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Hursid Pasha, from a 19th century lithograph

Hurşid Ahmed Pasha (died 1822) was a prominent Ottoman General and Grand Vizier during the early 19th century.

Early life and suppression of the Serbian revolts

Of Circassian origin, he was born in the Caucasus to a Christian priest. He was taken as a youth, converted to Islam and enrolled in the Janissaries. There he acquired the favour of Sultan Mahmud II and occupied several high positions. In March 1809 he was sent to Serbia in order to repress the revolt of Karađorđe Petrović. On 5 September 1812 he was named Grand Vizier (Prime Minister), a post he held until 1 April 1815. He remained on campaign in Serbia as commander-in-chief (serasker), and brought the uprising to an end after recapturing Belgrade in October 1813. In that year he was named governor of Bosnia and from that position he campaigned with success against the Second Serbian Uprising led by Miloš Obrenović.

Suppression of Ali Pasha's revolt and Greek Revolution

In November 1820 he was named mora valisi, governor of the Morea (the Peloponnese), with seat at Tripoli and serasker of the expedition against the apostate Ali Pasha of Yanina. Before he left for Yanina, however, he was disturbed by rumours of a possible revolt among the Greeks of the Morea. His fears were allayed, however, when an assembly of Greek notables visited him on 8 November 1820 in Tripoli. Thus, on 6 January 1821, he left Tripolis for the north, leaving behind his treasury and his harem, while his deputy (kaimakam) Mehmed Salih with a force of 1,000 Albanians remained to maintain order. However, only a few months later, while the Ottoman armies were besieging Yanina, the first uprisings of the Greek War of Independence took place.

Hursid immediately informed the Sultan of the events, and without waiting for instructions, reacted by sending Omer Vryonis and Köse Mehmed Pasha to suppress the revolt first in Central Greece and then to cross over to the Peloponnese and quell the uprising in its heartland. At the same time, he dispatched his chief of staff Mustafa Bey with 3,000 men to reinforce the garrison of Tripoli. Hursid himself remained in Yanina to supervise the last stages of the siege. Despite his rapid reaction, his plans ultimately failed: Vryonis and Köse Mehmed failed to suppress the revolt in Central Greece, while the reinforcements of Mustafa Bey were insufficient to save Tripoli, which fell to the Greeks under Theodoros Kolokotronis after a prolonged siege, on 23 September 1821. Despite the general massacre of the Muslim inhabitants, Hursid's harem and a part of his treasure were saved. Finally, in January 1822, he managed to kill Ali Pasha through treason, and sent his severed head to the Sultan, and his star seemed on the rise again. He assembled an army of 80,000 men (a huge number by Balkan standards) and was about to march in order to finally crush the Greek uprising, when disaster struck. His political enemies in Istanbul, alarmed at the fame and power he had achieved and the prestige that the successful ending of both Ali Pasha's and the Greek revolts would bring him, accused him of misappropriating a large part of Ali's treasure. Hursid had sent 40,000,000 piasters, with a statement that they had been found in Ali's vaults, while the Sultan's ministers calculated Ali's fortune at over 500,000,000 piasters. When they asked him to send a detailed account, the offended Hursid did not reply. Shortly after that, he was denounced for abuse of public treasure and fell in disgrace. He was removed from his positions, and replaced as serasker and mora valisi by Mahmud Dramali Pasha. Hursid was ordered to remain in Larissa to attend to the provisioning of Dramali's army.

When news began arriving in Istanbul of the failure of Dramali's expedition at Dervenakia, the Sultan ordered Hursid to take matters in his own hand and salvage what he could of the situation. However, his opponents continued to plot against him, and agents were sent to kill him. Although he was informed of the threat to his person, Hursid did not react. Instead, he committed suicide by taking poison on 30 November 1822.



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