College Essay Examples

History of World Civilization 2

De Busbecq’s Account and Viewpoint Regarding the Ottoman Empire

  1. This letter is obtained from the Modern History Sourcebook of Fordham University, written by C.T Forster and F.H.B Daniels. This letter aims to shed light on particular historical features of the Janissaries, the well-trained guards in the Ottoman, and their culture compared to other religions, including Christians. 
  2. The author intends to shed light on the culture of the janissaries since the word “Janissary” had negative perceptions, during the Middle Ages, in the West. After a prolonged visit to Ottoman, Busbecq gets a chance to identify with, evaluate and develop sympathy towards the janissaries. He writes the formal letter based on personal encounters and individual perspectives of the people he meets, from how he interacts with them and how they react to his visit and existence. 
  3. The author is convincing through the way he expresses himself. He goes ahead and compares the culture of other Christians to the janissaries. According to the author, the janissaries follow their culture, eat their food and maintain certain practices. However, Christians can hardly adhere to the same. The author describes the guards to be of good character and to be elevated spiritually. He describes the Janissaries as highly educated and unbiased to everyone, rich or poor, Muslim or non-Muslim. 
  4. In the letter, the event taking place is that of frequent attacks and wars. In the second paragraph, the author states that janissaries are scattered everywhere, throughout the state, to protect Jews and Christians from the mob’s violence. Each city has a lot of janissaries for protection. Busbecq is impressed by how simple and polite the Janissaries are and how gentle they are, considering that they are warriors who go to war. He compares them to Turkish monks and praises them for bowing when they encounter a visitor. The author is shocked that people whose presence and actions inspire terror everywhere can act in such a gentle and polite manner. 
  5. I think Busbecq is trying to showcase how the soldiers were willing to be gentle even in harsh war conditions and how they accepted whatever was presented their way based on faith. He showcases how the janissaries were trained to obey the commands they were given in the most difficult war situations. It is admirable that the author does not mention when these state guards complain about the difficulties they endure.  While comparing them to other soldiers, he mentions that attitude, patience, and self-denial make them face the most severe circumstances and emerge victorious in dangers that surround them. Busbecq is set to outline some virtues that people should emulate from the janissaries, including adherence to their ethical and moral principles, including humility, selflessness, integrity, simplicity, and honor. 
  6. The letter is essential and applicable to today’s world, especially those with high power who lack the most vital moral aspects. In today’s society, the merit and importance of a person is based on privileges of birth, social status, and prosperity rather than ability and character. Basbecq attempts to explain that precedence should not be fought for since a man’s place in society needs to be marked out by the responsibilities they discharge and competency in their positions. The letter also showcases how easy it was for people to judge others in the past without getting to know them at an individual level. The author was only able to know and understand the culture and character of the Janissaries when he went to live among them. It tells the importance of not judging people by what we hear but by seeking to understand the actions of others before jumping to conclusions. His remarks about people who were misquoted remain outstanding. Everyone remains accountable for their deeds, and people should strive to benefit themselves and society both spiritually and intellectually, with honesty and integrity. 


Forster, C.T., & Daniel F.H.B. (1881). The Life and Letters of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, vol. I, pp, 86-88, 153-155, 219-222, 287-290, 293.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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