PROFILE - Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa: First admiral of Ottoman navy

Barbaros enabled Ottoman Empire to gain great advantage over many states in Mediterranean

Büşra Nur Bilgiç   | 04.07.2019
PROFILE - Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa: First admiral of Ottoman navy


Turkey commemorated Thursday the 473rd anniversary of the passing of the first admiral of the Ottoman navy, Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa.

Centuries after his demise, he is still considered to be one of the best sailors in the history.

Commander of Naval Forces Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa was born on the island of Lesbos, Greece in 1478.

Known as Barbaros Hayrettin, Oruc was the real name of the Ottoman admiral.

It was his brother Oruc Reis whom Westerners nicknamed “Barbarossa” for his red beard. After Oruc’s death, Hizir was called with the same nickname. He was given the name “Hayrettin” by Ottoman Sultan Selim I, also known as Yavuz Sultan Selim.

From trading to maritime

The youngest of the four brothers, Hizir began trading activities between Lesbos, Thessaloniki and Euboea of Greece with a ship he had built.

After the rescuing his brother Oruc from Knights of Rhodes, the two brothers declared loyalty to Ottoman Prince Sehzade Korkut, brother of Selim I.

After 1504, Hizir and Oruc engaged in a struggle for dominance against Spain, Genoa and France in the Mediterranean, and declared victory.

Taking the reign of Algeria in 1516, Hizir later offered his land to the Ottomans with a delegation sent to Selim I.

Algeria became an Ottoman territory with this move.

He maintained the security of sea routes by ending the Venetian hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.

With the victory of Preveze War against the Crusaders, he enabled the Turkish sovereignty in the central Mediterranean after the eastern Mediterranean.

During his term as admiral, Ottoman navy peaked in power.

He opened navy schools and his teachings guided many Ottoman sailors and commanders even centuries after his demise.

Barbaros passed away on July 4, 1546 in Besiktas, Istanbul.

Ottomans announced his death at 76 with a statement saying "the leader of the sea is dead".

“Barbaros was an admiral harmonizing the navy. He was experienced like an architect and engineer of ship. There are approaches to underestimate him by calling him a 'pirate', but this is about not knowing the Ottomans well,” Idris Bostan, a history professor at Istanbul University, told Anadolu Agency.

“Barbaros participated in many operations in the Mediterranean. He knew all the Mediterranean ships because he saw them occasionally at the coast of Algeria, examined them and adapted them to his forces,” he added.

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