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Enderun School

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Title: Enderun School  
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Subject: Janissary, Devşirme, Mimar Sinan, Istanbul, Christianity in the Ottoman Empire, Piyale Pasha, Skanderbeg, Tanburi Büyük Osman Bey, Tatari Oguz Effendi
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Enderun School

Enderun School (Turkish: Enderun, Ottoman Turkish: اندرون مکتب, Enderûn, "inner most") was a palace school and boarding school mostly for the Christian Millet of the Ottoman Empire, which recruited students via devşirme, a system of the Islamization of Christian children for serving the Ottoman government in bureaucratic and managerial positions.[1] Enderun was fairly successful in creating the multicultural bureaucracy, which is reflected in multicultural Ottoman statesmen. Enderun School functioned for academic and military purposes, as well.[2] Ideally the graduates were permanently devoted to government service and had no interest in forming relations with lower social groups.[3]

The Enderun School was not merely a building or a school but a system of education that became the pioneer educational institution in gifted education and was the first of its kind. The Enderun system was also significant as an early model of multiculturalism because students from different ethnic backgrounds were brought together and learned to live together under a common ideal. The multicultural environment of Enderun had a positive influence on the peace and harmony created in Ottoman States until the decline of the Empire.[4] Enderun’s gifted education program is defined as the world’s first institutionalized education for the gifted [5][6][7]


The growth of Ottoman Empire is attributed and was dependent on the selection and education of statesmen. A vital component of Mehmet II's goal to revive the Roman Empire was to establish a special school to select the best youngsters within the Empire and to mold them for government. Mehmet II improved the existing palace school founded by his father, Murat II and established the Enderun Academy (Enderun) in Istanbul.[8]


Curriculum and the General Principles of Enderun School

The Enderun system consisted of three preparatory schools located outside of the palace in addition to the one within the palace walls itself. According to Miller,[9] there were 1,000-2,000 students in three Enderun Colleges, and about 300 students in the top school in the Palace. The curriculum was divided into five main divisions.

  • 1. Islamic sciences; including Arabic, Turkish and Persian language education,
  • 2. Positive sciences; mathematics, geography,
  • 3. History, law, and administration: the customs of the Palace and government issues,
  • 4. Vocational studies, including art and music education, and
  • 5. Physical training, including weaponry[10][11][12]

The successful graduates were assigned according to their abilities into two mainstream positions: governmental or science,[13] and those who failed to advance were assigned to military. One of the most distinctive properties of the school was its merit system consisting of carefully graded rewards and corresponding punishments.[14] Ipsirli described the main objective of the school as not only to educate but to help students discover their abilities. At the end of the Enderun school system, the graduates were able to speak, read and write at least 3 languages, able to understand the latest developments in science, have at least a craft or art, and excel in army command as well as in close combat skills. The school system never aimed to educate its students to become only a scientist, an artist or a soldier; but aimed at versatility which turned out to be the education of the perfect human who has good knowledge of everything so that they could become leaders of the Empire.

The Buildings of Enderun School

Topkapi Palace’s third court consisted of the Imperial Treasury, the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, and the buildings of the Palace School. Thus, the school is located next to the most valuable possessions of the Ottoman Sultans—the treasury and the legacy of the Prophet of Islam.[15] There were seven halls or grades within the Palace School and within each hall there were 12 teachers responsible for the students’ mental and academic development. Students wore special uniforms designated by their achievement level [16] and Miller indicated that additional buildings included the library, mosque, music conservatories, dormitories, and baths.[17]

Notes and references

External links

  • Enderun Website
  • (Turkish) Enderun Mektebi
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