The Battle of Djerba (Turkish: Cerbe) took place in May 1560 near the island of Djerba, Tunisia. The Ottomans under Piyale Pasha's command overwhelmed a large joint Christian Alliance fleet, composed chiefly of Spanish, Papal, Genoese, Maltese and Neapolitan forces. The allies lost 27 galleys and some smaller vessels as well as the fortified island of Djerba. This victory marked perhaps the high point of Ottoman power in the Mediterranean Sea.
Until about 1573 the Mediterranean headed the list of Spanish priorities under Philip II of Spain (1556–98); under his leadership the Habsburg galley fleet increased to about 100 ships, and more in wartime. Spain sent a major fleet against the Turks in 1560, aiming for the island of Djerba off the coast west of Tripoli. The Ottoman fleet won a resounding victory, killing more than 10,000 men and sinking many vessels. However, typically of the aftermath of Mediterranean battles, they did not follow up the victory. Spain was able to rebuild its fleet in the next two years and prepared a new offensive in 1563-64 with nearly 100 ships. Despite the Ottomans being victorious in the battle, they were unable to attack the Venetian center of gravity.
|Battle of Djerba|
Historic map of Djerba by Piri Reis
|Order of Saint John||Ottoman Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
Giovanni Andrea Doria|
Juan de la Cerda
Don Alvaro de Sande (POW)
66 other vessels
200 ships total
|86 galleys and galliots|
|Casualties and losses|
60 ships sunk or captured,|
9,000 ~ 18,000 men,
5,000 prisoners(during siege)
Few galliots lost,|
About 1,000 men
Since losing against Barbarossa Hayreddin's Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Preveza in 1538 and the disastrous expedition of Emperor Charles V against Barbarossa in Algiers in 1541, the major European sea powers in the Mediterranean, Spain and Venice, felt more and more threatened by the Ottomans and their corsair allies. Indeed, by 1558 Piyale Pasha had captured the Balearic Islands and together with Turgut Reis raided the Mediterranean coasts of Spain. King Philip II of Spain appealed to Pope Paul IV and his allies in Europe to organize an expedition to retake Tripoli from Turgut Reis, who had captured the city from the Maltese Knights in August 1551 and had subsequently been made Bey (Governor) of Tripoli by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
The historian William H. Prescott wrote that the sources describing the Djerba campaign were so contradictory it was impossible to reconcile them. Most historians believe that the fleet assembled by the allied Christian powers in 1560 consisted of between 50 and 60 galleys and between 40 and 60 smaller craft. For example, Giacomo Bosio, the official historian of the Knights of St John writes that there were 54 galleys. Fernand Braudel also gives 54 warships plus 36 supply vessels. One of the most detailed accounts is by Carmel Testa who evidently has access to the archives of the Knights of St. John. He lists precisely 54 galleys, 7 brigs, 17 frigates, 2 galleons, 28 merchant vessels and 12 small ships. These were supplied by a coalition that consisted of Genoa, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Papal States, and the Knights of S. John. Matthew Carr gives the number of 200 ships for the Christian Alliance. The joint fleet was assembled at Messina under the command of Giovanni Andrea Doria, nephew of the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria. It first sailed to Malta, where bad weather forced it to remain for two months. During this time some 2,000 men were lost to sickness.
On 10 February 1560, the fleet set sail for Tripoli. The precise numbers of soldiers aboard are not known. Braudel gives 10,000-12,000; Testa 14,000; older figures in excess of 20,000 are clearly exaggerations considering the number of men a sixteenth-century galley could carry.
Although the expedition landed not far from Tripoli, the lack of water, sickness and a freak storm caused the commanders to abandon their original objective, and on 7 March they returned to the island of Djerba, which they quickly overran. The Viceroy of Sicily, Juan de la Cerda, 4th Duke of Medinaceli, ordered a fort to be built on the island, and construction was begun. By that time an Ottoman fleet of about 86 galleys and galliots under the command of the Ottoman admiral Piyale Pasha was already underway from Istanbul. Piyale's fleet arrived at Djerba on 11 May 1560, much to the surprise of the Christian forces.
The battle was over in a matter of hours, with about half the Christian galleys captured or sunk. Anderson gives the total number of Christian casualties as 18,000 but Guilmartin more conservatively puts the losses at about 9,000 of which about two-thirds would have been oarsmen.
The surviving soldiers took refuge in the fort they had completed just days earlier, which was soon attacked by the combined forces of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis (who had joined Piyale Pasha on the third day), but not before Giovanni Andrea Doria managed to escape in a small vessel. After a siege of three months, the garrison surrendered and, according to Bosio, Piyale carried about 5,000 prisoners back to Istanbul, including the Spanish commander, D. Alvaro de Sande, who had taken command of the Christian forces after Doria had fled. The accounts of the final days of the besieged garrison are irreconcilable. Ogier de Busbecq, the Austrian Habsburg ambassador to Constantinople, recounts in his famous Turkish Letters that, recognizing the futility of armed resistance, de Sande had tried to escape in a small boat, but was quickly captured. In other accounts, for instance Braudel's, he led a sortie on 29 July and was in that way captured. Through Busbecq's efforts, de Sande was ransomed and released several years later and fought against the Turks at the Siege of Malta in 1565.
The victory in the Battle of Djerba represented the apex of Ottoman naval domination in the Mediterranean, which had been growing since the victory at the Battle of Preveza 22 years earlier.
Of particular importance were the crippling losses of the Spanish fleet in experienced personnel: 600 skilled mariners (oficiales) and 2,400 arquebusier marines were lost, men who could not be quickly replaced.
After Djerba the Maltese channel lay open and it was inevitable that the Ottomans soon turned on the new base of the Knights of St John in Malta in 1565 (the Knights having previously been expelled from Rhodes in 1522), but did not succeed in taking it.
The victorious Ottomans erected a pyramid of skulls of the defeated Spanish defenders, which stood until the late nineteenth century. A small monument now stands in its place at Borj Ghazi Mustafa, Homt Souk.
Year 1560 (MDLX) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.Battle of Ponza (1552)
The Battle of Ponza (1552) was a naval battle that occurred near the Italian island of Ponza. The battle was fought between a Franco-Ottoman fleet under Dragut and a Genoese fleet commanded by Andrea Doria. The Genoese were defeated and lost seven galleys captured. The battle made it easier for the Ottoman fleet to raid the coasts of Sicily, Sardinia and Italy for the next three years.Battle of Preveza
The Battle of Preveza was a naval battle that took place on 28 September 1538 near Preveza in northwestern Greece between an Ottoman fleet and that of a Christian alliance assembled by Pope Paul III in which the Ottoman fleet defeated the allies. It occurred in the same area in the Ionian Sea as the Battle of Actium, 31 BC. It was one of the three largest sea battles that took place in the sixteenth century Mediterranean.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.Cığalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha
Cığalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha (also known as Cağaloğlu Yusuf Sinan Pasha; c. 1545–1605), his epithet meaning "son of Cicala", was an Ottoman Italian statesman who held the office of Grand Vizier for forty days between 27 October to 5 December 1596, during the reign of Mehmed III. He was also a Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy) as well as a military general.
He was born as Scipione Cicala in Genoa or Messina around 1545, as a member of the aristocratic Genoese family of Cicala. His father, a Viscount (di Cicala), was, according to Stephan Gerlach, a corsair in the service of Spain, while his mother is said to have been a Turk from Castelnuovo (Herceg Novi today). The Visconte and his son, captured at the Battle of Djerba by the Ottoman navy in 1560 or 1561, were taken first to Tripoli in North Africa and then to Constantinople. The father was in due course ransomed from captivity and, after living for some time at Beyoğlu (Pera), returned to Messina, where he died in 1564. His son, Scipione, was not released, but was inducted into the Ottoman corps of young boys to be trained for imperial service. He converted, as was required, to Islam and was trained in the Imperial palace, rising to the rank of silahtar. He eventually married, first one (1573) and then (1576) another great-granddaughter of Süleyman the Magnificent. He found himself assured of wealth, high office and protection at the Porte.
He became Agha of the Janissaries in 1575 and retained this office until 1578. During the next phase of his career he saw much active service in the long Ottoman-Persian war of 1578-1590. He was beylerbey (governor-general) of Van in 1583, and assumed command, in the same year, of the great fortress of Erivan, being raised to the rank of vizier at the same time. He also played a prominent role, once more as Beylerley of Van, in the campaign of 1585 against Tabriz. As Beylerbey of Bayazıt, an appointment which he received in 1586, he fought with success in western Persia during the last years of the war, bringing Nihavand and Hamadan under Ottoman control.
After the peace of 1590, he was made governor of Erzurum, and in 1591, became Kapudan Pasha or Grand Admiral of the Ottoman fleet. He held this office until 1595. During the third Grand Vizierate (1593–1595) of Koca Sinan Pasha he was promoted to Fourth Vizier. At that time, the Ottomans had been at war with Austria since 1593. Cağaloğlu Yusuf Sinan Pasha, by then appointed Third Vizier, accompanied Sultan Mehmed III on the Hungarian campaign of 1596. He tried in vain to relieve the fortress of Hatvan, which fell in September 1596. He was present at the successful Ottoman siege of Eger (Eğri) (September–October 1596) and at the Battle of Mezö-Keresztes in October 1596 and took part in the final assault that turned an imminent defeat into a notable triumph for the Ottomans. In reward for his services, he was made Grand Vizier, but the discontent arising from the measures which he used in an effort to restore discipline amongst the Ottoman forces, the troubles which followed his intervention in the affairs of the Crimean Tatars, and the existence at court of powerful influences eager to restore Damat İbrahim Pasha to the Grand Vizierate, brought about his deposition from this office after 40 days.
He was Beylerbey of Damascus from December 1597 to January 1598. In May 1599, he was made Kapudan Pasha for the second time. In 1604, he assumed command of the eastern front, where a new war between the Ottomans and the Persians had broken out in the preceding year. His campaign of 1605 was unsuccessful, the forces he led towards Tabriz suffering defeat near the shore of Lake Urmia. Cağaloğlu had to withdraw to the fortress of Van and thence in the direction of Diyarbekir. He died in the course of this retreat in December 1605. He was ancestor of İlhan İrem, who is a famous Turkish pop singer.
The Cağaloğlu quarter in Istanbul, a household name in Turkey for having been the equivalent of London's Fleet Street as the city's press center, and where Yusuf Sinan Pasha had constructed a palace and a hamam (Turkish bath), is named after him and carries his name to this day. The bath, known as Cağaloğlu Hamam after the Pasha, was reconstructed in 1741.
The song "Sinàn Capudàn Pascià" by the Genoese singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André tells the story of Sinan Pasha. It is completely in Genoese dialect and is part of the album Crêuza de mä.Dragut
Dragut (Turkish: Turgut Reis) (1485 – 23 June 1565), known as "The Drawn Sword of Islam", was a Muslim Ottoman naval commander, governor, and noble, of Greek descent. Under his command, the Ottoman Empire's maritime power was extended across North Africa. Recognized for his military genius, and as being among "the most dangerous" of corsairs, Dragut has been referred to as "the greatest pirate warrior of all time", "undoubtedly the most able of all the Turkish leaders", and "the uncrowned king of the Mediterranean". He was described by a French Admiral as "A living chart of the Mediterranean, skillful enough on land to be compared to the finest generals of the time. No one was more worthy than he to bear the name of king".In addition to serving as Admiral and Corsair in the Ottoman Empire's Navy under Suleiman the Magnificent, Dragut was also appointed Bey of Algiers and Djerba, Beylerbey of the Mediterranean, as well as Bey, and subsequently Pasha, of Tripoli. While serving as Pasha of Tripoli, Dragut constructed great feats in the city, making it one of the most impressive to behold along all the North African Coast.Francisco de Quiñónez
Francisco de Quiñónez (? - ? Leon †); Spanish soldier who was appointed as governor of Chile for thirteen months, between May 1599 and June 1600.
When he became governor of Chile, Quiñónez was a veteran soldier. He had served, in 1559, in the Spanish Tercios that operated in Italy. He embarked in the squadron of the viceroy of Naples, in a campaign against Turkish pirates. In 1560 in the Battle of Djerba that was a disaster for the Spaniards who lost thirty ships. Quiñónez became one of the five thousand prisoners who were taken to Istambul and sold as slaves. Later rescued by means of the payment of a large ransom, he continued as a soldier fighting in Italy and Flanders. On his return to Spain, Quiñónez married Grimanesa de Mogrovejo, sister of the inquisidor of Granada, later canonized as Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo. When this monk was promoted to the rank of archbishop of Lima, Quiñónez went to Peru, in 1580, as part of his retinue. Thanks to the protection of the archbishop, Quiñónez soon became Maestro de Campo and general commissioner of the cavalry. In 1582, the Viceroy of Peru, Martin Enríquez de Almansa made him commander of the treasure fleet that sailed from Peru to Panama, be sent to Spain from there. Later he was named corregidor of Lima, a position in which he gained some notice as a pursuer of thieves and vagabonds.
Quiñónez was designated Royal Governor of Chile by the Viceroy of Peru, Luis de Velasco, after finding out about the death of Martín García Óñez de Loyola at the hands of the forces of the Mapuche toqui Pelantaro, in the Battle of Curalaba. Once in Chile he replaced the lawyer Pedro de Viscarra, who had temporarily administered the government. He commanded the Spaniards during the early desperate months of the Mapuche Revolt of 1598. During 1599, despite his efforts the Mapuche destroyed the forts of Chivicura and Jesus de Huenuraquí in Catirai and its city Santa Cruz de Coya, the cities of Santa María la Blanca de Valdivia, San Andrés de Los Infantes and San Bartolomé de Chillán y Gamboa. In 1600, Quiñónez was able to rebuild a fort at the site of the destroyed city of Chillán.Giovanni Andrea Doria
Giovanni Andrea Doria, also Gianandrea Doria (1539–1606), was an Italian admiral from Genoa. He was the son of Giannettino Doria.
He became the Admiral of the Genoese Fleet in 1556 and commanded the combined Christian fleet of the Holy League at the Battle of Djerba in 1560, which was won by the Ottoman Turks under the command of Piyale Pasha. He also participated in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, commanding the right wing; the battle was won by the Christian forces and signaled the first ever defeat of the Ottoman Turks at sea. Doria also led an expedition against the Barbary states in 1601.
He was a knight commander of the Order of Santiago, Marquis of Tursi and 6th (or 2nd) Prince of Melfi (both titles inherited from his relation and adoptive father, the famed Genoese admiral Andrea Doria).Girolamo Cassar
Girolamo Cassar (Maltese: Ġlormu Cassar, c. 1520 – c. 1592) was a Maltese architect and military engineer. He was the resident engineer of the Order of St. John, and was admitted into the Order in 1569. He was involved in the construction of Valletta, initially as an assistant to Francesco Laparelli, before taking over the project himself. He designed many public, religious and private buildings in the new capital city, including Saint John's Co-Cathedral, the Grandmaster's Palace and the auberges. He was the father of Vittorio Cassar, another architect and engineer.Great Siege of Malta
The Great Siege of Malta (Maltese: L-Assedju l-Kbir) took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire tried to invade the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights, with approximately 2,000 footsoldiers and 400 Maltese men, women and children, withstood the siege and repelled the invaders. This victory became one of the most celebrated events in sixteenth-century Europe. Voltaire said, "Nothing is better known than the siege of Malta", and it undoubtedly contributed to the eventual erosion of the European perception of Ottoman invincibility and marked a new phase in Spanish domination of the Mediterranean.The siege was the climax of an escalating contest between a Christian alliance and the Islamic Ottoman Empire for control of the Mediterranean, a contest that included the Turkish attack on Malta in 1551, the Ottoman destruction of an allied Christian fleet at the Battle of Djerba in 1560, and the decisive Battle of Lepanto in 1571.Juan de la Cerda, 4th Duke of Medinaceli
Juan de la Cerda, 4th Duke of Medinaceli (c. 1514 – 1575), Grandee of Spain, was a Spanish nobleman.
He was the son of Don Juan de la Cerda, 2nd Duke of Medinaceli, by second wife María de Silva. In 1552 Juan de la Cerda inherited the titles from his older half-brother Gastón de la Cerda y Portugal.
Both half brothers, the 3rd, Gaston, and the 4th Duke, Juan II, are widely reported in many places and articles as being born "out of marriage" from different women and being "legitimated" males by the Crown as legal successors to their father, the second duke Juan I, also, apparently, a legitimated bastard, however.
In 1557, King Philip II of Spain appointed him Viceroy of Sicily, a position he held until 1564. During that time he besieged with a fleet the North-African harbor of Tripoli, now in Libya, dealing with Dragut, a Turkish privateer and Ottoman admiral. The force, including ships from Spain, Genoa, Tuscany, the Knights of Malta and the Papal States, was however nearly destroyed in the Battle of Djerba.
In 1567 he was appointed Viceroy of Navarre supposedly staying there till 1572, but it seems that towards the end of 1570, he became head of the household of Queen Anna of Austria, position he held until his death in 1575.
In the spring of 1572 Philip II sent Medinaceli to the Netherlands as governor. According to Henry Kamen, Medinaceli reported to the king that “Excessive rigour, the misconduct of some officers and soldiers, and the Tenth Penny, are the cause of all the ills, and not heresy or rebellion.” [...] One of the governor’s officers reported that in the Netherlands “the name of the house of Alba” was held in abhorrence. Medinaceli lobbied the King for the removal of the Duke of Alba as military commander. Deciding that the views of Medinaceli and Alba were not compatible, Philip II removed both and replaced them with Requesens.La Herradura naval disaster
The La Herradura naval disaster was a naval disaster on October 19, 1562 in the bay of La Herradura, Almuñécar, Spain. 25 ships sank in a storm and some 5,000 people were killed.
King Philip II of Spain had gathered a fleet in Málaga to relieve Spanish-held Oran, under siege by the Ottomans.
On October 18, 28 galleys, loaded with supplies, soldiers and their families set sail under command of Don Juan Hurtado de Mendoza y Carrillo, Captain General of the Galleys of Spain.
A strong easterly storm took the fleet by surprise, so Mendoza decided to take cover in La Herradura Bay.
This is a horseshoe-shaped bay, opening towards the south-west. But in the morning of October 19, the storm unexpectedly returned, now blowing from the south. The trapped ships were thrown onto each other and then crashed upon the rocks. 25 of the 28 galleys sank and between 3,000 and 5,000 people died. The surviving ships were La Soberana, Mendoza and San Juan. Some 2,000 people rescued themselves by swimming towards the coast. Many of them were galley slaves because they were lightly dressed and well-trained.
This was a true disaster for the Spanish Navy, which had just suffered a terrible defeat in the Battle of Djerba.
Nevertheless, Oran and Mers El Kébir were successfully defended against the Ottomans.
Today, a monument in La Herradura notes this tragedy.List of wars involving Malta
This article is a list of wars and battles involving Malta.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.Occhiali
Occhiali (Giovanni Dionigi Galeni or Giovan Dionigi Galeni, also Uluj Ali, Turkish: Uluç Ali Reis, later Uluç Ali Paşa and finally Kılıç Ali Paşa; 1519 – 21 June 1587) was an Italian farmer, then Ottoman privateer and admiral, who later became beylerbey of the Regency of Algiers, and finally Grand Admiral (Kapudan Pasha) of the Ottoman fleet in the 16th century.
Born Giovanni Dionigi Galeni, he was also known by several other names in the Christian countries of the Mediterranean and in the literature also appears under various names. Miguel de Cervantes called him Uchali in chapter XXXIX of his Don Quixote de la Mancha. Elsewhere he was simply called Ali Pasha. John Wolf, in his The Barbary Coast, refers to him as Euldj Ali.Ottoman wars in Africa
The Ottoman Empire was founded at the beginning of the 14th century. Beginning in the 16th century, it also began acquiring possessions following series of wars in coastal North Africa.Piali Pasha
Piali Pasha, (Turkish: Piyale Paşa) (c. 1515–1578) was an Ottoman Grand Admiral (Kapudan Pasha) between 1553 and 1567, and a Vizier after 1568. He is also known as Piale Pasha in English.Siege of Tripoli (1551)
The Siege of Tripoli occurred in 1551 when the Ottomans besieged and vanquished the Knights of Malta in the fortress of Tripoli, modern Libya. The Spanish had established a fort in Tripoli in 1510, and Charles V remitted it to the Knights in 1530. The siege culminated in a six-day bombardment and the surrender of the city on 15 August.
The siege of Tripoli succeeded an earlier attack on Malta in July, which was repelled, and the successful invasion of Gozo, in which 5,000 Christian captives were taken and brought on galleys to the location of Tripoli.Álvaro de Sande
Don Álvaro de Sande (1489 – 20 October 1573) was a Spanish nobleman and military leader.
He was born in Cáceres, the son of Don Juan de Sande, second señor de Valhondo. Don Alvaro de Sande participated in numerous campaigns in the Spanish Army, including the Conquest of Tunis (1535), the conquest of Düren and Roermond in 1543, and the grand Battle of Mühlberg in 1549, in which Sande distinguished himself. When the German Campaign ended, Sande fought in the Italian War of 1551–1559 against France in the Tercios of Milan.
Despite his advanced age, he participated in 1560 in the Battle of Djerba against the Turks, which ended in disaster.
After the sea battle, the surviving soldiers took refuge in the fort they had completed just days earlier. When Giovanni Andrea Doria managed to escape in a small vessel, de Sande became commander of the force in the fort, which was soon attacked by the combined forces of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis. After a siege of three months, the garrison surrendered and 5,000 prisoners, including Alvaro de Sande, were carried back to Istanbul. After 2 years, de Sande was ransomed for 60,000 escudos and returned to Spain. The Holy Roman Empire's ambassador to Constantinople, Ogier de Busbecq, assisted the Spanish prisoners held by the Turks and was involved in securing de Sande's release. The two men travelled together as far as Vienna in the autumn of 1562. De Sande fought against the Turks again at the Siege of Malta in 1565.
Álvaro de Sande received Valdefuentes from King Philip II and was made first Marqués de la Piovera. He became interim Governor of the Duchy of Milan on 21 August 1571, a position that he held until 7 April 1572.
He married Antonia de Guzmán and had a son Rodrigo de Sande, 2nd marquês de la Piovera. He died in Milan.
Hungary and the Balkans
Ottoman victories are in bold.