Müezzinzade Ali Pasha

Müezzinzade Ali Pasha (Turkish: Müezzinzade Ali Paşa; also known as Sofu Ali Pasha or Sufi Ali Pasha or Meyzinoğlu Ali Pasha; died 7 October 1571) was an Ottoman statesman and naval officer. He was the Grand Admiral (Kapudan Pasha) in command of the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto, where he was killed in action. He also served as the governor of Egypt from 1563 to 1566.

Müezzinzade Ali Pasha
Ali Pasha.jpg
Müezzinzade in a 1571 broadsheet
Died7 October 1571
Gulf of Patras, Ionian Sea
AllegianceFictitious Ottoman flag 2.svg Ottoman Empire
Service/branchFictitious Ottoman flag 4.svg Ottoman Navy
Years of servicec. 1530–1571
RankGrand Admiral, Governor-general
Battles/warsOttoman–Habsburg wars
Other workGovernor of Ottoman Egypt


His date of birth and exact place of birth are unknown.[1] However, it is known that his father worked in Edirne, and that he grew up in the provinces. He was an ethnic Turk,[2] and would later marry an Ottoman Turk princess.[1][2] His father was a muezzin, hence his epithet Müezzinzade ("son of a muezzin"). He was trained in Enderûn.[3] He was a favorite of Sultan Selim II and of the women of the seraglio who admired his voice as a muezzin,[citation needed] and he married one of Selim II's daughters.[1]

He would rise in Ottoman society as a member of the Janissaries.[4][5]

From 1563 to 1566, Ali Pasha served as the Ottoman governor of Egypt.[6] He was reportedly a very ascetic Sufi man, wearing only "coarse woolen clothes" and paying many visits to the tombs of saints in the City of the Dead necropolis in Cairo.[7][8]

Ottoman conquest of CyprusEdit

Ali Pasha, with a fleet eventually numbering 188 galleys, fustas, transports and other ships, carried the main land force, commanded by Lala Mustafa Pasha, for the Ottoman invasion and conquest of Cyprus from Constantinople on 16 May 1570 to Cyprus, where they landed on 3 July. While Lala Mustafa commanded the eventual capture of the island from Venice, Ali Pasha took the bulk of his fleet to Crete and then to Morea, thereby effectively preventing any Christian relief fleet from coming to the aid of the besieged defenders of Cyprus.[citation needed]

Ali Pasha was accused of brutally torturing the captain of the Kingdom of Cyprus Marco Antonio Bragadin.[9]

Battle of Lepanto and deathEdit

A print from a 1571 anonymous German broadsheet after the Battle of Lepanto of the same year, where Ali Pasha was wounded and killed in action by being shot in the head and beheaded. The print ostensibly shows his "true likeness" in the foreground, while his head is displayed on a pike on an Ottoman battleship in the background.

Ali Pasha was Grand Admiral, or Kapudan Pasha, of the Ottoman naval forces at the Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571.[10][11] 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 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.[citation needed]

Ali Pasha initiated the battle, however his reasoning for doing so has been disputed. Some believe that he may have been encouraged by the Holy League's smaller numbers and underestimated the Christians, while others believe he may have feared displeasing the Sultan who had previously commanded him to engage the enemy.[4] Others however point to his lack of naval experience as what caused the defeat at Lepanto.[5] His flagship, the galley Sultana, battled head-to-head with Don Juan's flagship La Real, 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. In the ensuing battle, Ali Pasha was slain and his head was then displayed upon a pike.[10][12] This, and the capture of the Banner of the Caliphs by La Real, led to a collapse in Turkish morale, greatly contributing to their rout in the battle.

Author Oliver Warren in the book Great Sea Battles describes the capture and death of Ali Pasha;

"The climax came when Don John gave the order to board; once, twice, parties were driven back, but at last they carried the Turkish poop [aft deck]. There Ali Pasha, already wounded in the head by a ball from an arquebus [long gun], tried to buy his life with a promise of treasure. It was in vain. Even his protective talisman, the right canine of Mahomet contained in a crystal ball, did not avail him. A soldier cut him down, hacked off his head, and carried it to Don John. The admiral, recoiling in horror, ordered the man to throw the grisly trophy into the sea; but he disobeyed. The Spaniard mounted it on a pike, which was then held aloft on the prow of the Turkish flagship. Consternation spread among the Moslems, and, within a few moments, resistance was over. The Ottoman standard, a sacred emblem inscribed with the name of Allah twenty-nine thousand times and never before lost in battle, was lowered from the maintop." (Pg. 21 & 23)

His subordinate Occhiali, who had led a successful flank at Lepanto, would replace him as Kapudan Pasha.[10]

See alsoEdit


  • 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 0-7653-0538-0


  1. ^ a b c Spencer C. Tucker, ed. (2019). Middle East Conflicts from Ancient Egypt to the 21st Century: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection [4 Volumes]. ABC-Clio. p. 846. ISBN 9781440853531.
  2. ^ a b Crowley, Roger (2009). Empires of the Sea The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580. Faber & Faber. p. 243. ISBN 9780571250806. Ali was the son of the poor; his father called people to prayers in the old Ottoman capital of Edirne [...] Sokollu was a Bosnian; Piyale had been taken as a child from the battelfields of Hungary. Ali [ Müezzinzade Pasha] was unusual in being an ethnic Turk.
  3. ^ Yayın Kurulu, "Ali Paşa (Müezzinzade)" (1999), Yaşamları ve Yapıtlarıyla Osmanlılar Ansiklopedisi, İstanbul:Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık A.Ş. C.1 s.229 ISBN 975-08-0072-9
  4. ^ a b Brotton, Jerry (February 2017). "The battle of Lepanto: when Ottoman forces clashed with Christians". HistoryExtra. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  5. ^ a b Archivum Ottomanicum. Vol. 6. Indiana University: Mouton. December 1, 2010 [1980].
  6. ^ Angus Konstam (1 January 2003). Lepanto 1571: The Greatest Naval Battle of the Renaissance. Osprey Publishing. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-1-84176-409-2.
  7. ^ M. W. Daly; Carl F. Petry (10 December 1998). The Cambridge History of Egypt. Cambridge University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-521-47211-1.
  8. ^ Michael A. Cook; Asad Ahmed; Behnam Sadeghi; Michael Bonner (21 March 2011). The Islamic Scholarly Tradition: Studies in History, Law, and Thought in Honor of Professor Michael Allan Cook. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-19435-9.
  9. ^ Tarver, H. Micheal; Slape, Emily (2016-07-25). The Spanish Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-61069-422-3.
  10. ^ a b c Hanson, Victor Davis (2007-12-18). Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-42518-8.
  11. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2019-08-31). Middle East Conflicts from Ancient Egypt to the 21st Century: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection [4 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-4408-5353-1.
  12. ^ Contadini, Anna; Norton, Dr Claire (2013). The Renaissance and the Ottoman World. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4724-0991-1.
Political offices
Preceded by Ottoman Governor of Egypt
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Kapudan Pasha
Succeeded by