Ali Pasha

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Ali Pasha (älē´ päshä´), 1744?–1822, Turkish pasha [military governor] of Yannina (now Ioánnina, Greece), a province of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). He was called the Arslan [lion] of Yannina. His father, governor at Tepelene in S Albania, was murdered, and Ali went to live with the mountain brigands who infested the country. He soon rose to leadership among them, came to the attention of the Turkish government, and as its agent put down the rebellion of a governor at Scutari in Albania. About 1787 he became governor of Yannina, where his power grew until he ruled as a quasi-independent despot over most of Albania and Epirus. He made war on the French along the Adriatic coast and entered an alliance (1814) with Great Britain. Valuing Ali's services, the sultan let him do as he wished until, in 1820, Ali ordered the assassination of an opponent in Constantinople. Sultan Mahmud II ordered Ali deposed. Ali refused to comply, thus keeping Turkish troops engaged against himself while they were needed against the Greeks, who had begun their fight for independence. Ali was assassinated by an agent of the Turks; his head was exhibited at Constantinople. The wild yet cultured court of Ali was described by French and English visitors, notably by Byron in Childe Harold.