Corsair to Admiral

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Corsair to Admiral

Barbarossa (Red Beard)

Barbarossa was the most feared corsair sailing the Mediterranean Sea during the early 16th century.   He sank ships, seized many Spanish galleons, and attacked coastal castles for the Ottoman Empire. Barbarossa retook Algiers from Spain in 1526.

Originally named Khizr, he was born on a Greek island to a family of sailors.  Khizr began his career as a corsair under his elder brother Oruc.  In 1516 they captured Algiers from Spain and Oruc named himself the Sultan.

After Oruc’s death in 1518, Khizr inherited his brother’s nickname – Barbarossa (Italian for “Red beard”) and received the honorary name Hayreddin.

With his successful pirating exploits and excellence in seamanship, he later became a grand admiral in the Ottoman Navy.  He was also known as Hızır Hayrettin Pasha, the King of the Sea and Pirate of Algiers.

How Many Pirates can you name?


A person who attacks and robs ships at sea. A rogue, scoundrel or lawless adventurer of the sea. Also known as corsair, buccaneer, privateers, raider, rover, marauder, freebooter, picaroon, and sea wolf, among others.

Pirate legends and the allure of pirate treasure made some of the most infamous pirate captains the inspiration for novels, pop culture, and blockbuster movies.

How many real, historical pirates can you name?

Did you have to search to find more than three names?

Barbarossa, Italian for Red Beard, sailed the Mediterranean in the early 16th century as a corsair attacking Spanish galleons and coastal castles.

Blackbeard, born Edward Teach in England, sailed the Atlantic and Caribbean in the early 1700s during the Golden Age of pirates. He joined the Royal Navy and also sailed as a privateer before becoming the most well known pirate captain in the world.

Black Bart, born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy as measured by vessels captured, taking over 400 prizes in his career.