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.[1] The Spanish had established a fort in Tripoli in 1510, and Charles V remitted it to the Knights in 1530.[2][3] 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.

Siege of Tripoli
Part of the Ottoman-Habsburg wars
Capture of Tripoli by the Ottomans 1551

Ottoman ships laying siege to Tripoli.
Date15 August 1551
Result Ottomans capture Tripoli
Sovereign Military Order of Malta Order of Saint John Fictitious Ottoman flag 2.svg Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Sovereign Military Order of Malta Gaspard de Vallier Fictitious Ottoman flag 2.svg Sinan Pasha
630 mercenaries
About 10,000
Casualties and losses
630 enslaved Unknown


Ritratto dell ambasciatore Gabriel de Luetz d Aramont Tiziano Vecellio 1541 1542 oil on canvas 76 x 74 cm
French ambassador to the Ottoman Porte Gabriel de Luetz d'Aramont, was present at the siege.

The city was under the command of Father Gaspard de Vallier, with 30 knights and 630 Calabrian and Sicilian mercenaries.[3] The Ottomans had a base since 1531 in the city of Tajura, 20 kilometers to the east, where Khayr al-Din had been based.[4] The Ottomans encircled the fort, and established 3 batteries of 12 guns each.[3]

The French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Gabriel d'Aramon, joined the Ottoman fleet at Tripoli, with two galleys and a galliot,[3][5] The declared mission of the ambassador was to dissuade the Ottomans from capturing the city, at the request of the Grand Master of Malta, as Malta was not identified as an enemy in the Franco-Ottoman alliance against the Habsburgs.[6][7] According to later reports, when Sinan Pasha (Sinanüddin Yusuf Pasha) and Dragut refused to lift the siege, on grounds that they were under order to eradicate the Knights of Malta from the African continent, d'Aramon threatened to sail to Constantinople to appeal to sultan Suleiman, but he was then barred from leaving the city until the end of the siege.[6][7]

Soon the soldiers in the fort mutinied, and negotiation for surrender started.[3] The city was captured on 15 August 1551 by Sinan Pasha after six days of bombardment.[8][9][5] The Knights, many of them French, were returned to Malta upon the intervention of the French ambassador,[5] and shipped onboard his galleys, while the mercenaries were enslaved.[3] (some authors say 200 men were freed[5]). Murād Agha, the Ottoman commander of Tajura since 1536, was named as the Pashalik of the city.[4]

Nicolas de Villegagnon, the future explorer of Brazil, was present at the siege of Tripoli in 1551, and wrote an account about it in 1553.[10]


Tripoli by Piri Reis
Historical map of Tripoli by Piri Reis

From Malta, d'Aramon wrote a letter about his intervention to Henry II.[5] The role of d'Aramon was widely criticized by Charles V and Julius III on suspicion that he had encouraged the Ottomans to take the city.[5] It appeared that d'Aramon had participated in the victory banquet of the Ottomans, raising further suspicions about his role in the siege, and leading to claims by Charles V that France participated in the siege.[6][7] In any instance, d'Aramon had a special relationship with the Ottomans, and was clearly aware that the fall of Tripoli represented a major setback for Charles V.[5]

Nicolas de Villegagnon
Nicolas Villegaignon was at the Siege of Tripoli as a Knight of Malta

Upon his return to Malta, Gaspard de Vallier was heavily criticized by the Grand Master Juan de Homedes y Coscon who wished to assign all the blame for the defeat on him. He was brought in front of a tribunal, and stripped from the habit and cross of the Order.[11] He had been however staunchly defended by Nicolas de Villegagnon, who exposed the duplicity of de Homedes.[12]

The siege was the first step of the all-out Italian War of 1551–1559 in the European theater, and in the Mediterranean the French galleys of Marseilles were ordered to join the Ottoman fleet.[3]

In 1553, Dragut was nominated commander of Tripoli by Suleiman, making the city an important center for piratical raids in the Mediterranean and the capital of the Ottoman province of Tripolitania.[4] In a famous attack from Tripoli, in 1558, Dragut attacked Reggio, and took all its inhabitants as slaves to Tripoli.[4][13]

In 1560, a powerful naval force was sent to recapture Tripoli, but that force was defeated in the Battle of Djerba.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Cervantes in Algiers: a captive's tale by María Antonia Garcés p. 25 [1]
  2. ^ A history of Islamic societies Ira Marvin Lapidus p. 255 [2]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II by Fernand Braudel pp. 920– [3]
  4. ^ a b c d A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period Jamil M. Abun-Nasr p. 190 [4]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g The Papacy and the Levant (1204–1571) by Kenneth M. Setton p. 555 – [5]
  6. ^ a b c The biographical dictionary of the Society for the diffusion of Knowledge p. 230 [6]
  7. ^ a b c A Universal Biography, John Platts p. 49: [7]
  8. ^ The Middle East and North Africa 2003, p. 748 [8]
  9. ^ History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey by Ezel Kural Shaw p. 106 [9]
  10. ^ The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe, N. W. Bawcutt p. 6
  11. ^ Achievements of the Knights of Malta Alexander Sutherland p. 108 [10]
  12. ^ Ancient and modern Malta by Pierre Marie Louis de Boisgelin de Kerdu p. 47
  13. ^ The History of England Sharon Turner, p. 311 [11]
  14. ^ A History of the Ottoman Empire to 1730: chapters from the Cambridge history by Vernon J. Parry p. 101 [12]

Coordinates: 32°54′8″N 13°11′9″E / 32.90222°N 13.18583°E

Apostolic Vicariate of Tripoli

The Apostolic Vicariate of Tripoli (Latin: Vicariatus Apostolicus Tripolitanus) is a Roman Catholic apostolic vicariate (pre-diocesan Latin Rite missionary jurisdiction) in Tripolitania (northwestern, coastal Libya).

It is exempt, i.e. directly subject to the Holy See (not part of any ecclesiastical province) and depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Although still named after its see, it has no cathedral see anymore since Tripoli Cathedral was converted into a Muslim mosque.

Currently the temporary cathedral is the pro-cathedral of St. Francis located in the city of Tripoli that simultaneously serves as a parish church.

Bombardment of Tripoli

Bombardments of Tripoli:

Tripoli, Lebanon:

Fall of Tripoli (1289)

Tripoli, Libya

Siege of Tripoli (1551)

Bombardment of Tripoli (1728) - by Grandpré's French Navy squadron from 20 - 26 July, 1728.

First Barbary War (1804)

Bombardment of Tripoli (1828)

1986 United States bombing of Libya


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.

Gaspard de Vallier

Gaspar de Vallier was a Marshall of the Knights of Malta, who was in command of the fortress of Tripoli during the Siege of Tripoli (1551). He was French, from the region of Auvergne ("Langue d'Auvergne"). In Tripoli, he commanded 30 knights and 630 Calabrian and Sicilian mercenaries. The city was captured on 15 August 1551.

Upon his return to Malta, Gaspar de Vallier was heavily criticized by the Grand Master de Homedes, brought in front of a tribunal, and stripped from the habit and cross of the Order.De Vallier was later rehabilitated by Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette.

Knights Hospitaller

The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Latin: Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani; Italian: Cavalieri dell'Ordine dell'Ospedale di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme), also known as the Order of Saint John, Order of Hospitallers, Knights Hospitaller, Knights Hospitalier or Hospitallers, was a medieval and early modern Catholic military order. It was headquartered in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, on the island of Rhodes, in Malta and St Petersburg.

The Hospitallers arose in the early 11th century, at the time of the great monastic reformation, as a group of individuals associated with an Amalfitan hospital in the Muristan district of Jerusalem, dedicated to John the Baptist and founded around 1023 by Gerard Thom to provide care for sick, poor or injured pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. Some scholars, however, consider that the Amalfitan order and hospital were different from Gerard Thom's order and its hospital.

After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, the organisation became a military religious order under its own Papal charter, charged with the care and defence of the Holy Land. Following the conquest of the Holy Land by Islamic forces, the knights operated from Rhodes, over which they were sovereign, and later from Malta, where they administered a vassal state under the Spanish viceroy of Sicily. The Hospitallers were the smallest group to briefly colonise parts of the Americas: they acquired four Caribbean islands in the mid-17th century, which they turned over to France in the 1660s.

The knights were weakened in the Protestant Reformation, when rich commanderies of the order in northern Germany and the Netherlands became Protestant and largely separated from the Roman Catholic main stem, remaining separate to this day, although ecumenical relations between the descendant chivalric orders are amicable. The order was disestablished in England, Denmark, as well as in some other parts of northern Europe, and it was further damaged by Napoleon's capture of Malta in 1798, following which it became dispersed throughout Europe.

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.

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.


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.

Santa Maria Materdomini, Naples

Santa Maria Materdomini is a Roman Catholic church located near piazzetta Fabrizio Pignatelli, in Naples, Italy

Spanish conquest of Tripoli (1510)

The Conquest of Tripoli was a maritime campaign led by Pedro Navarro. On the morning of Thursday, July 25, 1510, St. James's Day, a Spanish fleet commanded by Navarro arrived in front of Tripoli. Approximately 6,000 marines came from Spanish ships, half of whom were employed in the siege of the city, while the others stayed in the camp to prevent an Ottoman attack from the hinterland. With the effective use of naval artillery, the Spanish quickly captured the maghreb city.

After capturing the city, Spanish forces destroyed many of its buildings and killed or enslaved much of the population. In 1524, Spain gave Tripoli to the Knights of St. John, who lost it in 1551 to Ottoman captain Turgut Reis.

Timeline of the Ottoman Empire

This article provides a timeline of the Ottoman Empire

See also Timeline of the Republic of Turkey, a chronology of the successor state to the Ottoman Empire.

This timeline is incomplete; some important events may be missing. Please help add to it.

Ottoman Empire Major sieges by the Ottoman Empire by century
and battles
of the
Buildings and structures

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