CONTROVERSY ABOUT THE DEVSHIRME: VEHICLE FOR SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT OR AN INHUMANE ACT
CONTROVERSY ABOUT THE DEVSHIRME: VEHICLE FOR SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT OR AN INHUMANE ACTLela Ivankovic, B.S.MALS Mentor: Elizabeth Zelensky, Ph.D.ABSTRACTThis thesis examines the nature of the devshirme system - the forcible removal of Christian male children in the form of a tribute, imposed by the Ottomans on their conquered Christians territories, and how it appeared from the prospective of the Ottomans, the Christian parents, and the abducted devshirme youths.The Ottoman Empire established the devshirme institution as a response to the empire's increasing needs for qualified military men to be employed by the sultans in their private army, the janissary corps. The Christian families looked at the devshirme system as an inhumane act aimed to permanently cut off their children from their ethnic and cultural environment. From the point of view of the devshirme youths, the process of the devshirme was more complex and intricate. The devshirme system could be a vehicle toward social advancement or an inhumane act depending on the devshirme youth's ability and willingness to build a new national and religious identity. This thesis will examine the phenomena of the devshirme system within the framework of the following question; was the devshirme system an inhumane act or a path toward social advancement? Or both?
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