Beylerbey or Beylerbeyi (Ottoman Turkish: بكلربكی; "Bey of Beys", meaning "the Commander of Commanders" or "the Lord of Lords"; originally Beglerbeg[i] in older Turkic) was a high rank in the western Islamic world in the late Middle Ages and early modern period, from the Seljuks of Rum and the Ilkhanids to Safavid Persia and the Ottoman Empire. Initially designating a commander-in-chief, it eventually came to be held by senior provincial governors. In Ottoman usage, where the rank survived the longest, it designated the governors-general of some of the largest and most important provinces, although in later centuries it became devalued into a mere honorific title. Its equivalents in Arabic were amir al-umara, and in Persian, mir-i miran.
The title was also used by the Khans of the Indian (later Pakistani) princely state of Kalat.
The title originated with the Seljuqs, and was used in the Sultanate of Rum initially as an alternative for the Arabic title of malik al-umara ("chief of the commanders"), designating the army's commander-in-chief. Among the Mongol Ilkhanids, the title was used to designate the chief amir al-ulus ("emir of the state")—also known by the Turkic title ulusbegi and the Arabic amir al-umara–while in the Golden Horde it was applied to all the holders of the rank of amir al-ulus. The Mamluks of Egypt possibly used it as an alternative title for the atabak al-asakir, the commander-in-chief of the army.
The Ottomans used the title from the late 14th until the mid-19th century, with varying meanings and degrees of importance. The early Ottoman state continued to use the term beylerbey in the meaning of commander-in-chief, held by princes of the Ottoman dynasty: under the Ottoman Empire's founder, Osman I (ruled 1299–1326), his son Orhan held the post, and during Orhan's reign (1324–1362), his brother Alaeddin Pasha and Orhan's son Süleyman Pasha.
The first step towards the transformation of the office into a gubernatorial title occurred when the title was given by Murad I (r. 1362–89) to Lala Shahin Pasha, as a reward for his capture of Adrianople (modern Edirne) in the 1360s. In addition, Lala Shahin was given military authority over the Ottoman territories in Europe (Rumelia). This marked the beylerbey effectively as the viceroy of the European territories as the Sultans still resided in Anatolia, and as the straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which connected the two parts of the Ottoman state, continued to escape full Ottoman control until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.
After Lala Shahin's death, sometime in 1385–87 he was succeeded in the position of commander-in-chief in Rumelia by Çandarlı Kara Halil Hayreddin Pasha. In 1393, Sultan Bayezid I (r. 1389–1402) appointed Kara Timurtash as beylerbey and viceroy was in Anatolia, when Bayezid crossed over into Europe to campaign against Mircea I of Wallachia. This process marked the birth of the first two, and by far the most important, beylerbeyliks, of Rumelia and Anatolia, while the third beylerbeylik, that of Rûm, followed soon after.
The beylerbey was in charge of a province—termed beylerbeylik or generically vilayet, "province", while after 1591 the term eyalet was used and beylerbeylik came to mean the office of beylerbey—further subdivided into sanjaks or "liwa"s under sanjakbeys. With the continuous growth of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries, new provinces were established, and the ranks of the beylerbeys swelled to a maximum of 44 by the end of the 16th century. A list of eyalets in 1609 mentions 32 in total, of which 23 regular eyalets where revenue was distributed among the military fief-holders, while the rest (in North Africa and the Middle East) were under the salyane system, i.e. their revenue was sent to the imperial treasury, and the officials and soldiers were paid salaries from it. The size of these new provinces varied enormously: some containing as many as twenty sanjaks, and others as few as two, including the beylerbey's own residence (or pasha-sanjakı). Among themselves, the various beylerbeys had an order of precedence based on the date of conquest or formation of their provinces. The beylerbey of Rumelia, however, retained his pre-eminence, ranking first among the other provincial governors-general, and being accorded a seat in the Imperial Council (divan) after 1536. In addition, the post was occasionally held by the Sultan's chief minister, the Grand Vizier himself.
In his province, the beylerbey was regarded as a virtual viceroy of the Sultan: he had full authority over matters of war, justice and administration, except in so far as they were limited by the authority of other officials also appointed by the central government, chiefly the various fiscal secretaries under the mal defterdari and the kadı, who could appeal directly to the imperial government. In addition, as a further check to their power, the Janissary contingents stationed in the province's cities were outside his authority, and beylerbeys were even forbidden from entering the fortresses garrisoned by the Janissaries. The beylerbey also had his own court and government council (divan) and could freely grant fiefs (timars and ziamets) without prior approval by the Sultan, although this right was curtailed after 1530, when his authority was restricted to smaller timars only. Having its origin in the military, the primary responsibility of the beylerbeys and their sanjakbeys was the maintenance the sipahi cavalry, formed by the holders of the military fiefs, whom they led in person on campaign.
From the reign of Mehmed II (r. 1451–1481) onwards, the title of beylerbey also became an honorary court rank, coming after the viziers; both viziers and beylerbeys were titled pashas, with the viziers sporting three horse-tails and the beylerbeys two. From the 16th century on, however, viziers could be appointed as provincial beylerbeys, enjoying precedence and authority over the ordinary beylerbeys of the neighbouring provinces. Towards the end of the 17th century, the title of beylerbey of Rumelia (Rumeli beylerbeysi) also began to be awarded as an honorific rank, alongside the actual holder of the provincial post, even to officials unrelated to the provincial administration, such as the chief treasurer (defterdar).
Beginning in the 18th century, the Arabic title of wali began to be increasingly used for provincial governors-general at the expense of beylerbey, except for the two original beylerbeys of Rumelia and Anatolia; the Arabic title amir al-umara, and the Persian mir-i miran or mirmiran, which had been used as equivalents of the beylerbey, now increasingly came to refer only to the honorary rank, which in turn was increasingly devalued. The process culminated with the vilayet reform of 1864, after which wali became the only official designation for the governor-general of a province, while the title of beylerbey survived only in the honorary rank of Rumeli beylerbeysi, which continued in use alongside its Perso-Arabian equivalents.
Under the Safavid dynasty of Persia, the title was used from ca. 1543/44 on for governors (generically styled hakim) of the more important provinces. The title was thus used for the governors of Herat, Azerbaijan, Ganja, Karabakh, Shirvan, Fars, Iraq, and Astarabad. The Safavids also used the title of wali for provinces even more important than those of beylerbeys. Towards the end of the Safavid period, the title of beylerbey had been eclipsed by that of wali, most notably being the wali's of the shah's their Georgian lands.
The administrative divisions of the Ottoman Empire were administrative divisions of the state organisation of the Ottoman Empire. Outside this system were various types of vassal and tributary states.
The Ottoman Empire was first subdivided into provinces, in the sense of fixed territorial units with governors appointed by the sultan, in the late 14th century. The beylerbey, or governor, of each province was appointed by the central government. Sanjaks were governed by sanjak-beys, selected from the high military ranks by the central government. Beylerbeyis had authority over all the sancakbeyis in a region. Kaza was a subdivision of sancak and referred to the basic administrative district, governed by a kadi.It is considered extremely difficult to define the number and exact borders of Ottoman provinces and domains, as their borders were changed constantly. Until the Tanzimat period, the borders of administrative units fluctuated, reflecting the changing strategies of the Ottomans, the emergence of new threats in the region, and the rise of powerful Ayans. All the subdivisions were very unequal in regard of area and population, and the presence of numerous nomadic tribes contributed to the extreme variability of the population figures.Ayas Mehmed Pasha
Ayas Mehmed Pasha (1483–1539) was an Ottoman statesman and grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1536 to 1539. He was an Albanian born in Himare region. His father was from city of Shkodra, in the north of Albania, and his mother was from Vlora, in the south of Albania. He was taken to Istambul under the Devşirme practice, and eventually became Agha of the Janissaries. He participated in the Battle of Chaldiran (1514), and Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17). During 1520–1521 he was beylerbey of Anatolia Eyalet and governor of Damascus. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, he served as beylerbey of Rumelia Eyalet and was made a vizier after the Ottoman conquest of Rhodes in 1522. He also participated in the Battle of Mohács, Siege of Vienna, and the war in Iraq (1534–1535).He became grand vizier in 1536 after the execution of Pargali Ibrahim Pasha and kept this position until his death in 1539. Under his administration, the Ottomans undertook the Corfu campaign (1537) and waged war against the Habsburgs in Vienna (1537–1540). Additionally, his native Vlore region was put under full Ottoman control, and the Sanjak of Delvina was created. He died of plague in Istanbul and was buried in the Eyüp Sultan Mosque.Battle of Brest (1596)
The Battle of Brest (1596) (Croatian: Bitka kod Bresta) was fought on 19 September 1592 between the Ottoman forces of Achmed Hafis Pasha, Beylerbey of Vidin, and the Germanic and Croatian forces led by Ivan Drašković, Ban of Croatia. The battle was a part of the Croatian–Ottoman wars and Ottoman–Habsburg wars between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy.Battle of Jajce (1518)
The Battle of Jajce (1518) (Croatian: Bitka kod Jajca) was fought in January 1518 between the Ottoman forces of Husrev Beg, Beylerbey of Bosnia Eyalet, and the Hungarian and Croatian forces led by ban Petar Berislavić. The battle was a part of the Croatian–Ottoman wars and Ottoman–Habsburg wars between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy.Capture of Peñón of Algiers (1529)
The Capture of Peñón of Algiers was accomplished when the beylerbey of Algiers Hayreddin Barbarossa took a fortress (called Peñón of Algiers) in a small islet facing the Algerian city of Algiers from the Habsburg Spaniards.Cığalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha
Cığalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha (also known as Cağaloğlu Yusuf Sinan Pasha; c. 1545–1605), his epithet meaning "son of Cicala", was an Ottoman Italian statesman who held the office of Grand Vizier for forty days between 27 October to 5 December 1596, during the reign of Mehmed III. He was also a Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy) as well as a military general.
He was born as Scipione Cicala in Genoa or Messina around 1545, as a member of the aristocratic Genoese family of Cicala. His father, a Viscount (di Cicala), was, according to Stephan Gerlach, a corsair in the service of Spain, while his mother is said to have been a Turk from Castelnuovo (Herceg Novi today). The Visconte and his son, captured at the Battle of Djerba by the Ottoman navy in 1560 or 1561, were taken first to Tripoli in North Africa and then to Constantinople. The father was in due course ransomed from captivity and, after living for some time at Beyoğlu (Pera), returned to Messina, where he died in 1564. His son, Scipione, was not released, but was inducted into the Ottoman corps of young boys to be trained for imperial service. He converted, as was required, to Islam and was trained in the Imperial palace, rising to the rank of silahtar. He eventually married, first one (1573) and then (1576) another great-granddaughter of Süleyman the Magnificent. He found himself assured of wealth, high office and protection at the Porte.
He became Agha of the Janissaries in 1575 and retained this office until 1578. During the next phase of his career he saw much active service in the long Ottoman-Persian war of 1578-1590. He was beylerbey (governor-general) of Van in 1583, and assumed command, in the same year, of the great fortress of Erivan, being raised to the rank of vizier at the same time. He also played a prominent role, once more as Beylerley of Van, in the campaign of 1585 against Tabriz. As Beylerbey of Bayazıt, an appointment which he received in 1586, he fought with success in western Persia during the last years of the war, bringing Nihavand and Hamadan under Ottoman control.
After the peace of 1590, he was made governor of Erzurum, and in 1591, became Kapudan Pasha or Grand Admiral of the Ottoman fleet. He held this office until 1595. During the third Grand Vizierate (1593–1595) of Koca Sinan Pasha he was promoted to Fourth Vizier. At that time, the Ottomans had been at war with Austria since 1593. Cağaloğlu Yusuf Sinan Pasha, by then appointed Third Vizier, accompanied Sultan Mehmed III on the Hungarian campaign of 1596. He tried in vain to relieve the fortress of Hatvan, which fell in September 1596. He was present at the successful Ottoman siege of Eger (Eğri) (September–October 1596) and at the Battle of Mezö-Keresztes in October 1596 and took part in the final assault that turned an imminent defeat into a notable triumph for the Ottomans. In reward for his services, he was made Grand Vizier, but the discontent arising from the measures which he used in an effort to restore discipline amongst the Ottoman forces, the troubles which followed his intervention in the affairs of the Crimean Tatars, and the existence at court of powerful influences eager to restore Damat İbrahim Pasha to the Grand Vizierate, brought about his deposition from this office after 40 days.
He was Beylerbey of Damascus from December 1597 to January 1598. In May 1599, he was made Kapudan Pasha for the second time. In 1604, he assumed command of the eastern front, where a new war between the Ottomans and the Persians had broken out in the preceding year. His campaign of 1605 was unsuccessful, the forces he led towards Tabriz suffering defeat near the shore of Lake Urmia. Cağaloğlu had to withdraw to the fortress of Van and thence in the direction of Diyarbekir. He died in the course of this retreat in December 1605. He was ancestor of İlhan İrem, who is a famous Turkish pop singer.
The Cağaloğlu quarter in Istanbul, a household name in Turkey for having been the equivalent of London's Fleet Street as the city's press center, and where Yusuf Sinan Pasha had constructed a palace and a hamam (Turkish bath), is named after him and carries his name to this day. The bath, known as Cağaloğlu Hamam after the Pasha, was reconstructed in 1741.
The song "Sinàn Capudàn Pascià" by the Genoese singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André tells the story of Sinan Pasha. It is completely in Genoese dialect and is part of the album Crêuza de mä.Evliya Kasim Pasha Mosque
Evliya Kasim Pasha Mosque (Turkish: Evliya Kasım Paşa Cami) is a 15th-century Ottoman mosque in Edirne, northwestern Turkey. It is named after Kasim Pasha (fl. 1442–43).
The mosque was built by Kasim Pasha in 1478–1479, the Beylerbey of the Rumelia Eyalet in the Ottoman Empire and a commander of the Ottoman forces during the reign of the sultans Mehmed the Conqueror (r. 1444‒1446, 1451‒1481) and Bayezid II (r. 1481–1512); he was also titled "Evliya", saint. The grave of Kasim Pasha is in the mosque's yard.Hadım Sinan Pasha
Hadım Sinan Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: خادم سنان پاشا, Modern Turkish: Hadım Sinan Paşa, "Sinan Pasha the Eunuch"; Bosnian: Sinan-paša Borovinić; 1459 – 22 January 1517) was Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1517. He was of Bosnian descent.Hadım Suleiman Pasha (governor of Rumelia)
Hadım Suleiman Pasha (Turkish: Hadım Süleyman Paşa, Romanian: Hadâm Suleiman Paşa; fl. 1474–1490) was an Ottoman statesman and general, who served as the governor (beylerbey) of the Rumelia Eyalet (fl. 1474) and the Anatolia Eyalet. He was later a governor of the Sanjak of Amasya (1482–90) and the Sanjak of Smederevo (1490–?). He served during the reign of Mehmed II. His epithet hadım means "eunuch" in Turkish.Hadım Şehabeddin
Hadım Şehabeddin Paşa (Old Turkish: Şihābüddīn; fl. 1436–53), also called Kula Şahin Paşa, was an Ottoman general and governor that served Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1444–46; 1451–81). Brought to the Ottoman court at a young age, Şehabeddin started as a court eunuch (hadım), then advanced to become Kapi Agha, a close advisor to the Sultan, before being appointed governor (sanjakbey) in Albania, and then at the height of his career, provincial governor (beylerbey) of Rumelia (1439–42). Şehabeddin was known as ardent supporter of the expansionist policy of Ottoman Empire. He commanded the Ottoman forces that captured Novo Brdo in 1441. After his forces were heavily defeated in a battle with forces of Janos Hunyadi in September 1442, he was dismissed from the position of beylerbey. After 1444 he was again briefly appointed to the position of beylerbey of Rumelia. Şehabeddin died in 1453 in Bursa.Hasan Pasha (son of Barbarossa)
Hasan Pasha (c. 1517-1572) was the son of Hayreddin Barbarossa and three-times Beylerbey of the Regency of Algiers. His mother was a Morisca. He succeeded his father as ruler of Algiers, and replaced Barbarossa's deputy Hasan Agha who had been effectively holding the position of ruler of Algiers since 1533.Kara Davud Pasha
Kara Davud Pasha, also known as simply Davud Pasha or as Hain Davud Pasha ("Davud Pasha the Traitor"), was an Ottoman statesman who became briefly Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire in 1622, during the reign of his brother-in-law Mustafa I.He was born in 1570 in Bosnia Eyalet.
He married a daughter of Mehmed III and Halime Sultan in 1604. He was appointed Beylerbey of Rumelia and shortly afterwards vizier.He became Kapudan Pasha for a brief time during the first reign of Mustafa I (1617-1618).He was appointed Grand Vizier on 20 May 1622 through the influence of Mustafa's mother, his own mother-in-law. He carried out the execution of Osman II. However, he was dismissed on 13 June 1622, and was tortured until his death because he executed Osman II without the confirmation of the Sultan (Mustafa). The army went against him and the people who were included in the execution of Osman were executed with him on 18 January 1623 by different methods.Kasım Pasha
Kasım Pasha or Kasem Pasha (Turkish: Kasım Paşa; fl. 1442–43) was an Albanian Ottoman general and governor, the beylerbey of Rumelia and one of the commanders of the Ottoman forces during the Crusade of Varna (1443–44).
When Rumelian beylerbey and vizier Hadım Şehabeddin was defeated by John Hunyadi in 1442, he was replaced by Kasım Pasha at both positions.List of Ottoman governors of Egypt
The Ottoman Empire's governors of Egypt from 1517 to 1805 were at various times known by different but synonymous titles, among them beylerbey, viceroy, governor, governor-general, or, more generally, wāli. Furthermore, the Ottoman sultans very often changed positions of their governors in rapid succession, leading to complex and long lists of incumbents (this being the main reason for a political crisis in 1623, where the local Ottoman soldiers successfully sued to keep Kara Mustafa Pasha as governor after his replacement by Çeşteci Ali Pasha after only one year).
Governors ruled from the Cairo Citadel in Cairo. They ruled along with their divan (governmental council), consisting of a kadı (judge) and defterdar (treasurer). The title "beylerbey" refers to the regular governors specifically appointed to the post by the Ottoman sultan, while the title "kaymakam", when used in the context of Ottoman Egypt, refers to an acting governor who ruled over the province between the departure of the previous governor and the arrival of the next one. Although almost all governors were succeeded and preceded by a kaymakam due to the traveling distance from their old post to Egypt, only the most notable are included in this list.
Below is a list of Ottoman wālis of the Egypt Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 (the Ottoman conquest of Egypt) to 1805 (the beginning of the Muhammad Ali dynasty; see list of monarchs of the Muhammad Ali dynasty). Governors of Egypt after 1805 are not included in this list because, although they were still nominally and officially Ottoman governors of the province, they assumed the monarchical title "Khedive" that was unrecognized by the central Ottoman government and passed the role in a hereditary fashion. Acting governors (kaymakams) are not included in the numbering.Occhiali
Occhiali (Giovanni Dionigi Galeni or Giovan Dionigi Galeni, also Uluj Ali, Turkish: Uluç Ali Reis, later Uluç Ali Paşa and finally Kılıç Ali Paşa; 1519 – 21 June 1587) was an Italian farmer, then Ottoman privateer and admiral, who later became beylerbey 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.Pasha of Tripoli
Pasha of Tripoli is a title that was held by many rulers of Tripoli in Ottoman Tripolitania. The Ottoman Empire ruled the territory for most time from the Siege of Tripoli in 1551 until the Italian invasion of Libya in 1911, at the onset of the Italo-Turkish War.Sanjak-bey
Sanjak-bey, sanjaq-bey or -beg (meaning "Lord of the Standard") was the title given in the Ottoman Empire to a Bey (a high-ranking officer, but usually not a Pasha) appointed to the military and administrative command of a district (sanjak, in Arabic liwa'), answerable to a superior wāli or other provincial governor. In a few cases the sanjak-bey was himself directly answerable to Istanbul.
Like other early Ottoman administrative offices, the sanjak-bey had a military origin: the term sanjak (and liva) means "flag" or "standard" and denoted the insigne around which, in times of war, the cavalrymen holding fiefs (timars or ziamets) in the specific district gathered. The sanjkabey was in turn subordinate to a beylerbey ("Bey of Beys") who governed an eyalet and commanded his subordinate sanjak-beys in war. In this way, the structure of command on the battlefield resembled the hierarchy of provincial government.The office of sanjak-bey resembled that of the beylerbey on a more modest scale. Like the beylerbey, the sanjak-bey drew his income from a prebend, which consisted usually of revenues from the towns, quays and ports within the boundary of his sanjak. Within his own sanjak, a governor was responsible above all for maintaining order and, with the cooperation of the fief holders, arresting and punishing wrongdoers. For this, he usually received half of the fines imposed on miscreants, with the fief holder on whose lands the misdeed took place, receiving the other half. Sanjak governors also had other duties, for example, the pursuit of bandits, the investigation of heretics, the provision of supplies for the army, or the despatch of materials for shipbuilding, as the sultan commanded.Semiz Ali Pasha
Semiz Ali Pasha (Bosnian: Semiz Ali-Paša Pračić) was an Ottoman statesman from the Sanjak of Bosnia who served as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1561 to 1565. He was the beylerbey (governor) of Egypt Eyalet from 1549 to 1553. Semiz Ali Pasha was born in Prača in Bosnia (thus his secondary epithet), and replaced Rüstem Pasha as a Grand Vizier. After palace schooling, he discharged high-level functions along the Ottoman Empire.His epithet "Semiz" means "fat" in Turkish. He was married to Ayşe Hümaşah Sultan, daughter of his predecessor Rustem Pasha and Mihrimah Sultan, daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
In 1561 he negotiated with the ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire, Ogier de Busbecq, on the terms of a peace treaty which was ratified in Vienna in the following year.Topal Osman Pasha
Topal Osman Pasha (1663–1733) was an Ottoman military officer and administrator. A capable man, he rose to the rank of beylerbey by the age of 24 and served as general against the Venetians and the Austrians and as governor in several provinces. His career eventually brought his appointment to the position of Grand Vizier in 1731–32. After his dismissal, he was sent to a provincial governorship, but was soon recalled to lead the Ottoman troops in the Ottoman–Persian War of 1730–35. He succeeded in defeating Nader Shah and saving Baghdad in 1732, but was decisively beaten and fell in the Battle of Kirkuk (1733) where he clashed with Nader for a second time, the next year.
Ottoman Empire articles