Imperial Ideology in the Ottoman Empire Essay

512 Words3 Pages
The ruling elite of the Ottoman Empire were unique, because they were a foreign influence, which shaped the way they were perceived and how they displayed their identity. This was because; they were Devirshirme, recruits of the child levy system. They served in either the palace service or the Janissary military system. Their status as the ruling elite was bittersweet, filled with pros and cons. The Janissaries formed a powerful interest group, which allowed them to project their power to the Sultan as well as the people. The Devirshirme were recruited through the child levy system to serve as statesmen and soldiers. They were recruited primarily from the Balkans, but also from other Christian European territories within the Ottoman…show more content…
Though they were elite the Devirshme had its cons as well. Various pros and cons shaped the identity of the ruling elite. The Devirshirme received tax exemption, which created distinction between them and the rest of the population. Furthermore, it allowed them to accumulate more wealth, which widened the gap between the ruling elite and the subjects. Yet the ruling elite had a dual nature, they were also viewed as slaves of the Sultan. Islamic law stated that the Sultan was the protector of his subjects. As slaves of the Sultan, the ruling elite were bound by this, and had little authority over the population. Yet they viewed themselves as elite and not slaves. Therefore, they sought diplomatic ways of projecting their identity and influence. As the janissaries swelled in numbers they formed a formidable interest group. The janissaries often held strikes against the debasements of currency or unfair officials. Strikes served as an effective tool in influencing legislation and projecting their influence to the Sultan and the population. The janissaries also formed palace alliances, for example, at times they allied themselves with one of the queen mothers or the statesmen in palace service to affect which heir would be sultan. The statesmen also sought to influence the harem and effect legislation. This would ensure that the ruling elite’s interests were met by the new sultan. The dual identity of the Devirshme, as the
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