Protagonists of the Ottoman Empire

Selim II
Portrait of sultan Selim IISelim II was the third in a row son of Suleyman the Magnificent and the sultan's beloved wife Haseki Hürrem, of Ukranian origin. Selim was proclaimed 11th sultan of the Ottoman Empire and 90th Chaliph of Islam on September 7th 1566 and then went off to Belgrade to meet his army. Brought up in the harem, as his elder brothers were initially supposed to become sultans, Selim was fond of debauchery and particularly of alcohol. He therefore had the nickname “the Sot”. The exercise of government was in fact given up to the very capable Vizier Mehmed Sokollu. However, Selim possessed a strategic mind himself and he planned campaigns which brought the empire to its greatest territorial expansion: the reconquest of Yemen, the conquest of Cyprus, the campaign in Tynisia, which was reconquered a few months after his death in 1574. One of his campaigns, the one to Russia, failed. In Lepanto the Ottoman fleet was destroyed. Yet, on a political level he was positively charged with the treaty of Constantinople with the Hapsburgs in 1568. His death in 1574 was fortuitous, caused by a fall in his bath, while he was drunk.


Muezzinzade Ali Pasha
   The leader of the Naval expeditions of the Ottomans Muezzinzade Ali Pasha on a manuscript illumination of the timeAs implied by his name, Muezzinzade Ali Pasha was the son of a muezzin (Muslim priest) who performed liturgies in the mosque next to the Saray. He often substituted his father in reciting the prayers and due to his sweet voice, he had become a favourite of the harem, particularly of Selim II who was brought up there. When Selim succeeeded his father, he offered him the office of Kapudan Pasha and married him to one of his daughters. During the 1570 campaign against Cyprus, he was in charge of the fleet. After the debarkation of the land forces, he took a large part of the fleet and headed towards Crete and the Peloponnese, in order to prevent the western forces from sending reinforcements to the island. Selim II appointed him also commander general of the fleet at Lepanto. He also gave him the banner of the Chaliphs, a holy green banner where the 99 names and attributes of Allah were embroidered in golden thread 28.999 times. During the battle his flagship, the Sultana, faced the flagship of the allied forces, La Real. Ali Pasha was killed when a musket's bullet hit him on the head. His death was decisive for the defeat of the Ottomans.



Uluç/Uluj Ali
Portrait of Uluç Ali Uluç Ali, known also as Uluç Ali Reis and later as Kiliç Ali Pasha in the Ottoman sources and as Occhiali in the western forces, was a legendary figure of Ottoman history. He was born in 1519 at Calabria, Southern Italy, as Giovanni Dionigi Galeni, he was the son of a mariner, orientated by his father towards a clerical career. He was, however, captured by Ali Admed, one of the corsairs that collaborated with Hayreddin Barbarossa. He served several years as a rower in a galley and finally he adopted Islam and became a corsair himself. In very short time he controlled a large part of the north African shores and he joined forces with Turgut Reis, Bey of Tripoli, who terrorized north Africa. During the siege of Malta, upon the death of Turgut Reis the Kapudan Pasha Piyale chose Uluj as commander general. Again through the mediation of Piyale Pasha he undertook the office of Pasha of Algiers in 1568. In 1571 he headed towards Modon and Koron to join forces with Muezzinzade Ali Pasha, who wppointed him commander of the left flank of the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. He was the only one of the admirals who managed to maintain the cohesion of his ships. He returned to Istanbul with 87 ships and offered the Maltese banner he had recuperated as a present to Selim II. The latter gave him the honorary title Kılıç, i.e. “sword” and the actual title of Kapudan Pasha and Beylerbey of the islands. He died in Istanbul in 1587 and was buried at the Kılıç Ali Pasha mosque, one of the last works of Mimar Sinan, at a seaside location in the modern neighbourhood of Tophane.

Mehmed Pertev Pasha
Of Albanian origin, he climbed up the Ottoman hierarchy. He undertook the office of Beylerbey of Rumeli in 1554, when his friend Mehmed Sokollu Pasha came in power. He also reached the 2nd position under the Vizier. He was the commander general of the naval forces of the Ottomans during the siege of Cyprus in 1570 and he joined forces with Muezzinzade Ali Pasha at Lepanto.

Mehmed Suluk Pasha
Also known with the nickname “Sirocco”, i.e. southern wind, Mehmed Suluk was Bey of Alexandria at the time of the naval battle of Lepanto. He had rolled up in the Ottoman fleet at the age of 18 and had had a glorious career, particularly as an infantry fighter. He had participated at the siege of Malta asa well as at the military campaign against Cyprus and was one of the commanders who stayed on the island during the siege of Famagusta. At Lepanto he was appointed commander of the right flank of the Ottoman fleet, but he didn't manage to win the Venetians who fought against him and he was seriously injured. He managed to escape, but the Venetians persecuted him and finally arrested him. He was then asked to be spared the suffering and the Venetian officer killed him on the spot.

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