HAYRED­DIN BAR­BAROSSA

History of War - - HAYREDDIN BARBAROSSA -

“I AM THE THUN­DER­BOLT OF HEAVEN, MY VENGEANCE WILL NOT BE AS­SUAGED UN­TIL I HAVE KILLED THE LAST ONE OF YOU AND EN­SLAVED YOUR WOMEN, YOUR DAUGH­TERS AND YOUR CHIL­DREN” – Hayred­din Bar­barossa

Bar­barossa is shown lav­ishly dressed as be­fits his po­si­tion of grand ad­mi­ral of the Ot­toman Im­pe­rial Fleet. The bar­rel-chested for­mer cor­sair sports the full red beard that prompted Euro­peans to call him Bar­barossa (Red­beard). He wears a cer­e­mo­nial tur­ban that is dec­o­rated with jew­els, topped by a minia­ture crown de­not­ing his high rank. He also wears a sur­coat adorned with the Ot­toman crescent over a lux­u­ri­ous caf­tan with match­ing sash, un­der which is pro­tec­tion, con­sist­ing of a com­pos­ite of mail with small plates pro­tect­ing his torso. At his waist is a hawk-han­dled scim­i­tar in a jewelled scab­bard.

which prompted the Euro­peans to call them the ‘Bar­barossa’ (red­beard) brothers. While liv­ing on Les­bos, Oruç had been cap­tured by the Knights of St. John and forced to serve for three years as a gal­ley slave. He es­caped and re­turned to Les­bos with a burn­ing ha­tred of Chris­tians. Shortly there­after, he and Khizr sailed to Tu­nis.

By dint of ex­haus­tive raid­ing, the brothers amassed con­sid­er­able wealth. Dur­ing the pe­riod in which the Span­ish es­tab­lished control of the prin­ci­pal ports of the Maghreb, the Bar­barossas shifted their op­er­a­tions to Djerba, an is­land

480 kilo­me­tres (300 miles) south of Tu­nis with a deep­wa­ter la­goon on the west side that could shel­ter an en­tire fleet. Un­like in Tu­nis, they could op­er­ate in Djerba free of in­ter­fer­ence from lo­cal rulers. Although the heav­ily gunned Span­ish ves­sels that prowled the Bar­bary Coast were too strong for the Bar­barossas to en­gage, they fo­cused their ef­forts in­stead on plun­der­ing ves­sels of Genoa, Tus­cany, Si­cily, Naples and the Pa­pacy.

Oruç thirsted for greater power, and it proved his un­do­ing. When the city of Bougie in cen­tral Maghreb re­quested as­sis­tance in oust­ing the Span­ish, he made an am­phibi­ous at­tack against it in Au­gust 1512. While lead­ing a charge through a breach in the city’s walls, his arm was torn off by a can­non­ball.

Oruç re­ceived a sil­ver pros­thetic arm, and he con­tin­ued fight­ing the Span­ish in the hope of carv­ing out his own fief­dom. He cap­tured the an­cient Maghreb cap­i­tal of Tlem­cen in 1516, but the Span­ish viceroy of Oran, Diego de Vara, re­took it after a six-month siege. Oruç fled with his fol­low­ers, but the Span­ish over­took them and slaugh­tered them. De Vara sent Oruç’s skull and crim­son cloak to Spain, where they were dis­played in Cór­doba Cathe­dral. Fol­low­ing his brother’s death, Khizr Bar­barossa be­came the top sea wolf in the Mediter­ranean Sea.

“WHILE LIV­ING ON LES­BOS, ORUÇ HAD BEEN CAP­TURED BY THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN AND FORCED TO SERVE FOR THREE YEARS AS A GAL­LEY SLAVE. HE ES­CAPED AND RE­TURNED TO LES­BOS WITH A BURN­ING HA­TRED OF CHRIS­TIANS”

Bey of Al­giers

Re­al­is­ing he was out­gunned by the Span­ish with their royal gal­leys and near-im­preg­nable pre­sid­ios, Bar­barossa sent an en­voy to Ot­toman Sul­tan Se­lim I with an ap­peal for pro­tec­tion. Se­lim agreed in 1519 to ac­cept Al­giers as a san­jak, or prov­ince, in ex­change for mil­i­tary sup­port. This el­e­vated Bar­barossa to the post of bey of Al­giers. He re­ceived 2,000 janis­saries and 4,000 other troops, as well as ar­tillery, to form the ini­tial core of his pro­vin­cial army. The fol­low­ing year Sul­tan Suleiman I suc­ceeded Se­lim. He kept a watch­ful eye on Bar­barossa to see how well he per­formed his du­ties.

Bar­barossa had a broad chest, thick beard and dark, pierc­ing eyes. He could be as bru­tal and sadis­tic as his late brother Oruç, but he also pos­sessed sharp po­lit­i­cal skills. Un­like Oruç, Khizr had no de­sire to carve out his own fief­dom – he was en­tirely de­voted to the Ot­toman sul­tan. The most press­ing prob­lem he faced as bey of Al­giers was how to drive the Span­ish from the pre­sidio that con­trolled Al­giers har­bour.

In Au­gust 1519, King Charles, who had been elected Holy Ro­man em­peror two months ear­lier, dis­patched the viceroy of Naples,

Hugo de Mon­cada, with a Span­ish fleet of 40 ships and 5,000 troops against the port-city of Al­giers. The Span­ish still held their pre­sidio, known as the Peñón of Al­giers, sit­u­ated on a small islet 275 me­tres (300 yards) off­shore from the pic­turesque port-city. Bar­barossa re­pulsed Mon­cada’s at­tempts to storm the port-city. A fierce gale also arose that wrecked 26 of the 40 Span­ish ships. Mon­cada had no choice but to with­draw, leav­ing the Ot­toman cor­sairs in pos­ses­sion of the city.

Rest­less Ber­bers who were dis­grun­tled by the pres­ence of the cor­sairs in Al­giers re­volted in 1524, driv­ing Bar­barossa out. He re­turned to Djerba, from where he could con­tinue raid­ing Span­ish and Ital­ian ship­ping and also launch am­phibi­ous as­saults to cap­ture the re­main­ing Span­ish pre­sid­ios scat­tered through­out the Maghreb. By that time, Bar­barossa had 40 cap­tains serv­ing un­der him.

Bar­barossa bided his time, wait­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to Al­giers. He made his move in May 1529 when he landed with troops and ar­tillery and re­took the city of Al­giers. He in­tended, upon re­cap­tur­ing the city, to

Por­trait of Hayred­din Bar­barossa from the 16th cen­tury

The swift-mov­ing Ot­toman gal­le­asses and gal­liots swarmed the sail-driven Holy League ships at the Bat­tle of Preveza when the wind dropped

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