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Battle of Aliwal 1846

Battle of Aliwal 1846
By Michael Perry

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Blood tax

Hi gents,
Been snowed under with work at the moment but as some new figures arrived via Dave Jarvis I thought I had better get the finger out hobby wise and get a post in.

 I converted a few figures a couple of weeks ago to represent the Ottomans habitat of taking Christian children  as a form of blood tax known as the Devşirme. The Ottomans took boys from their Christian families and then converted to Islam with the primary objective of selecting and training the ablest children for  positions, either in military or as administrators to serve the Empire, though in Bosnia, exceptionally, the devşirme was also extended to local Muslim families.

 
 The ideal age of a recruit was between 7 and 10 years of age, although they recruited much younger boys. As the devşirme were recruited they could to rise up to the grand vizier status, Christian parents were known to bribe scouts to take their children in Bosnia. Nevertheless, the devşirme system was locally resented and was resisted, even to the point of disfiguring their sons there would have been rumours of the Sultans Harem for good looking boys!.



 This system as explained by Çandarlı Kara Halil Hayreddin Pasha, founder of the Janissaries, "The conquered are slaves of the conquerors, to whom their goods, their women, and their children belong as lawful possession", indicates the clear opinion of an Ottoman official regarding devşirme.




According to scholars between 200,000 and 300,000 boys were subjected to devşirme in period from the 15th until the 17th century; a policy that was clearly contradictory to Muslim law at all times .

 
 
According to some, the devşirme system offered "limitless opportunities to the young men who became a part of it. However, according to Dr. Basilike Papoulia, "...the devşirme was the 'forcible removal', in the form of a tribute, of children of the Christian subjects from their ethnic, religious and cultural environment and their transportation into the Turkish-Islamic environment with the aim of employing them in the service of the Palace, the army, and the state, whereby they were on the one hand to serve the Sultan as slaves and freedmen and on the other to form the ruling class the  State" .
 
 
I don't know if adding a bit more narrative works or not the blog is more about the figures than the history but at least it gives a little insight as to what has fired the imagination. I can't help but think of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when I read of the Devşirme he still sends a shiver down the spine.
Thanks for stopping by
Best wishes
Willie

41 comments:

  1. Great minis - very strong stuff. Woe to the conquered...

    Frank
    http://adventuresinlead.blogspot.com.au/

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  2. Another great story told by your pictures.

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  3. A great read and great figures. The little extra narrative works hand in hand with the figures.
    Cheers
    Paul

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  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Fran I still don't know how you make it round all those blogs a bit like Santa!!

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  5. Damn good work here. Wonderful sense of scene.

    FMB

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  6. Fabulous painting. Having just sent my oldest off to college, the narrative especially touches me. I can't imagine giving up my kids to the empire but what choice did these poor folks have?

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    1. Not a lot of choice Monty, when this lot turn upthey seem to have kept away from larger towns targeting rural community's who would have had little chance to fight back. But as you see from the narrative some people actually bribed the Turks to take their kids for a better life!

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    2. You know your lot in life is tough when you bribe someone to take your son away for a better opportunity. Fascinating. I'm loving the background you're posting. Thanks for that Willie!

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  7. Plenty of room for a little history. Thanks for sharing

    Ian

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  8. Wow - not only great minis, but the story-telling is also very moving. Great work. Best, Dean

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  9. Many thanks, once again Willie, for this brilliant page of history...

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  10. That is amazing. I love the storytelling! The guy on the purple horse, holding the child... that must have been a pain to sculpt/convert, but it looks so perfect.

    I think I read somewhere that, even though the taken children were technically slaves, their standard of life and prospects for advancement as members of the Ottoman civil service or military were vastly higher than they were as peasants. Therefore, some Christian families actually *tried* to get their sons selected for the devşirme. I like to think that's what's happening in the second to last picture.

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    1. Thaddeus the guy on the horse is a Dixon Viking I only had to change the head and give him a Essex horse.

      You are correct about the second to last picture the lady is trying to get her son taken into service!!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Great story and pic's Willie!!

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  12. Really good posting all round. The figures are excellent and the history really sets it in context. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Gary I have ordered some Turks with the same hair style as the pic of Gregor Fisher you use although not as cheerful looking!!!!!!

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  13. Great stuff, Willie. Interesting background too.

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  14. Really touching, the true story behind the figures... Thanks for presenting that. But your figures and the detailed environment are so excitingly beautiful done - it´s a pleasure to follow your posts!
    _Peter

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    1. Peter thank you very much for your comment.

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  15. Great job Willie, as usual! I especially love the historical narrative in this post of yours. For some years I've been trying to convince my partner we should write a movie inspired by the same topic. He's not into history the way I am, and it took me almost two decades to convince him it would be a good idea for us to write what became the 2010 Russell Crowe "Robin Hood" movie -- and Balkan epics are an even harder sell than Robin Hood stories... but maybe some day. Until then, I will just keep coming back to revisit your post!

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    1. Ethan,
      I like you think there is a great story in there crying out to be retold. I am sure Hollywood would love the story of the son taken from his family into service in the Empire, who then rises to a high position and rebels against the people who trained him. Sounds classic!

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  16. Willie that was absolutely fascinating and beautifully illustrated with the cracking miniatures. I'm all up for a bit of narrative; you never stop learning!

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  17. Greate blog post! Stunning minis, photos and historical background!

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  18. A great articles and some nice minis.
    Very well done!

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  19. Enjoyable read and eye candy, Willie.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jay, I need to get over to your blog to see what's going on in those woods!

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  20. Really excellent material, with wonderful figures and some great history! Great work!

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