In a movie I watched a ruler kills all of the adults in a kingdom in order to raise the young children (who were too young to remember or at least understand the event) as loyal soldiers.

Has anything like this ever happened in history? If so, which was the largest occurance?

  • No need to kill the adults just kidnap the children right? e.g. Slavery in America
    – user69715
    May 25 '16 at 3:17
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    or Jannisary in the Ottoman empire
    – user69715
    May 25 '16 at 3:54

This is quite reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire's original Janissaries.

At first these were young boys forcibly taken from Christian families as slaves and raised to be the Sultan's personal guard. Not being from Muslim families they could legally be enslaved, and they had no social position in the Empire apart from their relationship to the Sultan. So not only were they indoctrinated to be loyal soldiers, but their position was entirely dependent on their Sultan. Thus, unlike Muslim volunteer troops, they had nothing to gain and everything to lose if something were to happen to the Sultan.

  • Off the top of my head, it would seem that the Janissaries were the largest, organised approach to this. Similar concepts appear throughout history - hostages in antiquity, child soldiers in Africa and among the Khmer Rouge. But was there ever anything on the scale of the Janissaries such that they became a state-within-the-state and even contributed to the decline of the Ottoman empire?
    – Marakai
    May 25 '16 at 4:09
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    However Janissaries were never "an entire generation in any civilization", so this does not answer the question.
    – Alex
    May 25 '16 at 19:46
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    @Alex - Its not an exact match, but I think its the best one there is. Its actually several generations, but not quite as intense. But when a Sultan wanted to recruit, likely nearly every able-bodied Christian boy of the proper age range in the recruiting region (typically the conquered portion of Anatolia) would have been taken. It certainly qualifies as the largest best-known occurrence of something like this. More to the point, I highly suspect his original (fictional) source got the idea from the Janissaries.
    – T.E.D.
    May 25 '16 at 20:24
  • @T.E.D. If we count such things which are not exact match, then there are more recent and better documented examples. Of destruction not only of the young generation but most of the individuals constituting a "civilization".
    – Alex
    May 26 '16 at 17:38

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