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Int. J. Middle East Stud.

2 (I971), 219-244

Printed in Great Britain






Machiavelli, in The Prince, compared the Ottoman Sultan's authority with that of the King of France and found the latter wanting. All the Turkish monarchy is governed by one ruler, the others are his servants, and dividing his kingdom into 'sangiacates', he sends to them various administrators, and changes or recalls them at his pleasure. But the King of France is surrounded by a large number of ancient nobles, recognised as such by their subjects, and loved by them; they have their prerogatives, of which the king cannot deprive them without danger to himself.2 Approximately three centuries later it was the Ottoman Sultan who had to contend with unruly magnates. Describing the internal condition of the Ottoman Empire, the British representative at the Porte wrote: It's [sic] Pachas, or Governors of provinces, are yet more independent of the Porte, than were the great barons of the Crown, in the feudal times of Christendom. These Pachas indeed, admit the sovereignty of the Sultan, and even pay large sums of money to His principal Ministers, but they rule despotically in their own provinces, and are restrained from open rebellion more from distrust of each other, than from respect or love towards their Sovereign. It is the policy of the Porte, a weak and desperate policy, to divide these pachas, who are continually at war among themselves, and who lay waste the country which is the scene of their depredations.3 Indeed, in the second half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, Ottoman control over the Balkan provinces was, for the most part, purely nominal. Real power had slipped out of the hands of the Sultan and the central administration into the eager grasp of men of daring and ambition in the provinces who carved out personal domains for themselves and their families. Although we lack a good comparative study of these great permanent provincial
I The research for this article was made possible by grants from the Foreign Area Fellowship Program of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. I am also much indebted to Stanford J. Shaw, Professor of Ottoman History at U.C.L.A., and Robert Lee Wolff, Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard University, who were kind enough to appraise my work and offer valuable suggestions. A Greek version of this article will appear in a forthcoming issue of Thesaurismata,published in Venice by the Greek Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies. 2 The Prince and the Discourses, Modern Library College Editions (New York, I950), 3 PRO, FO 78/40, Drummond to Hawkesbury, 7 June I802. pp. I5-I6.


Dennis N. Skiotis

governors,' for example the Bushatlis in Scutari, Pasvanoglu of Vidin, and Ismail Pasha of Serres, it is probably true that, whatever their different origins and policies, they ultimately owed their success to their local roots and their ability to fulfill local needs.2 In the larger context of the Ottoman Empire, however, the semi-independent principalities they established constituted powerful centrifugal forces that accounted for much of the turbulence characteristic of this period. In general, it was not until the reign of Mahmud II (1808-39) that the rebellious provincial despots were finally suppressed. By all odds, the most important and famous of the Balkan potentates was Ali Pasha of Yannina (1750-1822). At the peak of his power in I812, he was the de-facto ruler of an area with a population of one and a half million, including those portions of present-day Greece and Albania south of a line DurazzoMonastir-Salonica, but excluding Attica and the Islands. The Pasha could field, in a crisis, 40,000 hardy mountaineers, generally considered among the best troops in the Empire. His annual revenues, with those of his three sons (also
I Ottomanchroniclers usually call these provincialdespots miitegallibe (usurpers)or simply hanedan(noble families),while modern scholarstend to classifythem as either ayans (notables) or derebeys(valley lords). However, there is little agreementamong scholars on the exact meaning of the last two terms. Thus, J. H. Mordtmann and

kind in Asia Minor only, the distinction apply the term to rulersof a permanent who ruled autonomousand hereditary being made between these Anatolianderebeys and principalities 'usurpingPashas... in other Ottomanprovinces',which, presumably, Tirsinkli include the Balkans.I. H. Uzun;arilih,in MefhurRumeliAyanlarzndan Ismail, YzlzkOglu Sileyman Agalar ve AlemdarMustafa Pasa [Tirsinikli Ismail Aga, Yilik Oglu SiileymanAga and AlemdarMustafaPasha-Famous Ayans of Rumeli] (Istanbul, and the Balkandespotsayans,and 1942), p. 3, on the otherhand,callsboth the Anatolian BernardLewis, TheEmergence ModernTurkey skirtsthe controversy. of (London, 196I),

B. Lewis, in 'Derebey', Encyclopaedia of Islam: New Edition (hereafter EI2), vol.



p. 44I, notes that 'at times there is no clear distinction' between the Balkan ayans and Anatolian derebeys. For this 'resemblance' see also 'Ayan', in Mehmed Zeki Pakahn, Osmanli Tarih Deyimleri ve Terimleri Sozliugii [Dictionary of Terms and Expressions for and H. Bowen, 'A'yan', El2, Ottoman History], vol. I (Istanbul, I946), pp. 120-2; vol. I, p. 778. H. A. R. Gibb and H. Bowen, in Islamic Society and the West, vol. I, part i (London, I960), pp. I93-4, proceed even further. They define derebeys as Pashas 'that had contrived to defy the government and their rivals long enough to found a dynasty' and after noting that the first derebey families were indeed located in Anatolia, go on to state unequivocally that 'later, Dere-beyis were to appear also in Rumelia and to eclipse in political importance their Asiatic counterparts'. It is evident from the above sampling that depending on the authority selected both derebeyand ayan are used to describe these permanent governors regardless of whether they happen to be in Anatolia or Rumeli. For example, Ali Pasha of Yannina, the subject of this study, is called an ayan by Halil Inalcik, in' Sened-i Ittifak ve GuilhaneHatt-i Hiimayuinu' [The Deed of Agreement and the Imperial Rescript of Giilhane], Belleten, vol. 28 (I964), p. 6Io, and is included among the derebeys by R. H. Davison, Reform in the Ottoman Empire: I856-I876 (Princeton, I963), p. 26. To avoid this confusion, which in the case of the Balkan overlords at least arises from the rather contrived attempts to subsume them under Turkish linguistic and sociological categories, I have preferred to stay on what seems to me to be the more straightforward path of calling Ali 'tyrant' or 'despot' or 'satrap', which is what the majority of his subjects, who were Greek, actually did. 2 L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkans since I453 (New York, I963), p. 2I8.

Ali of Tepelen, 1750-1784


Pashas), amounted to 20,000,000 piastres. He was the biggest merchant and land-

owner in the Balkans, if not the Empire, exercising trade monopolies and possessing approximately one thousand fiftliks (landed estates).I Ali Pasha was the principal defender of the western portion of the Empire during the Napoleonic Wars2 and, in this capacity, corresponded on equal terms with the major statesmen of the era as well as with the crowned heads of Europe. Four of the five major European Powers found it advantageous, at one time or another, to establish consulates in Yannina, his capital. Ali Pasha's involvement in European power politics, his geographical proximity to the West, and his exceptional religious tolerance for a Muslim of that time3
I For only the most recent confirmation of Ali Pasha's primacy among the Balkan satraps see G. L. Arsh, Albaniia i Epir v kontseXVIII-nachale XIX v. [Albania and Epirus at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries] (Moscow, I963), p. 302; for the same judgment by a Turkish historian see Halil Inalclk op. cit. (page 220, note I), p. 6Io. On population, since there are no official Turkish statistics for the Ottoman provinces atthis time, reliance must be placed on European calculations. Contemporary estimates range as low as I,ooo,ooo for the area in continental Greece (bounded to the north by a straight line from the Thermaic Gulf to the Straits of Corfou) where 'the Greek language is in common use', in W. M. Leake, An Historical Outline of the Greek Revolution (London, 1826), pp. 20-I; and as high as 2,ooo,ooo for the mixed Greek and Albanian population under Ali's rule in I820, which would consequently exclude the inhabitants of the Morea, in PRO, CO I36/425, Meyer to Maitland, io Mar. I820. The I 5 million estimate was advanced by J. Bessieres, in Memoire sur la Vie et la Puissance d'Ali-Pacha (Paris, I820), p. 34, often attributed incorrectly to F. C. H. L. Pouqueville. Bessieres' calculations were based on detailed reports of French military intelligence. This estimate is accepted by Arsh, Albaniia, p. 260. Regarding the military forces Ali Pasha was able to raise in I820, see CO I36/14, Maitland to Bathurst, 20 Apr. I820. On Ali's economic policies, besides the relevant chapters in the general biographies, see N. Patseles, He OikonomikePolitike kai ho Ploutos Ale Pasa ton loanninon [The Economic Policy and the Wealth of Ali Pasha of Yannina] (Athens, I 936); A. Andreades, 'Ali Pacha de Tebelin, economiste et financier', Revue des J?tudesGrecques, vol. 25 (19I2), pp. 427-60; and G. L. Arsh, 'K Voprosu ob ekonomicheskoi politike Ali-pashi Ianinskogo' [On the question of the economic policy of Ali Pasha of Yannina], Novaia i Noveishaia Istoriia,

No. 6 (1958), pp. 103-I2.

For Ottoman estimates of Ali's total revenues



piastres were about i8,ooo,ooo French francs of that time), see AE Turquie, 235, Bulletin, I4 Feb. I822, fol. 102. There is disagreement between Turkish and Greek historians regarding the number of fiftliks owned by Ali Pasha. Thus, Halil Inalclk, in 'Arnawutluk' [Albania], EI2, vol. I, p. 657, and M. C. Baysun, in 'Ali Pasa, Tepedelenli', Isldm Ansiklopedisi [in Turkish], vol. I, p. 347, give the number as approximately 200, probably relying on Tarih-i Cevdet [Cevdet's History], vol. xii (Istanbul, A.H. I309), p. 35, and Tarih-i Lutfi [Luftfi'sHistory], vol. I (Istanbul, A.H. 1290), p. 230. But see the list of fiftliks in S. P. Aravantinos, Historia Ale Pasa tou Tepelenle [History of Ali Pasha of Tepelen] (Athens, I895), pp. 6oi-io; and Patseles, Oikonomike Politike, pp. 29-30; and also D. K. Tsopotos, Ge kai Georgoites Thessalias [Land and Farmers of Thessaly] (Volos, 1912), pp. I83-214, all of whom put the number at close to iooo. This last count seems more accurate since in only two of the dozen or so sancaks Ali ultimately controlled and owned lands in (those of Yannina and Avlona) it is certain that he possessed 230 fiftliks.
See BBA, HH, 39051. 2 M. S. Anderson, The Eastern Question: I774-I923 (London, I966), p. 41. 3 Ali Pasha was singularly unconcerned with religious questions except as they related

to politics. When the British agent, Leake, spoke to him of Muhammad, he replied, 'And I too am a prophet at Ioannina', see W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, vol. iv


Dennis N. Skiotis

rendered him a convenient and charming host to any European who chose to visit him. Counting only those who later published their travel experiences, we are able to trace over fifty diplomats, military men, spies, gentlemen of leisure, scholars, doctors, adventurers, renegades, as well as poets and painters, who made the long and arduous pilgrimage to Yannina or other parts of the Pasha's dominions. Their reports, in turn, stimulated a remarkable outpouring of biographies, novels, poems, pamphlets, periodical and newspaper articles, theatrical plays, operas, etc., that deluged the reading audience of Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century. The heroism of the wild and improbable Suliotes, the tragic fate of Kyra Frosyni, and the wretched plight of the inhabitants of Parga were indelibly impressed upon the minds of incredulous Europeans in many a fashionable salon. Ali Pasha thus acquired a place in nineteenth century European literature that is probably unrivalled by any other figure in Ottoman history. While much of this writing is largely dross, one should not overlook the fact that, together with a host of second-raters, Byron, Goethe, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, and Balzac thought him a worthy subject.' The result was, of course, that a legend, full of blood and thunder, grew up around the 'Muslim Bonaparte',2 all but obscuring the man's real importance. Why did Ali capture the imagination of enlightened Europeans? He was the focus of interest of the Romantic current in European thought of the day, the embodiment of everything Oriental and exotic, a real-life character taken out of the more gruesome and gory pages of the Arabian Nights. Ali also attracted attention because he ruled the Greeks, for whose glorious classical heritage most educated Europeans were beginning to feel a strong attachment. However readable these books are, they are rarely history. The handful of travellers that knew the local languages and scrupulously recorded what they saw or were told have left us reports of considerable utility, but they seldom bothered to verify their information. It is, therefore, extremely misleading to rely exclusively on such sources.3 Unfortunately, most of the monographs and
(London, I835), p. 285. His connexion with Bektashism (a pantheistic Muslim sect that took a liberal stand on social issues), noted by J. K. Birge, in The Bektashi Order of Dervishes (London, I965), pp. 72-3, and F. W. Hasluck in Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, vol. ii (Oxford, I929), pp. 537, 588, gave him leverage with both the many Albanians who belonged to the sect, as well as with the Janissary Corps, the real kingmaker in the capital. I Byron, of course, led the way in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Ali Pasha and a fictitious daughter, 'Haydee ', found their way into the Count of Monte Cristo, and Victor Hugo in the Introduction to a collection of his poems, including one based upon an episode of Ali's life, goes so far as to say that Ali was 'le seul colosse que ce siecle puisse mettre en regard de Bonaparte. ..cet homme de genie, turc et tartare a la verite, cet Ali-Pacha, qui est a Napoleon ce que le tigre est au lion, le vautour a l'aigle'. See Les Orientales in UEuvresCompletesde Victor Hugo (Paris, 1829), p. 5. 2 Byron's characterization. See H. Spender, Byron and Greece (London, I924), p. 38. 3 For an informative discussion of travel reports as historical sources, see B. Lewis, 'Some English Travellers in the East', Middle Eastern Studies, vol. iv (I968), pp. 296-

Ali of Tepelen, I750-1784


scholarly biographies on Ali Pasha have done little more, although the archives of every major European Power of the times, to say nothing of the Ottoman Archives, have a vast amount of reliable data on him that has never been unearthed. Moreover, most previous studies have concentrated on Ali the man. As a result, although a good deal is known about his personal characteristics and psychological motivation, considerably less information is available on his policies and the institutional, economic, and social aspects of the state he created. No one, of course, can deny from even a cursory reading of the sources that Ali was ambitious, avaricious, and ruthless. He roasted his personal enemies on the spit or had their bones systematically crushed by his executioners. Entire villages were burnt to the ground and their inhabitants massacred.' Yet Ali is also invariably presented as an enlightened and progressive ruler with a capacity, rare among his caste, to learn and adapt from the modernizing West. Most often mentioned are his achievements in the fields of public order and security, justice, trade and commerce, transportation, and education. lorga writes: There never was anyone in the Ottoman Empire who combined as did this Tosk of Tepelen, such ferocious energy, such absolute scorn for human life, such insatiable avidity and such subtle treacherywith a very high intelligence,an outstandingtalent for manipulatingpeople and a real understandingof the necessityfor a new civilization for the peoples of the decayingEmpire... In the tyrant of Yannina,who will never be
315. For our purposes, the most reliable sources of this kind are: W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, 4 vols. (London, I835); Guilluanmede Vaudoncourt, Memoirs on the Ionian Isles... including the Life and Character of Ali Pacha, the Present Ruler of Greece (London, I816); H. Holland, Travels in the Ionian Isles (London, 18I5); T. S. Hughes, Travels in Sicily, Greece and Albania, 2 vols. (London, I820); and Bessieres' Memoire, previously cited. The works of F. C. H. L. Pouqueville, French consul in Yannina from I806-13: (i) Voyage en Moree, 3 vols. (Paris, I805); (2) Voyage de la Grece, 6 vols. (Paris, I826-27); (3) Histoire de la Regenerationde la Grece, 6 vols. (Brussels, I843), though a mine of information on Ali, must be used with selectivity and caution as his narrative fairly teems with romantic exaggerations and purple patches. Besides the numerous early biographies, all largely based on Pouqueville, of which the best-known are Alphonse de Beauchamp, Vie d'Ali Pacha (Paris, i822), and R. A. Davenport, The Life of Ali Pasha (London, I837), the single work that has most influenced subsequent writing on Ali Pasha is Aravantinos' Historia Ale Pasa, previously cited. In addition to a critical examination of most of the travellers, Aravantinos used Greek chronicles and other local documents. Ahmed Miifid's Tepedelenli Ali Papa: I744-I822 (Istanbul,A.H. 1324), the only study in Ottoman Turkish, is little more than a condensation of Aravantinos. Both A. Boppe, L'Albanie et Napolion (Paris, 1914) and G. Remerand, Ali de Tebilen: Pacha de Janina, I744-I822 (Paris, 1928), draw on French diplomatic papers. But Boppe's subject is limited to the period suggested in his title, and Remerand's usefulness is diminished by the almost complete lack of references to the documents. A good, though very brief, survey of British relations with Ali is J. W. Baggally, Ali Pasha and Great Britain (Oxford, 1938). The best study, though not all of it devoted to Ali, is the previously cited work by Arsh, Albaniia..., which makes extensive use of Russian archival materials casting ample light on that side of Ali's foreign relations. Among popular biographies, W. Plomer's, Ali the Lion (London, 1936), is undoubtedly the most authentic and readable. I The cases of the villages Hormovo and Gardiki, destroyed in I784 and 1812 respectively, come readily to mind.


Dennis N. Skiotis

forgotten for his crueltiesas well as for the grandeurand pomp of his reign, there no doubt existed something which calls to mind Skanderbeghimself and the whole long series of Albanianchieftains,whose mission seemed to be the preservationof a place for the West in the BalkanPeninsula. Even Finlay, certainly no admirer of the Pasha, was constrained to admit that 'as the destroyer of a legion of tyrants, he was considered a benefactor by a suffering people', and that 'he was spoken of as a hard man, but a just Pasha'. It is only recently that scholars have begun to see the importance of the ambivalence between Ali the man and Ali the ruler and to offer an explanation for it. For the history of Ali Pasha's principality, which is in reality the history of mainland Greece for the thirty critical years before I82I, is intimately connected with the rise of Greek and, to a much lesser extent, Albanian nationalism. It is by no means fortuitous that the Pasha's momentous conflict with the Sultan in I820 led directly and naturally to the Greek War of Independence. The pressing need in Balkan historiography for a scholarly monograph on Ali Pasha based on documentary materials has been noted repeatedly.2 I intend here to examine Ali's origins and especially his rise to power, a period of his life that has never been systematically investigated, although it throws important light on later stages in his development. The most fruitful sources for this part of Ali's career are the Ottoman Archives preserved in Turkey and the State Archives of Venice. Though no longer the dominant seapower in the Mediterranean, the Republic of Saint Mark still held the Ionian Islands, extending in a 300-mile arc from the Albanian coast to Cape Mattapan in the southern tip of the Morea. All the mainland happenings encompassed within these limits were the concern of the Provveditore Generaleda Mar3 who resided in the formidable fortress of Corfou bristling with over 6oo pieces of ordnance. Moreover, Venice had also retained four small but strategic enclaves on the coast of Epirus itself: Parga, Prevesa, Butrinto, and Vonizza-protection against any Ottoman threat to Corfou and a guarantee that provisions from the 1 Quotationsare from: Breve Histoirede l'Albanieet du peupleAlbanais(Bucharest,
1919), pp. 6i-62 (my translation), and History of the Greek Revolution, vol. I (Edinburgh,

i86i), p. 80. 2 On this new attitude, see L. I. Vranouses, Athanasios Psalidas (Ioannina, I952); F. Michalopoulos, Ta Giannena ki' he Neoellemike Anagennese [Yannina and the Modern Greek Renaissance] (Athens, I930); D. A. Zotos, He dikaiosyne eis to Kratos tou Ale Pasa [Justice in the State of Ali Pasha] (Athens, I938). Peter Topping, in 'Greek Historical
Writing on the Period I453-1914', The Journal of Modern History, vol. 33 (I96I), p. I65,

states that 'A modern account of the famous vizir is a primary desideratum of Greek, Turkish, and Balkan historiography.' For a similar view by a Greek scholar, see N. B. Tomadakes, 'He 28e Oktobriou 1940 en shesei pros ten anthesin ton grammaton en Epeiro pro tou hierou agonos' [The 28th of October in relation to the flowering of letters in Epirus before the sacred war], Epistemonike Epeteris tes Philosophikes Scholes tou
Panepistemiou Athenon, vol. xi (1960-I),

p. 63 and n.

This official was the Supreme Naval Commander in the Levant and GovernorGeneral of the Ionian Islands. For his monitoring of the Turkish mainland, see ASV, Provv., Filza I003, Relazione dell Eccmo Sig Fran Grimani Provv Gnl da Mar all Eccmo
Sig Alvise Contarini suo successore,
31 Aug. 1761.

Ali of Tepelen, I750-I784


mainland would reach the Islands, which could not sustain more than a third of their population from local agricultural production.' Consequently, the Venetians took special pains to be well informed on Epirote affairs, as these were vital to their security and continued prosperity in the Levant. Ali was born in Tepelen, 'the capital of the Tosks',2 a small village in Albania some twenty miles to the north of Argyrocastro, where his family had been established for at least four generations. The first member of the family to achieve any prominence was Ali's great grandfather, Mustafa or Moutzo Housso, as he was known to the Albanians, who acquired a certain degree of notoriety as a brigand leader in the region towards the end of the seventeenth century. From then on, in fact, the entire family came to be known as the 'Moutzohoussates'. Moutzo Housso also acquired the title of Bey and quite possibly held the administrative post of miitesellim(deputy governor) of Tepelen, and his exploits are sung in the folk ballad which begins: Metsoisios in the mountains, high on the mountainpeaks, Gatheredyoung klephts about him, Albanianlads were they all.3 Mustafa or Moutzo Housso had two sons, Muhtar Bey (Ali's grandfather) and Bekir Bey. They, like most Albanian Muslim Beys of lesser or middle rank, were active as brigand chieftains. In such a nearly anarchic society the lesser Bey, if only to ensure his survival, maintained as large a body of fighting men as possible, and as the revenues from his land and flocks were relatively meager the only way to compensate his followers adequately was to lead them in successful forays against his neighbors. An Ottoman document of I712 refers to them as
PRO, FO 42/2, Spiridion Foresti to Grenville, 28 May 1795. Kosma tou Thesprotou, 'Perigraphe Geographike Albanias' [Geographical Description of Albania], Geographia Albanias kai Epeirou [Geography of Albania and Epirus], ed. A. H. Papacharises (Ioannina, I964), p. 20. 3 Albanian historians, in Historia e Shqipgrise[History of Albania], vol. I (Tirana, I959), p. 433, claim Ali was actually born in Be9isht, a small suburb of Tepelen (Tepedelen in Turkish). Tepelen and its environs constituted a nahiye (administrative sub-district) of the sancak of Avlona (BBA, Cevdet T, 497I, 2710, 2699). According to Miifid, Tepedelenli Ali, p. 32 (see also the genealogical table, p. I 92), Ali's earliest known ancestor was a Mevlevi dervish, Nazif, originally from Kiitahya in Asia Minor, who settled in Tepelen at the beginning of the seventeenth century; in succession after Nazif came Hiiseyin, Mustafa, Salih, Muhtar, and Veli, who was Ali's father. Aravantinos, Historia, pp. I-2, claims that Hiiseyin was the first to come from Asia Minor and moreover shows Mustafa as the father of Muhtar, omitting Salih altogether (p. 4). On the latter point, Aravantinos is correct (BBA, Cevdet D, 11047). In $emseddin Sami, 'Ali Papa, Tepedelenli', Kamus al-a'ldm [Dictionary of proper names], vol. iv (Istanbul, A.H. 131 ), p. 3190, Ali's grandfather is incorrectly given the name of the grandson. However, Hughes, Travels, vol. n, p. i oo n, who examined Ali's origins thoroughly, is of the opinion, as are most the other travellers, that Ali's ancestors were native Christian feudal lords who converted to Islam as did many of that class. On the Moutzohoussates, see Leake, Travels, vol. I, pp. 4I-2. We can be certain that Moutzo Housso became a Bey because his sons inherited the title, see BBA, Cevdet D, 11047. It is Miifid, p. 32, who asserts that he also held the post of mitesellim. The ballad appears, in Greek, in P. A. Aravantinos, Sylloge Demodon asmaton tes Epeirou [Collection of Folk Songs of Epirus] (Athens, i88o), No. 3I, p. 27 (my translation).


Dennis N. Skiotis

'the well-known brigands', and charges the local authorities of the sancak (province) of Delvino with their capture and elimination.I Muhtar Bey evidently received a pardon in order to participate in the war that the Ottomans launched against Venice in the summer of I7I5. According to Hatze Sehretes, one of Ali's Albanian courtiers who composed a long verse account that Leake called 'the most authentic memoir of the life of Ali which can be procured', Muhtar Bey met a glorious death the following year in the desperate Ottoman attempts against the fortress of Corfou, brilliantly defended by Marshall Schulenburg. It is for this reason that Muhtar Bey is referred to as fehid (martyr of the faith) in the Ottoman sources.2 Muhtar's son, Veli Bey, and the latter's cousin Islam Bey, did not succeed in avoiding the family quarrels so typical of the Muslim Albanian 'nobility', essentially motivated by the desire for economic advantage and centered largely over division of the patrimonial property. We are told by a Greek chronicler that the House of the Moutzohoussates held a number of Albanian Christian villages, Hormovo, Lambovo, Lekli, and Rendi (in the area of 'Riza') under some kind of feudal tenure whose exact terms are not specified. Hormovo was the largest and wealthiest of the villages and, more important, the ferocious mountaineers who lived there were a priceless asset in the interminable wars raging in Albania between the various Beys, clans, tribes, and semi-independent townships.3 IslAm Bey was so successful in these struggles that in I752 the Porte found it expedient to elevate him to the rank of mtr-i mzrdn(Pasha of two horse-tails) and appoint him mutasarrzf(governor) of the sancak of Delvino. But Islam Pasha's harsh rule and exorbitant taxation led to repeated complaints by the oppressed inhabitants of the sancak, supported by the local kadi (judge), and he was dismissed from his post after a few months.4 Veli Bey's ceaseless efforts to acquire the sole management of the House of the Moutzohoussates culminated in a vicious attack in the summer of I759 against
I BBA, Cevdet D, 11047. This type of brigand should not be confused with the Christian klepht discussed below. The distinction is that between 'landlords' bandits' and 'peasant bandits' made by E. J. Hobsbawm, in Primitive Rebels (New York, I 965), p. 13. 2 See Hatze Sehretes, 'He Alepasias', Historikai Diatribai, ed. K. Sathas, Part 3 (Athens, 1870), p. I32. Sathas published most of the MS which carries the story to I8I2 (over 0o,ooo verses) now located in the National Library in Athens; and Leake, who acquired another copy of the MS (but one which covered events only to 1804) included portions of it in his Travels, vol. I, pp. 463-97. Despite the poet's flattery, this much neglected source is of great value, as the poet is well informed and has made an accurate record of events, including many good analyses of the motivations of the principals. There is another more legible copy of the MS in the Gennadeios Library in Athens, which differs in minor respects from the one in the National Library. 3 On these conflicts in Albania, see Finlay, History, vol. I, pp. 44-5. For the villages under the Moutzohoussates, see ' Chronikon Anekdoton Epeirou' [Unpublished Chronicle of Epirus], ed. K. Sathas, in Pandora, vol. xv (I864), p. 263, very informative on Ali's ancestry and early life. Most Greek historians attribute this chronicle to G. Tourtoures, one of Ali's Greek advisors. The' Riza' area included other villages as well. See A. Psalida, ' Perigraphe Geographike tes Epeirou' [Geographical Description of Epirus], Geographia, ed. A. H. Papacharises. 4 BBA, Cevdet D, I7006.

Ali of Tepelen, 1750-1784


IslAm Pasha, whom he killed and whose feudal residence he burned, after seizing all his possessions.' In October I762 Veli Bey's power was recognized by the Porte and he, like his cousin earlier, was promoted to mzr-i mzrdnand assigned the post of mutasarrif of Delvino. But Veli Pasha's rule over Delvino was even briefer than that of his cousin, and it seems that he died very shortly thereafter, at which time rapacious neighbors usurped most of his former lands and wealth.2 Clearly then, despite the belittling of Ali Bey's lineage by his biographers,3 he was a member of the first-rank Muslim Albanian aristocracy. Not only were both his father and uncle Pashas, but they served as provincial governors as well. In a report written by a former Greek primate of Argyrocastro for the use of the Hapsburg Court, Ali was described as a descendant of 'the noblest family of the Tosks and one of the first families in the whole of Epirus'.4 The young Bey received formal instruction in the tenets of his religious faith, the art of government, and in the Turkish and Greek languages. But like most exceptional men destined to find a place in history, he was, according to a contemporary, a poor student who much preferred the outdoors and practice with the musket and giatagan (sabre) to his tutor's discourses.5
BBA, Cevdet Z, 102. BBA, Cevdet D, 14418; and ASV, Provv., I007, Contarini to Doge, 25 Dec. 1762, from which we learn that Veli Pasha arrived in Delvino in Dec. at the head of 2000 men. On Veli's being a Pasha, see also 'Chronikon Anekdoton', 263; Hatze Sehretes, I30 et passim; 'Historika Epanorthomata' [Historical Rectifications], ed. G. Kremos, Parnassos, vol. vII (1883), 950 (a chronicle generally attributed to G. Oikonomou); Genealogied'Ali Pacha, No. I8 of Collection de Monumentspour servir a l'etude de la Langue Neo-Hellenique (Paris, I871), ed. E. Legrande, p. 9. A Veli Pasha is also shown as mutasarrif of the sancak of Avlona, in February 1763, who is most probably the same person (BBA, MD,
I 2

3 Aravantinos, Historia, pp. 6 and n. and 7, asserts that neither Islam nor Veli was ever a Pasha. The Ottoman chroniclers and reference works, which are not very reliable on the numerous Pashas of Albania, make the same error. See Tarih-i Cevdet, vol. xii, p. 34, and Mehmed Siireyya, 'Ali Pa?a', Sicill-i Osmani [Ottoman Register], vol. III (Istanbul, A.H. 131 I), p. 558. Miifid, p. 34, shows Veli as a Pasha, but with the position of miitesellimof Tepelen. M. C. Baysun op. cit. does the same. 4 'Perigraphe tes Bor. Albanias kai tes Bor. Epeirou apo to G. Demetriou ex Argyrokastrou (1783)' [Description of Northern Albania and Northern Epirus by G. Demetriou of Argyrokastron], trans. and ed. G. Laios, in Epeirotike Hestia, vol. v (1956), p. 650 n. A most valuable source by a knowledgeable contemporary, only recently made available to students of Ali and Epirus through the research of Mr Laios in the Austrian Archives. The opinion of Leake, Travels, vol. I, p. 6i, and Aravantinos, Historia, p. 476, that Ali might have belonged to the Liape tribe of Albanians rather than the Tosk, must, therefore, be rejected. 5 According to Leake, Travels, vol. I, pp. 37-8, Ali could read and write Greek as well as read Ottoman Turkish in addition, of course, to his native Albanian, which at that time was only a spoken language. In the course of my research I have found a number of documents with annotations in the margins in Greek that appear to be in Ali's own hand. One such document was published by Miifid, p. 5. On Ali as a pupil, see Pouqueville, Histoire, vol. I, p. 13, who quotes Jer6me de la Lance, an Italian who had sought refuge near Veli Pasha and 'practised' medicine in Yannina until i 8o6. Also Hughes, Travels, vol. II, p. 102.
I5 MES 23

I63, p. 65).


Dennis N. Skiotis

There is no doubt that young Ali held in high respect his widowed mother, Esmihan Hanlm (Hamko in Albanian), herself the daughter of a Bey of Konitsa and a woman of extraordinary character. When reminiscing in old age, Ali Pasha often recalled that he owed all to his mother, who made him both 'a man and a Vizier'.' It was his mother who arranged a politically astute marriage for him with Ummiigiilsiim, daughter of the powerful Kaplan Pasha of Argyrocastro.2 Hamko's ferocious and indomitable temperament (she did not hesitate personally to lead her feudal contingents into battle) inspired her only son to revive the political amd material fortunes of the Moutzohoussates. This goading of the fatherless Ali to make his mark on the world may well have fed his resentment towards traditional society, and might offer some insight into his later readiness to change the status quo and introduce a new institutional and social order in the areas he governed.3 It is perhaps at this stage that we should examine the controversial question of Ali's date of birth. Pouqueville and Ibrahim Manzour Efendi put it at approximately 1740, and nearly all the subsequent reference works and biographies have uncritically accepted this estimate. Nevertheless, the great amount of published contemporary evidence clearly indicates I750 as a much more likely date, and it is surely a tribute to Pouqueville's scholarly reputation that, though heavily outnumbered, he carried the day.4 Since then, additional materials have been
Pouqueville, Histoire, vol. I, p. 15. The date of the marriage is unknown. Aravantinos, Historia, pp. 23-4, relying on Pouqueville, Histoire, vol. I, pp. 20-2, puts it at 1768. Both writers proceed to show how Ali consequently intrigued with the Porte and succeeded in having his father-in-law executed for treason because he would not participate in a campaign against the rebellious Montenegrins. But numerous Ottoman documents (for example: BBA, Cevdet D, 4944, 927, 17Io5, Cevdet Z, 242) show that Kaplan Pasha was executed in very early I766 for having committed the usual offenses (theft of tax moneys, murder of his rivals, etc.), while mutasarrif of Delvino in the year 1763 (BBA, MD, I63, p. II2; Cevdet D, 15547; Cevdet M, 7293, 2947I), and there is no evidence that Ali had any part in this affair. P. A. Aravantinos, in Chronographia tes Epeirou [Chronicle of Epirus], vol. I (Athens, i856), p. 26 , gives the marriage date as I764, which would be consistent with all the other writers' view that Kaplan Pasha was living when Ali married his daughter. There is, however, no compelling reason in the form of documentary evidence to assume that Ali must have married before Kaplan Pasha's death. In fact, if his sons' age is any indication, it appears quite possible that the marriage occurred some time after 1770. Finally, all the sources, excepting Miifid, Tepedelenli Ali, p. 42, and Remerand, Ali de Tebelen, p. 20, give the name of Ali's wife as ' Emine', but there is no doubt it was, in fact, Ummugiilsuim, as inscribed on her tombstone. See Christos Soules, 'Tourkikai Epigraphai loanninon' [Turkish Inscriptions of Yannina], Epeirotika Chronika, vol. VIII (933),

p. 91.
3 For a detailed treatment of this process, see Everett E. Hagen, On the Theory of Social Change (Homewood: Dorsey Press, I962), pp. 82 ff. 4 Pouqueville, Histoire, p. 6; Ibrahim Manzour Efendi, Memoires sur la Grece et l'Albanie (Paris, I828), p. 4; cf. Hughes, Travels, vol. ii, p. 100; Holland, Travels, p. 103; Vaudoncourt, Memoirs, p. 2I7; J. C. Hobhouse, A Journey through Albania, vol. I (London, I813), p. 114; C. Perraibos, Apomnemoneumata Polemika [War Memoirs], vol. ii of ApomnemoneumataAgoniston tou 2I [Memoirs of the Fighters of (i8)2I], ed. E. G. Protopsaltes (Athens, I956), p. 70.

Ali of Tepelen, 1750-1784


published reinforcing the probability of the latter date's authenticity,' and the unpublished documents cited above settle the matter. For the single circumstance that all these contemporary accounts (including Pouqueville) were agreed upon is that Veli Pasha died when Ali was very young. The age most commonly mentioned is thirteen.2 Since we have seen Veli Pasha living in 1762, even should we assume that he died very shortly thereafter, it is still quite evident that Ali must have been born closer to I750 than to 1740. The lack of documentation on Ali's adolescence does not allow one to speak with any authority on the first twenty years of his life. The usefulness of any attempt to combine the various accounts of Ali's early life-and there have been too many-in an internally consistent and coherent narrative is undermined by irreconcilable contradictions and discrepancies. The Reverend T. S. Hughes, who took great pains to reconstruct the story, writes: The earlierpartsof this wild romantichistorynevercan be very accurately and authentically described,since they rest almost entirelyupon oral traditions,or accountswhich have been compiled from those traditions after a long interveningtime: and though I have perusedprobablyfifty of such records,yet I never met with two that agreedwith each other, either in the relation of facts or the developmentof motives.3 It is not the intention here to add yet another 'imaginative reconstruction'. What seems fairly clear-although the sequence of events is uncertain-is that during this period Ali Bey, together with his mother Hamko, fought first to eliminate the challenge to their leadership in the House of the Moutzohoussates. In this effort they were completely successful and murdered both Islam Pasha's widow and children and Ali's step-brothers.4 They were much less successful, however, in resisting the encroachment of neighboring Pashas, Beys, and clans, and were forced to flee from Tepelen, the family's seat of power. Hamko was imprisoned and abused by the unruly Gardikiotes; and Ali himself, who roamed the mountains penniless and desperate, was captured by Kurt Ahmed Pasha of Berat.5 Local tradition abounds with tales of constant warfare where Ali, part

ton Psalidas,Historiates Poliorkias Ioanninon:1820-1822 [Historyof the Siege of Yannina], ed. A. N. Papakostas, reprint from Neos Koubaras, vol. ii (I962), p. 56, which gives it as 1752, and PRO FO 78/44, Morier to Hawkesbury, 30 June I804, also 1752; and AE Turquie, i9i, Henin to Comite de Salut Public, I2 MessidorAn 3 (30 June I795),
which places it sometime

See: 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 645, which puts the date of birth at 1750; A.

between I745-1750.

See Vaudoncourt, Memoirs, p. 217, and especially 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 65o n. 'Ali was still a boy when his father died... when he became I2 years of age he set forth 3 Hughes, Travels, vol. II, p. 93. to assume the management of his House.' 4 'Anekdoton Chronikon', pp. 263-6 and 285-6. 5 Ali's capture by Kurt Pasha is another of these thorny and unresolved problems of his early life. The generally accepted version, again based on Pouqueville, is that he was taken prisoner in 1764, before his marriage and at a time when Kurt Pasha was Derbendler Bafbugu (Guardian of the Passes) and mutasarrif of Avlona. According to Ottoman documents, however, Kurt did not become mutasarrif of Delvino until I771, of Avlona until This discrepancy can only be resolved if we date Ali's capture or connexion with Kurt Pasha much later, in I775, when we know that Ali was in Kurt's service (p. 230 below),

1772, and Derbendler Bafbugu until 1774 (BBA MD, 170, p. 2; 171, p. 76; and I69, p. 77).


Dennis N. Skiotis

feudal Bey, part bandit chieftain, holds his own and ultimately regains control of Tepelen, though not of the adjacent villages.I In sum, Ali served his political apprenticeship in the primitive but complex and hard-hitting school of Albanian tribal politics where, incredible as it may seem, he acquired that quick eye for the key opening that was to make him a match for a Potemkin and even a Talleyrand. Ali's first well-documented enterprise2 occurred in the year I776, when Kurt Ahmed Pasha of Berat was waging war with Mehmed Pasha Bushatli, mutasarrzf of Scutari. The conflict arose when Kurt Pasha, already 'a very powerful man in Turkish Albania', was entrusted by the Porte with the exploitation of the feudal lands belonging to the Sultan's sister, which extended 'over a vast area', from Avlona to the town of Alessio (Lezhe) in northern Albania. These estates, held up to this time by Mehmed Pasha of Scutari under another name would, if they changed hands, have shattered the balance of power between the two Pashas in Albania. Quite naturally, Mehmed Pasha resorted to armed force to maintain his position. In the ensuing contest around Kavaje and Tirana, Kurt Pasha's forces were led in part by young Ali Bey and his kinsman, Islam Bey of Clissura, both of whom distinguished themselves greatly and helped turn the tide of battle in Kurt Pasha's favor.3 The wheel seemed to turn against Ali again after the conclusion of the camor if we accept the view advanced by Vaudoncourt, Memoirs, pp. 222-30, and Hughes,
Travels, vol. II, pp.

I that Ali was captured or otherwise

connected with Kurt not

once but twice, the former instance occurring at some unverified earlier date when Kurt I 'Anekdoton Chronikon', pp. 286-7. was probably no more than a Bey himself. 2 However, there are some tantalizing passages in a number of Venetian documents that might be referring to young Ali but which await corroboration to make absolutely certain. In the spring of 1772 a number of Muslim Albanians under Siileyman Aga of Margariti were engaged in hostilities against the Christian tribe of Suliotes. Frequent mention is made of 'Beys of Tepelen' (ASV Prow., I02I, Mayors of Parga to Querini, I3 April 1772, filed as insert 7 in dispatch of Querini to Doge, 23 May 1772), but it is quite evident that since they are persons of relatively minor importance the Venetians often confuse them with other Beys from other areas. For example, one document (ASV Prow., I02I, Querini to Doge, 10 June 1772) speaks of 'Silam' Bey of 'Tepeteni', 'Saglian' Bey, and Ali Bey of Clissura, while the report from which this information was extracted (Provv. of Santa Maura to Querini, 31 May 1772, filed as insert No. 2 to above) refers to 'Assulam' Bey of Clissura and Ibrahim Bey of Tepelen, etc. Since we know that Ali of Tepelen was, later in 1775, fighting alongside his kinsman, Islam Bey of Clissura, and since these two proper names and place names are juxtaposed quite frequently in the above documents, it is possible to make an educated guess and hazard the opinion that Ali of Tepelen participated in this war of I772 against the Suliotes. From another document (ASV, Provv., 1024, Renier to Doge, 27 June I773), we are informed that great numbers of Albanians led by ' Velli Passa di Zepeleni' and the Turkish' Sagiambej' of Clissura (the same combination again), were threatening Yannina and Arta and intended to march south to Xeromero. Since the collective weight of the available evidence clearly shows that Veli was long dead by this time (p. 229 above), it is extremely probable, barring the marvellous, that this last document does indeed refer to Ali and Islam Bey of Clissura. (My guess is that the dispatch writer simply omitted the son's name when transcribing from their various agents' reports; unfortunately, the relevant inserts are missing in this Filza.) 3 For quotations, and the conflict between the two Pashas, see ASV Provv., I026, Renier to Doge, 14 May 1775. On Ali's role, see 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', pp. 648-9 n.

Ali of Tepelen, 1750-I784


paign, as he fell out with Kurt Pasha, probably over the division of the spoils, and resumed his desultory struggle. But although the immediate material returns to the youthful mercenary were slim, he had acquired something far more important in the long run-a solid reputation as a pallikar (warrior) of the first order who was so bold as to measure himself against the most powerful Pasha of Albania and Rumeli. The opportunity Ali sought was not long in appearing. Towards the end of 1778 Kurt Pasha was disgraced as a result of the intrigues of Mehmed 'Kalo' Pasha of Yannina; he was dismissed from both the post of mutasarrif of Avlona and that of DerbendlerBafbugu (Guardian of the Passes) of Rumeli. Mehmed 'Kalo' Pasha was nominated for Avlona, and a native Turk from Farsala (;atalca in Turkish) in Thessaly, known as (atalcali Haci Ali Pasha and serving as muhafiz (custodian) of Euboea (Agriboz), succeeded Kurt Pasha in the Derbends.2In view of (atalcah Haci Ali Pasha's ignorance of conditions in western Rumeli and Albania and the scorn and condescension with which the 'haughty', 'ignorant', and 'lazy'3 Turks were regarded by the Albanian pallikars, the Pasha turned to Ali Bey and appointed him his kdhya (deputy) in order to ensure the successful accomplishment of this assignment.4 The Albanian Bey could control the brigands in Rumeli with an iron hand, and at the same time it was not likely that he would come to terms with Kurt Pasha, who was exerting every effort to recover his favor at the Porte. As was usually the case with Turks in positions of provincial administration in Rumeli, (atalcali Haci Ali Pasha preferred to remain in security behind the fortress walls of Chalkis in Euboea, letting his kdhya risk his life in the rugged mountains of Rumeli enforcing law and order.5 From Ali Bey's point of view, there was nothing he fancied more than being allowed a free hand. Of course, given Kurt Pasha's opposition, this command could very well have become the grave of his reputation. But even at this time he must have been keenly aware of the tremendous advantages accruing to the occupant of the post of DerbendlerBaibugu. This office held the key to power in
I See 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', pp. 645, 649-50 n. Also PRO, FO 78/44, Morier to Hawkesbury, 30 June 804. 'Rumeli' is used here in a regional rather than in the Ottoman administrative sense. To the Greeks of the eighteenth century it meant the mainland north of the Morea, from Attica to Bulgaria and from the Straits to Albania. 2 BBA, HH, 57874, 57875; Bessieres, Memoire, p. 2; 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', pp. 644-5; and A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, 'Thessalika Semeiomata' [Thessalian Notes],

Epeteris Parnassou, vol. vi


pp. I43-4.

Finlay, History, vol. I, p. 50. Most of the Turks in Greece had settled in the choice, fertile areas east of the Pindus range, especially in Thessaly. 4 ASV, Prow., I03I, Barozzi to Nani, i6 Nov. 1778, filed as Insert No. i to dispatch of AE Turquie, 220, 'Traduction d'un memoire Genealogique de Tepedelenlu AliPacha, Charge par Interim du Gouvemement de L'Epire, a Sa Hautesse', 4 Dec. I8Io, fol. 382. One of a number of memoirs of Demetrios Palaiopoulos, a former Greek primate of Karpenisi, submitted to Sultan Mahmud II, informing him of Ali's achievements, current ambitions, and the threat he represents to Ottoman interests. (Hereafter 'Palaiopoulos-Memoire '.)

Nani to Doge, 29 Dec. 1778.


Dennis N. Skiotis

Albania and Rumeli, and it was Ali's later uninterrupted tenure of this particular post from I787 to I82o that constituted the essential foundation of his dominion in the regions he governed.' It is therefore significant and curiously appropriate that the first official position Ali held in Ottoman provincial administration lay in this very area of responsibility. What exactly was the all-important position of DerbendlerBa?buku?It should be stressed at the outset that the much-vaunted system of communal administration in the Greek provinces had never enjoyed the degree of success north of the Isthmus of Corinth that it did in the Morea. In the north the primates shared power with the armatoloi (men at arms), a kind of Christian militia, licensed by the Ottomans to bear arms against the bands of klephts (brigands) that infested the wilds of Rumeli. It would be difficult to overemphasize the nature of the problem these klephts posed to the Porte in the period of the Empire's decline. The Ottoman and the Venetian documents for this period tell a depressing story of ceaseless murder, rapine, and pillage and convincingly demonstrate that under whatever name the klephts were known, efkiya, hayduks, or ladri, they were the veritable scourge of the Balkans, who made a mockery of law and order in the countryside. Nevertheless, the Christian klepht, although not the Muslim bandit, was often endowed with a Robin Hood aura by the Christians because in a rural, precapitalist society perhaps the most basic form of social protest was that expressed through brigandage. As the brigand's victims were none other than the 'quintessential enemies' of the poor peasant-the Ottoman foreigner, the tax collector, the rich primate, the satisfied priest, the thriving merchant-the brigand was raised by the peasant to the status of avenger and even defender.z Since the armatoloi who were commissioned to hold off and hunt down the klephts were, in fact, enlisted from this latter group, depending on the individual interests and preferences of the local mutasarrzfs,the line of distinction between militia man and bandit was extremely fine. With the notoriously rapid shuffling of official positions by the Porte for its own pecuniary advantage, an armatolos under one Pasha today would find himself a klepht tomorrow under another, as reflected in the well-known lines of the Greek folk song: thirty years an armatolos and twenty years a klepht. Thus, klephts confounded with armatoloi became indistinguishable in the minds of the Greek people, who magnified their exploits and later, when nationalist ideas became prevalent, made patriotic heroes of many of them.
Leake, Historical Outline, pp. 3I-2. For an excellent analysis of the 'social bandit' see E. J. Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels, pp. I2-29. On the klephts and armatoloi in Rumeli, see A. E. Vakalopoulos, Historia tou Neou Hellenismou,vol. i (Thessalonike, I961), pp. 212-17, and vol. II, pt. i (Thessaloni ke 1964), pp. 3I4-36. The most scholarly and up-to-date survey of the history of latande, post Byzantine Hellenism to the end of the seventeenth century. Additional volumes are projected.


Ali of Tepelen, 1750-1784


At the opening of the eighteenth century a number of new proposals concerning them were advanced at the Porte, and some orders actually were issued to alleviate the difficulties inherent in this state of affairs. For example, in I705 there was a plan to subordinate all the armatoloi, in whatever sancak they were active, to a single official whose authority would transcend that of the local mutasarrzfs.' There were orders to replace those of the Christian armatoloi who were unruly with Muslims.2 Finally repeated decrees abolished the armatoloi altogether and ordered instead the ultilization of detachments drawn from the local inhabitants, who were thus made responsible for the security of their own areas.3 None of these official measures bore fruit, however, and the armatoloi remained a force to be reckoned with. Nonetheless, their military primacy was fatally compromised by an unforeseen but steady increase in the power and influence of the Albanian element in Rumeli. Thousands of Albanians had settled in Greece even prior to the Ottoman conquest, and this steady stream was widened by new outpourings which took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.4 In contrast to the sedentary Turks, the warlike Albanians were capable of challenging the armatoloi in the mountainous regions as well as in the plains and valleys. The result was that in a very real sense, a Greco-Albanian condominium was established, exercising military authority over most parts of Rumeli where Ottoman cavalry could not penetrate. There is, however, no convincing evidence to substantiate the generally accepted view that it was Ottoman policy to replace the armatoloi with Muslim Albanians because of the Russian menace apparent after the Treaty of Belgrade (I739).5 We have seen that the Albanians were introduced into the law enforcement scheme long before this date. Moreover, the Ottomans quickly realized that the Albanians were even more difficult to control than the armatoloi,6 and consequently any such move would be self-defeating. What was finally recognized was the necessity to extend the framework of government to incorporate more effectively all these para-military bodies of Greeks and Albanians. Thus, in 176I, Derbend See CengizOrhonlu,Osmanlz Teskilatz [The Organization Imparatorlugunda of the passes in the Ottoman Empire] (Istanbul, I967), pp. 87-8, the only scholarly monographon the subjectbased on Ottomanarchivalmaterials. 2 I. K. Vasdravelles, Armatoloi kai klephtes eis ten Makedonian [Armatoloi and Ottomandocuments(locatedin variousarchivesin Macedonia),most of which he has in subsequentlypublishedin Greektranslation numerousvolumes.

Klephts in Macedonia] (Thessalonike, 1948), p. 12. The author makes extensive use of

1849), pp. 260-2. Vasdravelles also draws attention to this error in Hoi Makedones Kata ten Epanastasin tou 1821 [Macedonians in the Revolution of I82x] (Thessalonike, 1967), p. i9 n. 6 Orhonlu, p. I32. Vasdravelles, Armatoloi, p. 12 et passim.

HistoriaeByzantinae(Bonn, Scriptorum relying on the 'Chronikon'(of Epirus), Corpus

3 Orhonlu, pp. 89-90, 125-28. See R. L. Wolff, The Balkans in Our Time (Cambridge, Mass., I956), pp. 30-31, and Halil Inalclk, 'Amawutluk', EI2, vol. I, pp. 656-7. 5 See for exampleFinlay,History,vol. I, pp. 25-8. Most of these writersare obviously


Dennis N. Skiotis

the office of DerbendlerBasbugu, with jurisdiction over all local security forces in Rumeli, was created.' The first appointees failed to realize this position's full potential. It was only during the extended tenures of Kurt Ahmed Pasha (I77487) and especially of Ali Pasha (1787-I820) that this post was developed into one which represented the most pervasive and effective military and political power in the area. Besides the obvious advantages, then, of finally becoming a member of the Ottoman 'establishment',z there were two other benefits Ali Bey could reasonably expect to derive from his appointment in 1778, as (atalcall Haci Ali Pasha's kdhya. First, the prestige and the powers of patronage inherent in the position of DerbendlerBasbugu afforded an unparalleled opportunity to establish a valuable network of contacts among the various ba?bugus(leaders) of the Albanian bdliiks (bands) and their Greek counterparts, the kapitanoi of the armatoloi, whose cooperation was indispensable to any exercise of authority in the area. Second, it was possible to acquire great wealth with rapidity and relative safety under the official mantle by both legal and extralegal means; the post's functions have more than once been likened to those of the Chicago style 'protection racket'.3 This meant that not only could Ali Bey hire more mercenaries, if adversity should be his lot once again, but that when the time was propitious he could afford to bribe his way into an official position of some permanence. Ali Bey moved swiftly to eliminate the officials previously appointed by Kurt Pasha in both the military and administrative spheres, and he replaced them with men of his own, selected without regard for religion or nationality, but only for their competence and unswerving personal loyalty.4 In fact, Ali sought to cultivate the Greek armatoloi as well as the Albanian b6liiks, between whom there was, as we have noted, considerable friction. His modus operandi was straightforward but ingeniously designed to curry favor with both groups. In return for a stiff fee, Ali Bey channeled the Albanians who were unwilling to submit to his authority into the Morea. This, it might be added, was in direct contravention to standing orders from the Ottoman capital.5 In this way, both were content; the Albanians were free to plunder and pillage the hapless Morea; and the hardpressed armatoloi were assured some degree of respite in their kapitanata (captaincies). In the five months during which Ali Bey effectively controlled Rumeli as acting DerbendlerBasbugu, he developed a total concentration and centralization
I Orhonlu, pp. I32-3. Similar posts, but of lesser importance, were created in Drama, Plovdiv (Philippopolis), and Skopje. 2 On the Ottoman ruling elite see Stanford J. Shaw, 'The Ottoman View of the Balkans', The Balkans in Transition, ed. Charles and Barbara Jelavich (Berkeley, I963), pp. 58-62. 3 W. Plomer, Ali the Lion, p. 4I. 4 See A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, 'Thessalika Semeiomata', p. 144, 'And then Kurt's men fled like women'; also for Ali's employment of Christians in his service. 5 PRO, SP 97/54, Ainslie to Weymouth, I8 May 1778; 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 645; on orders, see BBA, HH, 1291, 1311, I314.

Ali of Tepelen, 1750-I784


of power in his own hands, imposed an iron discipline over an almost anarchic society, substituted unity for diversity, and established an organized and systematic exaction of heavy taxes from his subjects. The gloomy options open to a cowed and inert populace were a resigned acceptance of the official, predictable tyranny of one man as opposed to indiscriminate, lawless violence; the former was, as usual, deemed preferable. The testimony of Palaiopoulos-who as a primate of Karpenisi in western Greece was a uniquely well-placed observer and who was also perhaps Ali's most inveterate enemy among the Greeks-must be accorded weight in this instance. In a series of memoranda which he submitted later to the Porte (I8I0), outlining ways in which Ali could be destroyed, he touched on the events of this period and grudgingly conceded that: Young Ali, as provisional defender of the passes, concealing his ulterior schemes, effectively used the eight months [actuallyfive] of his administrationto win over by means of astute blandishments,the Beys, ayans, agas and commandingofficersof the neighboringdistricts, as well as the inspectorsand primatesof the villages. He seemed concerned only with establishinggood order everywhereand with ensuring peace for the people.' An example, in some detail, of the manner in which this official extortion was practised is illustrative. In late December 1778 Ali Bey arrived with his Albanians in Missolonghi, ostensibly to collect a debt of 1400 piastres owed to one of his boliikba?zs a certain Michales Avlonites, a sea captain from Lixouri in Cephalby lonia, and hence a Venetian subject. Unable to locate Avlonites in Missolonghi, Ali indiscriminately seized some other Venetian subjects, and when the Republic's consul, Barozzi, protested this breach of good neighborly relations, Ali peremptorily had him arrested as well. At this critical juncture, the proestoi (primates) of Missolonghi attempted to obtain the release of the prisoners by guaranteeing the payment of the debt themselves at the end of a thirty-day period. Ali did not trust them, so, before freeing the prisoners, he sequestered 500 barrels of merchandise belonging to the primates and destined for embarkation on various ships scheduled to sail for the Ionian Islands. It can be taken for granted that this was the last the primates ever saw of their merchandise, despite the subsequent outraged protests of Consul Barozzi to the Provveditore de Mar as well as to Ali's nominal superiors, the Pasha in Euboea and the voyvoda (mayor) of Missolonghi.2 The only estimate of the total amount of money that Ali amassed during his official tenure is provided by Guillaume de Vaudoncourt, a generally reliable observer, who put it at 50,000 piastres,3 an enormous sum for that time. Whatever the actual figure, there can be little doubt that it was considerable. Ali was now able to finance and subsequently mount a full-scale offensive against Kurt Pasha, who had regained the position of DerbendlerBafbugu in March I779 by

fol. AE Turquie, 'Palaiopoulos-Memoire', 382 (my translation).
ASV, Prow.,

3 Memoirs, p. 233.

Nani to Doge,


December 1778.


Dennis N. Skiotis

dint of intrigues and bribery at the Porte.I This short five-month period, then, from November 1778 to March 1779, was the turning point in Ali's career, and as such it was not undetected by the astute Palaiopoulos, who wrote: 'Voila precisement le debut de la fortune d'Ali Pacha...'2 Ali's objective after his dismissal from office was to convince the Porte that Kurt Pasha was unable to enforce law and order in Rumeli. If he succeeded in inflicting a series of defeats on Kurt Pasha's forces, it was reasonable to expect that the Porte would fall back on its standard operating procedure of assimilating the most powerful dissident elements into its administrative structure. We are fortunate to have an eyewitness report of Ali's activity immediately after the loss of his official standing. The Swedish traveller Jacob Jonas Bjornstahl, who was touring Thessaly, informs us that while he was in Trikkala in late March 1779 Ali Bey at the head of 300 Albanians entered the town in good order. The local Ottoman officials and the Greek primates had fled beforehand, while the rest of the inhabitants shut themselves up indoors for two days. Although Ali did quarter his Albanians in various houses in the town, it is significant to note that no excesses were permitted, since he had no intention of harming the townspeople so long as he received his 'protection money', thus emphasizing Kurt Pasha's inability to afford them security. It cost the town of Trikkala 32,000 piastres to see Ali Bey on his way. Here is Bjornstahl's description of the Albanian pallikars as they departed from Trikkala: Finally the Albaniansmarchedout on March 3 . This departuretook place with banners flying, white and green, and markedwith Ali's sword or the Dsalfikar[sic]. They marchedin separatedivisions,the cavalryas well as the foot soldiers. All of them were clad accordingto the customsof their regions;the handlesof their sabreswere of silver; on the remainingarmsthere was also much silver togetherwith other decorations.Last came Ali Bey, their chieftain, a young but powerful man, who carried great weight among the Albaniansand possessed great riches. According to the same source, Ali's Albanians, and there were two or three thousand dispersed in the neighboring towns and villages exacting money, were en route to meet the deposed Pasha, (atalcah Hacl Ali, who had retired to his native Farsala. There they would map out plans for further moves against Kurt Pasha.3

ASV, Provv., 1031, Nani to Doge, 20 Apr. 1779; 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 645. AE Turquie, 220, 'Palaiopoulos-Memoire', fol. 382.


Swedish by Christian Heinrich Groskurd, vol. vi (Leipzig and Rostock, I783), pp. I39Oddly enough, this first eyewitness 42. The quotationis from p. 140 (my translation). who later wrote about him. Although Bj6rnstahl did not identify Ali as the Bey of Tepelen, a careful reading of the relevant passages would have left little doubt (his enmity with Kurt, etc.). Only Holland (Travels, p. I05 and n.) advanced it as a possibility, but enmeshed in the web of his own reconstruction of events, he antedated Bj6rnstahl's encounter with Ali and placed it in the year 1770, 'when he [Ali] was about 20 years of age'. Of course, with the corroborative evidence cited, the identification is now positive. The

See JacobJonas Bj6rnstihl, Briefeauf SeinenAuslandischen Reisen,trans. from the

accountof young Ali by a Westerntravellerhas escapedthe notice of all but one of those

Ali of Tepelen, I750--784


The decision apparently reached was to invest Acarnania next. But even prior to the arrival of the main force under Ali, small bands of his adherents, which had most probably never left the area, were already active there. Siileyman Aga, one of his boliikbafzs,led a group of Albanianpallikars into the town of Missolonghi and extracted 1240 piastres from the inhabitants in the latter part of March. In the beginning of the following month, Ali Bey himself, now referred to by the Venetians as the 'noto prepotente' leader of the Albanians, descended from Thessaly at the head of 4000 men and occupied the town of Vrachori (Agrinion). His intention was to link up with some of the Albanians returning to their homeland after their depredations in the Morea.' Kurt Pasha took energetic measures to counter this potential threat to Epirus. He issued orders to the Greek armatoloi of Acarnania to defend the areas under their control and to prevent Ali Bey's forces from establishing a permanent foot-hold in that province. In addition, the Pasha personally led a large body of troops into southern Epirus and requested the Venetians to withdraw their vessels from the Gulf of Arta so that Ali would be unable to make his way into Epirus by this means.2 The 'disorder all over Rumeli',3 as Barozzi, the Republic's Consul at Missolonghi, reported, was so great by this time that the Porte-which had long intended to dispatch the Kapudan Pasha, CezAyirli Gazi Hasan, to the Morea to suppress the Albanian rebels-now ordered him to proceed there only after re-establishing security in northern Greece. Accordingly, in the summer of I779 Gazi Hasan marched through Serres, Salonica, Katerini, and Larissa, attempting to restore some semblance of order. Just as he was to do later that year in the Morea, he called for assistance from the organized armatoloi and the Greek rdyas (subjects) against the Albanians. The peasants were permitted to arm
'dsalfikar' (ziilfikar) drawn on the banner of the Albanians is the famed two-bladed or cleft-sword of Ali, the fourth Caliph, who is the center of worship for the Bektashis. Thus Ali's connexion with this sect is once again underscored. It might also be mentioned that Ali's great seal bore the inscription in Persian: 'Let there be hope from Ali-Asker', a reference to the above mentioned Caliph and yet another proof of his public profession of Bektashism. See I. H. Uzun9ar?lih, 'Osmanli Devleti zamanmnda kullamlmi? olan bazi miuhurler hakkinda bir tetkik' [A study on some seals used in the time of the Ottoman State], Belleten, vol. iv (I960), p. 522. Ali was especially interested in wandering 'holy men', mostly Bektashis, undoubtedly because of their popularity with the people and their claims to foretell the future. Local tradition abounds with tales of such contacts, including that with the Greek Orthodox Saint Kosmas in I778, who foretold young Ali Bey's future (Hasluck, Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, vol.II, pp. 586 ff.). I On Siileyman Aga, who also quartered his troops in the city, including some in the residence of the again discomfited Consul Barozzi, see ASV, Prow., 1031, Barozzi to filed as Insert No. 7 to dispatch of Nani to Doge, 20 Apr. 1779, Dona (?), 27 Mar. I779, and da Riva to Morosini, 9 Apr. 1779, filed as Insert No. 4 to same. The quotation is from Morosini to Nani, i i Apr. 1779, filed as Insert No. 2 to above. 2 See Inserts 2, 4, in above note. 3 ASV, Prow., I03I, Barozzi to Nani, 7 Apr. 1779, filed as unnumbered Insert to dispatch of Nani to Doge, 30 April 1779. Barozzi himself was forced to flee from Missolonghi and seek refuge in Anatoliko.


Dennis N. Skiotis

themselves and were ordered, together with the local Turks, to exterminate the Albanian marauders. In contrast to what happened in the Morea, however, where Gazi Hasan Pasha, aided by Greek contingents, decisively crushed the Albanian rebels, his campaign in Rumeli accomplished little, and the violence and devastation continued unabated.' Meanwhile, Ali Bey extricated himself from the increasingly untenable position in Acarnania and returned to Tepelen.2 This move reflected his reluctance to engage in combat with Imperial troops led by a high-ranking Ottoman dignitary from the capital, since Ali was at this time negotiating with the Porte for a new post in provincial administration. In Tepelen, Ali limited his objectives to restoring the power his family had once held over the neighboring villages,3 thus procuring a secure power-base within easy striking range of nearby Berat, the seat and nerve-center of Kurt Pasha's power in Albania. In late I779 Ali learned that his repeated demands for promotion and a new assignment had fallen upon deaf ears at the Porte. He rapidly gathered together his feudal levies, Albanian Tosks and Ritsiotes and, brushing aside Kurt Pasha's small garrisons, ravaged the districts of Zagoria and Palaia Pogogiani up to the very outskirts of Yannina. Demetriou, whose memorandum of 1783 to the Austrians was mentioned earlier, concluded his narration of these events with the
statement: 'and this tyranny lasted until

Kurt Pasha, who by no means underrated his redoubtable opponent, husbanded his forces carefully and refrained from large-scale offensive operations, as he was well aware of the hazards of mountain warfare. But the Porte's repeated demands for decisive and immediate action finally left him no choice. In early 1782, despite the rigors of winter, Kurt Pasha led two expeditions into Ali's mountain strongholds. Predictably enough, although he mustered very superior men, including Iooo cavalry, in the first campaign-he was forces-io,ooo mauled near Tepelen on both occasions. Confirmed in his belief that he severely would be unable to gain a decision on a battlefield of Ali's choosing, he decided to interpret the Imperial directives in his own way. He turned to siege warfare, and surrounded the Tepelen complex, blockading the roads and passes leading into it. The change in tactics proved effective. For, in addition to the great difficulties arising from the ensuing shortage of food, the ring of troops encircling Tepelen radically transformed the prospects for easy plunder; and the predatory disposition of Ali's pallikars, who measured loyalty to their leader solely by the
I See BBA, Cevdet D, 4620; AN Aff. Etr., BI., Nauplie, 905 (2), Amoreux to Foreign Minister, 22 May 1776. K. D. Mertzios, Mnemeia Makedonikes Historias [Records of Macedonian History] (Thessalonike, I947), pp. 425-6. Albanians were once again pouring into the Morea in I780, according to PRO, FO 78/I, Ainslie to Hillsborough,

17 February 1780.

'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 645; Bessieres, Memoire, p. 2. 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 645; 'Anekdoton Chronikon', pp. 286-7; Hatze Sehretes, pp. I5I-8. 4 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 645; Hatze Sehretes, pp. 159-60.


Ali of Tepelen, I750-1784


amount of booty acquired under his banner, placed Ali in a gravely menacing predicament. Nevertheless, in early May 1782 Ali Bey once again demonstrated his remarkable mastery of the modalities of klephtic warfare by slipping through the surrounding detachments without being forced into a major battle. Kurt Pasha's failure to destroy him at this critical juncture threw the people of Epirus into an unrestrained panic. Rumors about 'il famoso Ali Bey' of Tepelen, 'Turco potente e di aderenze', as he was invariably described in the Venetian documents, swept Rumeli and the Morea like wildfire. There was indeed general agreement that he contemplated fighting his way south, all the way to the Morea. The usual desire for plunder was, of course, mentioned, but it is interesting to note that Ali Bey was now regarded by his countrymen as the champion who would descend on the Morea to avenge their race for the blood spilled there by the Kapudan Pasha in I779. That Ali Bey had no such self-defeating intention of removing himself from Albania was made crystal clear in his later moves, which were not anticipated by these observers.2 When Ali's men were reported advancing towards the port of Butrinto, defended by Mustafa Pasha Kokka, mutasarrzfof Delvino, Kurt Pasha himself became convinced that Ali's objective was to gain the Morea by means of the easier coastal route. The Pasha promptly dispatched his hazinedar (treasurer) with the main body of his troops-a 6ooo-man corps-to the Gulf of Arta to serve as a blocking force that would pin Ali's irregulars against the sea and destroy them. So confident was he of the success of his battle plan that he even requested the cooperation of the Provveditore of Santa Maura (Leucada) in case Ali should attempt to escape with his raiders by sea.3 By this time Ali counted among his allies, besides the faithful Islam Bey of Clissura, several powerful local chieftains, such as Hasan Aga Chapari of Margariti and the Demoglou of Konispoli in Filates. Moreover, while Ali Bey was skirmishing with Mustafa Pasha Kokka's forces near Butrinto, he attempted 'IPerigraphe-Demetriou', 645-6. Historika vol. ArcheiaMakedonias, ii, Archeion pp.
Veroias-Naouses: I598-i886 [Historical Archives of Macedonia, II, Archive of VeroiaNaousa] (Salonika, I954), p. 219, Doc. 229. The date of the document 'mid Rebiyiilewel 1196' does not correspond with 7 June I782 as indicated in the Greek translation, but with the end of Feb.-beginningof Mar. 1782. 2 Quotations are from: ASV, Prow., 1040, Gradenigo to Doge, ii May I782, and to Gradenigo Doge, 30 May 1782. See alsoAN Aff. Etr., B1,Nauplie,906 (3), Grimaldyto I to Chateauneuf, June 1782, filed as Insert in Chateauneuf Foreign Minister, io June 1782, and K. D. Mertzios, 'Anekdota Historika Stoiheia peri Ale Passa Tepelenle' [Unpublished Historical Data on Ali Pasha of Tepelen], Epeirotike Hestia, vol. inl (I954).

This is a useful collectionof Greektranslations portionsof Venetiandocuments(only of a few are translatedin their entirety) dealingwith Ali Pasha. The collection does not include any documentspriorto 1782, nor any from the dispatchesof the Baili in Constantinople.Similarly,the first referenceto Ali drawnfrom Russianarchivalsources in
3 ASV,

Arsh, Albaniia, p. 134, concerns events of 1782.


to Doge,


May 1782, and 30 May 1782;


Gradenigo to Doge, i i Aug. 1782, and Inserts i and 3 to same; Mertzios, 'Anekdota', pp. 6-7.


Dennis N. Skiotis

to enlist the support of other local Agas as well as that of the Christian Suliotes. Nothing came of these initiatives, however, as Kurt Pasha distributed large sums of money to retain the fidelity of these chieftains. But Ali Bey was reinforced with contingents from a number of smaller villages, including Konispoli and Liopesi, and, towards the end of May, penetrated deep into Epirus, threatening both Arta and Prevesa. Southern Epirus braced itself for an all-out assault; the Pashas of far-away Trikkala and Euboea were summoned to march post-haste to Kurt Pasha's assistance; and the Venetians alerted their garrison in Parga.' It soon became evident, however, that Ali had executed nothing more than a brilliant feint to keep Ismail Aga and his 6ooo-man corps tied down defending the area near the Gulf of Arta while he wheeled rapidly about and marched against Yannina. Once again, he threw his opponents off balance, suddenly changed direction, and fell on the defenseless villages nearby. By mid June Ali Bey had occupied and fortified six of the richest villages in the environs of Yannina, and Kurt Pasha's troops, led by his son-in-law Ibrahim Bey, found it quite beyond their capabilities to expel him. It now appeared that both sides would again resort to the habitual mode of Albanian warfare characterized by endless skirmishing and a strong aversion to close contact with the enemy. But Ali Bey was cut from a singularly different cloth from most of his countrymen and decided to press his initiative. He attacked the enemy, who had sought cover in some of the larger buildings in the village of Radotovi, and after burning down a church with eighteen defenders still trapped inside, he tried to storm a Hani (Inn) manned by some 200 soldiers. They stood their ground well, however, and Ali found it prudent, after suffering about a hundred fatalities, to break off the encounter and return to Tepelen.2 A score of severed 'rebel' heads was sent by Kurt Pasha to Istanbul and exhibited at the Palace gates for three days as 'proof' of Ali's having been 'totally defeated'. This was, of course, a gross misrepresentation. To be sure, the casualties were heavy by Albanian standards, but out of a total force of 4000 men, they were hardly disastrous.3 In strictly military terms, the campaign could properly be described as a stand-off, but to see it in this light alone is to miss the point. For Ali Bey's total objectives were, in large measure, met. He had convincingly
I Historika Archeia Makedonias, vol. II, p. 219, Doc. 229; ASV, Prow., 1040, Gradenigo to Doge, 30 May 1782; I041, Gradenigo to Doge, II Aug. 1782; PRO, FO 78/3,

Ainslie to Fox, 25 June 1782; Mertzois, 'Anekdota', p. 7.
2 ASV, Prow., I041, Gradenigo to Doge, ii Aug. 1782, and Inserts to same; PRO,

FO 78/3, Ainslie to Fox, o1 July 1782; AN Aff. Etr., B1, Nauplie, 906 (3), Grimaldi to Chateauneuf, 24 June 1782, filed as Insert to dispatch of Chateauneuf to Foreign Minister, ii July 1782; Mertzios,

3 The quotations are from PRO, FO 78/3, Ainslie to Fox, o1 July 1782. Ainslie himself was dubious about Kurt's claims and notes that the disorders were not 'totally quieted', nor were Ali's troops 'as yet dispersed . Arsh, Albaniia, p. 134, also makes the point that unrest continued in southern Albania in the fall of 1782.


p. 7.

Ali of Tepelen, 1750-1784


shown that he could break Kurt Pasha's blockade at will, ravage all of Epirus with impunity, and return unmolested with his considerable booty intact to Tepelen. Following the events of the summer of 1782, Venetian respect for Ali's power grew, and a close connexion was established between them as a result of the difficulties the Republic of Saint Mark was experiencing at this time with Mustafa Pasha Kokka of Delvino. This Pasha, together with his sworn enemy, Selim Pasha, also an Albanian from Delvino, had long struggled for primacy in that town. The Porte, adept as always in balancing off rivals to its own advantage, financial as well as political, saw fit to appoint now one, now the other to the post of mutasarrzfof Delvino. This game of musical chairs went on for more than a decade; but after I779 the support of either Kurt Pasha or Ali Bey had become indispensable, so whenever Kurt Pasha backed one candidate, the other looked for assistance to Ali Bay and vice versa.I The Venetians had tended to remain neutral in this local contest, but in August 78 I Mustafa Pasha Kokka overreached himself and seized some lands near the Ottoman-Venetian frontier of Butrinto claimed by the Republic. The various Provveditori protested sharply and vigorously, and the Bailo at Istanbul raised the matter repeatedly with officers of the central administration. A long and tedious correspondence on this 'Butrinto Affair' takes up a large part of the Venetian documents for the years I78I-4.2 But far from obtaining a favorable solution, the Venetians were appalled to see the same Mustafa Pasha Kokka appointed mutasarrif of Delvino in September I782.3 It was at this stage of the 'Butrinto Affair' that Ali Bey was presented with his greatest opportunity to date. Clearly foreshadowing the numerous overtures he was to make later to foreign powers which were in a position to further his aims, Ali did not eschew establishing contact with the Venetians, a highly irregular and potentially dangerous course of action that could easily have been represented by his enemies as treason. But the anticipated gain for Ali far outweighed the risks. In March 1783 he sent his emissaries, five Albanians and a Greek, to Corfou to meet with the Provveditore de Mar, Alivize Foscari. At the meeting, gifts were exchanged and a letter from Ali presented. This document informed the Provveditore that Ali was most interested in forming a sincere and indissoluble friendship with the Republic of Saint Mark; that he was well aware of the difficulties posed by Mustafa Pasha Kokka in the 'Butrinto Affair'; that he (Ali) would do everything in his power to aid and abet Venetian aims and accommodate Venetian desires; and that, finally, since he was daily expecting the Porte'sferman appointing him a Pasha of 'Two
' Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 646. See for example, ASV, Prow., 1038, Gradenigo to Doge, 24 June 1781, and 26 Aug. I78i; 1039, Gradenigo to Doge, 20 Mar. 1782; Amb. Cost., Filza 223, Garzoni to Doge, 23 Sept. 1782; Bailo, Filza I02, the dispatches of the Bailo to the Doge dated 25 June I 2

1782, 26 Mar. 1783, io Dec. 1783, o0 May I784. 3 BBA, MD, x18, p. 52; ASV, Bailo, 102, Bailo

to Doge, 25 Sept.



Dennis N. Skiotis

Tails', he would greatly appreciate instructions from the Provveditore requesting the Bailo at the Porte to intercede on his behalf so that this promotion, so mutally advantageous, might be accelerated. The Provveditore seemed satisfied with the quid pro quo proposed and, in his covering letter to the Doge, described Ali in flattering terms, remarking that he was a personage of considerable influence and descended from a well-known family in Albania. At the same time, he thanked Ali for his offer of assistance and informed him that he would instruct the ambassador as requested.' That the Serene Republic's envoy at the Porte did in fact advance Ali's interests is evident from a subsequent letter in which Ali thanked the Provveditore for the Bailo's activities on his behalf and urged that they be continued until a favorable decision was reached.2 Meanwhile, Ali applied direct military pressure on Mustafa Pasha Kokka by creating disturbances in the sancak of Delvino to emphasize to the Porte the weakness of the current mutasarrzf.3 There was yet another development from which Ali stood to gain. Since early 1782 the Albanians had been clamoring for payment of the salaries they claimed the Government owed them for their service in suppressing the Greek rebellion in the Morea in 1769-70. The back-pay demanded reached astronomical proportions; the Russian ambassador at the Porte cited a figure of 6,ooo,ooo piastres. The Porte attempted to throw oil on troubled waters by lavishing gifts and promises upon individual Albanian leaders.4 Aside from Kurt Pasha and Mahmud Pasha Bushatli of Scutari, who were both mainstays of Ottoman administration in Albania, no other Albanian enjoyed the prestige and influence that Ali Bey did. It would be difficult to imagine that he did not enter into Ottoman calculations on this question. The combination of persistent Venetian pressure for a satisfactory solution to the 'Butrinto Affair' on the one hand and the increasing intractability of the dissident Albanians over the debts claimed on the other soon led the Porte to the only viable and time-tested alternative in sight-incorporation of the de facto locus of power into the Imperial structure. Ali's strategy of coercing the Porte to recognize him was, thus, proved completely successful. After some twenty years spent in the mountains as a brigand leader, the young Albanian Bey's ambitions to recover his father's title and position, nurtured since early boyhood, were finally realized. According to the Bulletin of the Russian Embassy in Istanbul dated 2 March 1784, Ali was elevated to the rank of mzr-imiran on condition that he lead iooo troops and place himself under the command of the Sofya Serasker
I ASV, Prow., 1042, Foscari to Doge, 24 Mar. 1783; for the Italian translation of Ali's letter, see Insert no. i to above, and for Foscari's reply, see Insert no. 8, dated 8 March 1782. Also Mertzios, 'Anekdota', pp. 8-9. 2 ASV, Provv., 1042, Ali to Foscari, filed as Insert no. 3 to dispatch of Foscari to Doge, 3 May 1783; also Mertzios, 'Anekdota', p. 9. 3 ASV, Prow., 1042, Foscari to Doge, 3 May I783; AN Aff. Etr., B1, Nauplie, 906 (3),


to Foreign Minister,

i Aug. 1783. Arsh, Albaniia,

pp. I34-5.

Arsh, Albaniia, pp. 134-5; 'Perigraphe-Demetriou', p. 649 n.

Ali of Tepelen, 1750-I784


(Commander in Chief).' In August of the same year, Ali Pasha was appointed of mutasarrmf Delvino as well,2 a position he kept for over one year. As Pasha and mutasarrif, a full-fledged member of the Ottoman ruling elite, he was well on his way: mutasarrif of Trikkala (Tirhala) in 1786, Derbendler Bafbugu in 1787, mutasarrzfof Yannina later in the same year.3 From this time forth, a continuous stream offermans would flow from the Porte bestowing upon its nominal vassal multifarious acknowledgements of his waxing stature. In large measure, these served mainly to confirm the reality of the Pasha's power. For with the unlikely human material of Rumeli and Albania at his disposal, Ali Pasha was to build the last great feudal dominion in Europe, 'derived, not from any transient effort of revolution, but from a slow and persevering system of agrandizement [sic], and a policy compounded of caution and enterprize, which had given pretence to usurpation and permanence to conquest'.4



The documentary materials indicated in abbreviated form in the footnotes are located in the following archives: Archivio di Stato di Venezia. Venice (ASV)
Senato, Dispacci Provveditori da Terra e da Mar (Provv.) Senato, Dispacci Ambasciatori, Costantinopoli (Amb. Cost.) Archivio del Bailo (Bailo) Arsh, Albaniia, p. 135. It does not appear likely that Ali participated in a campaign under the orders of the Sofya Serasker as ordered, for it is known that in the summer of 1784 he attacked and overwhelmed the ever-recalcitrant inhabitants of Hormovo, whose loyalty to their feudal over-lord was questionable since the days when they had abused his mother Hamko. Ali levelled the village and roasted alive its leader, Qavu? Prift, on a spit over an open fire. See N. A. Bees, 'Ho Christophoros Barlaamites kai to brachy chronikon autou ' [Christophoros Barlaamites and his brief chronicle], Epeirotika Chronika, vol. I (1926), pp. 20o-8; 'Chronikon Anekdoton', p. 288; Hatze Sehretes, pp. I60-3.

For Trikkala and the post of Derbendler Bafbugu, see BBA, MD, I84, p. 20, and of I84, p. 79. Ali Pasha was first appointed mutasarrnf Yannina sometime in late 1784 or early 1785, but he was soon thereafter deposed as a result of protests from the leading townspeople, both Turks and Greeks; when he refused to comply with the Porte's order to relinquish Yannina, Kurt Pasha expelled his men from the city by military force. See M. C. Baysun, 'Ali PapaTepedelenli', p. 343; ASV, Provv., I I85, Erizzo to Doge, Io July 1785; PRO, FO 78/6, Ainslie to Carmarthen, 25 Aug. 1785. Ali Pasha regained control of Yannina, not in 1788 as is generally believed, but in the spring of 1787, when Kurt Pasha died. His de facto possession was confirmed at the end of the year or perhaps at the very beginning of the next as a reward for his billiant campaign against the rebellious Kara Mahmud Bushatli, Pasha of Scutari, in the summer of 1787. See ASV, Amb. Cost., 227, Zulian to Doge, 7 Apr. 1787, and 25 Apr. I787. This conclusion was also reached by Dora d'Istria, 'Gli Albanesi Mussulmani', Part 2, 'Berath e Janina', Nuova Antologia di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, vol. xiv (1870), pp. 37-8, and Arsh, Albaniia, p. 143. 4 Holland, Travels, p. 98.
3 I6 MES 23






Dennis N. Skiotis

Archives du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres. Paris. Correspondance Politique: Turquie (AE Turquie) Archives Nationales de France. Paris. Serie Affaires ttrangeres, sous-serieB1(AN Aff. Etr., B1) Public Record Office. London (PRO) Foreign Office Archives (FO) Colonial Office Archives (CO) State Papers (SP) Arsivi [Archivesof the Prime Minister's Office]. Istanbul (BBA) Basbakanhk Miihimme Defterleri[Registersof ImportantAffairs].(MD) Hatt-z HiimdyunTasnifi [Collectionof Imperial Decrees]. (HH) CevdetTasnifi[Cevdet Collection]. (Cevdet) Dahiliye [Interior](D) Maliye [Finance] (M) Timar[Fiefs] (T) Zaptiye [Police] (Z)