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Vaslui 1475 - The Ottomans

(Figures from the collection of Dave Watson)

The Ottoman Army of Mehmed the Conqueror

By 1475 the Ottoman Empire had conquered the Byzantine Empire and expanded into most of the Balkans up to the River Danube. The army had developed from the early Ghazi army (mostly consisting of light horse archers) to a large and more balanced strike force. The key elements included:

 The Kapikulu Corps

 The Kapikulu corps had three main elements. Cavalry, infantry and artillery.

 The Kapikulu cavalry were generally more disciplined and heavily armoured sipahis. These models (from the Redoubt range) have mail armour and cloth barding on the horses.


The Janissaries provided the infantry base of the Ottoman army. Recruited from ex-Christian converts through the devsirme they lived as bachelors in barracks and trained as elite infantry. They had a variety of weapons. The bow and sword was the primary weapon during this period but halberds and handguns were used by some units. The models below are from the Redoubt and Old Glory ranges.



The provincial Sipahi cavalry provided the bulk of the cavalry. They held timar fiefs from the state but unlike European states these fiefs were not owned by the Sipahi. In Europe many were Christians who even after conversion retained Slavic names.

Most were lightly equipped such as those shown  with limited armour, bow, shield and spear. 


Light Cavalry

Light cavalry was provided by the Akincis (raiders). They were supposed to live by plunder but increasing became based in border areas. They preceded the army on campaign and at other times defended territory against incursions. Primarily armed as horse archers they could also be equipped with spears and shields. These models come from the Essex range.

Another type of light cavalry were the Delis (guides) recruited from Christian converts in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. Their distinctive dress is shown by these Old Glory models.










Ottoman infantry were described by a variety of names. In this period the largest group would be the Azabs. These were ‘volunteer’ infantry from every village lightly armed with bows and spears. The units below come from the Dixon, Essex and Redoubt ranges.

Balkan Christians such as these Voyniks (from the Old Glory range below) provided an important armoured infantry element. The Vlachs of Thessaly played an important role in the capture of Constantinople.









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Last modified: 09/21/09