3674 x 5164 px | 31,1 x 43,7 cm | 12,2 x 17,2 inches | 300dpi
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Omar Pasha Latas (1806-71) was an Ottoman General of Serb origin whose birth name was Mihailo Latas (Michael Latas). He was born in Serbian Kraina Janja Gora, municipality of Plaški in present-day Croatia, at the time part of the Austrian Empire. Educated at a military school, he joined a frontier regiment. Latas fled to Bosnia in 1823 to escape charges of embezzlement. There he converted to Islam. His father Petar served in the Austrian Army and in time was appointed military mayor of their home village. Michael was an intelligent and lively if rather sickly child. He developed a passion for military, and on leaving school he was accepted as a cadet in his father's Ogulin Regiment. 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. Michael understandably felt that he couldn't stay with the Regiment, and he took off for Bosnia. 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 military governor of Lebanon in 1842, won distinction in suppressing rebellions in Albania, Bosnia, and Kurdistan, but his chief services were rendered in the Russian War; he successfully defended Kalafat in 1853, entered Bucharest in 1854, and defeated 40,000 Russians next year at Eupatoria in the Crimea. His capture of Cetinje, Montenegro, in 1862 was a difficult feat. After living rough for a time, he was offered a position as tutor to the children of a Turkish merchant, on condition that he changed his religion from Serbian Orthodoxy to Islam. Although an easy enough condition to fulfil 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 Turks.
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