An Overview of Main Characters and Events from Roger Crowley’s, Empires of the Sea.
Background After Mehmet conquered Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire held a significant position in a crucial area of trade, diplomacy, and religious activity. Ottomans were pushing inward and the Holy Roman Empire was pushing back trying to keep them out. These two world powers both frequented the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and tensions between them were frequent, in the form of either direct military attacks or piracy. For political, economic, and religious reasons, both empires sought to gain control of the vital Mediterranean. Early in the 16th century, the two empires engaged in a series of naval battles that would span over fifty years.
Significant IndividualsHayrettin Barbarossa Don Juan of Austria Charles V Andrea Doria Suleiman JeanDe La Valette Mustapha Pasha Philip II
Rhodes After the initial Crusades, the Pope put the care of the small island of Rhodes into the hands of the order known as the Knights of St. John. The Christian presence on Rhodes was seen as a menace by the Turks, and they wanted it conquered. Suleiman issues message to Europeans declaring war. June 1522, Turks land on Rhodes for invasion. Andrea Doria led Christian forces on the sea and Phillip Villiers de L’Isle Adam led Christian forces on land. Suleiman and Mustapha Pasha lead Ottomans Ottoman siege technology and superior organization overwhelms fortified Rhodes. December 1522 Knights of St. John surrender to Suleiman.
Battle SitesFort St. Elmo Fort St. Michael MaltaRhodes Lepanto
Malta Invasion begins May 1565 Turks attack/conquer Fort St. Elmo one month later They then turn focus to Christian forts at Birgu and Senglea Don Garcia fights Piyale Ali on sea. Mustapha Pasha battles Jean Parisot De La Valette on land. Philip II’s hesitation to send reinforcement nearly cripples Christian forces. Christian forces hold up at St. Michael’s fort for over three months until Ottomans are defeated in September 1565.
Fighting VesselsOttoman galleys were built for speed and A replica of Don Juan of Austria’smaneuverability. They were propelled by massive famous flagship. The front was designedoars that were operated, often times, by Christian to intimidate as well as a representslaves. Christendom and the Holy Roman Empire, as can be seen in the intricate detailing.
Lepanto Don Juan of Austria is appointed general of the Christian fleet by King Philip II of Spain. Although the efforts to defend Lepanto was a coalition of many prominent man, Don Juan stood out as the main hero of the battle. Trade profits cause Venetians to hesitate to go to war with the Turks, but their involvement becomes inevitable due to Ottoman invasion of Venice. Ottomans take first two victories at Nicosia in Sep. 1570 and Famagusta in July 1571. They then turn attention to Lepanto. Uluch Ali leads Ottomans on sea against Gian’Andrea Doria and Don Juan. Don Juan risks his entire fleet with a bold move to initiate the battle. His gamble pays off and the Turks are defeated in August 1571.
What was the impact of these Events? After defeats at Malta and Lepanto, the Ottoman empire was exhausted. Their failure to infiltrate Europe led to them becoming a second rate power; it also allowed for European expansion to continue and thrive over the coming centuries. A few of the possible outcomes if the Ottomans defeat Christian Europe: 1. Suleiman conquers Malta, then moves on to Rome . He then disassembles the Roman papacy along with the Catholic church and declares Islam the new national religion. 2. Turks take control of Spain and have strategic position to turn attention toward conquering rest of Europe. 3. All this taking place at a critical point in world expansion and colonization. If Islamic Turks take control of Europe at this time, much of Western Civ. would look very different.
Works Cited Crowley, Roger. Empires of the Sea. Vol. 1. London: FaberLtd., 2008. 1-292. 1 vols. Print. Google Images. Google, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.<http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi>.