Founding of the slovak janizary corps

01.06.2007 -

16.6. 2007











First Slovak meeting of janizaries is taking place at the Levice's castle on 16.6.2007. It is practical realization of the common project of several fencing groups, initiated by TOSTABUR ESPADRONES of Bratislava.

The other participating groups are Aramis of Kosice, Cassanova of Banska Bystrica and Sarus of Presov.


What do we expect from the project?


We would like to create as much convincing and historically true revitalization of janizary unit with uniforms, weapons, Turkish commands, habits and camp life as possible.


Na čo je to dobré?What it is good for?


Mainly, the area of Turkish influence is very deeply connected to the Slovak history. Turkish danger threatened Slovakia for over 250 years and it heavily influenced our life, economy, art, folk, therefore we consider it very important to picture it. Up-to now portrayal of Turks is rather comic or extravagant in many cases, but we consider such depiction strange. The question is also a bit of logical thought - if they were so "weak-minded", why have we been affraid of them for so long time and why have been all those fighting them considered heroes?

We always strive to bring themes in the historical fencing that are authentic for us, Slovaks. Four years ago we have reconstructed and founded a unit of the Rangers of Ocova, creating also a small core of the future janizary unit within the same performance. These days we are aiming to build a larger body to offer the audience a vision of what they represented on the battlefields of Renaissance and Baroque era.


Isn't it contraproductive to build a unit of enemies and celebrate them in this way?


We don't think so. However aggressive the Turks had been, finally, they had been defeated and expelled from the Slovak lands. It is a nostalgy of the victor to remember his former opponents and abstract something from their traditions - maybe it is also because he won. When Spanish defeated Moors and recaptured the whole peninsula of Iberia, the fencing accepted moorish pike for a short time as a new fashion, while before during the Moor's victories period it was strongly refused. When emperor's and Polish armies drove Turks out from Vienna, wearing turban became a short-lived fashion of the Vienna's citizens. These reasons bring us to put on the janizary caps and feel how it was to be "on the other side".


Is it suitable to learn foreign morale and imitate external manifestation of a religion, that is historically and actually refused in our area?


We think it surely is. An actor performing SS-soldier won't became fascist because of the fact and it doesn't matter how persuasive he will be. If we would learn a ritual of Islamic prayer, we do not convert to Islam! However, we could enhance the understanding of the other side of spectrum - understanding of "the difference".


It is generally agreed that the Turkish power was based on force and violence. Isn't therefore the reconstruction of janizaries an act to glorify violence?


Each soldier, with no army preference in this case, could be a human, a beast, or just a piece of the army machine. He has to choose for himself which of these roles are best fitting for him. The art chooses such role willingly and the actor performs the chosen role.

It depends on us only whether we would like to celebrate violence, murders and subjugation - or training, discipline, bravery and noble-mindednes.

History offers enough examples of each and every point of view.


What could the janizaries offer to the spectator?


Cultured experience if the janizary march and discipline, as exactly those attributes, including army music, were "invented" in Europe by janizaries.

Exotic view of behaviour, clothing, weapons and fencing are another features to delight one's eyes.

Knowledgeable - even a bit artificially concentrated - excursion to the life and warfare of 16th and 17th Century and a critical view on our own history.

We simply think you have to be there and see for yourself.