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The military flag of the Sipahis

The military flag of the Sipahis.


Feudal cavalrymen in the Ottoman Empire which represented the most important providers for the Ottoman army until the middle of the 16th century.
A sipahi was a person who had been granted with a fief, called timar, ziamet or hass. In this county the sipahi could collect all the income in return for military service. The peasants living in the timar were serfs and attached to the land.
Timar was the smallest land owned by a sipahi, and would give a yearly revenue of no more than 10,000 akçe, which would be 2- 4 times what a teacher earned. Ziamet yielded up to 100,000 akçe and were owned by sipahiyin with officers rank. Hass gave revenues of more than 100,000 akçe and were only for the highest ranking in the military.
A timar sipahi were obliged to provide the army with up to 5 soldiers, a ziamet with up to 20, and a hass with far more than 20.
Many of the sipahiyin were actual slaves under the sultan, as collected through the devsirme system. By this relationship, the sultan could hope for loyalty and cooperation.
From the middle of the 16th century, the Janissaries troops had started to be the most important part of the army. But still the sipahi represented an important factor in the empire's economy and politics. As late as in the 17th century, the sipahiyin were, together with their enemies the Janissaries, the actual rulers in the early years of sultan Murad 4's reign.

By Tore Kjeilen