Military of the Ottoman Empire


The history of the military of the Ottoman Empire can be divided in five main periods. The foundation era covers the years between 1300 and 1453, the classical period covers the years between 1451 and 1606, the reformation period covers the years between 1606 and 1826, the modernisation period covers the years between 1826 and 1858 and decline period covers the years between 1861 and 1918.
The earliest form of the Ottoman military was a steppe-nomadic cavalry force. This was centralized by Osman I from Turkoman tribesmen inhabiting western Anatolia in the late 13th century.
These horsemen became an irregular force of raiders used as shock troops, armed with weapons like bows and spears. They were given fiefs called timars in the conquered lands, and were later called timariots. In addition they acquired wealth during campaigns.
Orhan I organized a standing army paid by salary rather than looting or fiefs. The infantry were called yayas and the cavalry was known as müsellems. The force was made up by foreign mercenaries for the most part, and only a few Turks were content to accept salaries in place of timars. Foreign mercenaries were not required to convert to Islam as long as they obeyed their Ottoman commanders.
The Ottomans began using guns in the late 14th century. Following that, other troop types began to appear, such as the regular musketeers ; regular cavalry armed with firearms, similar to the later European reiter or carabinier; and bombardiers, consisting of grenadiers who threw explosives called khımbara and the soldiers who served the artillery with maintenance and powder supplies.
The Ottoman Empire was the first of the three Islamic Gunpowder Empires, followed by Safavid Persia and Mughal India. By the 14th century, the Ottomans had adopted gunpowder artillery. The adoption of the gunpowder weapons by the Ottomans was so rapid that they "preceded both their European and Middle Eastern adversaries in establishing centralized and permanent troops specialized in the manufacturing and handling of firearms." But it was their use of artillery shocked their adversaries and impelled the other two Islamic Gunpowder Empires to accelerate their weapons program. The Ottomans had artillery at least by the reign of Bayezid I and used them in the sieges of Constantinople in 1399 and 1402. They finally proved their worth as siege engines in the successful siege of Salonica in 1430.
The Ottoman military's regularized use of firearms proceeded ahead of the pace of their European counterparts. The Janissaries had initially been an infantry bodyguard using bows and arrows. By the time of Sultan Mehmed II, they had been drilled with firearms and became "perhaps the first standing infantry force equipped with firearms in the world." The Janissaries are thus considered the first modern standing armies. The combination of artillery and Janissary firepower proved decisive at Varna in 1444 against a force of Crusaders, and later Başkent in 1473 against the Aq Qoyunlu.
Ottoman Classical Army was the military structure established by Mehmed II, during his reorganization of the state and the military efforts. This is the major reorganization following Orhan I which organized a standing army paid by salary rather than booty or fiefs. This army was the force during rise of the Ottoman Empire. The organization was twofold, central and peripheral. The classical Ottoman army was the most disciplined and feared military force of its time, mainly due to its high level of organization, logistical capabilities and its elite troops. Following a century long reform efforts, this Army was forced to disbandment by Sultan Mahmud II on 15 June 1826 by what is known as Auspicious Incident. By the reign of Mahmud the second, the elite jannisaries had become corrupt and always stood in the way of modernization efforts meaning they were more of a liability then an asset.
By the siege of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottomans had large enough cannons to batter the walls of the city, to the surprise of the defenders. The Dardanelles Gun was designed and cast in bronze in 1464 by Munir Ali. The Dardanelles Gun was still present for duty more than 340 years later in 1807, when a Royal Navy force appeared and commenced the Dardanelles Operation. Turkish forces loaded the ancient relics with propellant and projectiles, then fired them at the British ships. The British squadron suffered 28 casualties from this bombardment.
The musket first appeared in the Ottoman Empire by 1465. Damascus steel was later used in the production of firearms such as the musket from the 16th century. At the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Janissaries equipped with 2000 muskets "formed nine consecutive rows and they fired their weapons row by row," in a "kneeling or standing position without the need for additional support or rest." The Chinese later adopted the Ottoman kneeling position for firing. In 1598, Chinese writer Zhao Shizhen described Turkish muskets as being superior to European muskets.
The marching band and military band both have their origins in the Ottoman military band, performed by the Janissary since the 16th century.