Ali Pacha

Muezzinzade Ali Pasha was an Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 statesman and military officer. He was Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral) in command of the Turkish fleet at Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece...

, where he was killed.


He was the son of a muezzin
A muezzin , or muzim, is the chosen person at a mosque who leads the call to prayer at Friday services and the five daily times for prayer from one of the mosque's minarets; in most modern mosques, electronic amplification aids the muezzin in his task.The professional muezzin is chosen for his...

 and had himself issued the call to prayer from his father's mosque which overlooked the sultan's seraglio
A seraglio or serail is the sequestered living quarters used by wives and concubines in a Turkish household. The word comes from an Italian variant of Turkish saray, from Persian sarai , meaning palace, or the enclosed courts for the wives and concubines of the harem of a house or palace...

. He was a favorite of Sultan Selim II
Selim II
Selim II Sarkhosh Hashoink , also known as "Selim the Sot " or "Selim the Drunkard"; and as "Sarı Selim" or "Selim the Blond", was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1566 until his death in 1574.-Early years:He was born in Constantinople a son of Suleiman the...

 and of the women of the seraglio who had greatly admired his voice, and like Piyale Pasha
Piyale Pasha
Piyale Pasha , born in Viganj on the Pelješac peninsula, was a Croatian Ottoman admiral between 1553 and 1567 and an Ottoman Vizier after 1568. He was also known as Piale Pasha in the West or Pialí Bajá in Spain; )....

 he married one of Selim's daughters.

Ottoman Conquest of Cyprus

Ali Pasha, with a fleet eventually numbering 188 galleys, fusta
The fusta or fuste was a narrow, light and fast ship with shallow draft, powered by both oars and sail -– in essence a small galley. It typically had 12 to 18 two-man rowing benches on each side, a single mast with a lateen sail, and usually carried two or three guns...

s, transports and other ships, carried the main land force, commanded by Lala Mustafa Pasha
Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha
Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha was an Ottoman general and Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.He had risen to the position of Beylerbey of Damascus and then to that of Fifth Vizier...

, for the Ottoman invasion and conquest of Cyprus
Cyprus under the Ottoman Empire
The Eyalet of Cyprus was created in 1571, and changed its status frequently. It was a sanjak of the Eyalet of the Archipelago from 1660 to 1703, and again from 1784 onwards; a fief of the Grand Vizier , and again an eyalet for the short period 1745-1748.- Ottoman raids and conquest :Throughout the...

 from Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 on 16 May 1570 to Cyprus, where they landed on 3 July. While Lala Mustafa commanded the eventual capture of the island from Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, Ali Pasha took the bulk of his fleet to Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 and then to Morea
The Morea was the name of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. It also referred to a Byzantine province in the region, known as the Despotate of Morea.-Origins of the name:...

, thereby effectively preventing any Christian relief fleet from coming to the aid of the besieged defenders of Cyprus.

Battle of Lepanto

Ali Pasha was commander-in-chief of the Ottoman naval forces at the Battle of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece...

 on 7 October 1571. Selim had entrusted him with one of the most precious possessions of the Ottoman Sultans, the great "Banner of the Caliphs", a huge green banner heavily embroidered with texts from the Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and with the name of Allah emblazoned upon it 28,900 times in golden letters. It was intended to provide an incentive for him and his men to do their best in battle.

Still quite young, like his counterpart Don Juan, he was more of a land soldier than a naval tactician, and his failure to keep his lines together and keep his individual squadrons from charging like cavalry units in a land battle allowed the Christian forces to penetrate his battle line in various places and to surround and defeat the isolated ships. He was also somewhat of a firebrand and almost immediately sought the direct confrontation with his opposite number. His flagship, the galley Sultana, battled head-to-head with Don Juan's flagship La Real
Real (galley)
The Real, built in Barcelona, was the largest galley of its time and the flagship of Don Juan de Austria in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the largest battle between galleys in history, in which a fleet of the Holy League, an alliance of Christian powers of the Mediterranean, decisively defeated an...

, was boarded and, after about one hour of bloody fighting, with reinforcements being provided to both sides by other galleys in their respective fleets, was captured. Ali Pasha died at the hands of a Macedonian employed by the Venetians: he was shot in the head by a musket ball, fell to the deck and was beheaded by a zealous Spanish soldier. His head was then displayed upon a pike. This, and the capture of the Banner of the Caliphs by the Real, led to a collapse in Turkish morale, greatly contributing to their rout in the battle.


  • Currey, E. Hamilton, Sea-Wolves of the Mediterranean, John Murrey, 1910
  • Bicheno, Hugh, Crescent and Cross: The Battle of Lepanto 1571, Phoenix, London, 2003 ISBN 1 84212 753 5
  • T.C.F. Hopkins, Confrontation at Lepanto, Tom Doherty, New York, 2006 ISBN 0 765 30538 0
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