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.