Mesih Pasha

Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
Monarch Bayezid II
Preceded by Çandarlı Ibrahim Pasha the Younger
Succeeded by Hadım Ali Pasha
Kapudan Pasha
In office
Preceded by Gedik Ahmed Pasha
Succeeded by Güveği Sinan Pasha
Personal details
Died November 1501
Relations Constantine XI Palaiologos (uncle)
Family Palaiologos dynasty
Ethnicity Byzantine Greek
Military service
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire
Service/branch  Ottoman Navy
Rank Kapudan Pasha (grand admiral; 1480–1491)
Battles/wars Battle of the Cosmin Forest
Ottoman–Venetian War (1463–79)
Ottoman–Venetian War (1499–1503)

Mesih Paşa or Misac Pasha[1] (died November 1501) was an Ottoman statesman of Byzantine Greek origin, being a nephew of the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos. He served as Kapudan Pasha of the Ottoman Navy and was grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1499 to 1501.


Mesih and his elder brother, Khass Murad, were captured during the fall of Constantinople and raised as pages under the auspices of Mehmed II.[2] Mesih was approximately ten years old at the time he was taken into palace service.[3] Constantine XI died childless, and had the Ottomans failed to conquer Constantinople, Mesih or Khass Murad would have likely succeeded him. Instead, Mesih rose to become one of the most powerful men in the state that destroyed the Byzantine empire.[4]

Mesih first emerges into historical accounts in 1470, by which time he was the sanjak bey of Gallipoli. As the chief Ottoman naval base, the post also entailed command over much of the Ottoman fleet. In this capacity he distinguished himself in the Ottoman conquest of Euboea from the Venetians during the Ottoman–Venetian War (1463–79).[2] However, Venetian archives document that soon after he offered to surrender Gallipoli and its fleet to Venice, in exchange for 40,000 gold ducats and the possibility to become ruler over the Morea (the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece), which had long been a semi-autonomous despotate under the Palaiologoi.[2]

Mesih was raised to the rank of fourth vizier in the central imperial government (the divan) in 1476 or early 1477, and was given command of the Ottoman army and navy during the siege of Rhodes in 1480. His failure to take Rhodes led to his dismissal from the vizierate, but he retained his governorship of Gallipoli.[2]

Following the death of Mehmed II, the leading devşirme military officials were able to place Bayezid II on the throne. Relying on the support of the Janissaries, the chief devşirme leader, the Grand Vizier Gedik Ahmed Pasha, flaunted his power, but Mesih was careful to earn Bayezid's trust. In summer 1482, Bayezid had Gedik Ahmed imprisoned, suspecting him of support for his brother Cem. In response, the enraged Janissaries invaded the palace, and Mesih was sent to negotiate with them. He was able to appease them by promising, among other things, that only members of the devşirme would become viziers. Mesih thus both demonstrated his loyalty and managed to become one of a small group of devşirme officials who henceforth came to dominate the divan.[2]

Mesih's support within the government allowed him to weather the deposition and execution of Gedik Ahmed on 18 November 1482. He soon advanced to second vizier within the divan when the previous incumbent, Davud Pasha, acceded to the Grand Vizierate in summer 1483. For unknown reasons, in January 1485 Mesih fell into disfavour with Bayezid and was dismissed again from the vizierate, being demoted to subashi of Filibe. He was then sent to Kaffa, a popular place of exile for disgraced officials, as its sanjak bey. He probably remained there until replaced in 1489, and is next mentioned in 1497 as sanjak bey of Akkerman. In the latter post he was instrumental in stopping a Polish action in Moldavia during the Polish–Ottoman War (1485–1503)), and regained imperial favour by dispatching captured Polish nobles and 29 captured standards to Bayezid.[2]

The Byzanto-Italian chronicler Theodore Spandounes, a close relative of Mesih, wrote that "he was a fierce enemy of the Christians." Mesih's religiosity is suggested by the fact that he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1499. No other Ottoman Viziers or Sultans of the period did so, due to demands of office. [5] On Mesih's return, with another Ottoman–Venetian war having broken out, his naval expertise and knowledge of the Venetians led to his re-instatement to the rank of vizier, becoming once again second vizier in the divan.[2]

In spring 1501, Mesih was named Grand Vizier, and left Constantinople to suppress the rebellion by the Warsak tribe in Anatolia which was supporting a Karamanid pretender known as Mustafa. Through his diplomatic skills, Mesih was able to persuade the Warsaks to end their support of Mustafa. Upon his return to Constantinople, the Franco-Venetian invasion of Lesbos occurred, which so infuriated Bayezid that he struck Mesih with his bow. Shortly afterward, Mesih was injured while supervising the suppression of a fire in Galata, and died of his wounds (November 1501).[2]


  1. Mehmed II the Conqueror and the fall of the Franco-Byzantine Levant to the Ottoman Turk, pg. 267, by Marios Philippides
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Inalcik, Halil (1991). "Mesīḥ Pasha". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VI: Mahk–Mid. Leiden and New York: BRILL. pp. 1025–1026. ISBN 90-04-08112-7.
  3. Lowry, Heath W. (2003). The Nature of the Early Ottoman State. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. p. 122.
  4. Lowry 2003, p. 115.
  5. Lowry 2003, p. 122.
Military offices
Preceded by
Gedik Ahmed Pasha
Kapudan Pasha
Succeeded by
Güveği Sinan Pasha
Political offices
Preceded by
Çandarlı Ibrahim Pasha
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
Succeeded by
Hadım Ali Pasha
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