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The Janissaries (Ottoman Turkish: يڭيچرى‎ yeniçeri, meaning "new soldier") were elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman Sultan's household troops and bodyguards. They began as an elite corps of slaves recruited from young Christian boys, and became famed for internal cohesion cemented by strict discipline and order.

By the 15th century, the Turkish sultans of Anatolia now represented the greatest of all Islamic powers. Chief to this was their abandonment of their nomadic lifestyles, and the adoption of an organised bureaucracy that penetrated the entire weft and woof of the fabric of Turkish society. Just as how the Turks themselves were adopted by the Arabs as slaves, they in turn began to adopt foreign slaves and prisoners as troops. A foreigner, isolated from the blood feuds and scheming that dominated politics in early modern Islamic society, made a better choice compared with natives for the Sultan's own attendants, as his own safety depended on his loyalty to his master. These men would eventually evolve into the sultan's own personal troops as the kapkulu (or "doorkeepers") regiments, and formed the nucleus of the redoubtable yeniçeri or janissary ocaks (Turkish word for regiment) of later centuries.

Sultan Murad I created the force in 1383. Subsequently, the number of Janissaries grew from 20,000 in 1575, to 49,000 (1591), dropped to a low of 17,000 (1648), then rebounded to 135,000 in 1826. By 1620, however, they were hereditary and corrupt and an impediment to reform. The corps was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in the Auspicious Incident in which 6,000 or more were executed.

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