Battle of Cape Celidonia

The battle of Cape Celidonia took place on 14 July 1616 during the Ottoman-Habsburg struggle for the control of the Mediterranean when a small Spanish fleet under the command of Francisco de Rivera y Medina cruising off Cyprus was attacked by an Ottoman fleet that vastly outnumbered it. Despite this, the Spanish ships, mostly galleons, managed to repel the Ottomans, whose fleet consisted mainly of galleys, inflicting heavy losses.


Cyprus and Asia Minor South Coast
Area of Rivera's cruise.

In mid-1616 a Spanish fleet under the command of Captain Don Francisco de Rivera y Medina sailed from the Spanish Kingdom of Sicily to Eastern Mediterranean waters in order to undertake privateering against Ottoman vessels and ports in the area between Cyprus and the region of Çukurova. It was composed of 5 galleons and a patache. These ships were the 52-gun Concepción, flagship of Rivera; the 34-gun Almirante, commanded by alférez Serrano; the 27-gun Buenaventura, under Don Ínigo de Urquiza; the 34-gun Carretina, commanded by Balmaseda; the 30-gun San Juan Bautista, commanded by Juan Cereceda; and the 14-gun patache Santiago under Gazarra. Aboard the ships were about 1,600 Spanish soldiers, of whom 1,000 were musketeers.[1]

The Spanish fleet sailed to the island of Cyprus, then under Ottoman rule, where Francisco de Rivera ordered that land be sighted prior to initiating of the cruise. During the mission 16 merchant caramoussals were captured by Rivera's fleet off Cape Celidonia, as well as an English privateer in Famagusta and a large number of minor vessels at sea.[5] In addition, ten warships were sunk or burnt in the port of Salinas, whose defenses were also destroyed by a landing party which suffered no loss.[5] The Ottoman governor of Cyprus, who had been rapidly informed regarding the Spanish activities, called for help from the Ottoman navy. Rivera, warned of the relief force thanks to the capture of a merchant vessel coming from Constantinople, decided to wait for his pursuers off Cape Celidonia in order to return to Sicily with a great victory.[5] A Turkish fleet of 55 galleys with about 275 guns and 12,000 fighting men on board appeared off the cape few days later, on 14 July.[1]


The battle began at 9 am when the Ottoman galleys moved toward the Spanish ships and opened fire. Previously they had formed up into a huge crescent, designed to encircle the Spanish ships. To avoid his ships becoming separated and overwhelmed individually in the light wind conditions, de Rivera ordered his ships join each other end to end with chains. The Concepción stood at the vanguard, being followed by the Carretina, the Almiranta, and the patache Santiago.[6] The other two ships remained on standby. Their heavy artillery fire kept the Turkish vessels at bay until sunset. The attackers then withdrew to their initial positions with eight galleys about to sink and many others damaged.[6]

The attack was resumed the next morning, when, after a night war council, the Ottomans attacked in two groups which separately attempted to capture the Capitana (or flagship) and the Amiranta (or secondary ship). After approaching inside the range of the Spanish muskets, the galleys were subjected to the heavy gunfire of the entire Spanish flotilla. Unable to board the Spanish ships, the Ottoman force withdrew in the evening with another 10 galleys heeling over.[6]

That night a new council of war took place during which the Turks decided to resume the action at dawn. After a speech that boosted their morale, the Ottomans attacked with great resolve and managed to approach Rivera's flagship from a more favorable angle in order to exploit her blind spot. Nevertheless, the Spanish commander, who had foreseen such a possibility, ordered that the Santiago move to his ship's bow. This maneuver exposed the Turkish galleys to more heavy gunfire which inflicted severe damage, finally forcing the Ottoman force to withdraw at 3:00 pm with another galley sunk, two dismasted and 17 others severely damaged or heeling over.[7]


The Turkish fleet suffered heavy losses, with 10 galleys sunk and another 23 disabled. 1,200 Janissaries and 2,000 sailors and rowers were killed.[4] The Spanish, suffered 34 dead and 93 wounded as well as damage to the rigging of the Concepción and the Santiago, which had to be towed by the other ships. For his success Rivera was promoted to Admiral by King Philip III, who also rewarded him with the habit of the Order of Santiago.[4] The soldiers and sailors of the fleet were also recognized by the Duke of Osuna. Some time later the Spanish playwright and poet Don Luís Vélez de Guevara wrote the comedy "El asombro de Turquía y valiente toledano" ("the wonder of Turkey and the courageous Toledoan") to commemorate the battle.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Rodríguez González, p. 312
  2. ^ Linde, p. 123
  3. ^ Fernández Duro, p. 108
  4. ^ a b c Fernández Duro, p. 110
  5. ^ a b c Fernández Duro, p. 106
  6. ^ a b c Rodríguez González, p. 313
  7. ^ a b Rodríguez González, p. 314


  • Fernández Duro, Cesáreo (2006). El gran duque de Osuna y su marina: jornadas contra turcos y venecianos (1602–1624) (in Spanish). Spain: Editorial Renacimiento. ISBN 978-84-8472-126-0.
  • Rodríguez González, Agustín Ramón (2004). Lepanto, la batalla que salvó a Europa (in Spanish). Spain: Grafite Ediciones. ISBN 978-84-96281-16-5.
  • Linde, Luís M. (2005). Don Pedro Girón, duque de Osuna: la hegemonía española en Europa a comienzos del siglo XVII (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain: Encuentro. ISBN 978-84-7490-762-9.
Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, led by the Venetian Republic and the Spanish Empire, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras. The Ottoman forces were sailing westward from their naval station in Lepanto (the Venetian name of ancient Naupactus Ναύπακτος, Ottoman İnebahtı) when they met the fleet of the Holy League which was sailing east from Messina, Sicily. The Holy League was a coalition of European Catholic maritime states which was arranged by Pope Pius V and led by John of Austria. The league was largely financed by Philip II of Spain, and the Venetian Republic was the main contributor of ships.In the history of naval warfare, Lepanto marks the last major engagement in the Western world to be fought almost entirely between rowing vessels, namely the galleys and galeasses which were the direct descendants of ancient trireme warships. The battle was in essence an "infantry battle on floating platforms". It was the largest naval battle in Western history since classical antiquity, involving more than 400 warships. Over the following decades, the increasing importance of the galleon and the line of battle tactic would displace the galley as the major warship of its era, marking the beginning of the "Age of Sail".

The victory of the Holy League is of great importance in the history of Europe and of the Ottoman Empire, marking the turning-point of Ottoman military expansion into the Mediterranean, although the Ottoman wars in Europe would continue for another century. It has long been compared to the Battle of Salamis, both for tactical parallels and for its crucial importance in the defense of Europe against imperial expansion. It was also of great symbolic importance in a period when Europe was torn by its own wars of religion following the Protestant Reformation, strengthening the position of Philip II of Spain as the "Most Catholic King" and defender of Christendom against Muslim incursion. Historian Paul K. Davis writes that, "More than a military victory, Lepanto was a moral one. For decades, the Ottoman Turks had terrified Europe, and the victories of Suleiman the Magnificent caused Christian Europe serious concern. The defeat at Lepanto further exemplified the rapid deterioration of Ottoman might under Selim II, and Christians rejoiced at this setback for the Ottomans. The mystique of Ottoman power was tarnished significantly by this battle, and Christian Europe was heartened."


A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by rowing. The galley is characterized by its long, slender hull, shallow draft and low freeboard (clearance between sea and railing). Virtually all types of galleys had sails that could be used in favorable winds, but human strength was always the primary method of propulsion. This allowed galleys to navigate independently of winds and currents. The galley originated among the seafaring civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea in the late second millennium BC and remained in use in various forms until the early 19th century in warfare, trade and piracy.

Galleys were the warships used by the early Mediterranean naval powers, including the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans. They remained the dominant types of vessels used for war and piracy in the Mediterranean Sea until the last decades of the 16th century. As warships, galleys carried various types of weapons throughout their long existence, including rams, catapults and cannons, but also relied on their large crews to overpower enemy vessels in boarding actions. They were the first ships to effectively use heavy cannons as anti-ship weapons. As highly efficient gun platforms they forced changes in the design of medieval seaside fortresses as well as refinement of sailing warships.

The zenith of galley usage in warfare came in the late 16th century with battles like that at Lepanto in 1571, one of the largest naval battles ever fought. By the 17th century, however, sailing ships and hybrid ships like the xebec displaced galleys in naval warfare. They were the most common warships in the Atlantic Ocean during the Middle Ages, and later saw limited use in the Caribbean, the Philippines and the Indian Ocean in the early modern period, mostly as patrol craft to combat pirates. From the mid-16th century galleys were in intermittent use in the Baltic Sea, with its short distances and extensive archipelagoes. There was a minor revival of galley warfare in the 18th century in the wars among Russia, Sweden and Denmark.

List of wars involving Spain

This is a list of wars fought by the Kingdom of Spain or on Spanish territory.

Pedro Téllez-Girón, 3rd Duke of Osuna

Pedro Téllez-Girón, 3rd Duke of Osuna (17 February 1574 – 20 September 1624) was a Spanish nobleman and politician. He was the 2nd Marquis of Peñafiel, 7th Count of Ureña, Spanish Viceroy of Sicily (1611–1616), Viceroy of Naples (1616–1620), a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece since 1608, Grandee of Spain, member of the Spanish Supreme Council of War, and the subject of several poems by his friend, counselor and assistant, Francisco de Quevedo.

Spanish Empire

The Spanish Empire (Spanish: Imperio Español; Latin: Imperium Hispanicum), historically known as the Hispanic Monarchy (Spanish: Monarquía Hispánica) and as the Catholic Monarchy (Spanish: Monarquía Católica), was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World and the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies" (Spanish: Las Indias). It also included territories in Europe, Africa and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Portuguese Empire. It was the world's most powerful empire during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, reaching its maximum extension in the 18th century. The Spanish Empire was the first empire to be called "the empire on which the sun never sets".Castile became the dominant kingdom in Iberia because of its jurisdiction over the overseas empire in the Americas and the Philippines. The structure of empire was established under the Spanish Habsburgs (1516–1700) and under the Spanish Bourbon monarchs, the empire was brought under greater crown control and increased its revenues from the Indies. The crown's authority in The Indies was enlarged by the papal grant of powers of patronage, giving it power in the religious sphere. An important element in the formation of Spain's empire was the dynastic union between Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, known as the Catholic Monarchs, which initiated political, religious and social cohesion but not political unification. Iberian kingdoms retained their political identities, with particular administration and juridical configurations.

Although the power of the Spanish sovereign as monarch varied from one territory to another, the monarch acted as such in a unitary manner over all the ruler's territories through a system of councils: the unity did not mean uniformity. In 1580, when Philip II of Spain succeeded to the throne of Portugal (as Philip I), he established the Council of Portugal, which oversaw Portugal and its empire and "preserv[ed] its own laws, institutions, and monetary system, and united only in sharing a common sovereign." The Iberian Union remained in place until in 1640, when Portugal overthrew Habsburg rule and reestablished independence under the House of Braganza. Under Philip II, Spain, rather than the Habsburg empire, was identified as the most powerful nation in the world, easily eclipsing France and England. Furthermore, despite attacks from other European states, Spain retained its position of dominance with apparent ease.

The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis (1559) confirmed the inheritance of Philip II in Italy (the Mezzogiorno and the Duchy of Milan). Spain's claims to Naples and Sicily in southern Italy dated back to the Aragonese presence in the 15th century. Following the peace reached in 1559, there would be no Neapolitan revolts against Spanish rule until 1647. The Duchy of Milan formally remained part of the Holy Roman Empire but the title of Duke of Milan was given to the King of Spain. The death of the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent in 1566 and the naval victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 gave Spain a claim to be the greatest power not just in Europe but also in the world.

The Spanish Empire in the Americas was formed after conquering large stretches of land, beginning with Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean Islands. In the early 16th century, it conquered and incorporated the Aztec and Inca Empires, retaining indigenous elites loyal to the Spanish crown and converts to Christianity as intermediaries between their communities and royal government. After a short period of delegation of authority by the crown in the Americas, the crown asserted control over those territories and established the Council of the Indies to oversee rule there. Some scholars consider the initial period of the Spanish conquest as marking the most egregious case of genocide in the history of mankind. The death toll may have reached some 70 million indigenous people (out of 80 million) in this period. However, other scholars believe the vast majority of indigenous deaths were due to the low immunological capacity of native populations to resist exogenous diseases. Many native tribes and their cultures were entirely wiped out by the Spanish conquest and disease epidemics.The structure of governance of its overseas empire was significantly reformed in the late 18th century by the Bourbon monarchs. Although the crown attempted to keep its empire a closed economic system under Habsburg rule, Spain was unable to supply the Indies with sufficient consumer goods to meet demand, so that foreign merchants from Genoa, France, England, Germany, and The Netherlands dominated the trade, with silver from the mines of Peru, Bolivia and Mexico flowing to other parts of Europe. The merchant guild of Seville (later Cadiz) served as middlemen in the trade. The crown's trade monopoly was broken early in the seventeenth century, with the crown colluding with the merchant guild for fiscal reasons in circumventing the supposedly closed system. Spain was unable to defend the territories it claimed in the Americas, with the Dutch, the English, and the French taking Caribbean islands, using them to engage in contraband trade with the Spanish populace in the Indies. In the seventeenth century, the diversion of silver revenue to pay for European consumer goods and the rising costs of defense of its empire meant that "tangible benefits of America to Spain were a moment when the costs of empire were climbing sharply."The Bourbon monarchy attempted to expand the possibilities for trade within the empire, by allowing commerce between all ports in the empire, and took other measures to revive economic activity to the benefit of Spain. The Bourbons had inherited "an empire invaded by rivals, an economy shorn of manufactures, a crown deprived of revenue... [and tried to reverse the situation by] taxing colonists, tightening control, and fighting off foreigners. In the process, they gained a revenue and lost an empire." The Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian peninsula precipitated the Spanish American wars of independence (1808-1826), resulting the loss of its most valuable colonies. In its former colonies in the Americas, Spanish is the dominant language and Catholicism the main religion, enduring cultural legacies of the Spanish Empire.

Battles involving the Ottoman Empire by era
Classical Age
Old Regime

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