Mustafa Pasha briefly served as kaymakam (acting governor) of Egypt Eyalet in 1549. He had risen to the position of Beylerbeyi of Damascus and then to that of Fifth Vizier. He commanded the Ottoman land forces during the Siege of Malta in 1565, during the conquest of previously Venetian Cyprus in 1570/71, and in the campaign against Georgia and Persia in 1578. He later was (briefly) Grand Vizier from 28 April to 7 August 1580.
The honorific "Lala" means "tutor to the Sultan"; he had been tutor to the Sultan's sons. Mustafa was known for his cruelty towards vanquished opponents, a reputation that was amply borne out by his treatment of Marco Antonio Bragadin, the Venetian defender of Famagusta, whom he had skinned alive. According to Francisco Balbi di Coreggio, eye-witness and Spanish mercenary arquebusier, who recorded and fought throughout the Siege of Malta 1565, for their participation in the defence of Malta, Mustafa Pasha swore to annihilate all the Maltese both defenders & civilians, as well as all knights of St.John & mercenaries, once Malta was taken. When Fort Saint Elmo finally fell to the Ottomans, Mustafa was enraged to find out that only a handful of battered down, wounded defenders were holding out so stubbornly and cost him over 6,000 casualties, including the death of Turgut Reis himself and other high-ranking officers. So he ordered that the 6 badly wounded knights who were captured, to be stripped naked, beheaded, mutilated, crucified & thrown into the Grand Harbour for all to see, as a warning to all defenders. However, Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette responded likewise by beheading Turkish prisoners and have their heads used as cannonballs, and fired across the harbour into the Turkish lines.
He is buried in the courtyard of the Ayub Mosque in Istanbul. His tomb was designed by Ottoman architect Sinan.
He has a street named after him in cities including Larnaca, Cyprus.
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28 April – 7 August 1580
Koca Sinan Pasha
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