Omar Pasha

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Omar Pasha
Ekrem Ömer Paşa
Omer lutfi pasa.jpg
Native name
Омер-паша Латас
Omer-paša Latas
Birth nameMihajlo Latas / Михајло Латас
Born(1806-09-24)24 September 1806
Janja Gora near Plaški,
Military Frontier,
Austrian Empire
Died18 April 1871(1871-04-18) (aged 64)
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Allegiance Austrian Empire (until 1823)
 Ottoman Empire (until 1871)
Service/branch Ottoman Army
Years of service1823–1869
RankField marshal
Commands heldCommander of Ottoman Forces in Moldavia & Wallachia
Battles/warsAlbanian Revolt of 1843–1844

Kurdish Revolts
Bosnian uprising
Crimean War
Great Cretan revolt

Spouse(s)Ida Hanım (divorced without issue)
Adviye Hanım (with issue)

Omar Pasha, also known as Omer Pasha Latas (Turkish: Ömer Paşa, Serbian: Омер-паша Латас/Omer-paša Latas; 24 September 1806 – 18 April 1871) was an Ottoman field marshal and governor. He was born in Austrian territory, to Serbian Orthodox Christian parents, and was initially an Austrian soldier. When faced with charges of embezzlement, he fled to Ottoman Bosnia and converted to Islam, and then joined the Ottoman army where he quickly climbed in ranks. Latas crushed several rebellions throughout the Empire, and was a commander in the Crimean War, where he won some outstanding victories at Silistra and Eupatoria and participated in the siege of Sevastopol.

Early life[edit]

Omar Pasha - Engraving

Omar Pasha was born Mihajlo Latas (Serbian: Михајло Латас), an ethnic Serb and Orthodox Christian,[1][2] in Janja Gora, at the time part of the Croatian Military Frontier of the Austrian Empire (in modern Plaški, Lika region, Croatia).[1][3]

His father Petar served in the Austrian Army and in time was appointed lieutenant-governor of the Ogulin district.[4] His uncle was an Orthodox priest.[5] Mihajlo was an intelligent and lively child, if rather sickly. He developed a passion for the military, and on leaving school in Gospić, he went to a military school in Zadar and was accepted as a cadet in his father's Ogulin Regiment on the frontier. He had beautiful handwriting, and was assigned to clerical duties. There he might have languished, if his father had not upset someone along the corruption line and suffered a conviction for misappropriation. Mihajlo escaped charges of embezzlement, having stolen 180 florins from the military safe, by fleeing to the Ottoman Bosnia Eyalet in 1823.[6]

Military career[edit]

Omar Pasha with his officers 1854.

After escaping to Bosnia and living rough for a time, In 1828 Latas was offered a position as tutor to the children of a Turkish merchant, on condition that he converted from Christianity to Islam and was circumcised. After his conversion he took the new name Omar. A necessary condition to fulfill in order to get off the streets, it was a huge cultural step that led naturally to his decision that his future lay with the Ottomans. The big break came for the newly named Omar when the family moved to Constantinople. By astute networking and doubtless exploiting his curiosity value as a European ex-military man, he was appointed lecturer at the Turkish Military Academy. With this exposure he shone enough to be snapped up as aide-de-camp to the Polish–Ottoman General Wojciech Chrzanowski, who was engaged in the re-organization of the Ottoman Army after the defeat of the Janissaries.[7]

Now a major, Omar completed a mapping assignment in Bulgaria and the Danube territories, gaining detailed knowledge of the ground which was to serve him well in the future. Chrzanowski also milked his ideas for re-organizing the Army; in return he smoothed the way for Omar's introduction into Turkish society. He thereby met and married a rich heiress Adviye Hanım (a daughter of Çerkes Hafız Mehmed Pasha), the start of his meteoric rise in Ottoman military circles. There is no doubt that Omar's marriage opened all the right doors for him,[7] but equally no doubt that he proved equal to the challenges of high command which resulted. He became writing-master to the Ottoman heir, Abd-ul-Medjid, and on the succession of the latter in 1839 was made a colonel. He was shortly afterwards appointed Military Governor of Constantinople. His only daughter, Saffet Hanım, married Mustafa Celalettin Pasha.

Lord Raglan, Omar Pasha and Marshal Pelissier during the Crimean War, 1854–1856, photographed by Roger Fenton.

In 1840-41 he led a successful expedition to quell a revolt in Syria, and in 1842 was Governor of the Tripoli Eyalet (Lebanon).[7] He won distinction in suppressing the Albanian Revolt of 1843–44, led by local Muslim aristocrats. There followed the expedition to Kurdistan following the Massacres of Badr Khan (1846).[7] After the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, Omar Pasha was put in command of the Ottoman forces in Moldavia and Wallachia. His firm and effective handling of a powder keg situation involving potential confrontation with the Russian and Austrian armies demonstrated that he possessed considerable diplomatic skills.[8] There followed his command in Bosnia (1850) where he executed Ali-paša Rizvanbegović of Stolac, who had defended Ottoman power during an earlier revolt but then started to build up an independent power base.[9] Omar Pasha executed, plundered and abolished the respected historical aristocracy of Muslim faith, in the interest of buttressing Ottoman central power.[10] This was followed by a command in the Principality of Montenegro (1852)[citation needed]. His chief services were rendered when the Crimean War broke out.[11] In 1853 he successfully defended Calafat. In 1854 he entered Bucharest, and the next year defeated 40,000 Russians at Yevpatoria in the Crimea. A later achievement was his capture of Cetinje, Montenegro[citation needed], during the Montenegrin–Ottoman War (1861–62), considered a difficult feat.

A clear and precise military thinker, Omar Pasha took bold decisions and relentlessly followed them through. Although he had a reputation as a strict and ruthless disciplinarian, he was revered and respected by his men. A true professional, while the other allies struggled to come to grips with local campaigning conditions, he had seen it all too often before.[12] Perhaps for that reason the allied troops found his expression cold and uninterested when seated on his horse plodding round their lines.[citation needed]


Tutor in the household of Hussein Pasha, Governor of Widdin.
1834 - Writing master in a military school at Constantinople.
Instructor to Abd ul Medjid, heir apparent to the throne.
1842 - Appointed Governor of Lebanon.[13]
1843 - Repressed insurrection in Albania.
1846 - Repressed insurrection in Kurdistan.
1850 - executed Ali-paša Rizvanbegović of Stolac, plundered and abolished the Bosniak elite
1852 - defeated the Montenegrins under Prince Danilo
1853 - Defeated the Russians at Olteniţa.
1854 - Successfully defended Silistria against Russians, gaining possession of Bucharest.[14]
1855 - Repulsed the Russians at Yevpatoria, Crimea and captured Sukhumi in Caucasus.
1857-59 - Governor of Baghdad.
1862 - Defeated Montenegrin army and took possession of Cetinje.
1864 - Made field marshal.
1867 - Fought rebels in Crete.
1869 - Made Minister of war.


  1. ^ a b Ćirković 2004, p. 222.
  2. ^ Andrew James McGregor (2006). A Military History of Modern Egypt: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Ramadan War. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-275-98601-8.
  3. ^ Barbara Jelavich (1983). History of the Balkans. Cambridge University Press. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-521-27458-6.
  4. ^ Bessé & Morris 1855, p. 23.
  5. ^ George Julian Harney (1853). The Vanguard. J. P. Crantz. p. 40.
  6. ^ Georg Martin Thomas (1883). August von Jochmus' gesammelte Schriften, herausg. von G.M. Thomas.
  7. ^ a b c d de Bessé, Morris, p. 25
  8. ^ James, p. 121-122
  9. ^ de Bessé, Morris, p. 26
  10. ^ Chambler's, p. 707
  11. ^ Goldstein, p. 24
  12. ^ de Bessé, Morris, p. 26-27
  13. ^ Churchill, p. 63
  14. ^ Murdock,Fiske , pages 36-40


  • Muradbegović, Ahmed (1944). "Omer-paša Latas u Bosni, 1850-1852". 42. Matica hrvatska. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Laurence Oliphant (1856). The Trans-Caucasian campaign of the Turkish army under Omer Pasha: a personal narrative. W. Blackwood and sons.
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