The term means the compulsory enlistment of Christian boys, subjects of the Ottoman Empire, in order to man the bodies of Janissary Corps or the services of Turkish administration, and the Sultan’s palace. The first reference to that practice was traced in Salonica in 1395.
The practice of enlistment was primarily taking place every 5 years, then four, three, two, and finally every year in accordance with the exigencies of the Sultan’s wars. The authorities enlisted young boys aged 14-18 or 15-20, but also even younger boys aged 6-10 to serve in the Turkish court. The enlisted boys were chosen among the healthiest, strongest, most handsome and intelligent ones, with preference to those coming from noble families, and those of the clergy. Only orphans, married young men. And single sons were exempted fro enlistment.