Thursday, October 5, 2023

What Was Paidomazoma (Devshirme) and Who Were the Janissaries?

By Marios Novakopoulos, Internationalist

Paidomazoma, or the mass kidnapping of children. This word resonates to this day as one of the most painful memories of the Turkish occupation, which both as a human tragedy and as a tool of biological oppression haunts the conscience of the Greeks.

Paidomazoma, Devshirme in Turkish, is the compulsory recruitment of the children of the Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire, to staff the army and administration of the sultan. The most famous body that absorbed the victims of paidomazoma was the famous Janissary guard.

The system of paidomazoma was introduced around 1430 by Sultan Murat I, but individual conscriptions had started since the time of Sultan Bayezid in 1395. But why did the Ottomans implement such a policy? The answer lies in the deepest needs of Sultanate politics.