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Hey everyone, I wanted to share some stuff I've been working on. After extensive research, I've attempted to accurately represent portions of the Ottoman army in the 18th and early 19th century. So that this isn't just boring pictures of minifigures, I thought I'd add some blurbs to provide context.

Command

The man in the dark red robes and turban is an agha. Aghas were the commanders of each individual branch, so there would be a janissary agha, sipahi agha, etc. There were no real uniforms at this level, so this could be the agha of any branch. He wields a mace, a symbol of command throughout Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire. The other two figures are the imam, who served as chaplain, and flagbearer.

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Yeniçeri Ocağı (Janissary Corps)

Trained in the art of war from childhood, janissaries were the elite, professional shock troops of the Ottoman empire. Janissaries considered themselves warriors rather than soldiers, relying on courage and skill-at-arms to overwhelm enemies. They refused to use bayonets (a symbol, in their mind, of the automaton-like western soldier) and preferred Turkish sabers like yatağans or kılıçs to complement their firepower. Although this corps of ‘new soldiers’ had become corrupt and largely outmoded by the 18th century, the janissaries' valor on the battlefield (and political maneuvering) kept them firmly at the core of the Ottoman army and state.

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Janissaries all wore the same basic uniform, though trim and the color of the tunic changed according to orta (regiment). Blue was most common, followed by red and green. The çorbacı (literally soup server, equivalent to colonel) wielded a ladle as a symbol of his station [1]. A bölükbaşı (head of a company, equivalent to captain) would have the same uniform but carried a sword or mace instead of a ladle. I must give credit to Artizan for the idea of using the plastic red capes for the characteristic börk hat. Although less common among Janissaries than white hats, red gives the figures more flexibility [2].

 

Tüfekçi (musketeers/riflemen)

In Turkish, tüfek referred to either a musket or rifle. The tüfek was usually a matchlock weapon, ‘true’ flintlocks being less reliable in dusty conditions, until the gradual introduction of the miquelet variety of flintlock starting in the 17th century. Tüfeks carried by elite units and sharpshooters were rifled, but even smoothbore tüfeks had greater range and accuracy than European muskets, due to their greater length and larger bore. These advantages came at the expense of firing speed. Tüfekçis were disciplined fighters, a step above the reaya and fellahin peasant militias of Anatolia and Egypt [3].

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The figures on the right represent Balkan troops in fustanellas such as Greek armatoloi or Albanian arnauts. The figures on the left represent Maghrebi Berbers. The Albanians in particular were considered excellent skirmishers on the European front, while the skills of the Berber Zwawa clansmen would later inspire numerous ‘zouave’-style light infantry units throughout Europe and the U.S. [4].

 

Topçu Ocağı (Artillery Corps)

Like the janissaries and sipahi cavalry, the artillery were kapıkulu troops (literally subjects of the gate, meaning salaried). Known for their massive guns and skill in mining and sapping, the Ottoman artillery corps of the 17th and 18th century were experts of defensive and siege warfare but noticeably outdated on the open battlefield. Unlike the other kapıkulu corps, the Ottoman artillery didn’t resist attempts at reform and modernization, rapidly improving in the late 18th century under French instruction. One type of cannon unique to the Ottoman army was the abus gun, a type of anti-infantry howitzer. Lightweight, maneuverable, and requiring few personnel, the abus gun was a staple of Ottoman warfare.

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Here I've depicted three topçular (gunners) and a yüzbaşı (chief of artillery) of the Piyade Topçu (foot artillery) manning two abus guns and a şahi [5] field piece, a smaller type of traditional Ottoman cannon. I’ve also included a Turkish tüfekçi in red; tüfekçis were later attached to each bölük (company) to protect the crew and help man the guns. [6]

Future

I may add to this army over time, but I’m not sure. If I did, I’d likely focus on the elite Humbaraçı Ocağı, the Mehter band (supposedly the first military band in Europe), and a couple cavalry units, such as the Sipahis and Mamluks.

 

Footnotes:

1. Most of the Janissary Corps’s ranks and symbology revolve around food and cooking; scholars have drawn comparisons with crusader orders to describe the janissaries’ spiritual understanding of their role in defending and providing for the empire.

2. The uniform here is also very close to the elite Bostancı Corps (household guards who fought alongside the janissaries on the battlefield), Silahtar cavalry (the sultan's bodyguards), and the Nizam-ı Cedid (highly effective ‘European-style’ line infantry organized in the late 18th century)

3. Sources disagree over whether tüfekçis were regulars, mounted infantry from Kurdistan or Egypt, or an umbrella term for different types of regional, disciplined irregulars. I will be using the 3rd definition (the 1st doesn’t make much sense given the janissaries’ reputation as THE ottoman regular infantry, the Nizam infantry being such a threat to their position that the Janissaries had them disbanded by force. I also suspect that the 2nd is actually just a function of the 3rd)

4. The Balkan torso paired with pants and a fez or turban would also effectively model Bosnian panduks, crack skirmishers who rose to military prominence even before the Albanians, or levends, a type of marine that would also act as irregular infantry in later periods.

5. The translation is not clear here. Some sources have it written as sahi and others as şahi. The former means field while the latter means imperial.

6. Members of the Humbaraçı (mortar) and Süvari Topçu (horse artillery) corps had different uniforms, though it’s not clear if this is true of the Sürat Topçuları (rapid fire field artillery) corps.

Edited by 2maxwell

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I am very impressed by this!  I have yet to see any representation of the Ottomans on this forum.  Very clever, and very needed!

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Hey, this was a great read. Thanks! I actually learned something along the way too.

Some clever parts usage in there too, which always pleases me.

Thanks for sharing.

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Very interesting figures with great descriptions and interesting parts usage!

These are definitely recognizable from their historical reference and I learned some new information as well!  I particularly like those Greek armataloi and the Janissaries.

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Thanks everyone! Yeah I kind of set out to see what was going on in the period outside of the major European countries, and the Ottomans seemed like a natural choice considering they were involved tangentially with a number of the European powers during the period. I hope that this can act as a bit of inspiration for people who want to model conflicts other than just Redcoats vs. Bluecoats.

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I love the minifigs you've created. You've got some creative piece use on the janissaries' headgear, and creative torso and legs usage in general across the army. And I enjoyed the history lesson as well. Thanks, and well done! :thumbup: 

Do you plan on doing any other non-traditional-looking armies of the period?

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Excellent part use plus an interesting theme to develop.I like them a lot. You can also make some cavalry units. They were very richly decorated. Also a small historical detail: jenissars were supposedly partly drafted from very young balkanians etc boys that were kidnapped, were made muslims and were taught the valors of belonging to the jenissar corps. That's why they were considered as a family

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21 hours ago, Capt Wolf said:

I love the minifigs you've created. You've got some creative piece use on the janissaries' headgear, and creative torso and legs usage in general across the army. And I enjoyed the history lesson as well. Thanks, and well done! :thumbup: 

Do you plan on doing any other non-traditional-looking armies of the period?

Thanks a lot! I'd certainly like to, but there are difficulties haha. Here are some ideas I'm toying around with:

  • The Qajar Persian empire, which had a quite professional and uniformed military, would be very easy but the black fez pieces I'd need for their hats are incredibly expensive :/
  • The Safavids or the Mughals, but they're a bit early for the period I'm most interested in.
  • Edo Japan, but the Japanese military didn't seem to evolve at all from the Siege of Osaka in 1614 to the 'opening of Japan' in the 1850s. I certainly could make an Edo period army composed of ashigaru and samurai, but they may seem a bit dated next to my redcoats and bluecoats. I'm sure I'll get around to this one day; I already have plenty of samurai from the old Ninja sets.
  • The Qing empire is an obvious choice, especially in light of the amazing junk TLG is putting out for the Ninjago movie, but I'd need some help from TLG with regards to pieces haha. I have ideas for light infantry, but I have no idea how to recreate the famous banner army outfit.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for ways to do them or other armies to look at, I'd love to hear them! Regardless of what I do next, it will take a few months; I like to do extensive research before I start. In the meantime, here's an Iroquois war party I made in the past, if youre interested.

9 hours ago, blackdeathgr said:

Excellent part use plus an interesting theme to develop.I like them a lot. You can also make some cavalry units. They were very richly decorated. Also a small historical detail: jenissars were supposedly partly drafted from very young balkanians etc boys that were kidnapped, were made muslims and were taught the valors of belonging to the jenissar corps. That's why they were considered as a family

Thank you! I may do that, but as you said they were very richly decorated. That can be very difficult to replicate in Lego form haha. As for the janissaries, that's certainly true for the early period (15th-17th century). However, by this point (18th century) membership had changed significantly. Because of the prestige and lifestyle being a janissary afforded (especially compared to being a peasant), it became increasingly common for families to convince recruiters to take their boys. This was quite common among Muslim families as well.

Edited by 2maxwell

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Impressive! Just what a big Imperial power deserves. Love that kind of love for the detail and history paired together, and you did it brilliantly here. :thumbup:

Can't wait to see more pictures of what this project took you to

Edited by DonRamon1981
Added something

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