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Aruj Barbarossa

Ottoman-Turkish Admiral and Privateer

Born: c. 1480

Died: 1546

Khair ad Din (c. 14801546) was an Ottoman-Turkish admiral and privateer who served in the Ottoman Empire and in the Barbary Coast. He was born in the island of Lesbos, in today's Greece. He died in Istanbul, in modern-dayTurkey.

He was known as Barbarossa ("Red Beard") to Europeans, and Barbaros Hayrettin (Khair ad Din) Pasha in Turkish. His original name in Turkish was Hizir bin Yakup, from the Arabic Khidhr 'ibn Ya'qub.

Early career

Khair ad Din was one of four brothers, Ishaq, 'Aruj, Ilias, and Khidr, who were born in the 1470s on the island of Lesbos (??s??) to their father, Yakup, and a Christian mother, Katalina, said to be the widow of a Christian priest. Some sources make Yakup a Sipahi, i.e. a feudal cavalry 'knight', while others make him a Janissary from Vardar.

The four brothers initially worked as sailors, and privateers in the Mediterranean to counteract the privateering of the Knights of St. John of the Island of Rhodes. Ilias was killed in battle, and 'Aruj was captured and imprisoned in Rhodes. 'Aruj later escaped, and went to Italy and from there to Egypt. There he managed to get an audience with the Sultan Qansoh al-Ghuri, who was preparing a fleet of ships to send to India. He gave him a ship, which 'Aruj manned with sailors and started attacking the islands of the Mediterranean that are controlled by Christians, from their base in Alexandria.

Around 1505 'Aruj managed to seize three more ships and made the island of Djerba his base, thus moving his operations to the Western Mediterranean.

His fame increased when between 1504 and 1510 he transported Muslim Mudejars from Christian Spain to North Africa. In 1516, he captured Algiers, then Tlemcen, causing Abu Hamo Musa III to flee. Abu Zayan conspired against him, so he had him killed, and declared himself ruler over Algiers. In 1518, 'Aruj was killed in a battle with the Spaniards attempting to retake Tlemcen. He died at an age of 55 years, and Khair ad Din took his place.

Khair ad Din defeated the Spanish army that tried to capture Algiers in 1529. In 1531, he captured Tunisia, causing the Hafsid king al-Hasan Ibn Muhammad al-Hafsi to flee.

Admiral-in-Chief of the Ottoman Empire

In 1533 Khair ad Din was made Admiral-in-Chief by the Ottoman Sultan.

In 1535, al-Hasan asked the Spaniards for assistance, and Charles V prepared a campaign and recaptured Tunisia in that year.

In 1538, the fleet of Charles V was defeated at the Battle of Preveza by Khair ad Din, securing the eastern Mediterranean for the Turks for 33 years.

In 1541, Ahmed Ibn al-Hasan al-Hafsi took over Tunisia from his father, because of his father's status of servitude to the Spaniards.

In 1544, when Spain declared war on France, the French king Francois I, asked the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman for help. The latter sent a fleet headed by Khair ad Din who is victorious over the Spaniards, and manages to retake Naples from them.

Like his brother 'Aruj, Khaid ad Din managed to coordinate a fleet of 36 ships, and in 7 voyages successfully transferred 70,000 Muslim Mudejar, and settled them in Algiers, making it a stronger base against Spain.

Due to all these achievements, the Ottoman Sultan bestowed on him the title of Baylar Bey ("Commander General").

Khair ad Din is believed to have died at the age of 65 in his palace on the Bosphorus in Istanbul. After his death, his son, Hasan Pacha succeeded him in Algiers.

His grave is still visible today in Istanbul.

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