Conquest of Tunis (1574)

The Conquest of Tunis in 1574 marked the final conquest of Tunis by the Ottoman Empire over the Spanish Empire. This was an event of great significance as it decided that North Africa would be under Muslim rather than Christian rule and ended the Spanish Conquista of Northern Africa started under Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.[3] The capture of Tunis in 1574 "sealed the Ottoman domination of the eastern and central Maghreb".[4]


The Ottoman Army Marching On The City Of Tunis In 1569 Ce
Ottoman troops (about 5,000 janissaries) and Kabyle troops, led by Uluç Ali, Pasha of Algiers, marching on Tunis in 1569.

Tunis had initially been conquered by the Ottomans under Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1534. In the next year, however, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had launched a major expedition and captured it in turn. He established a garrison and a vassal ruler in the person of the Hafsid ruler Lhacène. The Bey of Algiers Uluj Ali Pasha captured Tunis in 1569 for the Ottoman Empire, but in the aftermath of the 1571 Christian victory at the Battle of Lepanto, John of Austria managed to take Tunis in October 1573.[3][5]

Capture of Tunis

In 1574, William of Orange and Charles IX of France, through his pro-Huguenot ambassador François de Noailles, Bishop of Dax, tried to obtain the support of the Ottoman ruler Selim II in order to open a new front against the Spanish king Philip II.[6] Selim II sent his support through a messenger, who endeavoured to put the Dutch in contact with the rebellious Moriscos of Spain and the pirates of Algiers.[7] Selim also sent a great fleet to attack Tunis in the Autumn of 1574, thus succeeding in reducing Spanish pressure on the Dutch.[7]

In the Battle of La Goleta, Selim II mustered a fleet of between 250 and 300 warships, with about 75,000 men.[8] The Ottoman fleet was commanded by Sinan Pacha and Alūj Ali.[9] The Ottoman fleet combined with troops sent by the governors of Algiers, Tripoli and Tunis, giving a combined strength of about 100,000.[9] The army attacked Tunis and La Goleta; the presidio of La Goleta, defended by 7,000 men, fell on 24 August 1574. The last Christian troops in a small fort opposite Tunis surrendered on 3 September 1574.[9]

Don Juan D Austria
John of Austria attempted several times to rescue the siege, but in vain.
Cığalazade Yusuf Sinan Pasha, an Italian Muslim, led the Ottoman capture of Tunis.

John of Austria attempted to relieve the siege with a fleet of galleys from Naples and Sicily but failed due to storms.[10] The Spanish crown, being heavily involved in the Netherlands and short of funds was unable to help significantly.[10]

Cervantes participated in these events as a soldier, and was among the troops of Don Juan of Austria which tried to rescue the city.[2] He claims that the Ottomans led 22 assaults against the fort of Tunis, losing 25,000 men, while only 300 Christians survived.[2] He wrote about the battle:

"If Goleta and the fort, put together, held barely 7,000 soldiers, how could such a small force, however resolute, come out and hold its own against so huge an enemy army. And how can you help losing a stronghold that is not relieved, and especially when it is surrounded by a stubborn and very numerous army, and on its own ground?"

— Cervantes, DQ I, 39.[2]

Abd al-Malik, the future Moroccan King, participated in the 1574 conquest of Tunis on the side of the Ottomans.[11]

Gabrio Serbelloni was the commander of the fort of Tunis. The general of La Goleta, Don Pedro Portocarerro was taken as a captive to Constantinople, but died on his way.[2] The captured soldiers were employed as slaves on galleys.[2]

The capture of Tunis gave the territories of the Hafsid dynasty to the Ottoman Empire.

The battle marked the final establishment of Ottoman rule in Tunis, putting an end to the Hafsid dynasty and the Spanish presence in Tunis.[5]

The success of the Turks under Occhiali[1][12] in the battle of Goleta managed in reducing Spanish pressure on the Dutch, and leading to negotiations at the Conference of Breda.[7] After the death of Charles IX in May 1574 however, contacts weakened, although the Ottomans are said to have supported the 1575–1576 revolt, and establish, in 1582, a Consulate in Antwerp (De Turks-Griekse Natie).[13] The Ottomans made a truce with Spain, and shifted their attention to their conflict with Persia in the Ottoman–Safavid War (1578–1590).[7] The Spanish crown fell into bankruptcy on 1 September 1575.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Setton, Kenneth Meyer (1984). The Papacy and the Levant, 1204–1571: Vol.IV. Philadelphia.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Garcés, p.222
  3. ^ a b The new Cambridge modern history R. B. Wernham, p.354
  4. ^ The Regency of Tunis and the Ottoman Porte, 1777–1814: Army and Government of a North-African Ottoman Eyâlet at the End of the Eighteenth Century by Asma Moalla, Routledge, 2004 ISBN 0-415-29781-8, p.3 [1]
  5. ^ a b [2]
  6. ^ The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century – Google Boeken. Retrieved 2013-03-18.
  7. ^ a b c d Parker, p.61
  8. ^ Cervantes In Algiers: A Captive's Tale – María Antonia Garcés – Google Boeken. Retrieved 2013-03-18.
  9. ^ a b c Garcés, p.220
  10. ^ a b c Garcés, p.221
  11. ^ The last great Muslim empires: history of the Muslim world by Frank Ronald Charles Bagley, Hans Joachim Kissling p.103ff
  12. ^ Tarih Sitesi: Kılıç Ali Paşa
  13. ^ Goris, J.A. (1922-1923) Turksche kooplieden te antwerpen in de XVIe Bijdragentot de Geschiedenis 14/1:30


  • Geoffrey Parker, Lesley M. Smith The General crisis of the seventeenth century Routledge, 1978 ISBN 0-7100-8865-5
  • María Antonia Garcés Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive's Tale Vanderbilt University Press, 2005 ISBN 0-8265-1470-7
Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I Saadi

Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I (Arabic: أبو مروان عبد الملك الغازي‎), often simply Abd al-Malik or Mulay Abdelmalek (died 4 August 1578), was the Saadi Sultan of Morocco from 1576 until his death right after the Battle of Ksar El Kebir against Portugal in 1578.

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 (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.

French conquest of Tunisia

The French Conquest of Tunisia occurred in two phases in 1881: the first (28 April – 12 May) consisting of the invasion and securing of the country before the signing of a treaty of protection, and the second (10 June – 28 October) consisting of the suppression of a rebellion. The French protectorate of Tunisia that was established lasted until the independence of Tunisia on 20 March 1956.

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.

List of wars involving Spain

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

Morocco–Turkey relations

Turkey–Morocco relations covers relations between Morocco and Turkey, and spanned a period of several centuries, from the early 16th century to the 19th century when Northern Africa was taken over by France, until modern times.

The history between the Ottoman Empire and Morocco constitutes a strong basis for the current bilateral relations without any historical prejudices. From the Moroccan perspective, Turkey is a modern and developed country which also keeps its national identity.

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Morocco were established on 17 April 1956 by a joint declaration of the Governments of two countries; following the proclamation of independence of the Kingdom of Morocco.


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.

Siege of Castelnuovo

The Siege of Castelnuovo was an engagement during the Ottoman-Habsburg struggle for control of the Mediterranean, which took place in July 1539 in the walled town of Castelnuovo, present-day Herceg Novi, Montenegro. Castelnuovo had been conquered by elements of various Spanish tercios the year before during the failed campaign of the Holy League against the Ottoman Empire in Eastern Mediterranean waters. The walled town was besieged by land and sea by a powerful Ottoman army under Hayreddin Barbarossa, who offered an honorable surrender to the defenders. These terms were rejected by the Spanish commanding officer Francisco de Sarmiento and his captains even though they knew that the Holy League's fleet, defeated at the Battle of Preveza, could not relieve them. During the siege Barbarossa's army suffered heavy losses due to the stubborn resistance of Sarmiento's men. However, Castelnuovo eventually fell into Ottoman hands and almost all the Spanish defenders, including Sarmiento, were killed. The loss of the town ended the Christian attempt to regain control of the Eastern Mediterranean. The courage displayed by the Old Tercio of Naples during this last stand, however, was praised and admired throughout Europe and was the subject of numerous poems and songs.

Ottoman Empire Major sieges by the Ottoman Empire by century

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