Early Examples of General Levy in the Ottoman Empire and Its Reflection on the Ottoman Social Dynamism
Keywords: Levy en masse, Holy War, Battle of Varna, Social Dynamism, Status, Mobilization
The states applied various methods in order to recruit the soldiers who would be sent to the battlefield. These applications were affected from the social and economic sources as well as from the technological and militaristic conditions of the period. Ottoman Empire also applied recruitments in various methods like distribution of income of several places or several goods (dirlik), devshirmeh, mercenary and compulsory military service. In some extraordinary situations like insufficiency of the regular recruitment, Ottomans recruits civilians who are eligible to fight with levy en masse (nefîr-i âmm) and sent them to the campaign. In normal conditions, sending the folks to the campaign as soldiers is not preferred in Ottoman social order. However, such a circumstance had to be applied when it was come up a great enemy attack and it was not possible that the regular troops were not able to turn an attack against this enemy. Ottoman Empire sent the folks to the campaign by means of this method in numerous important wars in the process from its early periods to its demolition. From 1396 Battle of Nicopolis to 1915 First World War, the levy en masse were declared over and over. This study will look at the early examples of this method applied by the Ottoman Empire due to necessity and as out of the system. It will be tried to present the conceptual and theoretical fragments of the subject. Moreover, one of the questions that this study seeks an answer is how the folks respond to such an invitation. Finally, it will be investigated whether the folks whose social status is rayah (reaya) have an opportunity to move up the social ladder.