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.

Conquest of Tunis
Part of the Ottoman–Habsburg wars
and the Ottoman–Portuguese conflicts
Battle of Tunis 1535 Attack on Goletta

Attack on La Goletta, with Tunis in the background.
Charles quint a tunis

Entry of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor into Tunis in 1535.
DateJune 1535
Tunis (present-day Tunisia)
Result Allied victory[1]
Muley Hassan of the Hafsid dynasty restored as client ruler of Tunis and Habsburg tributary.[2][1]

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

Hafsid dynasty
 Republic of Genoa
Flag of Portugal (1521).svg Kingdom of Portugal
 Papal States
 Knights of Malta
 Ottoman Empire
 Kingdom of France
Commanders and leaders
Charles V Arms-personal.svg Charles I-V
Spain Álvaro de Bazán
Spain García de Toledo
Spain Duke of Alba
Republic of Genoa Andrea Doria
Kingdom of Portugal Duke of Beja
Ottoman Empire Hayreddin Barbarossa
Total men: 60,000
Total ships: 398
Spain 207 ships[3]
10 galleys
Kingdom of Naples 6 galleys
Republic of Genoa 19 galleys
Kingdom of Portugal 1 man-of-war, 20 round caravels, 8 galleys
Papal States 8 galleys
Sovereign Military Order of Malta 1 carrack, 4 galleys
Flanders 60 hulks
Ottoman Empire 82 warships[4]
Kingdom of France 2 galleys[5]
Casualties and losses
Unknown: Many fell to dysentery 30,000 Muslim civilians killed
9,000 Christians freed


In 1533, Suleiman the Magnificent ordered Hayreddin Barbarossa, whom he had summoned from Algiers, to build a large war fleet in the arsenal of Constantinople.[6] Altogether 70 galleys were built during the winter of 1533–1534, manned by slave oarsmen, including 2,000 Jewish ones.[7] With this fleet, Barbarossa conducted aggressive raids along the coast of Italy, until he conquered Tunis on 16 August 1534, ousting the local ruler, theretofore subservient to the Spanish, Muley Hasan.[8][9] Barbarossa thus established a strong naval base in Tunis, which could be used for raids in the region, and on nearby Malta.[8]

Charles V, one of the most powerful men in Europe at the time, assembled a large army of some 30,000 soldiers, 74 galleys (rowed by chained Protestants shipped in from Antwerp),[10] and 300 sailing ships, including the carrack Santa Anna and the Portuguese galleon São João Baptista, also known as Botafogo (the most powerful ship in the world at the time, with 366 bronze cannons) to drive the Ottomans from the region.[11] The expense involved for Charles V was considerable, and at 1,000,000 ducats was on par with the cost of Charles' campaign against Suleiman on the Danube.[12] Unexpectedly, the funding of the conquest of Tunis came from the galleons sailing in from the New World, in the form of a 2 million gold ducats treasure extracted by Francisco Pizarro in exchange for his releasing of the Inca king Atahualpa (whom he nevertheless executed on 29 August 1533).[12]

Despite a request by Charles V, Francis I denied French support to the expedition, explaining that he was under a 3-year truce with Barbarossa following the 1533 Ottoman embassy to France.[13] Francis I was also under negotiations with Suleiman the Magnificent for a combined attack on Charles V, following the 1534 Ottoman embassy to France. Francis I only agreed to Pope Paul III's request that no fight between Christians occur during the time of the expedition.[13]


On 1 June 1535, protected by a Genoese fleet, Charles V destroyed Barbarossa's fleet and, after a costly yet successful siege at La Goletta, captured Tunis. In the action, the Portuguese galleon Botafogo distinguished itself by breaking the chains protecting the harbour's entrance with its spur ram, thereafter opening fire on La Goletta. In the ruins, the Spanish found cannonballs with the French Fleur-de-lys mark, evidence of the contacts stemming from the Franco-Ottoman alliance.[11]

The resulting massacre of the city left an estimated 30,000 dead.[14] Barbarossa managed to flee to Algiers with a troop of several thousand Turks.[4] Muley Hasan was restored to his throne.[4] The stench of the corpses was such that Charles V soon left Tunis and moved his camp to Radès.

The siege demonstrated the power projection of the Habsburg dynasties at the time; Charles V had under his control much of southern Italy, Sicily, Spain, the Americas, Austria, the Netherlands and lands in Germany. Furthermore, he was Holy Roman Emperor and had de jure control over much of Germany as well.

Ottoman defeat in Tunis motivated the Ottoman Empire to enter into a formal alliance with France against the Habsburg Empire. Ambassador Jean de La Forêt was sent to Istanbul, and for the first time was able to become permanent ambassador at the Ottoman court and to negotiate treaties.[15]

Charles V celebrated a neo-classical triumph "over the infidel" at Rome on April 5, 1536 in commemoration of his victory at Tunis.[16][17][18] The Spanish governor of La Goulette, Luys Peres Varga, built fortified the island of Chikly in the lake of Tunis to strengthen the city's defences between 1546 and 1550.


Barbarossa managed to escape to the harbour of Bône, where a fleet was waiting for him. From there, he sailed to accomplish the Sack of Mahon, where he took 6,000 slaves and brought them to Algiers.[19]

The Ottomans recaptured the city in 1574. However the Ottoman governors of Tunis were semi-autonomous Beys who acted as privateers against Christian shipping. Consequently, raiding in the Mediterranean continued until the French subjugated the region as a protectorate three centuries later in 1830 with an invasion leading to the creation of French Algeria, and the establishment of a protectorate over Tunisia in 1881.


Bombardment of La Goletta

Bombardment of La Goletta.

Attack at La Goletta

Attack at La Goletta.

Battle of Tunis 1535 Charles V vs Barbarossa

Battle scene at Tunis, 1535.

Capture of Tunis 1535 liberation of 20000 Christian captives

Liberation of 20,000 Christian captives.

Charles quint a rades

Charles V going to Radès.

Charles V announcing the capture of Tunis to the Pope in 1535

Charles V announcing the capture of Tunis to Pope Paul III in 1535.

Conquest of Tunis 1535

Imperial troops in the conquest of Tunis, 1535, Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen.

Conquest of Tunis 1535 bis

Ottoman troops in the conquest of Tunis, 1535.

See also


  1. ^ a b History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey Ezel Kural Shaw
  2. ^ Roger Crowley, Empires of the Sea, faber and faber 2008 p.61
  3. ^ 15 galleys of the Mediterranean Squadron, 42 ships of the Cantabrian fleet, 150 ships of the Málaga Squadron
  4. ^ a b c Crowley, p.61
  5. ^ Garnier, p.96
  6. ^ Crowley, p.56
  7. ^ Crowley, p.57
  8. ^ a b Crowley, p.58
  9. ^ Also known as Muleassen in Italy, and Abu-Abd-Allah-Mohammed-el-Hasan in Tunis. Il Palazzo di Fabrizio Colonna a Mezzocannone, article by Bartolommeo Capasso in Napoli nobilissima: rivista di topografia ed arte napoletana, Volumes 1–3, page 100-104.
  10. ^ Crowley, p.59
  11. ^ a b Crowley, p.60
  12. ^ a b Crowley, p.62
  13. ^ a b Garnier, p. 94–95
  14. ^ A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. II, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 506.
  15. ^ History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey Ezel Kural Shaw p.97 [1]
  16. ^ Panvinio, Onofrio (1557). De fasti et triumphi Romanorum a Romulo usque ad Carolum V. Venice: Giacomo Strada. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  17. ^ Pinson, Yona (2001). "Imperial Ideology in the Triumphal Entry into Lille of Charles V and the Crown Prince (1549)" (PDF). Assaph: Studies in Art History. 6: 212. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  18. ^ Frieder, Braden (15 January 2008). Chivalry & the Perfect Prince: Tournaments, Art, and Armor at the Spanish Habsburg Court. Truman State University Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-1931112697. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  19. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913–1936 by M. Th. Houtsma p.872


  • Battle: a Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. Grant, R. G. 2005
  • La Marina Cántabra. Ballesteros-Beretta, Antonio. 1968
  • Cervantes Virtual
  • Roger Crowley, Empires of the sea, 2008 Faber & Faber ISBN 978-0-571-23231-4
  • Garnier, Edith L'Alliance Impie Editions du Felin, 2008, Paris ISBN 978-2-86645-678-8 Interview

Coordinates: 36°48′N 10°10′E / 36.800°N 10.167°E

Bernardino de Mendoza (Captain General)

For the diplomat of the same name, see Bernardino de MendozaBernardino de Mendoza (Granada, 1501 – Saint-Quentin 1557), was a Spanish aristocrat from the House of Mendoza and Captain General of the Galleys of Spain.

He was the third son of Íñigo López de Mendoza y Quiñones, 1st Marquis of Mondéjar and Francesca Pacheco. His siblings were Luis, Maria, Antonio and Diego Hurtado.

Botafogo (galleon)

The São João Baptista (English: Saint John the Baptist), commonly known as the Botafogo (Spitfire), was a Portuguese galleon warship built in the 16th century, around 1534, considered the biggest and most powerful warship in the world at the time.This ship could carry 366 bronze cannons, and had an artillery power of 1,000 tons. For this reason, it became known as Botafogo, meaning literally fire maker or spitfire in popular Portuguese.

Conquest of Tunis

There have been several conquests of the city of Tunis throughout history:

Conquest of Tunis (1534), by the Ottomans

Conquest of Tunis (1535), by Spain and the Holy Roman Empire

Conquest of Tunis (1569), by the Ottomans

Conquest of Tunis (1573), by Spain and the Holy Roman Empire

Conquest of Tunis (1574), by the Ottomans

Operations Vulcan and Strike (1943), by the Allies in World War IIThere have also been unsuccessful sieges:

Siege of Tunis (Mercenary War) (238 BC)

Eighth Crusade (1270)

Conquest of Tunis (1534)

The conquest of Tunis occurred on 16 August 1534 when Hayreddin Barbarossa captured the city from the Hafsid ruler Muley Hasan.

In 1533, Suleiman ordered Hayreddin Barbarossa, whom he had summoned from Algiers, to build a large war fleet in the arsenal of Constantinople. Altogether 70 galleys were built during the winter of 1533–34, manned by slave oarsmen, including 1,200 Christian ones. With this fleet, Barbarossa conducted aggressive raids along the coast of Italy, until he landed in Tunis on 16 August 1534, ousting the local ruler, theretofore subservient to the Spanish, the Hafsid Regent Muley Hasan.Barbarossa thus established a strong naval base in Tunis, which could be used for raids in the region, and on nearby Malta. Tunis was a highly strategic location, controlling the passage from the west to the eastern basin of the Mediterranean.

In 1535 however, upon the plea of Muley Hasan, emperor Charles V mounted a counter-offensive and retook the city in the Conquest of Tunis (1535).

Ferdinando Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno

Ferdinando (Ferrante) Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno (18 January 1507 – 1568) was an Italian condottiero.

Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba

Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 3rd Duke of Alba, GE, KOGF, GR (29 October 1507 – 11 December 1582), known as the Grand Duke of Alba (Spanish: Gran Duque de Alba) in Spain and the Iron Duke (Dutch: IJzeren Hertog) in the Netherlands, was a Spanish noble, general, and diplomat. He was titled the 3rd Duke of Alba de Tormes, 4th Marquess of Coria, 3rd Count of Salvatierra de Tormes, 2nd Count of Piedrahita, 8th Lord of Valdecorneja, Grandee of Spain, and a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece. His motto in Latin was Deo patrum Nostrorum, which in English means "To the God of our fathers".

He was an adviser of King Charles I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor), and his successor, Philip II of Spain, Mayordomo mayor of both, member of their Councils of State and War, governor of the Duchy of Milan (1555–1556), viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples (1556–1558), governor of the Netherlands (1567–1573) and viceroy and constable of the Kingdom of Portugal (1580–1582). He represented Philip II in negotiating Philip's betrothal to Elisabeth of Valois and Anna of Austria, who were the third and fourth, and last, wives of the king.

By some historians he is considered the most effective general of his generation as well as one of the greatest in military history. Although a tough leader, he was respected by his troops. He touched their sentiments e.g. by addressing them in his speeches as "gentlemen soldiers" (señores soldados), but was also popular among them for daring statements such as:

Kings use men like oranges, first they squeeze the juice and then throw away the peel.

Alba especially distinguished himself in the conquest of Tunis (1535) during the Ottoman-Habsburg wars when Carlos I defeated Hayreddin Barbarossa and returned the Spanish Monarchy to predominance over the western Mediterranean Sea. He also distinguished himself in the battle of Mühlberg (1547), where the army of Emperor Charles defeated the German Protestant princes.

On December 26, 1566 he received the Golden Rose, the blessed sword and hat granted by Pope Pius V, through the papal brief Solent Romani Pontifices, in recognition of his singular efforts in favor of Catholicism and for being considered one of his championsHe is best known for his actions against the revolt of the Netherlands, where he instituted the Council of Troubles, and repeatedly defeated the troops of William of Orange and Louis of Nassau during the first stages of the Eighty Years' War. He is also known for the brutalities during the capture of Mechelen, Zutphen, Naarden and Haarlem. In spite of these military successes, the Dutch revolt was not broken and Alba was recalled to Spain. His last military successes were in the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580, winning the Battle of Alcantara and conquering that kingdom for Philip II. Spain unified all the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula and consequently expanded its overseas territories.


Galleons were large, multi-decked sailing ships first used by the Spanish as armed cargo carriers and later adopted by other European states from the 16th to 18th centuries during the age of sail and were the principal fleet units drafted for use as warships until the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the mid-1600s. Galleons generally carried three or more masts with a lateen fore-and-aft rig on the rear masts, were carvel built with a prominent squared off raised stern, and used square-rigged sail plans on their fore-mast and main-masts.

Such ships were the mainstay of maritime commerce into the early 19th century, and were often drafted into use as auxiliary naval war vessels—indeed, were the mainstay of contending fleets through most of the 150 years of the Age of Exploration—before the Anglo-Dutch wars brought purpose-built ship-rigged warships that thereafter dominated war at sea during the remainder of the age of sail.

Hafsid dynasty

The Hafsids (Arabic: الحفصيون‎ al-Ḥafṣiyūn) were a Tunisian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Berber descent who ruled Ifriqiya (western Libya, Tunisia, and eastern Algeria) from 1229 to 1574.

João de Castro

D. João de Castro (7 February 1500 – 6 June 1548) was a Portuguese nobleman and fourth viceroy of Portuguese India. He was called Castro Forte ("Stronghold" or "Strong Castle") by poet Luís de Camões. Castro was the son of Álvaro de Castro, civil governor of Lisbon. His wife was Leonor de Coutinho.

Luís of Portugal, Duke of Beja

Infante Luís of Portugal, Duke of Beja (3 March 1506, in Abrantes – 27 November 1555, in Marvila, in Lisbon) was the second son of King Manuel I of Portugal and his second wife Maria of Aragon (the third daughter of the Catholic Monarchs). He participated in the Conquest of Tunis.

Ottoman–Portuguese confrontations

The Ottoman–Portuguese or Turco-Portuguese confrontations refers to a series of different military encounters between the Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire, or between other European powers and the Ottoman Empire in which relevant Portuguese military forces participated. Some of these conflicts were brief, while others lasted for many years. Most of these conflicts were in the Indian Ocean, in the process of the expansion of the Portuguese Empire. These conflicts also involved regional powers, after 1538 the Adal Sultanate, with the aid of the Somali Ajuran Empire and the Ottoman Empire, fought against the Ethiopian Empire. The Ethiopians were supported by the Portuguese, under the command of Cristóvão da Gama, the son of the famous explorer Vasco da Gama. This war is known as the Ethiopian–Adal war.

Outline of Tunisia

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Tunisia:

Tunisia – northernmost country in Africa situated on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia is the smallest of the nations situated along the Atlas mountain range. The south of the country is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil and 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) of coastline. In ancient times, Tunisia was the home of the famous Phoenician city of Carthage.


The family of de Pannemaeker or de Pannemaker were tapestry weavers from the Southern Netherlands, more or less equivalent to modern-day Belgium. Pieter de Pannemaeker (fl. 1517–32), working from Brussels, was a celebrated weaver who, for European royalty, created tapestries resplendent with gold and silver threads, and expensive fine silks and woollen items. In 1520, Pieter de Pannemaeker commissioned the artist Bernard van Orley to make tapestry cartoons for his workshop. A surviving fragment depicts the Allegory of the Four Winds. Pannemaeker was court weaver to Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Southern Netherlands, who commissioned the Passion in four parts, and in 1523, she ordered an imposing dais made up of three tapestries, which later featured in the abdication ceremony of Emperor Charles V.

In 1527, Pieter de Pannemaeker and van Orley were brought before the Inquisition at Leuven for attending the Protestant sermons of Lutheran preacher Claes van der Elst. Pieter was at first stripped of his title, but later let off with the payment of an annual fine, and by 1532 was producing tapestries for Francis I of France. Pieter's son Willem (1514–1581) became an extremely influential figure in the weaving industry, his mark being found on many works acquired by the House of Habsburg between the 1540s and 1560s. From cartoons by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, Willem produced the twelve-piece Conquest of Tunis for Emperor Charles V, a landmark work created from 1546 to 1554. Among his patrons were Cardinal Granvelle and the 3rd Duke of Alba. His wealth enabled him to purchase the van Aelst property in 1560.Erasmus de Pannemaker (fl.1644–77) operated two looms in Brussels. His mark can be found on the massive tapestry History of Rome. Erasmus and his brother Francois, who died in Lille in 1700, produced six panels for an Antwerp dealer in 1669. Francois and his son Andre are recorded as weavers at Tournai, also working for Gobelins tapestries in Paris before settling in Lille. In the 19th century when Belgium was the leading center for botanical publishing, the Ghent printmaker, landscape and botanical painter Pieter De Pannemaeker produced some 3,000 illustrations for botanical books and periodicals such as Flore des Serres et des Jardins de l'Europe and Lindenia. He received the Croix de Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole from the French government in 1886 for his contributions to botanical science and horticulture.

Porta Nuova (Palermo)

Porta Nuova is a monumental city gate of Palermo. It represents the entrance of the Cassaro (the main and most ancient street of the city) from Corso Calatafimi (the way to Monreale) and is located beside Palazzo dei Normanni, royal palace of Palermo. The gate was built to celebrate the Charles V's conquest of Tunis (1535) and his visit to the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily.

Schmalkaldic League

The Schmalkaldic League (English: ; German: Schmalkaldischer Bund, Latin: Foedus Smalcaldicum); was a military alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. Although originally started for religious motives soon after the start of the Reformation, its members later came to have the intention that the League would replace the Holy Roman Empire as their focus of political allegiance. While it was not the first alliance of its kind, unlike previous formations, such as the League of Torgau, the Schmalkaldic League had a substantial military to defend its political and religious interests. It received its name from the town of Schmalkalden, which is located in modern Thuringia.

Álvaro de Bazán the Elder

Don Álvaro de Bazán, called the Elder (1506–1558) was a Spanish naval commander from an old navarrese noble family who received several nobilary titles such as the rank of Admiral of Castile, Marquis del Viso, and General-Captain of the Galleys of Spain. He was the father of Álvaro de Bazán, 1st Marquis of Santa Cruz, who surpassed him in fame. At the age of eight his son was appointed "Military Governor and captain of the fortress and city of Gibraltar". His command however was via his father. It has been speculated that this unusual appointment was intended to show Charles V's confidence but Bazán the Elder did not share that confidence and he suggested to no effect that Gibraltar's Line Wall Curtain be extended to the southern tip of the rock.Bazán the Elder was also father of Alonso de Bazán, a military commander who died during the conquest the Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, and Joan Bazán. In 1549 Bazán received from Charles V the villages of Viso del Marqués and Santa Cruz de Mudela.

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.

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