The Reign of Ali Pasha

Born in the 1740s in Tepeline, Albania, Ali Pasha rose to power by unscrupulous means. The most notorious ruler of Epirus employed assassins to carry out his plots of murder and brigandage. He was made pasha of Trikala in 1787 and a year later seized Ioannina, then the largest town in Greece. For the next 33 years, Ali pursued his ambition: to break from the Ottoman Empire and create his own kingdom. He paid only token tribute to the sultan and allied himself according to his needs with the French, the British, and the Turks. In 1797 he collaborated with Napoléon; the next year he seized Preveza from the French; and by 1817 he was wooing the British and Admiral Nelson, who gave him Parga.

Historical accounts focus on the fact that he had an insatiable libido and combed the countryside looking for concubines, accumulating a harem numbering in the hundreds. He attacked the Turkish Porte ("Sublime Porte" [or gate] of the sultan's palace, where justice was administered; by extension, the Ottoman government), and he brutalized his Greek subjects. Perhaps Ali's most infamous crime was the drowning of Kyra Frosini, his son's mistress, and 16 other women, by tying them in stone-laden bags and dumping them in lake Pamvotis. Apparently, Ali was in love with Frosini, who rejected him, and, spurred on by his son's wife, he had Frosini killed on charges of infidelity. He regretted his deed and ordered that 250 pounds of sugar be thrown into the lake to sweeten the water Frosini would drink. A superstition persists that Frosini's ghost hovers over the lake on moonlit nights.

Published 03/12/2017

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