Ballaban Badera

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Ballaban Badera (also known as Ballaban Pasha or Ballaban Badheri)[1] was an Ottoman military officer from Albania. A conscript of the Devshirme system, he became a Pasha. Ballaban Badera was said to be the first climbing the walls of Constantinople[2] and proved instrumental in the Ottoman Conquest of the Balkans.[citation needed] He held a position of sanjakbey of the Sanjak of Ohrid in 1464 and 1465.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Ballaban Badera was born in Mat, Albania as a Catholic with the name Michael, the son of Milosh and Helena. Conscripted through the Devshirme system he rose to the rank of Pasha in the Ottoman Army under Sultan Mehmed II.

Ballaban fought Skanderbeg in April 1465 close to Ohrid. The Albanians were victorious, but many officers were captured, including Moisi Arianit Golemi of Dibra. They were sent to Constantinople, where they were executed in Istanbul for treason.

Two Janissaries[edit]

Milosh had served in the army of the Wallachian Prince Mircea I,[2] fighting against the Ottoman Turks. Michael, son of Milosh and Helena, was kidnaped during the Ottoman Turkish raids.[2] Ballaban Badera's mother, Helena, was killed during the Turkish raids[2] Milosh, father of Ballaban Badera, and brother Constantine escaped and survived the raids. Michael was raised as a Janissary[2] and named Ballaban Badera,[2] or Ballaban Pasha; he was a product of the Devshirme system, just as the entire troop of Janissaries was, and one of the best generals of the Ottoman Army under Sultan Mehmed II. George Kastriota (Skanderbeg), with whom Ballaban Badera would cross paths of history, was raised as a Janissary as well, under the same Devshirme[5] system Ballaban Badera was developed.

Ballaban and Skanderbeg[edit]

Ballaban fought George Kastriota (Skanderbeg) in April 1465 close to Ohrid. The Albanians were victorious, but at a terrible cost: Ballaban Pasha showed his military prowess and thirteen highest ranking generals of George Kastriota were captured; among them was Moisi Arianit Golemi of Dibra, George Kastriota's, (Skanderbeg's), second in command. Moisi Arianit Golemi was the organizer of Skanderbeg's desertion from the Ottoman Court and subsequent return to Albania.[2] Moisi Golemi was also the main political organizer and the heart and soul, if you will, of the Albanian Cause.[2] Moisi Arianit Golemi, two of George Kastriota's nephews, and the other captured generals were sent to Constantinople, modern day Istanbul. George Kastriota offered great many captured Ottoman Pashas and great many Ottoman Prisoners, and enormous amounts of treasure in exchange for Moisi Golemi and the other generals, but Mehmet II refused: Moisi Golemi and the other captured Albanian Generals were all an invaluable prize to the Ottomans.[2] Ballaban Badera had dealt a terrible blow to the Albanian resistance by capturing Moisi Golemi and high ranking George Kastriota's generals, and the effect of that terrible blow was to be felt with time, after the death of George Kastriota.

Ballaban and Moisi Arianit Golemi[edit]

As usual, Mehmet II made attempts to win alliances of the captured Albanian Generals against George Kastriota, but such attempts failed. Moisi Arianit Golemi was not presented with such an offer: He had previously approached the Sultan, had betrayed Skanderbeg, and had led an Ottoman Army against George Kastriota. In doing so, Moisi Golemi had hoped to save his people, and his country of Albania, from the utter devastation and the disastrous burden of the war against the Ottomans. Moisi Golemi calculated that it was better to accept Ottoman rule for a period in which the country could regain life and survive, so he decided to submit to the Ottomans and betray his Prince: George Kastriota. Under Ottoman command, Moisi Golemi, who was a very astute strategist, and who was man of great wisdom and visionary, saw, experienced, and perfectly understood the futility of his submission to the Ottomans for the benefit of his people and his country. He deserted the Ottomans and returned to George Kastriota. Eventually, George Kastriota pardoned Moisi Golemi. But there was no clemency expected from Mehmet II, who was an astute strategist himself and understood what Moisi Golemi strived for. Mehmet II would seek searing vengeance for Moisi Golemi's apostasy. The stage is set and Moisi Arianit Golemi suffered an ignominious death, and so did all the other twelve captured Albanian Generals: They were all skinned alive publicly in Istanbul.[2]

Ballaban's campaign (1465)[edit]

Ballaban's brother Constantine[edit]

Ballaban received further help from the Sultan and was sent leading Ottoman Armies against Skanderbeg once more, alongside an Albanian Pasha called Jakub Bej Arnauti, this time near Upper Dibra, in the Valley of Vaikal, but Ballaban, Jacub Bej Arnauti, and Ottoman Armies were again defeated. Jacub Bej Arnauti perished in that battle.

During all these historical endeavors, Constantine, son of Milosch and Helena, brother of the boy Michael who had become Ballaban Badera, was a soldier under the command of George Kastriota fighting against the Ottoman Armies led by his brother.[2] Milosch, father of the kidnapped boy Michael, was also a soldier under George Kastriota's command. Even though a Serbian, Milosch identified with the Albanian Cause[2] having been left no choice by the policies of the Serbian Despot, Đurađ Branković, who would become either Moslem or Christian depending on policies of the moment.[2] Milosch became sworn brothers ("vllam" in Albanian and "probratim" in Serbian), a widespread practice among Albanians and Serbs at the time,[6] with the forester of Musache de Stresses, the Lord of Skadar (modern day Shkodër).[2] Milosch and the forester of De Stresses would foster Morsinia[2] (named after Elizabeth Morsiney bride of King Sigismund of Hungary), the Albanian Heiress of De Stresses, daughter of Musache de Stresses and Mara Cernoviche who were murdered by Amesas Kastriota,[2] the infamous nephew of George Kastriota (Skanderbeg).

Amesas Kastriota had appropriated the vast estates of the De Stresses and had birth claims over the estates of the Kastriotas; Ballaban Badera saw the opportunity and organized the coronation of Amesas Kastiota as king of Albania, under vassalage of the Ottomans. George Kastriota (Skanderbeg) learned of the plans and gives the order that it must be stopped at any cost and all of Albania must take up arms.[2] The Battle of Albulena ensued and Amesas Kastriota was captured.

Ballban Badera later came as a commanding general of the army under Mehmet II during the Second Siege of Krujë (1466), where he kept the city besieged for just under a year. In that battle, Ballaban Badera was killed by an arquebus shot to the neck by Gjergj Aleksi, a defender of the city and a hunter in his civilian life. After Ballaban's death, the Ottoman Army stationed in Albania lost its unity and was soon defeated.

Popular culture[edit]

  • Ballaban is one of the characters introduced in the Ballad of Heores expansion pack to the game Legendary Warriors. He is portrayed as a very powerful warrior and a skilled commander, and a rival to Skanderbeg. He spends much of the game in Albania fighting Skanderbeg, so is not closely associated with the other Ottoman generals. He wields a pair of large cutlasses.


  1. ^ Elsie, Robert (20 January 2015). Albanian Folktales and Legends: Selected and Translated from the Albanian. Createspace Independent Pub. p. 210. ISBN 978-1-5076-3130-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q James M. Ludlow: The Captain of the Janizaries
  3. ^ Sir Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb; Johannes Hendrik Kramers; Bernard Lewis; Charles Pellat; Joseph Schacht (1954), The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 4, Leiden: Brill, p. 140, ISBN 978-90-04-14448-4, OCLC 399624, retrieved 24 December 2011, Tursun p.125, cf Critoboulos, 147; emphasize Iskender's "breaking of faith" as the reason for the Ottoman operations against him from 868/1464 onwards. By permitting Venetian troops to garrison Kruje he created a real treat to the Ottoman forces in Albania. In 1464 and 1465 the neighbouring sanjak begis and especially the governor of Ohri, Balaban, launched the swift attacks
  4. ^ İnalcık, Halil, From empire to republic : essays on Ottoman and Turkish social history, Istanbul: Isis Press, p. 88, ISBN 978-975-428-080-7, OCLC 34985150, retrieved 4 January 2012, Balaban Aga, qui a accordé des timar à ses propres soldats dans la Basse- Dibra et dans la Çermeniça, ainsi qu'à son neveu à Mati, doit être ce même Balaban Aga, sancakbeyi d'Ohrid, connu pour ses batailles sanglantes contre Skanderbeg.
  5. ^ "Islamic History Sourcebook: James M. Ludlow: The Tribute of Children, 1493". Fordham University. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  6. ^ M. Edith Durham: High Albania, James M. Ludlow:The Captain of the Janizaries


  • Durham, M. Edith (1971) [1909]. High Albania. New York: Arno Press. ISBN 9780405027451.
  • Ludlow, James M (1887). The Captain of the Janizaries: A Story of the Times of Scanderbeg and the Fall of Constantinople. New York: Funk and Wagnalls. OCLC 2409936.