Ali Pasha

BORN c1740, Tepelenė, Southern Arabia - DIED 24 Jan 1822, Ioaninna (near): Monastery of Pandelimonos

Ali Pasha was a leader of brigands in his youth. In 1787 he was appointed as a pasha (governor) to Trikala by the Turks. He managed to extend his power and ruled over a large territory. His ambition was to rule Albania and part of Greece and he was in contact with Napoleon, Nelson and the Tsar. Foreign experts trained his troops and the western powers provided him with modern artillery. He was called the "Lion of Janina" because he was ruthless and clever. In 1809 Lord Byron visited his court in Janina and used the experience in his Childe Harold. Ali Pasha had a harem of over 600 women in Janina and was very wealthy.

In 1812 he bought an alchemical laboratory from Venice because he wanted to find a way to become immortal. When his scientists failed to find it after five years of research he had them hanged.

Ali Pasha went too far and his enemies, some of them robbed of their territories, appealed to the Sultan to remove him from power. As Janina was attacked by the Turks his allies and even his sons abandoned him. He was an old man now and after he was promised a pardon he ordered the castle of Ioaninna to surrender to the Turkish army of 20,000 man. Waiting at the monastery of Pandelimonosfor for his pardon to be read he was killed. His body was decapitated and his head was placed on a silver salver and for three days put on view in the city. Then it was sent to Constantinopel where it reached the Sultan on 23 February and was put on public display outside the Seraglio. The engagement of the Turkish troops in removing Ali Pasha from power helped the Greeks with their struggle for independence.

Related persons
• was visited by Byron, George Noel Gordon
• corresponded with Napoleon I Bonaparte

• Grosskurth, Phyllis, Byron, The Flawed Angel, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1997
• Minta, Stephen, On a Voiceless Shore, Byron in Greece, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1998

Allan, David

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 05 Jan 2022