The word janissary, or yeniçeri, literally means ‘new soldier’. Janissaries were Christian captives who converted to Islam. They were therefore considered more loyal to the sultan than ordinary soldiers.

Janissaries wore a zarcola, a tall white felt cap. Soldiers who had shown heroism were allowed to wear a feather. Under their fine woollen overgarment they wore satin, velvet or brocade, depending on their rank. Janissaries often carried several different weapons. These might include a sabre, a dagger, a small axe or a long musket held in the hand.