Tarik Barleti was born a Christian Albanian, the second oldest male in a family of four brothers and three sisters. But under the Ottoman devshirme system - where young boys were "volunteered" into the service of the Sultan - all these little details about his early life were quickly made irrelevant. Under devshirme, you were an Ottoman, first and last. As unfortunate as it sounds, the system worked out for a lot young men at the time. Unlike slaves sold and traded elsewhere in the world, children raised in the devshirme system had a good chance of holding esteemed positions, such as becoming a Vizier or, in Tarik's case, a Janissary - one of the Ottoman Sultan's elite guards.

Tarik was therefore a loyal Ottoman and his hatred for the wordly Prince Ahmet was just as well known as his love and admiration for Prince Selim. This had the effect of swaying the loyalties of the entire Janissary corps into Selim's camp. So while the Janissaries remained technically loyal to their Sultan Bayezid II, they all harbored a secret desire to see Selim step in and take power. And because the Janissaries were a formidable political force in their own right, Tarik could say these things openly without fear of censure or recrimination. A bold man, to be sure.

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