Janissary clothing from the 17th-18th centuries. The Janissaries were elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman Sultan's household troops & bodyguards. Sultan Murad I created the force in 1383. 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. They began as an elite corps of slaves recruited from young Christian boys who were orphans.