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Zihril Dnefer, "Armoured Assault Soldiers", Janissaries, The Ottoman Empire, The Great Siege of Malta, 1565, The Crusades--single figure in mail shirt and trousers with round shield and raised sword
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Item Number: JAN-07

Zihril Dnefer, "Armoured Assault Soldiers", Janissaries, The Ottoman Empire, The Great Siege of Malta, 1565, The Crusades--single figure in mail shirt and trousers with round shield and raised sword

In the mid-16th Century, a long running conflict between two of the most powerful world religions is building up to a climactic battle in the Mediterranean.  Facing each other are the knights of the Order of St. John, a small but formidable and fanatical Christian military Order and the Muslim Janissaries, the fearsome crack troops of Suleyman the Magnificent.

The Great Siege of Malta occurred in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire attempted to conquer the Island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller.  The siege lasted nearly four months, from 18th May to 11th September 1565.

 

The forces of Suliman the Magnificent were impressive.  The armies of the Sultan were hated and feared by the common folk of the west, and respected for their fighting prowess by the military.

The elite of the troops were, unusually for the time, infantry.  The Janissaries were the backbone of the army.

A Janissary was a member of the elite infantry that formed the Ottoman Sultan’s household troops and were considered the first standing army in Europe.  The corps was most likely established under the Sultan Orhan (1324-1362).  Although the origins remain surrounded in mystery, they were also certainly among the first troops to adopt firearms as their principal weapon.

Janissaries began as elite corps made up through the system of child levy enslavement.  They became famed for internal cohesion cemented by strict discipline and order.  Unlike typical slaves, they were paid regular salaries.  Forbidden to marry before the age of 40 or engage in trade, their complete loyalty to the Sultan was expected.

Zihril Nefer in Turkish means “armoured soldiers” and were a special category of Janissaries.  Zihril Nefer were made of volunteer Janissaries and received double pay.  Their job was to lead the charge and attack the enemy at the most crucial or weakest point.  The best examples were at the Siege of Constantinople or the First Siege of Vienna where in both cases they charged at the crippled wall.

It is easy to conclude why these soldiers were armored and received double pay.  Their casualties were very high.  They were often called Serdengeçi meaning “the one who doesn’t care for their lives”.  It was also a good way to gain promotion, which is one reason why there was never a shortage of volunteers.

The main body of the invasion force were the Spahis, drawn from Anatolia, Karamina, and Romania.  Although originally cavalry, during a siege they would have little value.  They were armed with bow, crossbow, and matchlocks.

Due to be released in AUGUST 2024.