Republic of Venice
Duchy of Mantua
Republic of Genoa
Order of Saint John
Commanders and leaders
Ferrante I Gonzaga
122 galleys and galliots,
Casualties and losses
13 ships lost (10 ships sunk, 3 ships burned);
36 ships captured and seized by the Ottomans;
No loss of ship;
Hungary and the Balkans
Hungarian Campaign (1527–28)
Little War in Hungary (1530–52)
Long War (1593–1606)
Bocskai insurrection (1604–1606)
Austro-Turkish War (1663–64)
Great Turkish War (1683–1699)
Austro-Turkish War (1716–18)
Austro-Russian–Turkish War (1735–39)
Austro-Turkish War (1787–91)
Orán and Mers-el-Kébir (1563)
Vélez de la Gomera (1564)
Cape Corvo (1613)
Cape Celidonia (1616)
Third Ottoman–Venetian War
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
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
4 The battle
9 External links
A satellite view of
Lefkada and the Gulf of Arta.
Preveza is located
at the entrance of the Gulf.
In 1537, commanding a large Ottoman fleet, Hayreddin Barbarossa
captured a number of Aegean and Ionian islands belonging to the
Republic of Venice, namely Syros, Aegina, Ios, Paros, Tinos,
Kasos and Naxos, thus annexing the
Duchy of Naxos
Duchy of Naxos to the
Ottoman Empire. He then unsuccessfully besieged the Venetian
Corfu and ravaged the Spanish-held Calabrian coast in
In the face of this threat,
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III succeeded in February 1538
in assembling a ’’Holy League’’, comprising the Papacy, Spain,
the Republic of Genoa, the
Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice and the Knights of
Malta, to confront Barbarossa.
Barbarossa's fleet that summer numbered 122 galleys and galliots.
That of the Holy League comprised 300 galleys and galleons (55
Venetian galleys, 61 Genoese/Papal, 10 sent by the Knights Hospitaller
and 50 by the Spanish). Andrea Doria, the Genoese admiral in the
service of Emperor Charles V was in overall command.
Deployment of the opposing fleets
The Holy League assembled its fleet near the island of Corfu. The
Papal fleet under Admiral Marco Grimani (Patriarch of Aquileia) and
the Venetian fleet under Vincenzo Capello arrived first. Andrea Doria
joined them with the Spanish-Genoese fleet on 22 September 1538.
Prior to Doria’s arrival, Grimani attempted to land troops near the
Fortress of Preveza, but he retreated to
Corfu after suffering a
number of casualties in the ensuing encounter with Ottoman forces.
Barbarossa was still at the island of
Kos in the
Aegean Sea at that
time, but he soon arrived at
Preveza with the rest of the Ottoman
fleet, after capturing the island of
Kefalonia on the way. Sinan Reis,
one of his lieutenants, suggested landing troops at
Actium on the Gulf
of Arta near Preveza, an idea that Barbarossa initially opposed, but
which later proved to be important in securing the Ottoman victory.
With the Turks holding the fortress at Actium, they could support
Barbarossa's fleet with artillery fire from there, while Doria had to
keep his ships away from the coast. A Christian landing to take Actium
probably would have been needed to ensure success, but Doria was
fearful of a defeat on land after the initial sortie by Grimani had
been repelled. Two more attempts by the Holy League to land their
forces, this time near the fortress of
Preveza at the opposite shore
facing Actium, were repulsed by the forces of Murat Reis on 25 and 26
As Doria's ships kept their distance from the coast, much concerned
about adverse winds driving them onto a hostile shore, Barbarossa had
the advantageous interior position. During the night of 27–28
September, Doria therefore sailed 30 miles south and, when the wind
died down, anchored at Sessola near the island of Lefkada. During the
night, he and his commanders decided that their best option was to
stage an attack towards Lepanto and force Barbarossa to fight.
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At dawn, however, Doria was surprised to see that the Turks were
coming towards his ships. Barbarossa had taken his fleet out of the
anchorage and headed south as well.
Turgut Reis was in the van with
six large fustas, and the left wing closely hugged the shore. Not
expecting such a daring offensive from the numerically inferior
Ottoman fleet, it took Doria three hours to give the order to weigh
anchor and ready for battle—pressed by Grimani and Capello.
The two fleets finally engaged on 28 September 1538 in the Gulf of
Arta, near Preveza.
The lack of wind was not in Doria's favor. The huge Venetian flagship
Galeone di Venezia with her massive guns was becalmed four miles from
land and ten miles from Sessola. While the Christian ships struggled
to come to her assistance, she was soon surrounded by enemy galleys
and engaged in a furious battle that lasted hours and did much damage
to the Ottoman galleys.
When the wind rose, the Christian fleet finally approached the action,
although Doria first executed a number of maneuvres designed to draw
the Turks out to sea. Ferrante Gonzaga, the Viceroy of Sicily, was at
the left wing of the combined fleet, while the Maltese Knights were at
the right wing. Doria placed four of his fastest galleys under the
command of his nephew Giovanni
Andrea Doria who was positioned in the
center front, between Gonzaga and the Maltese Knights. Doria's galleys
formed a long line behind them, in front of the Papal and Venetian
galleys of Grimani and Capello. In the rear were the Venetian galleons
under the command of Alessandro Condalmiero (Bondumier) and the
Spanish-Portuguese-Genoese galleons under the command of Francesco
Doria, together with the barques and support ships.
The Ottoman fleet had a Y shaped configuration: Barbarossa, together
with his son Hasan Reis (later Hasan Pasha), Sinan Reis, Cafer Reis
and Şaban Reis, was at the center;
Seydi Ali Reis
Seydi Ali Reis commanded the left
Salih Reis commanded the right wing; while Turgut Reis,
accompanied by Murat Reis, Güzelce Mehmet Reis and Sadık Reis,
commanded the rear wing. The Turks swiftly engaged the Venetian, Papal
and Maltese ships, but Doria hesitated to bring his center into action
against Barbarossa, which led to much tactical maneuvering but little
fighting. Barbarossa wanted to take advantage of the lack of wind
which immobilized the Christian barques that accounted for most of the
numerical difference between the two sides. These barques fell as easy
prey to the Turks who boarded them from their relatively more mobile
galleys and galliots. Doria’s efforts to trap the Ottoman ships
between the cannon fire of his barques and galleys failed.
At the end of the day, the Turks had sunk 10 ships, burned 3 others,
captured 36, and had taken about 3,000 prisoners. The Turks did not
lose any ships but suffered 400 dead and 800 wounded. A number of
Ottoman ships had been seriously damaged, however, by the cannon fire
of the massive Galeone di Venezia, the Venetian flagship under the
command of Alessandro Condalmiero.
The next morning, with favorable wind, and unwilling to risk the
Spanish-Genoese ships, Doria set sail and left the battlefield for
Corfu, deaf to the pleas of the Venetian, Papal and Maltese commanders
to continue the fight.
It is widely speculated that Doria’s prevarication and lack of zeal
were due to his unwillingness to risk his own ships (he personally
owned a substantial number of the "Spanish-Genoese" fleet) and his
long-standing enmity towards Venice, his home city's fierce rival and
the primary target of Ottoman aggression at that time.
In 1539 Barbarossa returned and captured almost all the remaining
Christian outposts in the Ionian and Aegean Seas.
A peace treaty was signed between Venice and the
Ottoman Empire in
October 1540, under which the Turks took control of the Venetian
possessions in the
Morea and in
Dalmatia and of the formerly Venetian
islands in the Aegean, Ionian and eastern Adriatic Seas. Venice also
had to pay a war indemnification of 300,000 ducats of gold to the
With the victory at
Preveza and the subsequent victory in the Battle
of Djerba in 1560, the Ottomans succeeded in repulsing the efforts of
Venice and Spain, the two principal rival powers in the Mediterranean,
to stop their drive for controlling the sea. The Ottoman supremacy in
large-scale fleet battles in the Mediterranean Sea remained
unchallenged until the
Battle of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Nicolò Zen the younger
Nicolò Zen the younger wrote his History of the War between Venice
and the Turks which primarily consisted of an invective against those
who had called for the war against the Ottomans in which they had
behaved so ingloriously. The text was not published but a manuscript
of it was circulated in his household and survived and is now held by
the Biblioteca Marciana.
^ The sixteenth century saw only three such large battle:
1538, Djerba in 1560 and Lepanto in 1571. These battles were
spectacular..[...].Nevertheless, these battles were not really
decisive; a galley fleet can be built in a few months and the
logistical limitations of galleys prohibit the strategic exploitation
^ a b Hattendorf & King 2013, p. 32.
^ a b c d Türk Tarihi: Battle of Preveza
^ a b c d Corsari nel Mediterraneo:
Hayreddin Barbarossa Archived 28
September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Hattendorf & King 2013, p. 6.
^ Hattendorf & King 2013, p. 15.
^ Roger Crowley, Empires of the Sea, faber and faber 2008 pp.67-69
^ Partridge, Loren (2015-03-14). Art of Renaissance Venice, 1400 1600.
Univ of California Press. ISBN 9780520281790.
^ "Admiral Piri Reis ....The 500 Year Old Map that Shatters the
Official History of the Human Race [Archive] - The Project Avalon
Community Forum". projectavalon.net. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
^ Roger Crowley, Empires of the Sea, faber and faber 2008 p.71
^ Robilant (2011). Venetian Navigators: The Voyages of the Zen
Brothers to the Far North.
Military history of the
Ottoman Empire portal
Hattendorf, John; King, Ernest (5 November 2013). Naval Strategy and
Power in the Mediterranean: Past, Present and Future. Routledge.
ISBN 978-1-136-71317-0. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
Battles involving the
Ottoman Empire by era
Peñón of Algiers (1529)
Wadi al Laban
1st Kerch Strait
2nd Kerch Strait
For 20th-century battles before 1914 see List of Ottoman battles in
the 20th century
For the battles during World War I see List of Ottoman battles in
World War I
Ottoman victories are in bold.
Coordinates: 38°57′33″N 20°45′01″E / 38.95917°N
20.75028°E / 38.95917; 20.75028
Preveza (1538) - An