Algiers expedition (1541)

The 1541 Algiers expedition occurred when Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire attempted to lead a fleet against the Ottoman Empire's stronghold of Algiers, in modern Algeria. Lackluster planning and unfavourable weather meant that the expedition was a failure.

Algiers expedition
Part of the Ottoman-Habsburg wars
Siege of Algiers 1541

Siege of Algiers in 1541. Engraving of 1555.
DateOctober – November 1541
Result Ottoman victory

Charles V Arms-personal.svg Empire of Charles V:

Sovereign Military Order of Malta Order of Saint John
 Republic of Genoa
 Papal States

Kingdom of Kuku[1]
Regency of Algiers
Commanders and leaders
Charles V
Navy: Andrea Doria
Army: Duke of Alba[2]
Ferrante I Gonzaga
Spain Hernán Cortés
Republic of Genoa Gianettino Doria
Spain Bernardino de Mendoza
Sovereign Military Order of Malta Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon
Hasan Ağa
Total of 80 galleys
Total of 500 ships.[2]
12,000 sailors.[2]
24,000 soldiers.[2]
Charles V Arms-personal.svg 100 transports.[2]
Spain 50 galleys.[2]
Spain 100 transports.[2]
Republic of Genoa 14 galleys
Papal States 8 galleys
Kingdom of Naples 150 transports.[2]
Sovereign Military Order of Malta 700 knights.
800 soldiers
5,000 Moors.[2][3]
Casualties and losses
300 officers.[2]
17,000 men.[2]
17 galleys
130 carracks.[2]


Algiers had been under the control of the Ottoman Emperor Suleiman the Magnificent since its capture in 1529 by Barbarossa. Barbarossa had left Algiers in 1535 to be named High Admiral of the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople, and was replaced as Governor by Hassan Agha, a eunuch and Sardinian renegade.[2] Hassan had in his service the well-known Ottoman naval commanders Dragut, Sālih Reïs and Sinān Pasha.[2]

Charles V made considerable preparations for the expedition, wishing to obtain revenge for the recent siege of Buda,[4] However the Spanish and Genoese fleets was severely damaged by a storm, forcing him to abandon the venture.[5][6]


Charles V embarked very late in the season, on 28 September 1541, delayed by troubles in Germany and Flanders.[2][7] The fleet was assembled in the Bay of Palma, at Majorca.[2] It had more than 500 sails and 24,000 soldiers.[2]

After enduring difficult weather, the fleet only arrived in front of Algiers on 19 October.[8] The most distinguished Spanish commanders accompanied Charles V on this expedition, including Hernán Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico, though he was never invited to the War Council.[7]

Troops were disembarked on 23 October, and Charles established his headquarters on a land promontory surrounded by German troops.[7] German, Spanish, and Italian troops, accompanied by 150 knights of Malta, began to land while repelling Algerine opposition, soon surrounding the city, except for the northern part.[2]

The fate of the city seemed to be sealed, however the following day the weather became severe with heavy rains. Many galleys lost their anchors and 15 were wrecked onshore. Another 33 carracks sank, while many more were dispersed.[9] As more troops were attempting to land, the Algerines started to make sorties, slaughtering the newly arrived. Charles V was surrounded, and was only saved by the resistance of the Knights of Malta.[10]

Andrea Doria managed to find a safer harbour for the remainder of the fleet at Cape Matifu, 5 miles east of Algiers. He enjoined Charles V to abandon his position and join him in Matifu, which Charles V did with great difficulty.[11] From there, still oppressed by the weather, the remaining troops sailed to Bougie, still a Spanish harbour at that time. Charles could only depart for the open sea on 23 November.[12] Throwing his horses overboard, Charles abandoned his army and sailed home.[13] He finally reached Cartagena, in southeast Spain, on 3 December.[14]

Losses amongst the invading force were heavy with 17 galleys and 130 carracks lost, plus large numbers of sailors and soldiers.[15] A Turkish chronicler confirming that the Berber tribes were massacring the 12.000 men of invading forces[16] So many of Charles' troops were taken captive that there was a glut of slaves on the market in Algiers, so that 1541 was said to be the year when Christians were sold for the price of an onion per head.[17]


The disaster considerably weakened the Spanish, and Hassan Agha took the opportunity to attack Mers-el-Kebir, the harbour of the Spanish base of Oran, in July 1542.[18]


  1. ^ Berber Government: The Kabyle Polity in Pre-colonial Algeria, p191
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r The Story of the Barbary Corsairs by Stanley Lane-Poole p.114ff [1]
  3. ^ Handbook for travellers in Algeria and Tunis, Algiers, Oran, Constantine ... by John Murray (Firm),Sir Robert Lambert Playfair p.38
  4. ^ Garnier, p.201
  5. ^ European warfare, 1494–1660 by Jeremy Black p.177
  6. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936 by Martijn Theodoor Houtsma p.258 [2]
  7. ^ a b c Garnier, p.202
  8. ^ Garnier, p.203
  9. ^ Garnier, p.204ff
  10. ^ Garnier, p.204
  11. ^ Garnier, p.205
  12. ^ Garnier, p.207
  13. ^ Roger Crowley, Empires of the Sea, faber and faber 2008 p.73
  14. ^ Garnier, p.206
  15. ^ Garnier, p.208
  16. ^ Garcés, María Antonia (2005). Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive's Tale (illustrated, revised ed.). Vanderbilt University Press. p. 24. ISBN 0826514707. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  17. ^ Roger Crowley, Empires of the Sea, faber and faber 2008 p. 73
  18. ^ A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period by Jamil M. Abun-Nasr p.155 ff


  • Garnier, Edith L'Alliance Impie Editions du Felin, 2008, Paris ISBN 978-2-86645-678-8 Interview
Battle of Algiers

Battle of Algiers or Algiers expedition may refer to:

The Siege of Algiers (1510) by Spain leading to the establishment of the Peñón of Algiers

The Capture of Algiers (1516) by Aruj Barbarossa

The Capture of Algiers (1529) by Hayreddin Barbarossa

The Algiers expedition (1541) by Charles I of Spain

The Invasion of Algiers (1775) by Spain

The Bombardment of Algiers (1783) by Spain

The Bombardment of Algiers (1784) by Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Sicily

The Bombardment of Algiers (1816) by an Anglo-Dutch fleet

The Invasion of Algiers in 1830 by France

Part of Operation Torch (1942) involving the liberation of Algiers by the Allies and the French Resistance from Vichy

The Battle of Algiers (1956–57), a campaign of guerrilla warfare carried out by the National Liberation Front (FLN) against the French Algerian authorities from late 1956 to late 1957

The Battle of Algiers, a 1966 film by Gillo Pontecorvo about the Algerian War

Conquest of Tunis (1535)

The Conquest of Tunis in 1535 was an attack on Tunis, then under the control of the Ottoman Empire, by the Habsburg Empire of Charles V and its allies.

Hasan Agha

Hasan Agha or Hadım Hassan Ağa, also Hassan the eunuch, was a Sardinian renegade and effective ruler of the Regency of Algiers from 1533 to 1545. He was the deputy of Hayreddin Barbarossa, who left him in command when he had to leave for Constantinople in 1533.In 1534 also, Hasan Agha continued to be left in command of Algiers when Barbarossa waged his campaigns in Tunisia. Hasan Agha ruled Algiers until 1545, as Barbarossa continued to be based in Istanbul as Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman fleet.

Hasan Agha was the commander of Algiers during the Algiers expedition (1541), in which Barbarossa was absent, and which ended with catastrophic results for Charles V.In 1542, he besieged the tribe of the Zaouaoua, who had supplied Charles V with 2,000 troops.Upon the retirement of Barbarossa in 1544, the son of Barbarossa Hasan Pasha was appointed Governor of Algiers to replace his father, and thus also replace Hasan Agha in the position of effective ruler.

Index of articles related to the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire (1299–1922) is a historical Muslim empire, also known by its contemporaries as the Turkish Empire or Turkey after the principal ethnic group. At its zenith in the second half of the 16th century it controlled Southeast Europe, Southwest Asia and North Africa. Below are the links to articles about the Ottoman Empire.

John of Austria

John of Austria (Spanish: Juan, German: Johann; 24 February 1547 – 1 October 1578) was an illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He became a military leader in the service of his half-brother, King Philip II of Spain, and is best known for his role as the admiral of the Holy Alliance fleet at the Battle of Lepanto.

List of sieges

A siege is a prolonged military assault and blockade on a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by force or attrition. A chronological list of sieges follows.

Navy of the Order of Saint John

The navy of the Order of Saint John, also known as the Maltese Navy after 1530, was the first navy of a chivalric order. It was established in the Middle Ages, around the late 12th century. The navy reached its peak in the 1680s, during the reign of Grand Master Gregorio Carafa. It was disbanded following the French invasion of Malta in 1798, and its ships were taken over by the French Navy.

Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon

Nicolas Durand, sieur de Villegaignon, also Villegagnon (1510 – 9 January 1571) was a Commander of the Knights of Malta, and later a French naval officer (vice-admiral of Brittany) who attempted to help the Huguenots in France escape persecution.

A notable public figure in his time, Villegaignon was a mixture of soldier, scientist, explorer, adventurer and entrepreneur. He fought pirates in the Mediterranean and participated in several wars.

Villegagnon was born in Provins, Seine et Marne, France, a nephew of Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Grand Master of the Order of Malta. He was ordained as a Knight of the Order in 1521.

Spanish Marine Infantry

The Spanish Marine Infantry (Spanish: Infantería de Marina; lit, Naval infantry) is the marine corps of the Spanish Navy (Armada Española) responsible for conducting amphibious warfare by utilizing naval platforms and resources. The Marine Corps is fully integrated into the Armada's structure.

The Corps was formed in 1537 by Charles I of Spain (also known as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor), making it the oldest marine corps in existence in the world, drawing from the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles.

Battles involving the Ottoman Empire by era
Classical Age
Old Regime

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.