The Janissal ies renlaincd uoth thc Ollol!l:\Il Ernpin'\ 111051
imponalll infanll) corps, alld iL~ gre;ucstl11ilitary wcakness, Apart fro III
a handful of elite regimcnts around !stanhnl and in a fe\\' pru\'incial
capitals, tlwJaliissaries had \'inuall~ no formal training,
Estilnates of the sizc uf Ihejanissal)' corps val')
enonllonsly, Around 1700 I ~,OOO werc registel ed
in the Istanbul Mnl)' lists, thongl1 ani): 2.000 were
expected tu sen'e in cOlllh:n, T\\'enty years btcr,
13,000 of thelll rcponed for duty, hm only 1,600
were slill \\~Ih the culollrs when the arnl\ reacll<'d
Edirne, 220 kilometres a\\'a)', Olhers estil'nated the
total !lumber of ,lanissaries in LlH' Olloman
Empire at EiO,OOO, while one {'oreign obsCl'ver
believer! that there "t're np tu 100,000 janiss,u it'~
of whol11 50,000 might appear when slInnllolH'd
to the colonrs, In SYTia the descendanls of earlier
Janissary g:lITisons had been assimilated into
,he local population: The sal11C was tl'll<' in
Iraq and Eg)'pl, though here ilion' I'ecentl}
aITiver!.J;missaries were not yct assimilated,
Thc struclllre of the Janissarv corps lemaill<'d
(-'ssentiall)' the s,une as it had hcen in the days of
greatness (see Elile .')': TllP./nlli~;arips), efT'01:ts to
modernise th( corps ha\'ing failed, Somc ol'ta (reg,
iments) had won the I'ight to certain traditional
dutie, such as gnat'ding foreign elnbassies,
policing Istanbul harbour and customs houses, or
acting as a fire-brigade, In Cairu some of the great
Citadel lOwcrs were held by lucal.Janissaries, while
others were held by their biller rivals, the Azn/J5.
lJespite their military ineffecti\'eness, these
Janis alies had an ahuust myst ical view of lIl<'ir role as defenders of the
Olloman state, and this COlllributed to Lbe vehemence with which the)
resisted I'efornl. Even critical ohselyers uuld nOI deny that the
janissarics had enormouS es/n'it r!prrnjJs, which manifested itsel'fin strange
\\'a\'s, When a handfnl of younger soldiers dn'ssed as women were called
th~ 'harem', fur example, the)' were placed in a sep;irate tent and givcn
a spt'cial gilaI'd, They erved as a son of regimental talisman and would
be dcfended to the death in ca.,e of defeat.
In triClh' military tel'ms, ill(' best janissaries wele bl'a\'(', generally
more intrepid and showed greatcr indi\'idnal initialil'e than \o\'est('rJ1
inbnllY, ~1ost uf their tiifenk (muskets) were matchlocks rather than the
ne\l'('I' 'ninllocks, They lOok longer to reload hut were larger, more
accnr:lte and had longer rAngc than most 'v\'estcrn Inllskets, The supposedl\' uld-bshioned stv!c of Ottoman infantry warfare shuuld nol,
ho\\e\er. be tal-enlOo literally, The BalkanJanissal'ies had experiencc 01
1~1Cing ',,'eSH'rt! warfare' and were clearly not impressed, Their o\\'n u'aditions emphasised indi\idual initiati\'(' and they regarded Western

inf,"lln' almost as mindless automatOns, lacking prowl'ss alld hOllollr.

1;t1,issaries partirularly objected 10 the bayonet which they saw as a prr'",',s;on ufthe 'cold ste('I' (~thic, forcillg nwnto fightl1lore like machines.
The Hos/(l1IC1S were anotlwr lI'aditional Otlolllan inh1J1try corps who
formed part of the IW!J1!wlu. salaricd regulars. Thrir 011([ (regilnenLs)
\I'en' stationed around Istanbul and Edirne as an elite reserve, but they
numbered only a few thousand and were ahnost as resistant to change as
the.Janissaries, The Soloks wel'(~ an even smaller cerenlonial guard for tl,e
sultan's palace.
The galTisons of the Bosphorus forLS were increased in 179~-4, those
on the Asian shore being placed under a boga: 1/aWI, or Ho phorus
superintendent, while each fort was commanden hy a dizd([l' or wardell.
Thp eadier spit!Jam had ueen incorporated intO the Janissary corps while
an entil'el)' separate spkb([n rorps now sl'rvl'd as a rural militia largely
recrllited from Anatolian Turkish peasants. The fii(l'nkri.\, 'musketeers',
\I'ere 1I10re like mounted infantry and were largely rerruited fron, Kurds.
The term If'vPnd or levellf, was even less precise, being applied to bandits
in the eastern rrO\~ncps, to troops recruited from such outlaw groups,
and also to some naval sailol's. r ,ocal flalkan fon'es had also increased in
illlportance. They included Hosnian pantll/ks or paHdlll:\', and ('flak sharp.
shooters; the Muslim Bosnians having Iisen to military prominence e"en
before the Muslim Alb;l11ians.
Irregular and semiregular infal1lry equippen t1wlIlselv{'s according
to their own preferences, resulting in coloudul blll not unifon11ed
forces. Those from what might he called 'warrior populations' tended to
he' excellent marksmen, enterpl'ising, aggressil'e and highly efJective in
forests, mountains ai1d broken country particularly wlwn coopel'ating
\\'ith cavall)'. The best Ouoman loot soldiers were, in fact, light infantry.
So it is ironic that while the sultan was struggling to 'modernise'
Ottoman armies by il1lroducing western European line infantry, western
European armies were re-introducing light infanll}' to offset the
increasing fin~power of a modern battlefield.
Traditionalist refon11s by the (;r,lI1d Viziprs (;azi Hasan 1'a a and HaliI
H~mit 1'a a in the 1770
and 17l'\Os had littJe impacl.
They focused on weening
incapable, lI}'ing to make
- "
the men live in ualT<lcks
and concentrate on their
military duties. HOI\'ever,
retnrnee! once the government inspeclors had
Iefl. Selim lIi's subsequent
<lllempted to recreate the
idealised fighting force of
,Ill earlier age. The old 0"
infirm were replaced by
vounger recruits, while

This bronze cannon in the

fortress of Nizwa In Oman is a
typically old fashioned piece of
Ottoman or Persian artillery.
(Author'S photograph)



lho>'.: allempting to send ,ubstiLLIlCS \\el e expelled. Corrupl ofliccr5 wcr~

di"llIis,ed while lIe\\' officels \\'ele offererl onll lhree-lear cOll1lllis"iolls
Soldiers ,,:cre ordered lO l,'ear llllifonns at allti;lIe5 allt] 10 train e\'en da;
('x('(pt Tuesdays alld fridays. Foorl allo"<uJ('('. increased accordil;g- t~
rank, with the large amounLS allo ated tu officers also heing illll'ndcd filr
his Selyanls alld orderlies. In an auernpl to solie Ihe pmhll'm of "inler
campaigns, when .lallissaries were Ir<lrlitionalh' \I'ithchal\'ll frOIll fmlllier
gan;sons while ipahi cal'alry ""C1ll horne [0 10 k after their eSlales,
Sultan Selirn Lried lO creale two separale corps; lhal for "llinmel' war/are
drawn from !\nawlian Cal~1h)', wilh a willler corps or standing reselYe
cunsisting of Balkall janissal'ies. Selim also hoped w raise a Tnrki5h
infanlry militia in Anawlia. It was lhe failure 01 such plans which finally
led Selim LO create an l'nLirel)' new arlll)': the Nizalll-I Cedi!.
Fulluwillg" the ovenhrow of Se-lim III and the brief reactiollary
reigll of Muslafa IV, Sultan \Iahmut II allowed his Cralld Vi7ier
Bayraktar 1ustafa P~a LO continue these reform;" hUI he failcrl too.
ThereafLer Sultan 1ahmut concentraLed on building up IO~':l1 bUl tradi,
tiollal formations which finally e-llahlcd hinl to deslrov the enlire
Janissal)' system in whal became knowlI as the \ (1110\:/ //rrynYf ur
'Au picious Event' in IR2G.
The Mehter

The modernised Tophane or

Cannon Foundry with the
barracks of the



and Top Arabacl Corps to the

right, as rebuilt at the beginning
of the 19th century.


The Mehterlwne, or military band corps, had kJIIg been a rlistinclive

feature uf Lhe Guoman anrl)'. In facl Turkish hands influenced the
music of wesle-rn Europe wilh tlln~s, 'alIa Tllrca' being panicularly
poplliar in the I til centUl)'. Around 17RO composer like MOlan,
I laydn, I:\eethoven and Cluck tried lO imitate whatlhe\' calleo ]anissal)'
music.' Some Turkish instrumenLS I\'ere alsu arlopted, such as the
Turki;,h Cresce-nt or jingling-.Jollllllie', a version of lhe Ouoman fe'lJKnn
wilh which the leader uf a Mehter band kepi rime.
"Vind insLrLJmenrs cOllsisted of two killds of sevell-hole clal;net made
from plum ur apricol wood: the 101\' pitched ka!Ja zlIma and [he higher
pitched r11rf1. The k!lTeuay or bal1/ IrllmpeL was a simple hrass inSLrtlllWnr
fur keeping I'hythm, while diidiigii 'whistles' someLimes compleled the
wind section. Neldwl"f, ooubled ketLle-drtlllls, zit (c)'mbals), rial/lit (two-

,,,I<,d dl UIlIS) and thc massiyc 1105 bass drum

1<1I11H'd Ihc perclIssioll, thuugh the hUi pla\'ers
\\(','(' ,I separ:Hc mllsic:J! orgaIlisalioIl oIlly
('Illployed by thc sultan, Th('l'(' \\'CIT, in faCl,
s('\cral siz('s uf kOi~ those carricd on horseback, a
1I1idrllc-sio:,d Olle fur a call1el and the largest
11l0lll1tCrl on an elephant, though all cOllld be
placed on the ground, (:evk{lni - singel's - we1'(,
added 10 this traditional orchestra in the latc 18th
(,,11 tuT)'.
ivlehterhane bands normall\' sloorl ill a
crescent formation. The has player stood slightly
forward, like a star withill this crescent. Before the
band started 10 rial' a ,illnior sergeaIlI slepped
forward and called: 'Anention' Mehterba~l Aga, it
is time for happiness and fun,' while the IIcldwrf
play~d a three-time rh),thmic dnlln-rull. The cunductor and musi~ians s:~luted ('a~h other hefore
til(' fonner told the audience what his \1chter
\\C1'e going tu per/arm. The concen then began
with the Mehlerha.~l shollting '1Ia)'di, yall:J!I! Auention, let's go!'
Most performances consisted or bauJe-songs
and march~s, hut also incllJ(led the IIlusi(' of SlIli
m\'stics or dervishes. In addition 10 Ilwil' distil;ctive music, the MeIner also had its own form
of malThing which was almost a dance-step with
the rhythm 1,2,3-4,1,2,3-4, righl-Iert-rightpallse and half tum light-Icft-Iight-lcft-palls(' and
half turn left, and 0 on with the accompan)~ng
chant' KPJim-Al/.ah-t)isiin, /ul!lil/l-AlIlIli-l:)isiill.

had been the most powerful clement of the Ottoman army

dLlling it.~ periou of greatness. But by the late H:ith cel1lury Ottoman
cavalry were \~rtually irrelevant except in f.~'pt, sonle oLher Middle
Ea.~tern areas and North Afl'ica. Tho e that still exist~d were light horse
of th~ hussar type, They hOl'ered around the infantry as a protective
screen and carried Ollt reconnaissance, but cuuld rarely withstand a
charge by hea~er West~rn cavalry. Ne\'ertheless, their willingness to
charge over broken ground "'here \~restern cwalry dared not op~rate
a;.wnished many observers. The feudal Sipahis who had formed the elite
of the olrl OUoman armies had largely declined into a rural ariSIOCraC)'
of tax-farmers. Rather than trying 10 r~\'i\'e the Sipahis, military
reformers looked for excu es to seize the ITmaining Timm' fit'f~ to pay
new inranu), or arLillel)' forces, Some remaining Sipahis ])('came ~ small
new forc~ of kajJzhulu salaried ca\'alr; paid directly by the state.
One of the first attempted refonns wa.s w ensure that Sipahis diu nol
!jo home in winter "~tholll \\'lirten permission rroll1 their ((Ia)' bry or
,wlleak - a district commander "'ho had been vot('d into position by that
district's fief holders, Early in Selim III '5 reign the empire supposedly
had aronnd 30,000 registered Sipahis, but unl)' ~-3,OOO appeared when

A Balkan regular infantryman,

probably of Albanian origin, as
shown in an English engraving 01
the Napoleonic period. His hat
indicates that he is either a

member of the old Bostanci

corps or was from the new
Nizam" Cedid, (Bib. Nat. Dep.
d'Estampes, Paris, France)


IllUSll'ICd. SOUll' I d'ormer~

suggesled Ih;tt Ihe Sipahi
corps should be replaced
by an clllirel) new force
Llll' Deli
irrl'/{ular hOI'se. InSLead,
Sclim u-;ed to relUl'I1 Ihe
'ipahis LO their orif(inal
'plll .... ~tate, whill' Irving to
Inake Lhelll accepl model II
weapons. I Ie ,\Iso tried 10
abilitie b\ ordel in/{ that
the) cOllie to Istanbul
1'1 om
''''estern advisers, Inoslly
Fr elich, for SIX months
Irainin/{ l'\'('ry 1\\'0 years.
At firSL some Sipahis
seemed LO SUppOlL Lhis a a
way of Slrl'n/{Iheninf( theJlls('lves in the face or local
Jani saries who had been
seiling Sipahis esLaIf'S, 8UL
ill /{elll'roil Sl'lilll's allempls
10 reform the feudal cavalry
were a un uccessful as his ellill'ls to reform the
Jani saries.
Reg-IIlar 01' kolllkulu cavalrv paid direclly hy Ihe
slale had, of cour e, exisled 101 Cl'nllll-;es, HUI
man)' Kaplkulu Sipahis had beell ohliged LO leave
their barracks in search of work to suppleln.... nt
salaries Wh(lS(> \".-IllIe werl' eroded by illOalioll,
This was eyen more of a problem fOl' cav<lIIl' th<ln
for inranu'\' since the former also had to maintain
horses, The sulLan's supposed'" elite 'ilahl.<lI
cayalry guard ,,'en' in litLlf' heller cOlldition ami
their numbers were Liny, Yet by Lhl' end of Selim'
reign a new I'O J ce of around 10,000 paid LJ oopels
had been CTf'alf'd which, with provincial
hOl'semen sent bv loyal governors, f(ave Ihe
Ottoman army the besl cavalry il had een in
A larg-e pari of the irregular cayall)' c()lI~isted
of fJplis, mosl of \\'hom Wf're reCrUilf'd in Ihe
Balkans, Others came li'OITI anarchic Tllrkish and
Kurdi h regions of eastern AnaLolia, Pan of the
higher SLalUS POi/a TOlan, or Talar courier COl ps,
were probahly dra,,'n from the J)elis, This cOllri.... 1
syslem was based on regional C('IIIITS likl'
Belgrade, and no rOI'f'ig-ner was r('rmined [0
trayel Ouoman roads without a Tatar escon,


A fortress has stood on the

site of the Kalemegdan in

Belgrade since pre-Roman times.
Most of the existing Inner
structures date from Ottoman
times. (Author's photograph)

"FLOW. LEFT Ali Pa~a 01 Janina

in old age. Though he remained

nom inally loyal to the sultan, Ali

Pa~a ruleu his territories

according to his own wishes and

by so doing showed the Greek

Christians that it was possible to

dely the Ottoman Empire. (Print
by Havell after a drawing by
Cartwright, Bib. Nat. Cep.
dtEstampes, Paris, France)
OELOW Ali Pa~a's palace and the
beautiful Mosque of Asian


stand within the fortifications of

the Frourion which dominate a

peninsula jutting out into Lake

Parnbotis. These defences were

strengthened by Ali



French technical guidance In

1815. (Author's photograph)

The Technical Corps

l.ate l:Sth-century Ottoman artillery was still uasically the same as it had
been a cenlUr)' earlier. Consequently, OUotnal} cannon had a notably
slower rate of fire than European weapons. Allempts to recuf)' this sitIlation had limited resnlts until more drastic measures wel"(> taken to
improve the ,['aNu Drag, (Anilkry Corps) and Hl/.lIIoa.rau Ucaf;! (Mortar
Corps) in the late ll:lth and early lYth cetltnries, mostly under French
guidance. The resulLs were sUIlleUtUeS striking. In 1807, for example, a
nt-itish fket forced iLS way into til(' Sea of Marmara to threateu the
Ottoman capital bUl then had to retreat through the Dardanelles Sn-,tiLs
where ancient artillery pieces dating from Ihe 1'ilh century had
nwanwhile hecn strengthened by ~O(j caunon, 16 mortars and thousands
of additional troops undel- the technical guidance of men frolll ule
French and Spanish embassies. The result was a close-run thing fOl- the
The schizophrenic altitude of Ihe Ottoman elite IOwards ''''estern
technology was reflected in everal tories concerning ballooning. In
17l:l:) a 'Persian', or more likely' Parisian', scientist reporteclly ascended
frunl Istanbul in a hut-air ualluun with two members of the sultan's
Roslal1o guard as passengers, though this may have been a myth. In 1l:l02
a Hritish balloonist certainly sent up an unmanned balloon in the
presence of Sultan Selim 111; receiving a more enlhusiaslic response than
did Napoleon's balloonists when they unsuccessfully tried to impress the
people of Cairo some years earlier.
The late ll:lth-cenlUry 'l'ajJ(u Ucagi (anillery corps) fort lied part of the
kajl/kuhl salaried regular troups, cunsisung of amund 30,000 men. A new
Siiml(i Deaf;!, Rapid-Fire Fielcl Artillery COI-pS, had been establishecl in
1774 under the guidance of Bamn de Tot!, and was supponed by a new
cannon-Ioundry making modern gun-barrels. In 17R2 foreign advisers
were recaII ecl, instrucljutl Iltanuals translated into Turkish, and the
Siiml(i Deap increased to 2,000 men with higher salaries. These reforms


An Albanian of the Janina region

of what is now northern Greece.
Most Albanians were Muslim and
during the early 19th century
they provided several Ottoman
armies with their most effective
infantry. (Print by Havel! after a
drawing by Cartwright, Bib. Nat.
Dcp. d'Estampes, Paris, France)


cominucd under, eli"l IJ I. As a result Ollomau !{uuIH'rs hal! large Siirut

anl! slliall A/no, both of which were 'Westelll' cannon, while continuing
to lise II'aditioual guns kuown as B(l~)'nllez auo Sohi. The slrUClure of the
Artillery Corps was also streamlined; Ihc' number of regiments beiug
increased, each with ten caunon (four 51"01, two A/JII.~, plus lour older
BalymU'Z aud )ahi) , na./yemr.. aud ~'ahi were so difficult to mm'e LlI<lI they
were usually placed in lixeo emplacements while newer rapid-fire'
cannon changed position in ballle. Consequel1ll~. their crews ufiered
high casualties and iu 1790 ten infantry 'muskelt'ers' "'ere attached 10
each guu 10 platen lhe crew; these mell wcre alo gi\'en gunnery
trAining 10 rcplace lall('n gunners. Ten men allocateo to each gun
fonned a bij/iik, with the mmt experienced aetiug ;L, loll IISlaSI or cannon
master, and nexi cOl11pewut as hi yalJlak or assislant. The seuior lOp
lI~lasl couuuanded the regimellt in battle. while the cOJllulanon of the
Firsl Artillery Regirnent sen'eo a, Coqls Commander. Thiny mii/azim
were allacheo to each regimem to n'place men who fell, and a badge
was allocated to each gun, \\~th a copy sewn on to the crew's
(;alTisous of fortresses on the European side of the Bo phorus
Straits wen' drawn from artillerymen, each IInder the eommaun
of a lCt/) tlSla, aud were considered pan of the Nizam-l r",rlit, Ihe
'New Army' (see below). A comparable YSte1l1 s('ems to have
been used in the fOI'o'esses of the Daullhe frontier. Under
Sultan Mahmut II an entirel" uew formation of 1,000
mounted artillery was also createo in westeru Europran
style and, after suffel'ing- g-real los es agaiusl lhe Russians in
IRI2, \\as n~built as a loyal bodyguard for Mahmul.
The H'lIm!Jctrlll1 Ucaf;t Monal Corps specialised in siege
warfare. being responsible [l)r mining and various fire
weapons, as ",ell a.~ 1Il0rtal-S. It had eujoyed panicular
alleution during SulL,n Sclim Ill's fil'st allempts at
mililal)' reform, with ad\ iSt'I's heing recruited from
Franc(' and Swedeu. l\ew barracks north of the Golden
Ilorn also meanl Lhal the l-fumbamo Oragt at Ha kay
were no longer dispersed among 01 her corps. Under its
new IlumbaTaCl BCt$1 (commander) the corps soon han
'10 mortars, teu of each four calibres, pillS ten Abw
light field guns, each type of weapon supponed by a
company under a seT halife. The ClT\,' of one weapon
wa.~ consioer'ed an m'la, consisling ora ha/ifP (offirer),
nine gunners and nine mii/azilll appn'ntices. Two
men from each CITW were designaLed a.~ wagoners. No
member of Lhis pliLe HUlIlbawn OcagJ was allowed LO marry,
being expected LO remain in barracks, llaining all Llle time. MOSL
were Bosuians, with some ex-Sipahi caVAlry from AJbania.
Refonns to tile Toll Arabarz Oca{!;t (Arlillf'I)' Wagon Corps) began in
1793. Above all, S("lim wanted to bling their barrack.s clmer to Lhose ofLhe
Anillery Corps and to improve co-operation between the LWo. Initially,
Llle Artillery Wagon Corps consisted of fi\'e regiment., \\~lh five
lIleu and a wag-on being- a-.signed to c"ach artillel)' piece, b\ll thi"
proved inadequate so carpenters, locksmiths, saddJ("rs and blacksmiths wen' recnliten [i'om the ci\;lian population as pan-timers.

The r,agllllrl Omgl or Mine-La\'ers was 1I10re like a curp" of" ellgill(,('J"s,
tradiuonally being associated with Ihe !\1orl;lr C0'1)s. In 1774 naron de
roll established a military engineering section specialising in pOl1loon
bridges, anrlthereaf"ter the Laglll/o ()cagl gOt its best recll.lits from Bosnia
and \lbania. Sultan Selilll continued expallsioll alld re f"Ori liS; the ellgine el;lIg school at 11askiiy beillg elliargerl ,,'ith a morlern clln;clIlum and
regular examinations for new and oldel' members of the c0'1)s,

The central courtyard of the

Saba Vida castle overlooking the
River Danube at Vldin. The
basic structure dates from the

centuries, but was

greatly strengthened in the

later 18th and early 19th

centuries. (Author1s photograph)

provincial Forces

'J he
pro\illcial troop ,,'elT the
ka/Jlhn!kl or allllies raised by
prO\'incial gon~rnors. Thev
illcluded feudal troops such
as Sipahis, a well as merceIl,u;e;" militias and tribaJ
1('\ ie<, By the 18th celllury
,111 \ltLslim men in fmnlier
reons were al 0 liable for
consc!;ption as aUljJi~ the)'
were divided into fortress
ALap< and naval Azaps
according to the location of
til(' pro\inc.('.
R\ the timc of the
greatcr part of the Olluman El1lpile wa.s, however, IIl1der Ihe control of
nyal/5 offel'illg allegiance, 1I10re or l('s5, (0 the sllltan, Some were
members of long-established leading families, while other were 'new
men', In an allemptLO retain their loyalt), the suI tall orten gave them the
ran k of sera:.kar or cOllJl1lanUel uf armies, bill in many areas power \\'as
lOO fragment('cl for sllch inflaled litles, \"11ere local Janissarie and their
Yalllak auxiliarie~ eized comro!. their leaders were called dahis, but thev
!<l1 eh had a much authori~ as owms uid in other areas, ome places
\\'('r(' ntled b), local bandits whuse learl('rs w('rc known as dl'1'Phl)'s, OJ'lord
of the yalleys, ''''ilh their followel's, the)' formed a viral ource of u'oops
when the re t of t.he Olloman arnw was in disan<l)',
Bal\"an frontier al eas orten see III to have been lIIore stable than
inlel;or provinces. Ilere a special local defence force of numerous, \\'elltrained ami hi!{hly motiV:Heo sprhnt hubs included ca\dlry and infal1lry
ba~ed in small wooden palan/ill forts, K.tl0"~1 as haidwi forts when held by
Chi iSlian rebels, the)' consisted of ditches, earth ralllparts, wooden palisades and corner LOwers, often with a largcr wooden keep al the centre,
Sra\"es could he thnl51 into the ditch, while thorny bru hwood was grown
on the outer face of the rampart. Elsewhere Muslim and Christiall
families served as derlJenl,is guarding muuntain passes, bridges, ferries
and main roads.
Such Balkan armies varied accmrling 10 thc ;wailahiliry of troops and
the polilics of lhe local leader. The governor of Ru okastro in Bulgaria,
fOI example, had a motle)' guard 01 St'gvall (infantry), dl'ii (cavahy), Inlnl'
(uHltiers) and panduil.s. Osman Pa a Pawallog-Iu of Vidin !{athered discontented Janissaries and Yall1aks from a wioc area, along with



Early 19th century Albanian

warriors dressed and equipped
as volunteers rather than as
Ottoman regular soldiers.

(Engraving by J.B. Villiard, after a

drawing by J.B. Hilair, Bib. Nat.
Dep. d'Estampes, Paris, France)

eX-(.:!lli'Lian n:nl'f.!;:lde., and local illt"glll<lI' .. \Ii I',\~,l UfJ:lllill:l rccruiLed

mOl e wide I)', alii acting Muslilll alHI Chrisl i;\l1 "ddins fmm nOILIH'rn
Creec(', i\lh:lllia <lIld J\laceclonia hllt h:lYing litlle to cia wiLh the lInr~_
li:lble Janis. ~ries. Following his c~plllre oj "lI iOlls French-held co~sLal
enclal'e,. Ali I'a~a also enlisled French pi isotl(-rs-{lf-\\'ar Lo IIlOclernise his
pi ivalC.-' artny.
\"C'[ il W;JS a n'\'i\'al of armed Christi;Jn militia, Lhal \,'as the IIIOSt significant !e;JllIre of lite lale I 'th and eal" 1911t cenlllrie:. TIl(' main
c1illel ellce bet\\een Serbia and Bosnia \\'as Ihe <.:111 i,Lian majorit; in
Serhia and ~'lll,lill1 majorit~ in f)osnia. In fact the Olloman authorilie,
encouraged Ihe Serb, LO help rebuild local delen("(' ,,slems. gi\ing Ihern
Ihe right LO bear ;JrtlIS, form Lheit' own lnilili:ls ~nd help cjll('11 the tur,
bulent Jani"arie. The e Serbian Ilalr/III.. unils consisted of
approxinlaLel)' 100 men under a li1lljaklJa.{lw (from Lhl"' Turkish, bijliikIHJ$I)
ancllwcamC' Ill(' first real Serbian arn,)' ince the Filh cenLulY.
The situation iu aULOnOIllOUS Wallachia and Moldm'ia \\rd.~ different.
Here, the onl)' large OILum;Jn galTisons had heen in Be"arabia unul Lhis
fell Lo Ihl"' Rnssians. Inslead the arC'a was dominated b\' the Ba)'an 01
indigenous Romanian arisLocrac)' raLher Lhan Ihe 1'(l1/uriate ere k
Ho podar governors sl-nL by the sui Lan. The no)'~rs had Lheir own armed
reunlles, while Lhe Hospodars had small mililaq'lullo,,~ngsconsisLing of
local rC'cnlil.s, Tllrkish and European mercenal'il"'s, renegades and some
janissaries. Local miliLiamcn called dumbuliti in v\'allachia and lujitori ill
Moldavia had been known in eadier lime and would becollle
prulllineni ag-aill during- Lhe stnIggle for Romanian independence in
lR29. The most efTeClive troops were, ho\\'ewr, recruiLed from haydul


I1,,'i1lltain IJandits ,lnd ft'onticr

/"",,111/1 \lho lot tiled an irregular
11l(.iI tnilitia. In Ct~ti()\a. capital
,,-cstet n
I<lt nlt:,d a regulat gat t i,on
under a ,1!Jalmi or 'geueraL
.t ,econd pandllr ~jJ{/l{/n
hl'lIte; u,lsl'd in l3uchares!.
l'nwinci.-ll It oop' itt Allatolia
\I"n' ,lgain recruited locally lIilh
I,urdi,h 'mu kCleer' or mounted
inf;tntn beillg ptomincnt in the south-e,l'!. In
the nonh-east, T;'I\,~tr Pa~a of Trah~otl I\';L, a tll<~(Jt militan ligure, \\'ho
declared independence from thc sultan aft/'r IROI and uuiltup hi, 0"11
,II n1\ which included a modern anillen unit al!\;secl h\ 111'0 Russian
d",cners fro II I Ceotgia. NOlth-east of Ta:yat', territory, the Ottomans
h.ld !o,t contro! ()\'er the Caucasus 1I1001111aill", though man: 10Lai
\lthjjm leaders supponed the sultan in tlH' EIl'(' of cOlltilluillg Russi;1I1
;tggression. The princes of K.,barta)' on the northern slopt's of the
Caucasu , for ('xalllp!e, claimed to have ~O.OOO warriors. '1 he majority of
these lIlountain warriors fought as infantlY. hili Ihe)' iltcludcd a caI'aln
elite sornetitllc, armoured in a magnificently archaic m;1t1ner.
The sinl<tlioll in Iraq was agaitl difl~ten!. The Pa~a of Baghdad
imponed his oml \'corgi<tn slave m{l/Ill/lk.~ to luailltain lal\' and order and
tint' iltCl ase prosperity, lI'hile Ihe lortifications of [laghdad wel'e garriwned hy loyal At ab troops. This arm) de1cated the fear,ol1le Wahhabi
raider froul central Arabia "e\'elal tillle". although the \\'ahhabis did
sei~e the Gulf coasl prm;nce of al-ll:tssa in 17~)CJ, FllrLhel nOI th. the Arab
Banu Tan of Mo ul had for cenlllries been e!lled ralh(,I'lhan nomadic,
\\'ith a It'ihal <(lIn: IIhich had mOle ill Lommon
\\ith the neighhollring Kllrcls.
Ottoman )Tia "as fragmented between riyal
o\'crning 1Jl(~((s. Irregular troops came from
remarkably vat ied backgrounds. Tlte)' ill( Iuded
Deli ca\'alry, Tiifmkri, . egban and [.('OPl1! monnted
infantry, plu 1aghribi 1'001 soldiers from Nonh
Aflica. Tlte Illllnbel of soldiel in eaLh /Ja~alik
tended LO b(' small, r.-ln!{ing fronl 1,000 ca\al"
and 900 infant,!' to ~OO hOl'st'mt'n anri 100 foot
soldiers. The delis, or dalaliya in A.rabie, \\'('1'('
tel ntited from both the Balkans and AnalOlia,
ldlilc .)p.i!;lJan.1 tended to cOllie front Tlll ki,h
r\naLOlia, and [.l'Ilpnls or [.fl1lJand wc're largely
Kurdish. The 'Fiifenkri were better di ciplined, hnt
sl11all in number, while Maghribi North Alricans
ft Olll I.ibp. Tunisia <md Algeria had the lowest
ttlilital)' statns. SOIll(' Syrian-Paleslinian fOlce,
l\','t c equipped with a ncw form of call1cl-mOlltlled
s"'I\'e1'gun like those of 10ghul India.
Lucal beduuin plo\'ided scouts allned with
archaic malchlock mnskets, wltile III an

The 17th century fortress dominating V6nitsa in western Greece

remained in Venetian hands

until, like other relics of the

Venetian empire, it was annexed
by the French in 1797, The fol-

lowing year V6nitsa was

captured by Ali P31f8 of Janina
on behalf of the Ottoman sultan.

(Author's photograph)

Kurdish tribal warriors of the

Napoleonic era. In many respects

Kurdish costume had more in

common with those of the

settled Arab peoples of Iraq and

Syria, than with the Turks or

bedouin. (Bib. Nat, Dep.
dlEstampes, Paris, France)


Interior of a leather cavalry

shield, probably dating from the

18th century, (Author's photograph: Museum 01 the Bekta~i

Dervish Order, Haeci Bekta~t

cllle'gcn,v Ill<' entil(;' IlIal,' popllialion. ~111~Jinl,

(:hri,tian an(\.Ie"i,ll, cOlllrl be called up to dt'fcnd
an arca. SOllie cilics al,o had 111/' renlllalllS of an
111 ban .f;lI1is:-,al"\" force, alld Aleppo had be ell
f,IIlIOUS 1'01- hrecdll1g Gill i(r pi eollS IIntil Kurdish
midcI s destrovecl thc hreeding slock in tht' late
1 'th ,cllimy. NOIlhcnl \'1 ia differed ill h;ning a
IIliIlOri[\" population 01 "arlik(' Turcoman nomaos
who migrated to alld fro aCloss the Taurus
~lountaills. Local It'ad('rs in iJ<lgmel1led lfbanOIl
"ele ,all cd 7.,,'(/1/1(/. and Iheir lollO\,'ers were
ne,n ibed b\' an ~_ngli,h \i itol as 'of an indeprlldenl tUnl 01 mind: all arc alllWO from the age
01 bov:, and ale gmt'rIled b, lhrir 0'\11 Emirs, or
Sheikhs. 01 Prillcc's ... rhe) arc <III "'aniors, 10\'illg
alhletiC excr,is".' rhe\' includen ehri tian
~Iaroniles "'ho clolllillated thc highlands of
Mount Lt'halloll. Thc onl) COlli parable J!0wel- in
Lebanoll wcrc the l)ruLt:s who were similaJiy
\\<lrlike. I he\" were summoned In war ill an
ancielll Inannel: hcralds shout co frolll hilltops
allu th"ir (Tv was passed fmm villagt' 10 village.
These l)ruLe mountain 'mops fought b\' killllishing alllOng rocks alln
bu hes, layillg <llllbushes by lIight, bUll al elv vcnturing in10 the lowlands.
The Milwa!l Shia r\'luslim of the Baqa'a \'allev <Inc! sOlllherll I.chanon
were less warlike, hilt diu inclune SOil1/' hor elllt'l1. -I he Ardb bedouin
IH'IT a more peaceable pcople than the TUI COlllan and Kurnish nom<llb,
mo tlv b illg ill\ohed in war/are as guide,. Th,,\' trauition<llly tried 10
etue all connicl.s b\ negotiauolI, hIli "'hen lorced to lighl their
horselTlen made one altack in small group 01 a., innividuals, accepting
Ihe IT ult of this ingle ,Ia..,h as \;nor"\" or defeal. Their military u'adiuolls
I,'ere de iglled to aloid ex,e si\e bloodshed in an lI\ironment where
life was oifficult enougJl already, All Engli h U'\\t'llel- descrihed these
desert communities <IS hugelY ho. pit<lhle, prelelring po try and ong to
""rfare, liking plunder bIll not blood hed, gelling angry onh' when hun,
<lnd not bcing a.shamed to reU eat in the fan' of upel'ior odds,
Ottoman Palestine served a~ the p()\\'('rba e of ,01Tle remarkable gavel lIors during the 18th cenLUIJ' One of them, Daher Ibn Umar, enlisted
Ihe bedouill who consequently acquired /lillilock muskets and pistols 10
supplell1cnt th('ir traditional matchlocks, javelills and bows, The
Palestinian of S<lfad weI e also recruited as cavalry while ule people of
1\ablus, l3ethl hem <lnd I Tebron h<ld a r puta!.ion for acu\"(' resisL<lnce
against oppressive rulers, fiy the 1780s Ahmet (;c77ar P~a of Acre maint<lined a larger lIumber of beller paid alld (>quipped Iroops than any
oUler in Syri<ln P(l~{l, his elite cal'alry again can iSljng of Bosnians and
AJlJani<lns. Until his death in 11\04, Ahmet CeZ7ar P<Cja remained
Napoleon' implac<lble foe and a friend 01 Britain. OllolJ\an authority ill
Arabi<l was conlilled to a few portS and the holy cities of Mecca and
Medilla which we're under the cOllu-ol of the Sharif of Mecca, The
Otl.omans h<ld lost all authority ill Yemen, while Oil the \lestI'm side of
Ihc Red Sea the Paplik of ~lassaw<l in Eritrea \I"as litue more Ulan a
name, Here power W<lS larg-eh' in the hand of th" Chrislian EUliopian

RI:I OW. LEFT 18th century

Ossetian warrior from the
Caucasus mountains. His gun is
protected from the weather by a
leather or perhaps sheepskin
covering. (Drawing by Beggrov,
location unknown)

RELOW RIGHT 18th century

Chechen warrior. The Muslim
Chechens successfully defended
their independence until they fell
under Russian domination in the

mid,19th century. (Drawin9 by

Beggrov, location unknown)

Ha~, or governor, of Tigre Inall)' miles inland, Lhough the 01l0lllan Pa a

ofJiddah did uppl), a small garrison to defend Ma.,sawa itself.
The french conquest of Eg)11L was IW\'er complete. as the pon of
QUS<HT ncver fell Lu the invader. In I 00 .\1tnad Iky, leader of the
Mamluks in ppn Egypt.. surrendered to the french but Ihe)' failed to
establish full control beforc heing expelled by a BriLish-Ouoman ann).
The largest number of Mamluks had becn cOIlCenlraled in Cairo, and in
J 780 lheir forces reportedly con i ted of ome 10,000 cavalry ,dth 23.000 sarales or assislallLs. A few years laler another rep0rl put the
lIumber uf young ,\1amlnks IInder traillillg and sLill wiLh the S\;ltus uf
slavcs al arollnd tl,SOO, Adult Mamluks wcre altached 10 Ihe households
of \1amluk leaders SUell as Ibrahim Bey, who had 600 men. In addition
there were many inckpendent \1antlukl,; sUlne were freelancc wal riurs,
while others had come from eXlinct 'hollst'holds'. Deft-ated homcholds
or political factions II ho had left Cairo were gradually ahsorbed intO the
Eg;'ptian populalion. Civil wars between ,'ivaI Mamluk households
usually cunsi ted of minor skinnishing wiLh Illininlal casualties. \[amluk
arnlies which campaigned outside Egypt Icnc!ed 10 have fntgile cohesion,
collapsing inlo ri\-,t1 facLion- if their commander died or fail,-d Lu achicve
rapid su cess. On the mher hand. the Mamluks were very highlv LI ained
and had recemly adoptec! fil'cal'lTIs, each n1<ln carrying a pair of long

Murat Bey al-Kazdugll, one of the

most powerful Mamluk leaders,
under whose leadership Egypt
gained almost complete
autonomy from the Ottoman
Empire. (From Description de
l'Egypte l published in Paris


pislols and a short cal bine or IJlundcl buss ill addition to more traditional wcaponl". The MaIIlluks illlIJorled 11I<'ir finest horses from central
Arabia and no one excepl a Mamllik W;lS permilled 10 ride a horse in
E~)'pt, thollgh lhe bedouill clearly did so ill areas Outside illarnluk
contra!. Mamluk hOI'se-harness was u okl-f~L,hioned as to 1)(' \irtually
medie\a!. heing charaCierised hy a heavy wood-framed saddle with a
cantle "'hich rose aboye the rider's hips, ,md a tall pommel. Stirrups
were of the :\onh African type \\~th sharp corners instead of spurs.
Rridles had a form of sliaine hit which could injure the animal if u ed
r1.Ithlessl~ uut gave far more imnlt'di:He control o\'er the animal.
~jilitary Irailling took lip \irtually all a 1\1anIlllk's time, alld almost
evel} morning \.airo's Mamluks went to a large open area ncar the
\.iladel to practi e Oil horseback wiLh carhincs, pistols, and sabres.
Horse-archen' was now a spon rathel' Ihan a military exercise, as was
throwillg the/arid or Cilil. This was a 1wayy but blnlll javelin which one
horsemen threw before neeillg while his opponent tJ'ied to amid the fir t
Jmid before pur uing with his own.
The Mamluks' sam(IS - 'saddlers' - served a messengers, assassins or
SlJeet hrawlers. In addition some powel-ful Mamllik Ikys enlisted foreign
technician and peciali ts such as artillel)'nH:'n and anllonrers. The
colourful MaIIlluks and their hOllSeholds WCIT not, howe"er, the only
lroops in Ouoman Egypt. Can-ison consisl(d of inexpelienc:ed
and low-paid recruits including nlf'n listed as .Janissaries,
Yatnaks, Azaps, Tiifmkcis, MIHafarriqa Mamluks of the
Ottoman gOH'nIOr himself and Maghdbi mercenades, plus some 'ipahi cavalry. or these Ihe
Janissaries and A:wIJ~ provided the OUoman wali
or goverllor with infal1lry, although they were
bitter rivals. The JaJlissalies had few
oJlicer of their owu and Mamluks were
increasingly taking control of what
remained of this once-prond unit. The
Sipahi cavillry \\'Cre in an cven worse stale,
though they theoretically still included
.Iarakisa or Circa.~sian Sipahis, Shawwhi)'a
Sipahi 'ser~eants', andjamali)'a 'volum ~r'
Sipahis. The Tiijenkri 'musketeers' and
MUlafal1"iqa .\1amluks of the Olloman wali
or ~overnor werc closely a.~sociated "ith
these Sipahis, but in reality all had lost out to
the Mamluks.
Meanwhile, Egypt's Ar.ib [J-ibes had gained
military and political influence as Olloman
conLro! declined. The Banu Habayiba, for example,
were rich and \~rlllally autononlOllS in parts of lhe
D(-Ita, while the Hanu Hawarra I~joyed a similar posIllon
in southenI Egypt. These AJ'ab LI iues werc nuL nomads, but
formed a rural aristocracy of landowners and farmers. Their stalus,
however . was volatile and b~ 1779 the Banll lIawarra had declined almost
to the level of Iwa.~ants, while the Ranu Haba)'iba increased their reputalion :IS effective cavalrv. Manv ,,-ere l'ccruiLed into regular cavah,'
I'egimenrs ;1I1d play(-d a l~lajor r~le in the galrisol1S of ~1ecca. 1edin;

1, o.ll c.valryman, ..,ty ll1th c.ntury
Z: B
"""oI'Y offlc..- lrom SyriIl
3.: T.U" c
~ II1th c_ury




I; 01 .... I., Otla 01 Nllam-' C..:Iil

lnl...lly, ~.18011
2.: MiilUJn u.ul.nan' 01 Hi,am, c.dil
II1lantry. C.I808
3; Hll:om' C..:II, N.t..-l, 0.1800
4, Ho,er! 01 111. Nll:am, C..:Iil 2nd Ort.o
'provlnolal mililla' ~.1795

1: Po.... Bal CO ..."" _
"""oj officer,
.any tlllll eMIl.....,.
2: ........
,"Unll. C.18OO
3: /(Dlyoncu ..... rine fIr lelh con luI)'
~; T......... 1loI1l;:IVUIW ot 'hi Anonal Gu""Ia,

n<l ""v"

fIy 19th century


1: AIbanUon""""", oatIy
11111 C8fltUry

2, H..'omb..... ,.,d.,.1
Bal""n Hal"I"" inlOg.......
",. 18th Cltntury

3: W.llachlln bora., e.l800

4; Iklstllan P"n<ltJk, c.1775



2: Cl


Slp"hl C........_-reas.lan .. ~-."_.

3: Armonlan arch...



.!lld LiH' R(~d Sea porL~, partiCidarh- Ihos(' of I, ~'PI'S nel\' goveruor.
\lllli<lmlll:le!,\li, in Ih(' ('arlv 191h Cel1tuI'\'.
The ,tory of Muhammad Ali's ne\\ Eg-''Ptian ;trIl1: leall)' belongs to
Iht' 191h cenlllrv, vet it I\'as looted in Iht' tnrbn!t'lll aftertnath oflhejoint
Onoman-Briti,h leconqnest in lilO!. Some ,J,OOO troops remained with
1I('Isre\' Pa.'la. the n('\,' Olloman governor 01 I::~pl. including a small
force 01 modernised ~izam-I Cedit inl~\llli: I\'hich SOOI1 recruited ae!e!itionill 111 n in 19:pl. HCtsJev Pa'a tried 10 redllCe the pay of those
.-\Ibanians '''10 had reconqufT(>d r.~pt and imtead raise a force of
t:gyptian :-\i 7;J Ill-I Cedi!. "'ithin momh ;-'Iuhammad Ali emerged a.~
"a\llui/wlIl or commander 01 Olloman forces in [g'pl. \luhalTllllae! Ali
ne~t faced a tin eat fronl an nnexpeClee! dir(,C1ion \,'hen the Ottoman
stdtan's pre\iolls allies, the RI-iti,h, ,uddenh' invaded Egypl. In 1807
(;('neral ;-"lackel17ie Fraser occupied Ak:-..amh ia and pi essed in lane!.
forcing the 19:-ptians into acti"e re,ist;\IlC<'. OlilSide Rashie! (Rosetta)
Britilin sulrel ed one of iLs mosl nne,pecled defeilts at the hands of
\!uhilmrnad :\Ii\ ll10tley ilnl1\', and this "irtua'" forced the Ottoman
,nltan to I'ecogni,e him a, Eg:pt's legitilnate gO\ertlOJ. IIluhammad Ali
thl'11 can olidated his po,ition U) massacring the \1alnluk leadel-ship in
101 I, having ah ead: banned Ihe importation of more military slave into
Egypt. I 01 all Ihe \1amluks of Egypt I\'ere, of course, exterminatt'd,
SOllle accepted \luhammad Ali's vinorv alld eulered his
sel\~ct', but Illan)' more refuscd to recognis(' e!efeat ;me!
lIligl-ilted into th(' Sudan, there to cause
problems for years to come.
During these chaotic years Egvpl I\'a" homc
to an 'L~tonishing val'iet} of soldiel's including
'cottish caplives taken at Rashid, German

Mamluk on sentry dUty. The

Egyptian Mamluks were widely
considered to be the finest light
cavalry to take part in the
Napoleonic Wars. (Print from a

drawing by Carle Vemet, Bib.

Nat. Dep. d'Estampes, Paris,







hallation, 01
:--.:'apokon, ,trill\", French
sole!iers who cOIl\'ert<:d LO
Islam. Italiam renuitee! lUI
agaillSl Tripoli in Libya,
and GI ee\" artiller"nwn left
O\'er from passing" OllOnlan
armies. A, Muhammad
,\Ii's fame spread, Inam'
:\Jballian allli perhap'
Bosnian comrae!es from
his early days as a \'01
nitn or 'roae! g"nardian' in
\[acedonia came tojoin him. As \et, however, Muhannnae! Ali had not
taken the momentons step 01 consnipting the ordinary F"l/,,!lin
pe~ ;1Il fiT of 1-:g"'111.
In :\'orth Africa the ulwn had for years delegated authorities lO tlw
'regencies' of Tripoli (I.ibya), Tnnisia anu Algeria, but in each case the
Ofloman /in,ws, I!I'Ys. dp)'s and governors controlled lillie more than a
nalTO" coastal stlip, The annie. of each .regency' differed, In Tripoli the
senior oflicials incluued a guare!ian bn~1 01 chief of
lhe palace, a knhyn 01 /1n,w's lieulenanr, \\~th a
second ka!lYll a;, a...,ista11l, five ae!mini,trative ministers pins the aga of Turkish oldiers and General
of Arab cavalry. while Ihe j1a~n's eluest son was Iraditional'" commander of the army as a whole. The
pa~a hau an elite gilaI'd of hmll/Jll!> or black sla\'esoldiet armed with short ulunderbuss llIuskel>
whose loyalty to rhe pn,w \'erged on worship.
There was abo an oUler guare! ol'Turkish infantry
amI Mamluk ca\"illry. The TI ipolitanian army also
included some Janissal; infanu)' alld a nnmerolls
allxiliar;' ca\'alry, th" best of whom were the
Kulogiis. They were the ofhpring of .lanissan
Turkish fathers and local Lihyan mothers, and
"'ere 1110 rly mercbanLs and C1o.ftsmcn who felt
more akin lO the indigenous Arabs or Ikrbcrs
than the Turks.
Arab ane! Berber tribal auxilial;es may have
numbered up to 10,000 horsemen ane! no less
than 40,000 foot sole!iers, thollgh most were
paOli)" armed. In the Janissaries ane!
1\1lol,lis of the TI ipoJj garrison wei e disciplineu
anu skilled. fighring ill an orderly manner under
h"a\'Y American fire while t eligious leauers stooU
on lOp of the parapet I eading from Ihe KOI"iln and
hurling curses upon the enemy, The i1uured were
t..'lken to the /Ja!ja" OWIl apal tlllenrs where the\
"'erC' rene!ed by the j!n~a, his surp;eolls ane! sla\'C's,
theil wounds heing lIeated ,,;Ih hone\ "hiclt

AROVE Egyptian Mamluks exer

cising on foot in the courtyard of
Murat Bey al-Kazdugli's palace.
The ex.ercise involved use of the

ci";t blunted javelin. (Aquatint by

after a drawing by Luigi Mayer,
Bib. Nat. Ocp. of Prints and

Drawings, Paris, France)

BELOW, LUi Cairo Janissary

infantryman. By the time of the
French invasion these
Janissaries and their Azap rivals

had lost most of their military

power to the Mamluks.
(Engraving by N. le Mire, after a

drawing by J.B. Hilair, Bib. Nat.

Dep. d'Estampcs, Paris, France)

BE:LOW Arab tribal chief from

Upper Egypt. Most formed a local

landowning elite and would play

a significant role in Muhammad
Ali's creation of a new Egyptian
army in the earty 19th century.
(English print, Bib. Nat. Dep.
d'Estampes, Pads, France)

proH>d H'I]" ef!eClive. Soldiers who showed rowardice in the face of the
<:ne,")' we.e ouliged lo dress a.~ women aud ordered to stay Ihat wa), until
the)' did somelhing worth) ofreiustatelllelll. The WOlst punishmel1l was,
howe\'er. reser\'ed for men cOIl\~cted of abusing yOllng prisoners of war.
The)' \lele eithel ueheaded or given a thousaJl(l strokes witb a hean
cane, which was enough to kill. Efforts to modernise Tripoli's forces had
50.He success and enabled Ynsnf Karamauli to open up the trans-Saharan
Irade route with an arlll)' of 30,000 infantry, 15,000 Aulagh cavalry and
30 field gullS, To the sOlllh, the collection of Saharan oases collecljvelv
known as the FeLLan lIad in faci oeen under nominal Ottoman conu'ol
several times.
The ra~a of Tunis also had a slllall but effeClive annv, including
.l:lni saries I en uited directly from AnalOlia, the Greek islands and the
Balkans. Sometime. .l:lnissaries on tlleir way to neighbouring Algeria
"ele per,uaded tojump ship andjoin the.Tunisians \\~lh offers of belle I
pay, conditions and good weapon!]' imponed l'IOU' France. ani)' a small
area around Algiers il.~elfwas under the direct nile of the dl')', while the
rest of uominal Olloman Icrritory consisted of three Be\,lik;,
_ evenheless, the d/')' of Algiers remained thl' most powerful Ulloman
epl esentati"e in NortliAfrica. He W:lS elected by resident Janissary regiments, h:lving ollici:llly taken over from the f)(l~a back in J 711_ [n turn
tlle dl')' was supported hy a hOZl/aci, or Irea.~lIrer, a mp/wllp-a{!;asi, or
supervisor of military c<unps, tlle al-hij'asi who
looked after dl')"s own estates, a bayl uill/oci, or
receiver of tribute, tI'lC vpkil halT, or minister of
marine, a chief aifa of tlte militia ano auxiliaI-ies,
as well as otlter officials. The three beys of Oran in
the west, Constantine in the and Titeri inlano
from AlgieI . iL~elf were \",lS als of the dl')' and had
their OIm comparaule milita!]' administrations.
Tlie i\.Igerian army consisted of Janissaries
recruited from Ottoman subjects as well a.
renegade Czechs, Italians and Corsicans. Despite
the fact that the supply of new recrui~ was d,,~ng
np in the late 1 th century, local inhabital1ls werc
sU-ictly excluded. As in Libra,. the Janissaries' main
rivals were their 0\\" KullJgltl 011' pring. Then
there wcrc Sipahi feudal caval!]' who remained an
effective force in this distant corner of the
Ottoman Empire, indigenous urban Ho/adi or
'Moors' who played a major role in the na,;', allo
~erber u-ibesmen, who provided large numbers of
auxilia!]' cavalry_ TIle Zoll(]t)(!S were al. 0 emel-ging
as a separate infanu)' force led by officers with
Bel-her names,
North African lactics were disti nctl:' 010fashioned, witiI Maghribi cavah)' approaching to
within 500 metres of the enemy, fOnlling tJw
broadest possiblc front, tlleu charging at full
speed and IIring a musket vollev before stopping
equally suddenly, wheeliug around and withdrawing, In neighbouring Morocco, cavalr\'

pr,IClisec! such m;UlOl'uvn's un Ihe heach, Ihree 01 fuur men Charging or

pursuing one another in an allenlpt to fire lheir gun und('\" Iheil
opponenl's horse, \\'eapons were otherwise similar to Ihe Middle Easl,
except thai the Ylaghrihi fl)'ssa sabre was broarler, straighter and often
harl a full guarrl arouud the gl~ip,


Nizam-r Cedit and Segban-r Cedit

Most of the remaining fortifi-

cations of Tiberius in Palestine

date from 1738 when the town
was virtually rebuilt by the Oruze

prince' Tahir alUrnsr. (Author's



The firsl 'weslernised' infantry unil in ihe Ollolliall army consisted ofa
small nUluber uf caplives U,lined to pelfon11 Russian drills, who formed
Koca YllSuf Pa~a's gua,d while he was campaigning against the Russians
in 1791. Ouce peace re(lImed, Sultan Selim III saw Koca Yusurs guard
anrl ",a, so impressed thaI he decided to estahlish a I egirnenr along
,illlilar lines,
Thi, was the firSI rleparrure fwm the sullan's conservative policy of
reforming Olloman fUlces hy lelUrning the to an 'unco'Tllpted' state,
Ne,'eriheless, Selilll set ahout things in a trarlilionalmallner, consul ling
a !lIlJl;; I "11'~lWlei council of eSlablished experts, The result was the Niwlll~
I (;Mi/, the' 'e\l' Army', which was a slrange mixture of old alld new,
In wille ways it was the last gasp of a d)~ng milital)' trddition, and in
olhers it was the first Ollomall allelllpt to ("slahlish a co-ordinaterl
modern army,
The first' hundred Ni,wm-I Cedit infantry were recruited from
Istanbul's poor, wilh officers alld drill maSlers drawn from Russian or
German renegades, Thi. regimenr of 1794 was abo 'camounaged' in the
hope of making it acceptable to the traditiollalisls hy being atracherl to
the olrl {$O.llfl11 rl-l llass f.lite inf;'l1Iry ~lard, alld callerl lhe Bus/anCl
'I'r'Jmkji~i, ur 'BoslanCl muskeleers', Even so conservatives wpre antagonistic, \I'hile supportel maintained lhal in the izam-l Cedit discipline
w~ easier to enforce, anrl real unifonns marl deseniun difficult. Its rate

Although this horseman is

described as a 'Cavalier
Egyptien, I his costume,
weaponry and facial features
suggest that he Is a Turcoman
tribal warrior rather than a
Mamluk. (Print of a drawing by
Carle Vemet., Bib. Nat. Dep.
d'Estampes, Paris, France)

of shootinl{ was much greater than tradirional infant.r)', and its cohesion
lIIeant that defeat was less likely to become a roul.
Numbers now increased rapidly. and ,1('\\' barracks wel'e buill at
Le\'end (:ifLlik, weapons and other equipnlent being imponed from
western Europe. Mosr offic.ers from rhe ne\\' military rec.hnical schools
welllLO the Nizam-l Cedit where the firsr reKimelll had its O\\~1 unirs of
Gwalry and anillery. Cavalry ofJIcers and NCOs were largely drawn from
rhe sultan's existing horse guards, while! f:edit artille.)' largely
came from the existing arlillel)' corps. One out of every five men c.ould
return to their family for up to six months in \\imer, but there wa" heavy
pnnishment for absence without lea\'e or for late return, and no leave
was perrnilled in summer. Pensions for those who retired ill or al{ed were
half that of a man's pay, but if the soldier rerired hec.ause of wounds or
was a specially deserving case, he got full pal',
The Nizall1-' Cedit disciplinary system and internal stnreture was
largely Iraditional, and promotion wa.s srdcrh' \Iithin the hierarchy,
special prornotion only being permitted in cases of proven abilit), on the
balliefieid. The offic.ers of tJle firsr regimeI1l consisted of a bil1l)(l~'I. or
colonel, the aga-l )'emin (m~or of the right) and aga-/ ye>aT (m~or of the
lel'L) each in charge ofa lain,,', or banalion. These were suhdi\'ided into
12 hiil-iik, or c.ompanies, each led by a b6liikhaJI or )'-iizJ){~'I, and into
platoons under an onba,J!. Each b6liik had one GUlnOn with eight tofJri
(anillel)'men), a lOp usla,;/ (c.annon master), five ambari (calnlOn
wagoners), six ktllltlk~u (orderlies) and I'adous minor officials. The corps
was also supponed by a separate !md-/ Cl,dit financial system largely
drawing revenues from customs dues. Nizam-, Cedit training was based
on French military manuals, with tlie infanll" ctrawn up in two or three
lines to prO\~cte rescl'ves and mutual supporl. Solctiers got
their first uniforms on enlislIlwnt, new ones tlien being
provided each year. Oflicers I,'ere, however, expeC!ect to
ray for their own uniforms,
The success of this first\ (;edit regiment and
. the French invasion or Eg:'Pt encouraged Sultan Selim
to enlarge his New Anm'. Additional hattalions were
established outside (sta;lbul, while a rather dilrerenl
fonnation called the Second Regiment of Nizam-l
Cedit was also created. This lI'as a provincial militia or
mouI1led inranU)' to be based in AJlatolia, reclLlirect
hy loyal prolincial governors, trained in
the east by Nizam-I Cedit ollicers
and with a main base at LJskiidar,
facing Isranhul on the eastern
shore of the Bosphorus. Most
Turki 'h
peasa11ls and their task
\\as to Inaintain secllrity in

Anarolia. In an allelll[Jt to
placate the consen'ativcs,
olTicns sent fi'om Ist.anbul
were called Sll7/w!< Beys
as if they were local
fellctal cav:llr)'-


BI' .filiI' I Hili onl)' lIille gOH'rn"r~ had h"ell

willing 10 raise local unit~. aile of these II'~I~
,\bdul rahllian I'a~a of l0traman, who lias nlade
commander of Ihe prolillcial :-.<i7an1-l Cedit
regilllellt. Of L110se r"cruiL, who did arrile ill
UskC,dal, half were lrailled a., infalllry, half a,
cavalry or mounted infalllry. Effort, 10 ex lend Ihe
prol;m:ial Nizalll-l Cedit to the Balkall prm'illces
fail"n sinc" Ill(' sultan had ev"n I",~ authorit, in
these regiolls. By the enn of I 06 half til(' 25,000
olJicers and m"n of the Nizam-I Cedit Well' till
suilioned ill ISlallbul. almost half in AnalOlia II;lh
a handful in Bulgaria. They II'eIT praised b), lI,ost
W"S!"1"I1 European ohselyers. hut rapin expansion
had revived p,oblelllS of morale, so traillillg alld
discipline 11'"r" intensified. i\kanwhile, th"
succC'ss of the Nizam-l Cedil may actually hal'e
ell(:oura~ed conservalive C1ilicism. v,'hell
Selim ornC'rC'n conscriplion 10 be extenden
throughout the Balkans, Opposilion cam" 10 a
head and from thell on S"lim's posiuoll 1"1
steadily eron"ollt1lil he was ol'crthrown in IH07.
""hell L1le Niz,UIl-l C"nil was useo in comoal, it
proved itself effective. III 1799, for example, 200
Nizam-I Ccdit helpen Ahmel Cezzar Pa~a in his
heroic lesi>tance lO 'apolcon in Caza. Betweell
three ann four hunnred Nizam-I Cedit infantrv ano anillcl)lllen IIelT
also with him and /lomiral Sir SidnC')' Smit'; during the successful
defellce of Acre. A third of th" (htom'UI fOlce sellt 10 help Britaill expel
Ihe French frolll Egypt lI'ere also Nizam-I CC'oil and the> played a leading
role in L11e caplllre of Ra.,hid. Thereafter, illlel nal campaigns in L1le
Balkans remained Ihe :--lew Army's primary rolc and the Nizalll-t Cedil
played (111)' a small parr in res; 'ulIg Ihe Russian ima,ion of 1806-7.
FollOII;ng the coup which toppled Selim III in I 07, the :--iizalll-l
Cedit II-a.' officially destro}ed. though in realit;' 1110 l of its soldiers
sur'l;ved alld a la, ge proportion ofit.'jllnior oflicers
were out of hartll's \\'a\' I,;th
the main Olloman al m),.
MllSlafa Ba)'l-aktar, Pa a of
Ruse (Rus',:uk) ill Bulgali:l.
tried LO cOl1linue lhe
milital)' refomls, firslly as
Mustafa IV's Grand ViziC'r
and later h)' cngineering
the relllOl.ll of Mustafa in
f:lVOIlr of Mah11lul II. They
lried lo rect eale L1le NizalllI e"nit, gil1ng iT Ihe ne\\'
naille of Segvllll-I Cedit in
the hope Ihal hy h:lrking
back to the allcient hut

Libyan bedouin singing and

dancing in the desert. These
people were an important source
of military recruit's in North
Africa, Egypt and Syria. (ex-R.

Tully, Narrative of Ten Years'

Residence in Tripoli in Africa,
london 1817)

L[FT Sidi Has.m, the Bey or

autonomous ruler of Tripolitania
in Libya. His magnificent ceremonial court costume includes a

t;:e/enk, a fwreath' or brooch

given by the sultan in recognition
of bravery and fastened to his
turban. (e1.-R, Tully, Narrative of

Ten Years' Residence in Tripoli in

Africa, London 1817)

The Nizam-I Cedid of Sultan

defune! Segl),Ul ,egiments of Jani,,,,ries the cOIl,erYatives woulci he

1'1I<.lled into a"ep,ance, The corps was even to bc finan,eci \'ia a new
Mi,lislry for Ihe 11(1)' War, uut another revolt Oared imilledialeh' thc
Seguall-l Cedit madc its first public appearanCe, :-'111staJa ~ayraktar was
killed: the shorr-lived new army dishanrkd wi,h hra\)' loss of life, and no
further fUlldalllelltalll1odernisation was attempted until Sultan Mahll1ut
1I destrll),ed thejanissa,;es wirh c\'cn greater b,-utalit)' in IH~6,
\\'hile I1lese unsuccessful alLempLs to creale a modern Otlo,"an ~rn1\'
were going on in the centre 01' the Empire, se"eral provincial ~o\'ernors
were creatin~ their own smaller modernisrd units, Among them w~s
Siilej'man Pa 'a of B<lghdad, who raised 10cal1'\iz<luH Cedit troops ror his
own purposes. The longer-lasting military rerornl, by Mnhammad Ali of
~gypt began ~frer he returned from an exprciition a~ainst the \\'ahhabis
in Arabia in 1815. Firstly he put e,,-French ann" officers supponed by
1'>bnl1uk <lnd Creek NCOs in command or inranLI'\ units or African slave
imponeci \'i" Ihe Sud<ln, But this faileci ciue 10 high mortalit), among
the Afric<ln wldier,. PI~cing French mercellary officers over Muh~mmad
Ali', 1\lrkish anci Alhanian troops similarl\' lailed, alld leal
modernisation had to wai tuntil the Eg) ptian peasan ttl' were consCi-iplcc\
seyer'll )'e~t1 s htler.

Selim III had been disbanded by

the time Jeane Brindisi painted
his Ottoman costume prints In
the 1820s. Presumably he based


this picture on Illustrations he

found during his visit to Istanbul.

Lett to right: kalpakll or lkalpak'



neferi 'flank

soldier't Nizam-I Cedid nefer; or

ordinary infantryman,
nefer; 'flank soldier'.



The Ortoman n<lvy declilled in the J8th centuty, decay and corruplion
uegillning in the Fnsnnp-/ A",i/p or grrat Arsenal 01' Istanhnl. As a result,
the ships which went to war against Russia in the 1770s illcluded huge
vessels \,~th excessively rail sterns, irregular <lrnlamenl and olci-tashiolled
rigging, Leaky, stTucturally weak, and dilTicnlr to manoellvre, they were
manned hi inexpet;enced sailors and LlIlI rained
officers, The resliit was dis~ster,
Yet the ,'irtual ohlileration of t.he old n~\)'
made rerorm easiel. This II'<lS led by (;azi Hasan,
the new J\almd.a11 Pa}o or Grancl Acimiral, alld Gralld Vizier. He enlisted Western naval
advisers to improve maritime technology anci kept
a naval reserve in Isranbul throughout the year,
instead of disrnissing t.he sailor, in winler.
Nevertheless, improvements were more oh\ious in
the ships than their crell'S, An era of nlOre rundamcnL'l1 reform began under Sultan Selim and his
Grand Admiral Kfl j',k HI-l. e)in Pac a: the results
being more successful than those to the Army,
Naval administration was reorganised along lines
similar to those of Ihe 0Ji7alll-' Cedit. Conditions
improved dram~tically inside the ships and in
1806 a nalr,,1 medical sen;ce was created under
ltaJi~n guidance, The Tersalle-l Amirr was rehllih
\\~th French advice in the 1790s, anci warships
were constructed under the gnidallce of French
shipwrights. The largest II'<lS a ship-ol:rhe-line
c<llled the Selimi)'p carrying I ~2 g"ns, Efforts were

Costume print by Jeane Brindisi.

Left to right: kefeli ne'er or

'vagabond' Janissary soldier;

Nlzaml Cedld blnbaf', majorj
to~u b8fl artillery officer,
binba1' of what is described as

the 'new army of Sultan Mahmud

II.' The last figure's costume

looks much more like that of a
Nlzam-l Cedld officer, so it is

possible that the magnificent

uniform in the centre is that of
Mahmud II's new troops.


shippl d, ill olhl'r pal h oJ
Ih, 01l0m,1I1 Eilipirl'.
Thl' Kapl/dnll I'a!ja "'a,
respollsible for Ihc- Ilcel.
Ihe arsellal in Istalllml, and
11105e in other pons, "hill'
the fi~htillg flc-c-I was
headed by Ihc- f,:a/Jlidnl/c-I
or Imperial
Admiral. Beneath him wc-rcII';; (admirals), jJalwlla-1
!Iii ilia) 1/1/ (I iL('-,1(lm iub).
!I ii II/aw 11
aCCOI dillg to Ihc-i I ship, alld
1':lIiom iIIiila:1I11 as. istal1l--'
IIl'lJrln'ing the yualilY of
sllch ofllLers prQl ed difficllit. Co"uption was riIC,
man)' officers had less
knowledge of Ila\'igatiull
than rheir Illell, and onw
"'Hships nc-\'('r ventured
onl of sighl of land. Cre",
LonsislNI of \-ljJlak and
1.1'1."'1/1 'ailors, liiin-liriler
(oarsmc-n) I()} gallc-ys, linhoI/ClIla,.. or 'galleon men'
who seem 10 ha\'c- sened a
gunnc-rs and mali ill'S, S<lil-maker, killed nafLsmen, 'C<I ual workc-rs'
laken aboard when needed, <lnd Illc-n who may hal'e hc-en speLialist
s,,~mmers such as Ihose in the Illedielal Byzantinc- na\'y. The hl'si sailor
were Greeks and Nortb Afl;GlnS, thou~h Selilll's refom)s meallt LIlat all
cOa tal peoples became liable for consuiplion il1Lo Ihe fleel.
A new COIl'S of Illarincs was eSI<lbli hed ill 1804, modelled on lhclizaltl-l Cedil. Itwa comrnandc-d hya liifmli(i IWjJlIdal1l and consisted of
1,000 men in twO nal-dl rc-giments, each nndc-r a liifenk(i IWjJlIdalli
mii/azillL Pay and promotion was the ame a;, in the Ninm-I Cedil, and
<In) nal-dl commander in charge oflhree or more ships had 10 be aLLomranied by a m<ll'inc- officer. The \'ital Danube riv<'r Ileet wa.s similarl\'
JIlouemised following thl' "-ar "ith KltSs;<I in 1 12. The fkets of Tripoli
(Libya), Tunis <lnd Algiers wel'e generall)' better handled than those of
the s"lr<ln himself. a"d 01 these the Aig-ed<ln "as the mo. t important. It
W<lS cOllllllanded by a chief mis or admiral, each ship ha\ing <I lIIi~
(Laptain) and In/J(ll Ol/ln1, a senior n<l\'al gLlnner \\'ho look cOlllmann in
b<lllle. Most of its w,Hships were buill locally, rhough SOIne were capillred
from Christi<ln I'i\'als. Thc- Algel'iall Deel had, howel'el, declined in
relation to Christia" European Ilcc-I.s, larg-c-Iv because it continued to rei\'
on small, fast <lnd malloell\Table but lightly armed xeOerJ. In 181 i
.\1uhammad Ali of Eg:l) I asl..ed Brirain lor permission to bu\' small

The Kapitan


or Grand

Admiral Gazl Hasnn Cez.aylrli

with his pet lion. The ships in the
background still have the tall
carved sterns characteristic of
Ottoman warships before the late
18th century reforms. (Engraving
from a drawing by Cassas, Bib

Nat. Oep. d'Estampes, Paris,


warships in Bombay, but was refused on the grounds that Britain did not
want a revival of Ouoman naval power in the Red Sea.
()/,spite all these nifficu!ries, the OUolllan 11m)' saw Illany anions
during the I apoleonic Wars ann WOII s "eral engagements. The
reformed fleet fought the Russians and Austrians to a c1r::",' by 179~. ann
in 1798 the Danube fleet enablen Crand Admir<il IIiLseyin P3!ja to defeat
Osman Pas\anoglu Pa~a of Vidin. But the Oltoman na,;.'s great/'st
succpss came in alliance with its traditiollal !{1IS. ian fo/'s ann its new
British allies in 1800-D1. A slOall s<]uanrOII co-oper-,Iled witlt the Brilish
off th/' Syrian coast, while the main ileetjoil1ed lhe Ru sians in expelling
Napoleon'> garrisons from the Ionian islands.



pact conil'rriJlg \'a.~sal SlaillS

("<Hairy colonC'1 which 1101 III ally indicared a
prm'illcial adJllinislrat'_ r
Balkan (:hrislian mililia
~luslilll pro\incial 'Jlotable' or pelly rllier


~alTison re~illlcl1l


ruler or ~o\'ernor
(Hey of Beys) aJlo l\'lirllliran iJloicalin~ a ~o\'cillor
~enel'al rankiJlg benC'alh a \'ilil'1 01 gm'ernmclll


je\\elled rlecorarion awardcrl Iw slIllan for bra\'C'r"
milirar; policemall
leader of a unit of Yalllak aJlxiliarie~
fronLier guardsman or low status
Balkan bandit
aSSi~laJlI5 LO garr;soJl

AJa) ban





Costume print by Jeane Brindisi.

~/rak esnaf, new
recruit to the Janissary corps;
usta, junior officer or NCO of the

Left to right:

Janissary corps; kalyoncu, sailor

aboard a large warship;
tulumbsci, fireman from the


Janissary corps.


S1Iba: I

aU[Qnomo1ls rider of MlllrLl\ia or v\'allachia

salaried regut,,, troops
arIn)' raised by pl"O\,jncial governor
locall)' rccruited \1uslim policeman
Greek balldit
salaried Orroman solliier
non-Muslilu aUlUilUllJOUS cOlumuniry
i n 1;\11 Uy
troops raised 0)' provincial governors
disciplinary ofIicer or policcman
nnpaid irregular troops
hOl'SNail banner
Turkish nomad considerf'd part of the military
establish lIlelll.

CM. AJexander, 8aghrlfld in l3ygOllf /Jo)'.\ (Loudoll 1928).
Ali Bey el Abbassi, Travels of Ali Bn' in MOJOfco, hilJOii, ()'pI'llS, 1:j;yjJI,
Ambia, S)'1ia allrl Tmill") bftween/hf Vfan ISO] and 1807 (London JR16,
repJinted Wf'stmead 1970).
R.c. i\m1erson, Naval Wars ill the Lrvant, 1559,1853 (Princeton and
Liverpool 19.'02).
E. Ast,'atsaturyall, Oruzh)'e Narodov }{mtlwsa (Moscow 199", in Russian.
G. Baldwin, Pulitiml Recolleftiolls fMalilif to FfJlpt (London 1802).
S. Dearden, A Nfst of COJ:\airs: Thf Fighting Kammanlis of Trif)oli (Londou
G.M. D'[rulllberry, \'oyages
iJ ConstantinojJle, en !tali,'
et (lux'iles de ['archipel /Jar
I'AUP'lllagllf ft la HOllgi/'
(Paris 1799).
S. Doras and S. Kocaman,
G. Goodwiu, Th,' jallissaries
(London F)'1()).
M.G. Guemard, 'De i'ar,
mament et de l'cq1lipemenr des Mameluks',
d/r.i!:Jptf VII (1926),1-19.
C. and B. jelavich, The

This Kadirga is the oldest

surviving galley in Europe. It is
believed to have been one of the
OUoman sultan's state barges
and probably dates from the late
18th or early 19th centuries.

(Deniz MOze Naval Museum,

Istanbul, TurkeYi Author's

BollwlI Noliul/ol SIOIl'<, 181N-1 n(} (Sca[tle ann I,olldon 1'177),

K, l'vlall t 1':111 , 'l)oCltmclIl, Turcs rcl;\lil ;i I':lnnee [unisiclllle', (.'alll('1:\ dl'
TUllisle fl' (l9!'i6), :1.-,9-:-172.
Y. i\'liller, '])isintel-\r<l[ion of [h(' n,ili[ar..- 11<'1 s",lell1 ,lnd <lucmpl.s ;11
n'fonll in Tttrk('y in [he I<lte I 'th-{arh.'19lh c~ntllrics', in I'rocc('(lill!!;'
uf Ihe 261h 11I1i'm~liollal COIlf!!l'I' uf 0,7;'"10Ii,I-I. "01. 11 (i\losww J 96:-1),
C. Mouloud, L'Algl'l1e SOIl.< Ii" Tun'S (Tuttis 1976).
VJ Parry and i\1.L Y<lfJfJ 'ns.), \\'(11, 'I""'/lilOlo/,"1 nlld Sucid,l' ill 111l'Middlp
Ensl (Lonnott 197").
V J PllJ)'ear, NO/Juleull alld Ihp nflldolldle, (Berkelcl' 1'151).
A. I{a'~llonn, /,p (.'ai/p df's jallissairps (Paris 19"J.-,).
A, Riggio, 'La Cuel ra AJg('rino-TUllisill<t del 1(-\07 ncl (hario ni till diplumatico Olanncs(", Orienle Modpl'lln XX\'III (194R). G3-74.
J. Shaw, Belwl'l'lI Old nlld Nl7l': The Ol/o/llnll E/Ilpill' ""d"r "ltnll SpllIlI II!
1789-1807 (Cambrid 'e, i\ 1971).
, J. Shaw, 'Th" fSlablishpd Ol/umall AnllY [,DIPS IIlIder S"llntl Seli/ll III,' DcI'
blam XL (1965), 142-IH-I.
SJ Shaw, HislDly o[ Ihe Ol/u1/1all FllljJile alld Modem T"da')' ('2 ,olum('s,
f:ambridge 1976-77).
SJ. Ski\\', The :'>Ii/<llll-l f:cnid AI nl)' ullueJ' Sull<ln Sclim Ill', (),ien; XI 111
XIX (196"-66). I(jt\-181.
SJ. Shaw, 'S1'1i1ll111 alld Ihe 01/U1/1.011 Nm'y', Turcica J (1Y96), 212-241.
P.F. Sugar, So"lh t:aslem Ellrol'" ,,"der Ol/ulfum HI/lp 1354-IR04 (Se<tllle
ann Lannon 1977).
R. Tully, ,"iarraliv"ufTm }'pm,' He,idmce i11 Tlipuli ill/IJrira (Lonnoll 1817,
r('pl;n[ Lonc1on IYt\3).
M. C.F. Voltle~', TrOtlel< Ilzroll~1z S)'I1'a and (Lundon 17 7).
:'-I. Weissmann, 1.1' .Ialli"aires, (/udede 1'Olgolliwlion Mililoiredes OIlOIllOIlS
(Paris 19(4), fows on the prol'incial JanissaJ)' units of AJgicrs.
M. Winter, Li;)'/Jlioll SUClely lInder OllUllUlTl Rule 1517-1798 (Londoll 1992).
J.B. Wolf, Tize Ila,.I>nI)' Coml; Algin< 1/.lIdl'1' Ilze 'l'lIrlls (. ew York 1979).
LE:FT Officers of the sultan's
palace guards rela~ing. This
illustration dates from around

1815 and shows the great variety

of uniform headgear worn by
Ottoman soldiers and their

officers. (eJ;-R. TUlly, Narrative of

Ten Years I Residence in Tripoli in

Africa, London 1817)

RIGHT Mamluk officers watch an

Egyptian puppet show. This

illustration from around 1815

shows the huge difference in

dress between the higher ranks
of society, with their multiple

layers of tunics, cloaks and


turbans, and the poorest people

who often wore little at all.
(ex-R. Tully, Narrative of Ten
Years' Residence In Tripoli in
Africa, London 1817)

A1: Deli cavalryman, early 19th century Ely the late 8th
century Deli volunteer cavalry were found in most provinces
and formed the Ottoman Emplfe's most numerous cavalry
force. They had no uniform but were generally identified by
tall black felt hats. They acquired weaponry wherever they
could and rode what Western observers often descnbed as
'English saddles' as distinct rom tl1e almost medieval
Mamluk saddles. Nor was their equipment as magnificent or
decorated as that of thelf Mamluk nvals. ThiS man has been
given a captured Russian carbine and English pistols.
A2: Deli BaSI cavalry officer from Syria ThiS a Icer has
adopted the costume of the province where 11e IS sta loned.
but he still wears the typical tall black hat. The padded fabric
top of this hat seems to have been an indication of rank and
enabled men to Identity their leaders more easily. The broad
waist sash to carry weapons had an anCien history in the
Middle East, and was very comfortable In hot climates. The
broad cummerbund beneath thiS sash also gave support
when riding long distances.
A3: Tatar courier, early 19th century Similanty between
the headgear of the courier corps and that of the DeliS
suggests they may have been associated. Though described
as Tatars they were recruited from many sources. The loose
'gaiters' around his ankles may reflect a steppe heritage. This
man has been given a decorated Yatagan short reversecurved sword and a Turkish pistol. He is also carrying a saz.
61: Mamluk officer in full armour, c.1795 Egyptian
Mamluks occasionally wore armour, though this may only
have been for parade purposes. Most armour was In Persian
rather than Ottoman style. This man wears Arab-[gyptlan
costume suited to his homeland, and is characterised by the
magnificence typical of the Mamluk eli e; the number of
weapons carried by many Mamluks was part 01 thelf

62: Mamtuk cavalryman, c,1798 Even without armour, the

fully equipped Mamluk was a magnificent sight. Bright red
trousers became a sort at unofficial unlfonn, though not
every Mamluk wore them, and they were later adopted by
light cavalry in several armies. More specific to the Mamluks
themselves was a heavy blunderbuss, preferably of English
manufacture, which could be a devastating short range
cavalry weapon.
B3: Mamluk Bey or senior officer c.1800 Rank or status
was Indicated by the quality and magnificence of a man's
costume and by the wearing of ornaments. The spontoonlike weapon appears In several sources and was another sign
of rank. This aged officer is also armed with a long Caucasian
dilgger and the very curved sabre characteristic of both
Mamluk and Persian cavalry.
64: Child sword-bearer, c.l800 The entire Mamluk system
was based on slavery With only those of flfst-generation slave
ongln being eligible for the highest military ranks. ThiS elhe
was. however, recruited from European peoples, and staves
of African origin could only hope to rise in ciVilian society. The
tuft of hair left on top of an otherwise shaved head was
basically a Turkish tradition, although it was adopted
throughou much of the Muslim world.


C1: Artillery Yuzba~l, c,1815 This yDzba~l, roughly
equivalent to a captain, was distinguished by a pair of ornate
'buttons' on the breast of his coat. During the reforming reign
of Sullan Mahmut Il Ottoman artillery uniforms changed
several times, and the precise date on any particular version
is difficult to specify. Generally, the changes showed a trend
away from Ottoman Turkish tradition towards Balkan
fashions. It is also interesting to note that thiS man carries his
sabre on a shoulder baldric rather than a waist -belt.
C2: Humbaracllar of the Mortar Corps, maintained by a
T,mar or fief Many members of the Humbaracllar corps of
mortar gunners were supported by fiefs confiscated from
members of the Sipahi cavalry, while others were paid
directly by the government, but whether this was indicated
by differences in dress seems doubtful. The uniform of the
Humbaracllar was based upon the traditional costume of
Bosnia which included a version of the tall black hat worn by
Deli cavalrymen. The curved Yatagan was also used
throughout the Balkans and may even have originated there.
C3: Mounted artilleryman, c.1812 Sultan Mahmut t1's
mounted artillery were an elite force, but were given sufficiently traditional uniforms to appease conservatives in
Ottoman society. This included the coats with long falsesleeves worn since the 15th century at least, and loose
gaiters comparable to those wom by the Tatar courier corps.
C4: Pioneer of the Ulglmcl Corps, earty 19th century
Though forming one of the technical corps, the Uigimci rarely
looked very impressive in the sources. This particular individual is smoking a nargile water-pipe, often called a
'hubble-bubble' by Westerners. More critical observers
maintained that Ottoman troops spent a great deal of their
time smoking and drinking coffee.
01: Kolagasl of the 1st Orta of Nizam-I Cedit Infantry,
c,1806 The title ko/agasl, roughly equivalent to a senior lieutenant, reflected Sultan Selim Ill's attempt to appease the

E1: Pasa B~s Cavusu senior naval officer, early 19th
century The proud hentage of the Ottoman navy was
re lecK'd ,n the stllk,ng costumes adopted by a ,cers and
men. This ,ncl ded abundant gold and Silver embroidery on
most garmen S Including tlOusers OthervVlse there was no
unl orm as such. and rank seems to have been indicated by

The massacre of senior Mamluk officers and Beys by

Muhammad Ali's Albanian Infantry In the courtyard of
Cairo's Citadel, in 1811. (Lithograph from a painting by

Joseph Vernet after a sketch by Forbin)


conservatives. It meant 'chief of slaves in the Sultan's

service' though the wo,d kof had long since ceased to mean
'slave' ,n a literal sense. His un,lorm is relatively simple w,lh
the minimum of weapons. and was only dislrnguished from
that of hIS men by gold braid'ng.
02: MUiazin lieutenant of Nizam-I Cedit Inlantry, c.l808
This figure is based on an ,lIustratlon which may show cere
mOnlal or parade un'form. It includes abundant gold brald,ng,
and the blue cuffs may indicate regiment or battalion. The tall
red cap was based upon Ihat of the traditional Bostanci
Corps, itself aff,liated to Ihe Janissaries, and was a sop to
conservative opin,on. Nevertheless, the rest of th,s unilorm
'ncensed traditionalists who considered it almost indecently
tight tittlng.
03: Nizam-, Cedit Neteri, c.18oo Much to the annoyance 01
the Brit,sh ambassador, the firs N,zam-, Cedit regiment was
issued with French rather han English muske s, but the
p,ece of equipment wh,ch caused most problems for trad,tional Ottoman forces was the bayonet. It was seen as
reducing a proud ,ndlvidual warrior to the status a a mere
cog ,n a fighting machine, and only he N,zam-, Cedlt were
prepared to use them.
04: Neteri 01 the Nizam-, Cedit 2nd Orta 'provincial
militia', c.179S The second Nlzam-, Cedit orta or regiment
operated as mounted ,nfantry rather than line-infanlry like the
firsl orta. Their un,forms were much the same, though mldblue instead of red. The small red cap shown In some
pictures may also have been more pract,cal on horseback
than the tall and even "opp,er Bostanc' hat.

the abundance and quality of th,s decoration. Ottoman naval

personnel were also ,lIustrated carry,ng what looked like
wh,te blankets, pe,h"ps as a protection against the weather.
E2: Levend navaf rating, c.18oo Trad'tionally there had
been strict separation between fighting men and Virtually
nun-combnlDnt SDilors aboard Ottoman warships. Wherei1s
the former were Muslims, the laller were largely drawn from
Christian coastal peoples. But towards he close a the 18th
century, as Turkish coastal peoples were registered as naval
recru' s, these distinctions ended to disappear. The heavy
hooded coat worn by thiS sailor IS clearly a weatherproof
E3: Kalyoncu marine, early 19th century Kalyoncu or
galleon men' appear In several sources and tend to be
almost prratical ,n tlleir appearance. Whether they ,ncluded
gunners as well as mannes IS. however. unclear. Lrke sailors
everywhere they often decorated therr bodies With tatloos.
Tllis man also carries an unusual straight-bladed lorm of
E4: Tershane Bas <;:avusu at the Arsenal Guards, early
19th century Of all the changes made to tile Ottoman
Empire's military system dwing the Napoleonic period, those
in the great naval dockyard on the northern Side at the
Golden Horn were the mos dramat'c. Yet they involved
technology and admln,stration rather than uniforms which
remained remarkably traditional. This man's cummerbund 's
apparently made from overlapping strips of leather, and
looks similar a he abdominal supports worn by welghlifters, perhaps symbolising the heavy labour charactenstoc of
the Tershane.
Fl: Albanian chieftain, early 191h century Dunng the early
19th century the exot,c Balkan costumes caught the imagination 01 western European artists and wnters. None were
more magnificent than those of the Albanians. The
appearance and indeed lhe weaponry of the elite were highly
decorated, and the Muslims generally carried more
weaponry than tile Chnstians In fact non-Muslims were theoretically barred from beanng arms at all.
F2: Harambasa leader 01 Balkan Haydut irregulars, late
18th century Mushm and Christian Haydut or Haiduks living
in the h,lIs preyed on the towns and villages below, but also
provided local powers With many of therr best troops. The
man shown here 's a Christian bandit. He wears a Toke Jacket
decorated with embossed s,lver plates and embroidery, a
feature of Haydu! leaders. H,s pistol is a Balkan weapon, his
enormouS musket Turkish, while h,s sword has been taken
from an Austnan infantry officer.
F3: Wallachian boyar, c.18oo The indigenous Boyar aristocracy of Wallachla and Moldavia were described as
wearing Ottoman Turkish costume except for tall lambskin
Kalpak hats instead of turbans. ThiS hat was ,tself of steppe
ong,n from north a the Black Sea The Boyars also domInated the Pnnclpallt,es and many of them ma,ntained close

links with the neighbouring Russian Empire. In fact this

Wallach Ian carnes a Russian cavalry sabre.
F4: Bosnian Panduk, c.1775 Unlike Haydut bandits, the
Pandllks or Pilndurs were largely recruited from ex-soldiers.
Many had experience in Austro-Hungarian or Russian ranks
while otllers were ex-Ottoman regulars. ThiS man's hat
suggests that he had been a member of ttle Turkish
Bostancls. In It he has a Jewelled qe/enk awarded for outstanding courage. In addition to his Balkan Yatagan. pistols
and decorated musket. he is armed with an Italian straiglltsword purchased on the Adna ic coast.
G1: Anatolian Sipahi cavalryman Though called Sipahis,
the early 19th-century cavalry of that name was a new force
of regular rather than feudal horsemen, though tlley seem to
Ilave operated more like mounted infantry than pure cavalry.
It is unclear to what extent they had a uniform in tile true
sense of the word, although their simple costume and the
distinctive headgear would influence the uniforms of
Ottoman and Egyptian cavalry later In the 19t1l century. Tile
long-stemmed tobacco-pipe was a prized possession of
many Ottoman soldiers during this period.
G2: Circassian annoured cavalryman The Caucasus was
perhaps the only part of Europe wllere full cavalry anmour
was still worn in battle; men equipped in this manner
appeared in Russian as well as Ottoman irregular forces. Tile
armour itself, like tllis man's weapons, was made locally as
the Caucasus region remained a centre of traditional arms
manufacture until the 20th century.
G3: Armenian archer This Armenian tribal infantry archers
reliance on an archaic fonm of composite bow was as oldfashioned as the Circassian's armour. The wearing of
generally muted colours or black became a tradition in
Armenia and Georgia, perhaps as a result of centuries of
Ottoman sumptuary laws which tried to reserve brighter
costume for the ruling Turkish elite.


H1: Cairo Janissary The Janlssanes of Cairo were regarded
as Turks by Arab Egyptians, but their costume Ilad little in
common with that of traditional Janissary regiments. The flat,
almost table-shaped hat seems to have been characteristic
of these particular Janissaries, and the man in this illustration
has also been given an old-fashioned Jazayl matchlock
musket of the kind used throughout much of the Arabian
peninsula. The large leather waterflask on his hip had been a
feature of Egyptian troops since he earty Middle Ages.
H2: Palestinian auxiliary U e he traditional costume of
Syria. that of Palestine was a mixture of Arab bedOUin and
Turkish elements. During the la e 18th century Palestine also
asserted a distinct identity. while remaining one 0 the most
loyal parts of the Ottoman Empire. This man's green turban
Indicates that he is a Hajl who has been on pilgrimage to
Mecca. Such men served as auxiliary infantry and cavalry to
maintain local law and order; many also resisting the French
invasion of t 799.
H3: Maghribi infantryman The tribal people of North Africa
were among the poorest and most backward in the Ottoman
Empire. Perhaps for this reason they were attracted to Egypt
and Syria where they were recruited as infantry. European
observers described them as remarkably poorly equipped,
with generally rusty weapons.
H4: Libya Kuloglu Tile Kuloglu claimed descent from
Turkish fathers and local Maghribi women. They formed an
influential military group within Ottoman North Africa,
basically serving as auxiliary cavalry though tlley were also
effective on foot. ike the Mamluks of Egypt, many Kuloglll
were armed with blunderbusses; a weapon also issued to the
bodyguards of the Bey of Tripoli among others.
Captured Ottoman troops during the disastrous Battle of

Abu air. The accuracy of their costume shows that the

artist must have used sketches made during or after the
battle. (Detail of a painting by General Lejeune; Musee de
Versailles. France)