Military Wiki
Uluç Ali
File:Kilic Ali Pasha.jpg
Died June 21, 1587(1587-06-21)
Place of birth Le Castella, Italy
Place of death Constantinople
Buried at Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque
Allegiance Ottoman
Service/branch Navy
Years of service 1536-1587
Rank Grand Admiral
Battles/wars Battle of Djerba, Siege of Malta, Battle of Preveza, Battle of Lepanto

Occhiali (Turkish language: Uluç Ali Reis, later Uluç Ali Paşa and finally Kılıç Ali Paşa; 1519 - 21 June 1587), a convert to Islam, was a corsair (privateer) who later became an Ottoman admiral (Reis), Bey of the Regency of Algiers, and finally Grand Admiral (Kapudan Pasha) of the Ottoman Fleet in the 16th century.

Born Giovanni Dionigi Galeni, he was also known by several other names in the Christian countries of the Mediterranean and in the literature also appears under various names. Miguel de Cervantes called him Uchali in chapter XXXIX of his Don Quixote de la Mancha. Elsewhere he was simply called Ali Pasha. John Wolf, in his The Barbary Coast, refers to him as Euldj Ali.

Early life

Statue of Uluç Ali Reis in his hometown of La Castella, Italy.

Uluj Ali was born to the seaman Birno Galeni and his wife Pippa de Cicco, in the village of Le Castella (near modern Isola Capo Rizzuto) in Calabria, southern Italy.[1] His father wanted him to receive a religious education, but on 29 April 1536, Giovanni was captured by Ali Ahmed, one of the corsair captains of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, and was forced to serve as a galley slave.[1] As an oar slave in an Ottoman galley, he participated in the Battle of Preveza in 1538.[1] Within a few years, he converted to Islam and became a corsair in the fleet of Turgut Reis by 1541.[1] This was by no means unusual; many Muslim corsairs (privateers) were captured slaves who later converted to Islam.[1]

He was a very able mariner and soon rose in the ranks, gaining sufficient prize booty to buy a share in a corsair brigantine sailing out of Algiers.[1] Further success soon enabled him to become the captain and owner of a galley, and he gained a reputation as one of the boldest corsair reis on the Barbary Coast.[1] Uluj Ali was in the fleet of Turgut Reis, one of the most famous corsairs in the Mediterranean, as well as an Ottoman admiral and Bey of Tripoli.[1] Sailing with Turgut Reis, he also impressed the Ottoman admiral Piyale Pasha, with whom Turgut joined forces on a number of occasions.[1] Due to his success in battles, the administration of the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea was awarded to him in 1550.[1] In 1560, he was among the forces of Turgut Reis and Piyale Pasha during the Battle of Djerba.[2] In 1565 he was promoted to the rank of Beylerbey (Chief Governor) of Alexandria.[1] The same year he joined the Siege of Malta with the Ottoman Egyptian fleet, and when Turgut Reis was killed during the siege, Piyale Pasha appointed Uluj Ali to become Turgut's successor as Bey of Tripoli.[1] Uluj took Turgut's body to Tripoli for burial, assumed control of the province, and was subsequently confirmed as Pasha of Tripoli by Sultan Suleiman I.[1] In the following years he conducted numerous raids on the coasts of Sicily, Calabria and Naples.[1]

Pasha of Algiers

Ottoman troops (about 5,000 janissaries) led by Uluç Ali, then Pasha of Algiers, marching on Tunis in 1569.

In March 1568, the vice-regency of Algiers fell vacant, and upon the recommendation of Piyale Pasha, Sultan Selim II appointed Uluj Ali to become the Pasha and Beylerbey of Algiers, the most powerful of the increasingly autonomous Ottoman eyalets in North Africa, which were governed by the corsair-admirals appointed by the Sultan.[1] In October 1569 he turned upon the Hafsid Sultan Hamid of Tunis, who had been restored to his throne by Spain.[1] Marching overland with an army of some 5000, he quickly sent Hamid and his forces fleeing and made himself ruler of Tunis. Hamid found refuge in the Spanish fort at La Goulette outside Tunis.[1]

In July 1570, while ostensibly en route to Constantinople to ask the Sultan for more ships and men in order to evict the Spaniards from all of North Africa, Uluj Ali encountered five Maltese galleys, commanded by Francisco de Sant Clement, then the captain-general of the Order's galleys, near Cape Passaro in Sicily and captured four of them.[1] (Sant Clement escaped, but on returning to Malta was condemned, strangled and his body put in a sack and dumped into the harbor.[1]) This victory caused Uluj to change his mind and return to Algiers in order to celebrate. There, in early 1571, he was faced with a mutiny of the janissaries who demanded overdue pay.[1] He decided to put to sea, leaving the mutinous soldiers to take their pay from anyone they could find and rob.[1] Having learned of the presence of a large Ottoman fleet at Coron in the Morea, he decided to join it.[1] It was the fleet commanded by Müezzinzade Ali Pasha that was to meet disaster at Lepanto a few months later.[1]


On 7 October 1571, Uluj Ali commanded the left flank of Ali Pasha's fleet in the Battle of Lepanto. He kept his squadron together in the melee, outmaneuvered his direct opponent, Giovanni Andrea Doria, and captured the flagship of the Maltese Knights with its great banner.[1] When the Ottoman defeat became obvious, he succeeded in extricating his ships, and gathered up the scattered remaining ships of the Ottoman fleet (some forty galleys and fustas) and others along the way to Constantinople, where he arrived with 87 vessels.[1] There he presented the great flag of the Maltese Knights to Sultan Selim II, who gave him the honorary title of Kılıç ("Sword") and on 29 October 1571 appointed him as Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral) and Beylerbey of the Isles. He was subsequently known as Kılıç Ali Pasha.

Kapudan Pasha (1572 – 1587)

Uluç Ali Reis bust at Mersin Naval Museum.

Piyale Pasha and Kılıç Ali Pasha immediately began to rebuild the Ottoman fleet. Kılıç Ali Pasha placed special emphasis on the construction of a number of heavier ships modeled upon the Venetian galleasses, heavier artillery for the galleys, and firearms for the soldiers on board.[1] In June 1572, now Kapudan Pasha, he set out with 250 galleys and a large number of smaller ships to seek revenge for Lepanto.[1] He found the Christian fleet anchored in an inlet of Morea, but his strategy of trying to lure the enemy out and inflicting damage through repeated quick thrusts meant that a full-fledged battle never materialized, because the Christian fleet was too cautious to be trapped and encircled.[1]

In 1573 Kılıç Ali Pasha commanded the naval campaign on the coasts of Italy.[1] In that same year, the regency of Algiers was transferred to Arab Ahmed, and Don Juan of Austria, the victor of Lepanto, recaptured Tunis.[1] In July 1574, Kılıç Ali Pasha sailed to Tunis with a fleet of 250 galleys and a large army under the command of Cigalazade Sinan Pasha, captured the port fortress of La Goleta on 25 August 1574, and the city of Tunis on 13 September 1574.[3] During this expedition, on 26 July 1574, the forces of Kılıç Ali Pasha constructed an Ottoman fortress on the coastline of Morocco, facing Andalusia in mainland Spain.[4]

In 1576 he raided Calabria and in 1578 put down another mutiny of the janissaries in Algiers who had assassinated Arab Ahmed.[1] In 1584 he commanded a naval expedition to Crimea.[1] In 1585 he put down revolts in Syria and Lebanon with the Ottoman Egyptian fleet based in Alexandria.[1]

Kılıç Ali Pasha died on 21 June 1587 in Constantinople (Istanbul). He is buried at the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque (1580), designed by the renowned architect Mimar Sinan.


See also



Preceded by
Muhammad I Pasha
Pasha of Algiers
Succeeded by
Arab Ahmed Pasha

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).