An image believed to depict Hayreddin Barbarossa. Born on Lesbos island as the third of the Barbarossa brothers, Hayreddin Barbarossa made a name for himself as an Ottoman admiral who commanded a powerful naval fleet. Tzachas, aka Chaka Bey, a Seljuk commander, conquered Smyrna now İzmir with a small troop of Oghuz warriors after he was held in captivity by the Byzantine Empire for two years. Following the conquest of Smyrna, Tzachas founded a separate beylik principality of his own on the Aegean region of Anatolia. Since the Beylik of Tzachas had a sea border with Constantinople Istanbul , Tzachas had a navy built with 40 ships and easily conquered Lesbos island close to Smyrna.
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The Battle of Preveza in was a major turning point in the history of naval power in the Mediterranean. Taking place on the same body of water where Caesar Augustus claimed final power during the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, this climactic battle of the ongoing Turkish-European war would be an epic conflict that would definitively determine jurisdiction over the Greek coast, ultimate dominion over the planet's most coveted and lucrative naval trade routes, and near-infinite bragging rights around the beer coolers at the next annual Turkish-Venetian Super Bowl Barbeque Bash.
On one side was the great Italian Admiral and perpetually-shirtless egomaniac Andrea Doria. Widely believed to be the most brilliant seaman Christianity had to offer, this dauntless, self-aggrandizing gut-buster had been whomping Turkish asses up and down the coast of Southern Greece for years, crushing Ottoman warships into sawdust and whacking babies in the face with his pimp-cane, and he now sought to finally exert his power over his hated rivals once and for all by incinerating all that remained of the Turkish Fleet.
Hell, when the Pope heard about the assbeating that was about to go down, he decided to get in on the action himself, sending over a dozen of his own battleships to fight the heathen Turks, and prove once and for all that the Christian God indeed was an Awesome God.
This of course was back in the day when the Pope had his own army and navy. Can you imagine what the world would be like today if Benedict XVI could send a strafing run of As every time somebody pissed him off? Well this masturbatory Grand Showcase of naval might was great and all, but as Harvey Keitel would say, "let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet, gentlemen. Outnumbered and heavily outgunned, on this day the Grand Admiral of the Turkish Navy remained unimpressed by his enemies' vulgar display of power.
This brilliant tactician and naval asskicker was determined to smite the fuck out of the infidel crusaders to the fullest extent of his impressive abilities. His beleaguered fleet of battle-hardened warships stood at the ready, eagerly waiting his command. It wouldn't be long before they'd have an opportunity to show the European Nations what it was like to be on the receiving end of a Turkish shoe to the fucking face.
The boy who would become the Defender of the Faith was born on the Isle of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea at the end of the 15th century.
Coming from lower-class parents on a tiny, isolated island more well-known for its etymological association with the word "lesbianism" than for it's penchant for producing epic skull-crushing hardasses, young Hizir Reis was more or less received as just one in a long line of male children produced by a nondescript family of little to no importance. His rise to prominence as Grand Admiral started from very humble beginnings - with minimal opportunity for fiscal advancement through legitimate means, the young Reis boys initially opted to turn to adventure, glory, fame, and money by buying a boat, recruiting a crew of cutthroats, and turning to a life of badass piracy on the high seas of the Mediterranean.
Operating of the Tunisian coast in the early s, Hizir Reis and his band of bloodthirsty buccaneer brothers got busy bashing peoples' faces in with their scimitars on a daily basis. Over time, these enterprising asskickers built up a pretty sweet pirate empire, preying on European shipping, kicking the heads off of the Knights Hospitaller, and plundering with relative impunity all over the place like crazy whoah. As news of their success spread, they gained the support of local Moorish seafaring warriors, fought against Spanish expansion into North Africa, and pummeled a bunch of Christian knights unconscious with their own crucifixes.
Hizir eventually took over control of the ever-expanding criminal enterprise after the death of his older brother, and decided to ally himself with the Ottoman Turkish Empire. You see, back in the 16th century, the Turks really had their shit together. The Sultan basically went around to the most badass Muslim pirates in the Middle East and told them, "Hey dude if you promise only to fuck up the Christians and leave Turkish shipping alone, I'll give you a bunch of troops, cannons, supplies, and money in return.
It was as a badass Turkish privateer that this ferocious corsair made a name for himself as a serious face-melting assbeater, crushing the enemies of the Ottoman Empire like empty soda cans and basically crotchpunching the European powers up and down the coastlines of the Mediterranean. The notorious Muslim pirate, known to the Europeans as Barbarossa "Red Beard", because he had, well, red hair. And a beard , became an overnight celebrity when he put together a massive pirate army and captured the heavily-fortified North African city of Algiers in The Sultan was so mega pumped-up about that awesome shit that he appointed Barbarossa Governor of Algiers and commander of the entire fucking Western Ottoman Fleet, and sent him out to do what he did best — smash European ships until they were no longer capable of flotation.
The Hapsburg King-Emperor Charles V tried to retake the areas that had fallen to the Turks, but ended up getting kicked in the balls repeatedly by the unstoppable Peasant-turned-Pirate-turned-Admiral.
It was around this time that our buddy Andrea Doria arrived on the scene. Doria decided he was going to liberate Greece from the Turkish yoke, sailing into the port city of Coron in and capturing it with relative ease. He built a huge fleet, relentlessly trained his men, and set out for action.
In he re-captured Coron, conquered Tunis, blew up Sicily, and plundered the shit out of the Italian coast. His raids and assbeatery pissed off the Europeans so badly that they sent Andrea Doria to dish out some much-needed retaliation. Doria assembled a massive Christian Fleet, sailed out to the afore-mentioned harbor of Preveza, and prepared to teach the Muslims a lesson in getting their faces kicked in with a chainmailed boot. Well Andrea Doria needed to recognize that stepping to Barbarossa is a good way to get one's eye swole up.
Off the coast of Preveza in , the Allied galleys of the Holy League were face-smashed into driftwood by the gigantic nutbag of Hayreddin Barbarossa and his Ottoman Fleet. Outnumbered more than three-to-one six-to-one according to some accounts , Barbarossa not only demolished the invasion force — he made the combined naval might of five mighty Christian nations look like that adorable fleet of rubber duckies that menaced the shores of New England a couple years ago. For his success, Barbarossa was given the top honors of the Ottoman Empire.
He was even awarded the right to sit on the Imperial Council and help run the higher-workings of the government. His victory also established the might of the Turkish Navy in the Mediterranean - from that point on, Ottoman ships dominated the Adriatic and Aegean Seas, and the Sultan held sole power over some of the world's most profitable trade routes.
Barbarossa continued his adventures for a couple years, sacking Sicilian cities, meddling in petty European succession wars, and plundering Spanish galley squadrons. He eventually retired to a life of luxury, and died in at the age of 68, the greatest and most successful naval commander in the history of Islam.
Sources: Askan, Virginia H. The Early Modern Ottomans. Cambridge Univ. Press, Glete, Jan. Warfare at Sea, Routledge, Jardin, Lisa. Worldly Goods.
Norton, Shaw, Ezel Kural. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Somel, Selcuk. Historical Dictionary of the Ottoman Empire. Badass of the Week. Hayreddin Barbarossa. Barbarossa carrying a Trident.
He was just good like that.
Tomb of Hayreddin Barbarossa
He began his naval career as a Barbary pirate , alongside his brothers, raiding Christian coastal villages and seizing ships across the Mediterranean. Khair-ed-Din, also known as Hayreddin Barbarossa, was so successful as a corsair that he managed to become the ruler of Algiers, and then the chief admiral of the Ottoman Turkish navy under Suleiman the Magnificent. Barbarossa started life as a simple potter's son and rose to lasting piratical fame. Khair-ed-Din was born sometime in the late s or early s in the village of Palaiokipos, on the Ottoman-controlled Greek island of Midilli. His mother Katerina was likely a Greek Christian, while his father Yakup is of uncertain ethnicity - different sources state that he was Turkish, Greek, or Albanian.
From Pirate to Admiral: The Tale of Barbarossa
The Battle of Preveza in was a major turning point in the history of naval power in the Mediterranean. Taking place on the same body of water where Caesar Augustus claimed final power during the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, this climactic battle of the ongoing Turkish-European war would be an epic conflict that would definitively determine jurisdiction over the Greek coast, ultimate dominion over the planet's most coveted and lucrative naval trade routes, and near-infinite bragging rights around the beer coolers at the next annual Turkish-Venetian Super Bowl Barbeque Bash. On one side was the great Italian Admiral and perpetually-shirtless egomaniac Andrea Doria. Widely believed to be the most brilliant seaman Christianity had to offer, this dauntless, self-aggrandizing gut-buster had been whomping Turkish asses up and down the coast of Southern Greece for years, crushing Ottoman warships into sawdust and whacking babies in the face with his pimp-cane, and he now sought to finally exert his power over his hated rivals once and for all by incinerating all that remained of the Turkish Fleet. Hell, when the Pope heard about the assbeating that was about to go down, he decided to get in on the action himself, sending over a dozen of his own battleships to fight the heathen Turks, and prove once and for all that the Christian God indeed was an Awesome God.
Hayreddin Barbarossa: Lion of the Mediterranean
All rights reserved. From his base in Algiers, North Africa, Hayreddin Barbarossa terrorized the western Mediterranean in the first half of the 16th century. He fearlessly hijacked ships and sacked ports, loading his pirate galleys with vast hoards of treasure and prisoners fated for slavery. Yet Barbarossa was much more than a soldier of fortune. However, Barbarossa had modest beginnings. He was born on the Greek island of Lesbos, the son of a Christian renegade who had joined the Ottoman army.
Admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa
Hayreddin Barbarossa was one of the most notorious pirates of his day. Together with his older brothers, Ishak and Aruj, they conquered the North African city of Algiers, and submitted it to the Ottomans , as a means of protecting themselves from the Spanish. Nevertheless, this did not stop the Spanish, who made an assault on Tlemcen in This is a city located near Algiers which was under the rule of Hayreddin and his brother. During this siege, Ishak and Aruj lost their lives.