The Janissaries (Ottoman Turkish: يڭيچرى yeñiçeri [jeniˈt͡ʃeɾi], meaning “new soldier”) were elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman Sultan’s household troops and bodyguards. The corps was most likely established during the reign of Murad I (1362–89).
They began as an elite corps of slaves made up of conscripted young Christian boys, and became famed for internal cohesion cemented by strict discipline and order. Unlike typical slaves, they were paid regular salaries. Forbidden to marry or engage in trade, their complete loyalty to the Sultan was expected. By the seventeenth century, due to a dramatic increase in the size of the Ottoman standing army, the corps’ initially strict recruitment policy was relaxed.
The Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire, was an empire founded at the end of the thirteenth century in northwestern Anatolia in the vicinity of Bilecik and Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans the Ottoman Beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, at the height of its power under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was a multinational, multilingual empire controlling much of Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa. At the beginning of the 17th century the empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states. Some of these were later absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, while others were granted various types of autonomy during the course of centuries.