Mezzo Morto Hüseyin Pasha

Mezzo Morto Hüseyin Pasha
Mezzo Morto Hüseyin Pasha bust at Mersin Naval Museum.

Hussein Mezzomorto (Turkish: Mezamorta Hüseyin Paşa; died 1701) or Hajji Husain Mezzomorto (Turkish: Hacı Hüseyin Mezamorta) was an Ottoman privateer, bey, and finally Kapudan Pasha (grand admiral) of the Ottoman Navy. His epithet mezzomorto is the Italian for "half-dead" and was acquired during a fight with the Spaniards,[1] when he was gravely injured.


Possibly Turk[2] or a converted Christian from Mallorca,[3] Mezzomorto was mentioned as a captain in 1674. He rose to prominence during the French attacks on Algiers in the early 1680s. He was present for Abraham Duquesne's 1682 bombardment and commanded a fleet of corsairs the next year. The bey of Algiers Baba Hassan handed him over as a hostage to the French, but Mezzomorto persuaded the French admiral to send him back to shore, where he led an insurrection against Baba Hassan, killed him, and took over as bey of Algiers.[4] He then opened fire on the French fleet, forcing Duquesne to raise his blockade. During the 1684 bombardment, he signed a "100 year" treaty with Duquesne. However, the French fleet bombarded Algiers again in 1688, and Mezzomorto retaliated with attacks on the French coast.

As beylerbey of Algiers, Mezzomorto took part in the Morean War between the Turks and Venetians in 1686. He then commanded the fleet in the Danube in 1690, and afterward in the Black Sea. The Venetian threat to the Ottomans' Aegean possessions led to Mezzomorto's appointment as sanjak-bey of Rhodes in 1691.[4]

Distinguishing himself during the reconquest of Chios in early 1695, he was promoted to Kapudan Pasha, acquiring lordship over the Province of the Islands. His primary goal was to expel the Venetians from the Aegean. He defeated a venetian fleet off Lesbos in September 1695, preventing it from reaching Chios. He commanded at the Battle of Andros in 1696, and on July 5, 1697 defeated a Venetian fleet off Tenedos. In September 3 he scored another victory, this time off Andros. A battle off Lesbos on September 21, 1698 was interpreted as a victory by each side.[4]

With the support of sultan Mustafa II, Mezzomorto began a reform of the navy. His reforms were compiled into a book of regulations, the Kannunname, published shortly before his death in 1701. He was buried on Chios.


  1. Orhonlu, C. "Hadjdji Husayn Pasha." Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition. Vol. III. Ed. B. Lewis, V.L. Menage, Ch. Pellat and J. Schacht. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1971. p. 629.
  2. İsmail Hâmi Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı, pp. 172 ff. Türkiye Yayınevi (Istanbul), 1971. (Turkish)
  3. Panzac, Daniel. La Marine ottomane. De l’apogée à la chute de l’Empire (1572-1923). (French)
  4. 1 2 3 Orhonlu, "Hadjdji Husayn Pasha." p. 629.
Corsari del Mediterraneo. "Mezzomorto Hassan". (Italian)
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