Pashalik of Yanina

The Pashalik of Yanina, Ioanina, or Janina (1787–1822) was a subdivision of the Ottoman Empire centered in Epirus. The Pashalik acquired a high degree of autonomy under the Ottoman Albanian ruler Ali Pasha though this was never officially recognized by the Ottoman Empire.[1] Its core was the Ioannina Eyalet, centred on the city of Ioannina in Epirus in 1787 but at its peak (1789-1821) it comprised most of southern and central Albania and parts of mainland Greece: Thessaly, western portions of Greek Macedonia in Northern Greece and Peloponnese.

Pashalik of Yanina

Flag of Yanina
StatusAutonomous province
39°40′N 20°51′E / 39.667°N 20.850°E / 39.667; 20.850Coordinates: 39°40′N 20°51′E / 39.667°N 20.850°E / 39.667; 20.850
• 1787–1822
Ali Pasha
Historical eraEarly modern period
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Ioannina Eyalet
Pashalik of Berat
Ioannina Eyalet


Ali Pasha by Louis Dupré
A Firman issued by Ottoman Albanian ruler Ali Pasha in 1810 and written in vernacular Greek. Ali used Greek for all his courtly dealings.[2]

In 1787 Ali Pasha was awarded the pashalik of Trikala in reward for his support for the sultan's war against Austria. This was not enough to satisfy his ambitions; shortly afterwards, in 1788, he seized control of Ioannina, which remained his power base for the next 34 years.[3] Like other semi-autonomous regional leaders that emerged in that time, such as Osman Pazvantoğlu, he took advantage of a weak Ottoman government to expand his territory still further until he gained de facto control of most of Southern Albania, western Greece and the Peloponnese, either directly or through his sons.[4]

Ali's policy as ruler of Yanina was governed by little more than simple expediency; he operated as a semi-independent despot and allied himself with whoever offered the most advantage at the time. In order to gain a seaport on the Ionian coast Ali formed an alliance with Napoleon I of France who had established Francois Pouqueville as his general consul in Yanina.[5] After the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 where Napoleon granted the Czar his plan to dismantle the Ottoman Empire, Ali switched sides and allied with the British. His machinations were permitted by the Ottoman government in Constantinople from a mixture of expediency – it was deemed better to have Ali as a semi-ally than as an enemy – and weakness, as the central government did not have enough strength to oust him at that time.[citation needed]

The poet George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron visited Ali's court in Yanina in 1809 and recorded the encounter in his work Childe Harold.[3] He evidently had mixed feelings about the despot, noting the splendour of Ali's court and some Orthodox cultural revival that he had encouraged in Yanina, which Byron described as being "superior in wealth, refinement and learning" to any other Albanian town. In a letter to his mother, however, Byron deplored Ali's cruelty: "His Highness is a remorseless tyrant, guilty of the most horrible cruelties, very brave, so good a general that they call him the Mahometan Buonaparte ... but as barbarous as he is successful, roasting rebels, etc.."[citation needed]

Ali Pasha's grave.

In 1820, Ali ordered the assassination of a political opponent in Constantinople.[6] The reformist Sultan Mahmud II, who sought to restore the authority of the Sublime Porte, took this opportunity to move against Ali by ordering his deposition. Ali refused to resign his official posts and put up a formidable resistance to Ottoman troop movements, indirectly helping the Greek Independence as some 20,000 Turkish troops were fighting Ali's formidable army. On 4 December 1820 Ali Pasha with his Albanian troops, and the Souliotes formed an anti-Ottoman coalition, in which the Souliotes contributed 3,000 soldiers. Ali Pasha gained the support of Souliotes mainly because he offered to allow the return of the Souliotes in their land and partially because of Ali's appeal based on shared Albanian origin.[7] Initially the coalition was successful and managed to control most of the region, but when the Muslim Albanian troops of Ali Pasha were informed of the beginning of the Greek revolts in the Morea they abandoned it.[8] In January 1822, however, Ottoman agents assassinated Ali Pasha and sent his head to the Sultan.[3] After his death, the pashalik ceased to exist and was merged with Pashalik of Berat for creating again Ioannina Eyalet with Sanjak of Ioannina, Sanjak of Berat, Gjirokastër and Preveza.[citation needed]


The territories of the Pashalik of Yanina have been characterized by a long period of international trade, mainly with Italy, and in particular with Ancona, Venice, Livorno, and Padua. Ioannina's trade was based on exporting both valueadded and crude goods and importing western luxury items.[9]

Ioannina's textile products had a wide trade distribution. Silk braid, blankets, scarves, gold and silver thread, and embroidered slippers and garments were among the main commercial products exported to Italy and sold throughout the Balkans.[10]

Crude goods were also widely exported from Ali Pasha's territory. There was a developed wood industry in the area, which also provided the resin that had a wide local trade. For a long period lumber from northern Epirus and southern Albania was exported from Ioannina to Toulon and used by the French for shipbuilding. The British gained control of the Ionian Islands in 1809; after then they became the major commercial partner of the region lumber trade was continued with the English. Ioannina exported fruits like lemons, oranges, and hazelnuts produced in Arta, but also olive oil, corn, and Albanian tobacco, the latter being particularly in demand for snuff. Albanian horses were sold and exported throughout the Balkans.[11]

Ioannina also operated as the hub for the distribution of many imports from different European regions, which were brought to the capital of the Pashalik on horseback from eastern Adriatic ports such as Preveza, Vlorë, and Durrës.[11]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Albania and the surrounding world: papers from the British Albanian Colloquium, South East European Studies Association held at Pembroke College, Cambridge, 29–31 March 1994
  2. ^ Fleming 2014, p. 60: "Despite the fact the he used Greek for all courtly dealings, Ali was regarded first and foremost as an Albanian. His use of Greek did not in any way make him Greek, any more than his status as Ottoman appointee made him in some way Ottoman."
  3. ^ a b c "Ali Pasha – the Lion of Ioánnina". Rough Guides. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  4. ^ Damianopoulos, Ernest N., 1928- (2012). The Macedonians : their past and present (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-01190-9. OCLC 795517743.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Vickers, Miranda. (1999). The Albanians : a modern history (Rev ed.). London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-541-0. OCLC 45329772.
  6. ^ Dixon, Jeffrey C. (2013). Guide to intrastate wars : a handbook on civil wars. Sarkees, Meredith Reid, 1950-. Washington, D.C.: CQ. ISBN 978-1-4522-3420-5. OCLC 906009220.
  7. ^ Fleming 2014, p. 59: "When, however, Ali in the last years of life found himself opposed by the sultan's troops, he managed to bring to life an anti-Ottoman coalition, gaining the Souliotes' support in part through an appeal to shared Albanian origins." p. 63: "The ersatz alliance between the Souliotes and Ali's Albanians against the sultan's troops was obtained only after Ali's promise that he would restore the Souliotes to their land."
  8. ^ Victor Roudometof, Roland Robertson (2001), Nationalism, globalization, and orthodoxy: the social origins of ethnic conflict in the Balkans, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, p. 25, ISBN 978-0-313-31949-5
  9. ^ Fleming 2014, p. 46.
  10. ^ Fleming 2014, pp. 46–47.
  11. ^ a b Fleming 2014, p. 47.