Who is Piri Reis?

Piri Reis 1465/70, Gelibolu - 1554, Cairo), Ottoman Turkish sailor and cartographer. His real name is Muhyiddin Pîrî Bey. His tag is Ahmet ibn-i el-Hac Mehmet El Karamani. He is known for his world maps showing America and his maritime book called Kitab-ı Bahriye.

Childhood and youth years

The family of Ahmet Muhyiddin Pîrî, who is the child of a Karaman family, II. It is one of the families who were immigrated from Karaman to Istanbul by order of the sultan during the reign of Mehmed. The family lived in Istanbul for a while and then emigrated to Gallipoli. Pîrî Reis' father is Karamanlı Hacı Mehmet and his uncle is the famous sailor Kemal Reis.

Step into shipping

Piri Reis sailed in 1481 next to his uncle Kemal Reis, who was a pirate in the Mediterranean. In 1487 he went to the aid of Muslims in Spain with his uncle. Piri started shipping with his uncle Kemal Reis; Between 1487-1493 they piracy together in the Mediterranean; They participated in raids to the coasts of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and France. In 1486, when Muslims who were massacred in Gırnata, the last city under the rule of Muslims in Andalusia, asked for help from the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, which did not have a navy to go on an overseas expedition in those years, sent Kemal Reis to Spain under the Ottoman Flag. Piri Reis, who participated in this expedition, carried Muslims from Spain to North Africa with his uncle.

Joining the Ottoman Navy

II, who started preparing an expedition over Venice. When Beyazid invited the sailors who were piracy in the Mediterranean to join the Ottoman navy, he appeared before the sultan with his uncle in Istanbul in 1494 and entered the official service of the navy together. Later, he took part in the Ottoman Navy as a ship commander in the sea control struggle that the Ottoman Navy tried to provide against the Venetian Navy, thus becoming the first war captain. As a result of his successful wars, the Venetians wanted peace and a peace agreement was signed between the two states. Piri Reis took part in sea voyages such as Inebahti Sanjak, Moton, Koron, Navarin, Lesbos and Rhodes between 1495 and 1510. He recorded the places he saw during his cruises in the Mediterranean and the events he experienced as the draft of his book, which will later become the first guide book of world maritime, under the name of Kitab-ı Bahriye.

Piri Reis settled in Gallipoli after the death of his uncle in a sea accident in 1511. Although he went on some voyages in the Mediterranean with Halaoğlu Muhiddin Reis in the navy under the administration of the Barbaros Brothers, he mostly stayed in Gallipoli and worked on his maps and book. Using these maps and his own observations, he drew the first world map dated 1513. One-third of the parts, covering the Atlantic Ocean, the Iberian Peninsula, the west of Africa and the eastern shores of the new world America, is the present part of this map. What makes this map important on a world scale is the rumor that it contains the information on the America map of Christopher Columbus, which has not survived to our day.

The Barbaros Brothers formed one of the largest naval forces in the world in 1515 and made conquests in North Africa. When Piri Reis was sent to Yavuz Sultan Selim, where they were waiting for help as a captain of Oruç Reis, he returned with two warships given by Yavuz as aid. When Pîrî Reis came to Istanbul in 1516-1517, he returned to the service of the Ottoman navy; Derya Bey (Sea Colonel) received his rank and joined the Egypt expedition as a ship commander. He had the opportunity to go to Cairo with some of the navy and draw the Nile river.

Piri Reis won the praise of the sultan with his success in the capture of Alexandria and presented his map to the sultan during the campaign. One part of this map exists today, the other part is missing. According to some historians, the Ottoman sultan looked at the world map and said "How small is the world ...". Then he divided the map in two and said “we will keep the east side in our hands ..”. The Sultan discarded the other half, which would later be found in 1929. It is even claimed by some sources that he wanted to use the eastern half, which has not been found today, for a possible expedition by the Sultan to take control of the Indian Ocean and its Spice Road.

Piri Reis returned to Gallipoli after the expedition to make a book for Bahriye from the notes he kept. She gathered her maritime notes in Kitab-ı Bahriye, a Maritime Book (Navigation Guide).

The period of Kan Sultannî Sultan Süleyman was the period of great conquests. Pîrî Reis joined the Ottoman Navy during the Rhodes campaign in 1523. In 1524, when he gained the appreciation and support of Grand Vizier Damat İbrahim Pasha, who was guided in the course of Egypt, he presented his Book of the Book, which he revised in 1525, to Kanuni through İbrahim Pasha.

The life of Pîrî Reis up to 1526 can be seen in Kitab-ı Bahriye. Pîrî Reis drew the second world map with more content than the first one in 1528.

When Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha became the captain in 1533, Pîrî Reis also received the title of Derya Sancak Bey (Tümamral). Pîrî Reis worked for the state in the southern waters in the following years. After Barbaros's death in 1546, he served as the Egyptian Captain (also called the Captain of the Indian Seas), aging in naval missions in the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The last mission he did in the Ottoman navy was the Egyptian Captain, which resulted in his execution.


Pîrî Reis was in constant war with Portugal during the reign of Kanûnî. When he was 80 years old, he was assigned a new mission because he succeeded in suppressing the Arab revolt in the city of Aden. Suez was asked to go to Basra with the navy and take 15.000 soldiers and other ships there, and take over Hürmüz Island. It was asked to reach this island as much as possible without getting into the Portuguese. Piri Reis, who sailed to the Indian Ocean with about thirty ships, managed to defeat more than twice the number of Portuguese ships here. Some Portuguese who escaped from the war escaped to the fortress on the island of Hormuz. The castle was surrounded, but the Portuguese garrison here could not be occupied because it was prepared. The siege has been removed. Some historians claim that the reason for this siege to be lifted was that Piri Reis took a bribe from the Portuguese. Piri Reis, who was angry with the help of the people of the region, looted here.

This loot started the incident that led him to the execution process. Basra governor Ramazanoğlu asked for help from Kubad Pasha. But the governor wanted to arrest him for this raid and to confiscate his property. He heard news that the Portuguese navy had set out to close the Persian gulf with a wide force. Piri Reis' navy was undergoing maintenance and repair. In order not to be exposed to the blockade of the Portuguese, he left his soldiers and returned to the naval center shipyard in Suez with 3 ships loot. The complaint of the governor of Basra reached the governor of Egypt. Pîrî Reis was arrested. Piri Reis was tried for lifting the siege and leaving the navy in the matter conveyed to the court from the governor of Egypt. Although he voiced the drawbacks of sailing with a neglected navy, he could not prevent being found guilty. Upon the decree of Kanûnî Sultan Süleyman, he was executed by shooting his neck in Cairo in 1553. When he was executed, Piri Reis's estate, who was over 80 years old, was seized by the state.

Günceleme: 25/10/2020 00:20

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