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Mustafa Kaçar

The first renovation made by the Ottomans in the military field started with the "Humbaracı Ocağı" (Bombardier Corps) that was reorganised in 1735 by Claude-Alexandre Comte de Bonneval, a European officer (1675-1747) who took the name of "Humbaracı Ahmed Paşa" (Ahmed Pasha the Bombardier) after he converted to Islam. Humbaracı Ahmed Pasha and three French officers, also converts to Islam, trained three hundred young men, who were brought from Bosnia in reconstructed barracs in the Ayazma Palace in Doğancılar, Üsküdar. The main goal was to train these young men as military engineers. This was the first time that a military force in the Ottoman army, directed by a European specialist, started to learn the European military tactics.

The Bombardier Corps was formed of three "oda"s (divisions), each consisting of 25 "zabit"s (officers), 75 "nefer"s (soldiers) and was headed by an "alaybaşı" (colonel). There were set rules for officers and soldiers and also for the organisation, administration and for the use of financial resources. Considering that one officer was responsible of three soldiers, it can be easily said that there was strict training within the Bombardier Corps.

In chronicles such as Suphi Tarihi and Atâ Tarihi, it is stated that there was also a "Hendesehane" (School of Geometry) within this Bombardier Corps in Üsküdar. Atâ Tarihi states that the first teacher in this "Hendesehane" was Hacı Mehmed Efendi-zâde Said Efendi, the Müftü of Yenişehir, who taught geometry. As a result of archival research, we found out that Said Efendi was a "hoca-i mühendis" (teacher of engineers) at the second "oda" of the corps with a daily salary of 60 akçes. Said Efendi wrote a number of treatises on the instruments invented by the Europeans which were used to measure the range of cannons. Besides Said Efendi, there were other teachers in the Bombardier Corps. These were Kasımpaşali Ali Ahmed Hodja who received a daily salary of 40 akçes and İstanbullu Süleyman b. Hasan. There was also Osman b. Abdullah as "hoca-i muallim". We know that "muallim-i resim" (teacher of arts) was Ibrahim of İstanbul who had left his job paying 60 akçes in 1152/1739. Muhtedi Selim, who was the chief sergeant in the Bombardier Corps, also taugt the techniquesof military art (harp sanayi fenni) and his daily salary was 240 akçes; he was the "muallim-i ilm ve fenn-i sanayi-i ateşbazi". We did not find a document or information in the Ottoman archives proving that an institution called "Hendesehane" or an institution giving engineering education was established within theBombardier Corps. However the fact that teaching officers like "hoca-i mühendis", "muallim-i resim", "hoca-i oda" were included in the staff, proves that mathematics was taught and engineering courses were given.

Although the Bombardier Corps did not last for long and lost its function after a few years, this new understanding of military training was important, as it constituted an example for the "mühendishane"s (engineering schools) which were established within the last fourth of the eighteenth century.

Son güncelleme: 01.11.2016

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