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This article discusses the rank/title used in the Ottoman Empire. For other uses see pasha (disambiguation)

Pasha (or pascha, bashaw; Turkish: paşa) was a high rank in the Ottoman Empire political system, typically granted to governors and generals. As an honorary title, Pasha equates to Sir.


Role in Ottoman Political System

The sultan of Turkey and (by delegation) the 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 their superiors desired to honour.

Pashas ranked above beys, but below khedives and viziers. Pashas governed territories called pashaluks or eyalets. The word pasbalik designates a province governed by or under the jurisdiction of a pasha.

Ottoman authorities conferred the title upon both Muslims and Christian without distinction, and frequently gave it to foreigners in the service of the Turks or of the Egyptians.

Three grades of pasha existed, distinguished by the number of horse-tails (three, two and one respectively) to which the bearer was entitled to display as symbols of authority when on campaign.


In usage, the title followed the given name. Although the word serves as a non-hereditary title, English-speakers have commonly used pasha as if it formed part of a personal name, as for instance in Ibrahim Pasha or Emin Pasha.


Etymologists variously derive the word pasha from the Persian padshah, Turkish padishah, equivalent to "king" or "emperor", and from the Turkish bash (in some dialects pash), a "head", "chief", etc.

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 bass.

List of Notable pashas

fr:Pacha la:Bassa nl:Pasja ja:パシャ


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