Pasha or pacha, formerly bashaw, ( _tr. paşa پاشا) (Persian: پاشا) (Armenian: Փաշա) was a high rank in the Ottoman Empire political system, typically granted to governors and generals. As an honorary title, "Pasha" in one of its various ranks is equivalent to the British title of "Lord".


Etymologists variously derive the word "pasha" from the Turkish "baş ağa" (Big Brother) [ [ Online Etymology Dictionary - Pasha] ] (in some dialects "pash"), "head lord", "tribal chief" etc. (more likely for an officer). Old Turkish had no fixed distinction between /b/ and /p/. As first used in western Europe, the title appeared in writing with the initial "b". The English forms "bashaw", "bassaw", "bucha" etc., general in the 16th and 17th century, derive through the medieval Latin and Italian word "bassa".

Role in Ottoman political system

The Ottoman sultan of Turkey and (by delegation) the viceroyal khedive of Egypt had the right to bestow the title of "Pasha". The title appears, originally, to have applied exclusively to military commanders, but subsequently it could distinguish any high official, and also unofficial persons whom the court desired to honour.

It was also part of the official style of the Kapudan Pasha (Great Admiral of the entire Ottoman fleet).

Pashas ranked above Beys and Aghas, but below Khedives and Viziers.

Three grades of Pasha existed, distinguished by the number of yak- or horse-tails (three, two and one respectively; a symbol of Turco-Mongol tradition) or peacock tails, which the bearers were entitled to display on their standard as a symbol of military authority when on campaign. Only the Sultan himself was entitled to four tails, as sovereign commander in chief.

The following military ranks entitled the holder to the style Pasha (lower ranks were styled Bey or merely Effendi):
*The Vizier-i-Azam (Grand Vizier, the prime minister, but also often taking the field as Generalissimo instead of the Sultan)
*Mushir (Field marshall)
*Ferik (army Lieutenant-general or navy Vice-admiral)
*Lewa=Liva (major general or Rear-admiral)
*The Kizlar Agha (chief black eunuch, the highest officer in the Topkapı Palace; three tails, as commander of the baltacı corps of the halberdiers in the imperial army
*Istanbul's Shaikh ul-Islam, the highest Muslim clergyman, of cabinet rank.

If a Pasha governed a provincial territory, it could be called a "pashaluk" after his military title, besides the administrative term for the type of jurisdiction, e.g. "eyalet, vilayet". Both Beylerbeys (governors-general) and Valis (the most common type of Governor) were entitled to the style of Pasha (typically with two tails). The word "pashalik" designated any province or other jurisdiction of a Pasha.

Ottoman authorities conferred the title upon both Muslims and Christians without distinction. They also frequently gave it to foreigners in the service of the Turks or of the Egyptians, e.g. Hobart Pasha.


In usage, the title followed the given name. Although the word serves as a non-hereditary title, English speakers have commonly used the word "pasha" as if it formed part of a personal name, as for instance in Ibrahim Pasha or Emin Pasha, similar to the practice of referring to a British Peer as Lord X, since in both cases it substitutes for a more precise rank title.

The sons of a Pasha were styled Pashazada or Pasha-zade, which means just that.

In modern Egyptian and (to a lesser extent) Levantine Arabic, it is used as an honorific closer to "Sir" than "Lord," especially by older people.

List of notable pashas

*Abaza Family - Egyptian Pashas and Beys
*Abbas I of Egypt
*Abbas II of Egypt
*Ahmed Pasha (Claude Alexandre de Bonneval)
*Ali Pasha — Ottoman admiral
*Ali Pasha — statesman
*Urabi Pasha
*Barbarossa Khair ad-Din Pasha
*Cigalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha
*Emin Pasha
*Enver Pasha
*Essad Pasha
*Fakhri Pasha
*Fuad Pasha
*Glubb Pasha (John Bagot Glubb)
*Gordon Pasha
*Hagop Kazazian Pasha
*Ibrahim Pasha
*Ismet Pasha (İsmet İnönü)
*Jafar al-Askari
*Jamal Pasha
*Kazazian Pasha
*Kilic Ali Pasha
*Multiple members of the Köprülü family, especially Kara Mustafa Pasha
*Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha
*Liman von Sanders Pasha
*Mahmud Dramali Pasha - Ottoman General
*Mehmet Ali
*Mehmed Pasha Sokolović
*Melling Pasha
*Midhat Pasha
*Mustafa Pasha
*Mustafa Reshid Pasha
*Mustafa Kemal Pasha, subsequently known as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the post-Ottoman Turkish republic
*Nubar Pasha
*Osman Pasha
*Piyale Pasha
*Riyad Pasha — Egyptian statesman
*Said Pasha
*Sinan Pasha
*Sulejman Pasha
*Sultan al-Atrash
*Talat Pasha
*Tewfik Pasha
*Turhan Pasha Përmeti
*Tusun Pasha
*Valentine Baker
*Wehib Pasha
*Woods Pasha
*Youssef Wahba Pasha (three yaks); Mirmiran, RoumeliBeylerbey — Egyptian Prime Minister
*Yusuf Karamanli Pasha of Tripoli

ee also

*Ottoman Empire
*Ottoman titles



* - [ "The Ottoman harem"]

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