The great-grandson of a Sardinian nobleman who converted to Islam after being kidnapped by Barbary corsairs, Beji Caid Essebsi was one of the major figures in Tunisia’s political history. He moved to France to practice law in his mid-20s, where he found regular work defending Tunisian nationalist politicians against their colonial masters. Upon Tunisia’s independence, he returned to the country to serve as a chief advisor to Habib Bourguiba, the nation’s first independent leader. He spent the next 50 years in and out of government, often clashing with figures who were less democratically-inclined or more Islamist than him. He became the country’s prime minister in 2011 following the Arab Spring, and at the age of 88 founded the secular Nidaa Tounes. Electorally successful from formation, Essebsi was voted in as president in 2014, a role he still held at the time of his death.