Hayreddin Barbarossa (Arabic: خير الدين بربروس, romanized: Khayr ad-Din Barbarus), also known as Hızır Hayrettin Pasha, and simply Hızır Reis (c. 1466/1478 – 4 July 1546), was an Ottoman corsair and later admiral of the Ottoman Navy. Barbarossa’s naval victories secured Ottoman dominance over the Mediterranean during the mid 16th century.
Born on Lesbos, Khizr began his naval career as a corsair under his elder brother Oruç Reis. In 1516, the brothers captured Algiers from Spain, with Oruç declaring himself as Sultan. Following Oruç’s death in 1518, Khizr inherited his brother’s nickname, “Barbarossa” (“Redbeard” in Italian). He also received the honorary name Hayreddin (from Arabic Khayr ad-Din, “goodness of the faith” or “best of the faith”). In 1529, Barbarossa retook the Peñón of Algiers from the Spaniards.
In 1533, Barbarossa was appointed Kapudan Pasha (Grand admiral) of the Ottoman Navy by Suleiman the Magnificent. He led an embassy to France in the same year, conquered Tunis in 1534, achieved a decisive victory over the Holy League at Preveza in 1538, and conducted joint campaigns with the French in the 1540s. Barbarossa retired to Constantinople in 1545 and died the following year
Khizr was born sometime between 1466 and 1478 in Palaiokipos on the island of Midilli (Lesbos), a son of Yakup Ağa, a converted Ottoman sipahi of Albanian or Greek Muslim origin from Giannitsa (Greece), and an Orthodox Christian of Greek origin, named Katerina, from Mytilene (also Lesbos). His mother was a widow of an Orthodox priest. The couple married and had two daughters and four sons: Ishak, Oruç, Khizr and Ilyas. Yakup took part in the Ottoman conquest of Lesbos in 1462 from the Genoese Gattilusio dynasty (who held the hereditary title of Lord of Lesbos between 1355 and 1462) and as a reward, was granted the fief of the village of Bonova on the island. He became an established potter and purchased a boat to trade his products with. The four sons helped their father with his business, but not much is known about the daughters. At first Oruç helped with the boat, while Khizr helped with the pottery.