Movie Characters Inspired by Ottoman Pirates: Barbossa, Hook

Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha

Pirates of the Caribbean, was award winning movie by Disney pictures, made its mark into the film history by either its atmosphere and characters. And a character  Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) appears as one of the fictional characters in the movie and it exactly matches “the pirate image” on our minds.

Have you ever wondered where that usual pirate image come from?

Answer is mostly the mediterranean pirates. In the history, they varied from mediterranean nationalities like Spanish, Venetian, Genoese …etc. But they always wear eyepatches or wooden legs with an implemented hook in their hands.

Considering his name “Barbossa”, one can easily realize that it is a known italian word “Barbarossa” (RedBeard) who belongs to only one person in the history: Admiral Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha.

Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa Character

His name was originally “Hızır” and born in the 1470s on the island of Midilli (Lesbos) to their Muslim Turkish father, Yakup, and his Christian Greek wife Katerina. He was grown up with his 3 brothers: Oruc, İlyas, İshak. All four brothers became seamen, engaged in marine affairs and international sea trade. The first brother to become involved in seamanship was Oruç, who was joined by his brother Ilyas. Later, obtaining his own ship, Hızır also began his career at sea. The brothers initially worked as sailors, but then turned privateers in the Mediterranean to counteract the privateering of the Knights of St. John of the Island of Rhodes.

The fame of Oruç Reis with his brothers increased when between 1504 and 1510 he transported Muslim Mudejars from Christian Spain to North Africa. His efforts of helping the Muslims of Spain in need and transporting them to safer lands earned him the honorific name Baba Oruç (Father Aruj), which eventually – due the similarity in sound – evolved in Spain, France and Italy into Barbarossa (meaning Redbeard in Italian).

In May 1518, Emperor Charles V arrived at Oran and was received at the port by Sheikh Buhammud and the Spanish governor of the city, Diego de Cordoba, marquess of Comares, who commanded a force of 10,000 Spanish soldiers. Joined by thousands of local Bedouins, the Spaniards marched overland towards Tlemcen. Oruç Reis and Ishak awaited them in the city with 1,500 Turkish and 5,000 Moorish soldiers. They defended Tlemcen for 20 days, but were eventually killed in combat by the forces of Garcia de Tineo. Hızır was wounded by his arm during the battle. After that battle, he replaced his wounded arm with an implemented hook and inherited his brother’s place, his name (Barbarossa) and his mission.

In his developing career, Hızır became the most famous Ottoman Admiral and conquered Algeria. Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha defeats the Holy League of Charles V under the command of Andrea Doria at the Battle of Preveza in 1538.

All the historical facts are acquired by his personal sea logs and his masterpiece “Gazavat-ı Hayreddin Pasha”.

Published in: on December 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm  Comments (5)  
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An Empire Established After a Dream

Turkish Akinci horsemen

It is said that the first Ottomans are actually a late coming Turkish clan which had moved from middle-Asia to Anatolia in the leadership of Ertugrul Gazi.

As tradition has it, on crossing the Central Anatolian Plateau, Ertughrul one day spied a cloud of dust on the horizon. It had risen from the battle near Eskisehir – formerly Dorylaion – which a Seljuk detachment was fighting against Mongol invaders. Ertughrul took an historic decision, although probably
unaware of what its consequences would be. He resolved to intervene in the battle,
thus enabling the apparently losing side to win. That day the Ottomans saved the
Empire of Rum.

To show his gratitude, the Seljuk Sultan Kaihusrev II (Kaikosrau) gave Ertughrul a strip of land encircling the battlefield. The land extended from Eskisehir along the Sakarya (in antiquity: Sangarios) Valley. It corresponded roughly with the Roman province of Bithynia which the Seljuks had taken from the
Byzantines about a century previously.

One night while Osman Gazi (the son of Ertugrul Gazi) was staying over at Seyh Edebali’s dergah whom was his mentor, he had seen a dream. A light coming from Seyh Edebali’s chest was going into his own chest and a tree was raising from his there.The tree’s branches was covering the whole world, people was walking under them, rivers were running. In the morning he asked the seyh about this dream. And the seyh told him that he’s going to be a Bey (Lord) and there will be lots of sultans from his sons, that they will gather a lot of countries between the same borders.

That was the dream which was settled in Osman Gazi’s mind for years. In a short time later he became a Bey after retiring of his father (Ertugrul Gazi) and founded his own feudal state in 1299 in a small town called “Sogut”.

Osman I founded a small empire there, which he called “Memalik Osmanya”, or “The Principality of Osman”. He made Bursa its capital in 1305, captured Gemlik in 1326 and thus laid the foundations of what was to become the Ottoman Empire.

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 8:20 am  Comments (4)