Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Well, it's nice to enjoy the status of the "authority in the field", even though my only contribution to it was a short visit to the Askeri Muze in Istanbul and posting here what the local people knew for a long, long time.....
This is a strange weapon. It is so decorative that it is almost useless as a fighting implement. It reminds me of African swords: too artistic to be of real use. Not for nothing did Lazes use large kindjals as well.
Lazes are descendants of the Byzanthinians who established the Trabzon Empire in 1241 under the leadership of the grandsons of Andronicus I and were (and still are!) called Romei. They were conquered by the Ottomans in 1461 and were converted to Islam (likely, voluntarily, since the Ottoman Turks were remarkably liberal about religious beliefs of their subjects). Nevertheless, Lazes did not enjoy great reputation.
I'd like to cite some info from the book of G.E. Vvedensky "The Janissaries" (St. Petersburg, 2003). In it he cites a book "The history of the Janissaries corps" published in Moscow in 1987 (it was translated, but he never mentioned the original). To be fully politically correct, I would like to say that I do not want to insult anybody. Please, do not kill the messenger.
" It was against the law to recruit Trabzonians into the Janissari units.This is why: not only the depravity of Trabzonians exceeds anything imaginable, not a single Zaim or Sipakhi among them ever exhibited any bravery or gallantry. They committed only deception and evil".
Sultan Selim I ruled in Trabzon between 1512 to 1520 and, according to his own experience, ordered to recruit them into the Janissari units as informers to prevent rebellions.
" The Trabzonians are evil people,deceivers by nature. As soon as one of them enters, it becomes impossible for 4-5 janissaries to get together. With time, their lying nature became obvious and well known and the very name Laz caused just laughter"
As a matter of fact, people who could swindle the entire Ottoman Empire must have been a fine breed: kind of Good Soldier Svejk with luxurious moustaches and a fez. Next time I go to Turkey, I shall do my best to go to Trabzon and have a glass of Yeni Raki with a local smuggler!