Adventures in Bookland: Memoirs of a Janissary by Konstantin Mihailovic
There are very few primary texts detailing what it was like to be a Janissary in the 15th century so this memoir by a man who was captured as a boy, trained as a Janissary, who fought for the Sultan during a number of campaigns before returning to Christian practice and Christian regions, is invaluable – but frustratingly bare. We would love to know more about the actual training of a Janissary and how the Ottomans took the levy of Christian boy slaves and turned them into the Sultan’s most effective ghazi, warriors of Islam. Sadly, Mihailovic does not go into any detail about this, although there are hints that it could be a brutal process.
The translation is clear and the accompanying scholarly material, particularly the extensive footnotes, are invaluable. A necessary read for anyone interested in the Sultan’s slave soldiers.