Hayreddin Barbarossa, or Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha (Turkish: Barbaros Pootis Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa or Hızır Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa; also Hızır Reis before being promoted to the rank of Pasha and becoming the Kapudan-i Derya, born Khizr or Khidr, Turkish: Hızır; c. 1478 – 4 July 1546), was an Ottoman Turkish admiral of the fleet who was born on the island of Lesbos/Mytilini and died in Constantinople, the Ottoman capital. Barbarossa's naval victories secured Ottoman dominance over the Mediterranean during the mid 16th century, from the Battle of Preveza in 1538 until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Hayreddin (Arabic: Khair ad-Din خير الدين, which literally means "goodness" or "best of the religion" of Islam) was an honorary name given to him by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. He became known as "Barbarossa" ("Redbeard" in Italian) in Europe, a name he inherited from his elder brother Baba Oruç (Father Aruj) after Aruj was killed in a battle with the Spanish in Algeria. This name sounded like "Barbarossa" ("Redbeard") to the Europeans, and Aruj did have a red beard. The nickname then stuck also to Hayreddin's Turkish name, in the form Barbaros.
Khizr was born in the 1470s on the island of Lesbos in the village Palaiokipos to his father Yakup Ağa and to his mother Katerina. Sources refer to Khizr as a Greek, as a Turk, or as an Albanian by origin. His mother was referred as a local Christian Greek woman from Mytilene, the widow of an Orthodox priest. His father Yakup was referred as a Greek renegade from Mytilene or Turkish as well as a former Sipahi from Yenice-i Vardar (modern Yannitsa) and took part in the Ottoman conquest of Lesbos from the Genoese in 1462, and as a reward, was granted the fief of the Bonova village in the island. Yakup and Katerina were married and had two daughters and four sons: Ishak, Aruj, Khizr and Ilyas. Yakup became an established potter and purchased a boat to trade his products. The four sons helped their father with his business, but not much is known about the daughters. At first Aruj helped with the boat, while Khizr helped with pottery.
All four brothers became seamen, engaged in marine affairs and international sea trade. The first brother to become involved in seamanship was Aruj, who was joined by his brother Ilyas. Later, obtaining his own ship, Khizr also began his career at sea. The brothers initially worked as sailors, but then turned privateers in the Mediterranean to counteract the privateering of the Knights Hospitaller (Knights of St. John) who were based in the island of Rhodes(until 1522). Aruj and Ilyas operated in the Levant, between Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt. Khizr operated in the Aegean Sea and based his operations mostly in Thessaloniki. Ishak, the eldest, remained on Mytilene and was involved with the financial affairs of the family business.
Death of Ilyas, captivity and liberation of ArujEdit
Aruj was a very successful seaman. He also learned to speak Italian, Spanish, French, Greek and Arabic in the early years of his career. While returning from a trading expedition in Tripoli, Lebanon, with his younger brother Ilyas, they were attacked by the Knights of St. John. Ilyas was killed in the fight, and Aruj was wounded. Their father's boat was captured, and Aruj was taken as a prisoner and detained in the Knights' castle at Bodrum for nearly three years. Upon learning the location of his brother, Khizr went to Bodrum and managed to help Aruj escape.
Aruj the corsairEdit
Aruj later went to Antalya, where he was given 18 galleys by Shehzade Korkud, an Ottoman prince and governor of the city, and charged with fighting against the Knights of St. John, who were inflicting serious damage on Ottoman shipping and trade. In the following years, when Shehzade Korkud became governor of Manisa, he gave Aruj a larger fleet of 24 galleys at the port of İzmir and ordered him to participate in the Ottoman naval expedition to Apulia in Italy, where Aruj bombarded several coastal castles and captured two ships. On his way back to Lesbos, he stopped at Euboea and captured three galleons and another ship. Reaching Mytilene with these captured vessels, Aruj learned that Shehzade Korkud, brother of the new Ottoman sultan, had fled to Egypt in order to avoid being killed because of succession disputes – a common practice at that time. Fearing trouble due to his well-known association with the exiled Ottoman prince, Aruj sailed to Egypt, where he met Shehzade Korkud in Cairo and managed to get an audience with the Mamluk Sultan Qansuh al-Ghawri, who gave him another ship and appointed him with the task of raiding the coasts of Italy and the islands of the Mediterranean that were controlled by Christians. After passing the winter in Cairo, he set sail from Alexandria and frequently operated along the coasts of Liguria and Sicily.
Khizr's career under ArujEdit
In 1503, Aruj managed to seize three more ships and made the island of Djerba his new base, thus moving his operations to the Western Mediterranean. Khizr joined Aruj at Djerba. In 1504, the brothers contacted Abu Abdullah Mohammed Hamis, Sultan of Tunisia from the Beni Hafs dynasty, and asked permission to use the strategically located port of La Goulette for their operations. They were granted this right with the condition of leaving one-third of their gains to the sultan. Aruj, in command of small galliots, captured two much larger Papal galleys near the island of Elba. Later, near Lipari, the two brothers captured a Sicilian warship, the Cavalleria, with 380 Spanish soldiers and 60 Spanish knights from Aragon on board, who were on their way from Spain to Naples. In 1505, they raided the coasts of Calabria. These accomplishments increased their fame, and they were joined by several other well-known Muslim corsairs, including Kurtoğlu (known in the West as Curtogoli). In 1508, they raided the coasts of Liguria, particularly Diano Marina. In 1509, Ishak also left Mytilene and joined his brothers at La Goulette. The fame of Aruj increased when, between 1504 and 1510, he transported Muslim Mudéjars from Christian Spain to North Africa. His efforts of helping the Muslims of Spain in need and transporting them to safer lands earned him the honorific name Baba Aruj (Father Aruj), which eventually – due the similarity in sound – evolved in Spain, France and Italy into Barbarossa (meaning "Redbeard" in Italian).
In 1510, the three brothers raided Cape Passero in Sicily and repulsed a Spanish attack on Bougie, Oran and Algiers. In August 1511, they raided the areas around Reggio Calabria in southern Italy. In August 1512, the exiled ruler of Bougie invited the brothers to drive out the Spaniards, and during the battle, Aruj lost his left arm. This incident earned him the nickname Gümüş Kol ("Silver Arm" in Turkish), in reference to the silver prosthetic device that he used in place of his missing limb. Later that year, the three brothers raided the coasts of Andalusia in Spain, capturing a galliot of the Lomellini family of Genoa, who owned the Tabarca island in that area. They subsequently landed on Minorca and captured a coastal castle and then headed towards Liguria, where they captured four Genoese galleys near Genoa. The Genoese sent a fleet to liberate their ships, but the brothers captured their flagship as well. After capturing a total of 23 ships in less than a month, the brothers sailed back to La Goulette.
There, they built three more galliots and a gunpowder production facility. In 1513, they captured four English ships on their way to France, raided Valencia, where they captured four more ships, and then headed for Alicante and captured a Spanish galley near Málaga. In 1513 and 1514, the three brothers engaged the Spanish fleet on several other occasions and moved to their new base in Cherchell, east of Algiers. In 1514, with 12 galliots and 1,000 Turks, they destroyed two Spanish fortresses at Bougie, and when the Spanish fleet under the command of Miguel de Gurrea, viceroy of Majorca, arrived for assistance, they headed towards Ceuta and raided that city before capturing Jijel in Algeria, which was under Genoese control. They later captured Mahdiya in Tunisia. Afterwards, they raided the coasts of Sicily, Sardinia, the Balearic Islands and the Spanish mainland, capturing three large ships there. In 1515, they captured several galleons, a galley and three barques at Majorca. Still in 1515, Aruj sent precious gifts to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, who, in return, sent him two galleys and two swords embellished with diamonds. In 1516, joined by Kurtoğlu (Curtogoli), the brothers besieged the Castle of Elba, before heading once more towards Liguria, where they captured 12 ships and damaged 28 others.
Rulers of AlgiersEdit
In 1516, the three brothers succeeded in liberating Jijel and Algiers from the Spaniards but eventually assumed control over the city and surrounding region, forcing the previous ruler, Abu Hamo Musa III of the Beni Ziyad dynasty, to flee. The Spaniards in Algiers sought refuge on the island of Peñón off the Moroccan coast and asked Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, to intervene, but the Spanish fleet failed to force the brothers out of Algiers.
Pasha of AlgiersEdit
With a fresh force of Turkish soldiers sent by the Ottoman sultan, Barbarossa recaptured Tlemcen in December 1518. He continued the policy of bringing Mudéjars from Spain to North Africa, thereby assuring himself of a sizable following of grateful and loyal Muslims, who harbored an intense hatred for Spain. He captured Bone, and in 1519, he defeated a Spanish-Italian army that tried to recapture Algiers. In a separate incident, he sank a Spanish ship and captured eight others. Still in 1519, he raided Provence, Toulon and the Îles d'Hyères in southern France. In 1521, he raided the Balearic Islands and later captured several Spanish ships returning from the New World off Cadiz. In 1522, he sent his ships, under the command of Kurtoğlu, to participate in the Ottoman conquest of Rhodes, which resulted in the departure of the Knights of St. John from that island on 1 January 1523.
In June 1525, he raided the coasts of Sardinia. In May 1526, he landed at Crotone in Calabria and sacked the city, sank a Spanish galley and a Spanish fusta in the harbor, assaulted Castignano in Marche on the Adriatic Sea and later landed at Cape Spartivento. In June 1526, he landed at Reggio Calabria and later destroyed the fort at the port of Messina. He then appeared on the coasts of Tuscany, but retreated after seeing the fleet of Andrea Doria and the Knights of St. John off the coast of Piombino. In July 1526, Barbarossa appeared once again in Messina and raided the coasts of Campania. In 1527, he raided many ports and castles on the coasts of Italy and Spain.
In May 1529, he captured the Spanish fort on the island of Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera that controlled the north Moroccan coast. In August 1529, he attacked the Mediterranean coasts of Spain and later helped 70,000 Moriscos to escape from Andalusia in seven consecutive journeys. In January 1530, he again raided the coasts of Sicily and, in March and June of that year, the Balearic Islands and Marseilles. In July 1530, he appeared along the coasts of the Provence and Liguria, capturing two Genoese ships. In August 1530, he raided the coasts of Sardinia and, in October, appeared at Piombino, capturing a barque from Viareggio and three French galleons before capturing two more ships off Calabria. In December 1530, he captured the Castle of Cabrera, in the Balearic Islands, and started to use the island as a logistic base for his operations in the area.
In 1531, he encountered Andrea Doria, who had been appointed by Charles V to recapture Jijel and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, and repulsed the Spanish-Genoese fleet of 40 galleys. Still in 1531, he raided the island of Favignana, where the flagship of the Maltese Knights under the command of Francesco Touchebeuf unsuccessfully attacked his fleet. Barbarossa then sailed eastwards and landed in Calabria and Apulia. On the way back to Algiers, he sank a ship of the Maltese Knights near Messina before assaulting Tripoli, which had been given to the Knights of St. John by Charles V in 1530. In October 1531, he again raided the coasts of Spain.
In 1532, during Suleiman I's expedition to Habsburg Austria, Andrea Doria captured Coron, Patras and Lepanto on the coasts of the Morea (Peloponnese). In response, Suleiman sent the forces of Yahya Pashazade Mehmed Bey, who recaptured these cities, but the event made Suleiman realize the importance of having a powerful commander at sea. He summoned Barbarossa to Constantinople, who set sail in August 1532. Having raided Sardinia, Bonifacio in Corsica, and the islands of Montecristo, Elba and Lampedusa, he captured 18 galleys near Messina and learned from the captured prisoners that Doria was headed to Preveza. Barbarossa proceeded to raid the nearby coasts of Calabria and then sailed towards Preveza. Doria's forces fled after a short battle, but only after Barbarossa had captured seven of their galleys. He arrived at Preveza with a total of 44 galleys, but sent 25 of them back to Algiers and headed to Constantinople with 19 ships. There, he was received by Sultan Suleiman at Topkapı Palace. Suleiman appointed Barbarossa Kapudan-i Derya ("Grand Admiral") of the Ottoman Navy and Beylerbey ("Chief Governor") of North Africa. Barbarossa was also given the government of the Sanjak ("province") of Rhodes and those of Euboea and Chios in the Aegean Sea.
Hayreddin Barbarossa established the Ottoman supremacy in the Mediterranean, which lasted until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, but even after their defeat in Lepanto, the Ottomans quickly rebuilt their fleet, regained Cyprus and other lost territories in Morea and Dalmatia from the Republic of Venice between 1571 and 1572, and conquered Tunisia from Spain in 1574. Furthermore, the Ottomans ventured into the northern Atlantic Ocean between 1585 and 1660 and continued to be a major Mediterranean sea power for three more centuries, until the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, when the Ottoman fleet, which had 21 battleships and 173 other types of warships, ranked as the third-largest naval force in the world, after the British and French navies.
However, during these centuries of great seamen such as Kemal Reis before him; his brother Aruj and other contemporaries Turgut Reis, Salih Reis, Piri Reis and Kurtoğlu Muslihiddin Reis; or Piyale Pasha, Murat Reis, Seydi Ali Reis, Uluç Ali Reis and Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis after him, few other Ottoman admirals ever achieved the overwhelming naval power of Hayreddin Barbarossa.
His mausoleum is in the Barbaros Park of Beşiktaş, Istanbul, where his statue also stands, right next to the Istanbul Naval Museum. On the back of the statue are verses by the Turkish poet Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, which may be translated as follows:
Whence on the sea's horizon comes that roar? Can it be Barbarossa now returning From Tunis or Algiers or from the Isles? Two hundred vessels ride upon the waves, Coming from lands the rising Crescent lights: O blessed ships, from what seas are ye come?
Barbaros Boulevard starts from his mausoleum on the Bosphorus and runs all the way up to the Levent and Maslak business districts and beyond. He gave his name to Üsküdar and Eminönü port (before 10 January 2009, Kadıköy) in Beşiktaş.
In the centuries following his death, even today, Turkish seamen salute his mausoleum with a cannon shot before leaving for naval operations and battles.
Several warships of the Turkish Navy and passenger ships have been named after him.