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Dragut was notice by an Ottoman Army Commander

Dragut also knows as Turgut Reis was born in 1485 and died in June of 1565 during the Great Siege of Malta. He had great talent in using spears and arrows and was thus hired by an Ottoman army commander who noticed his abilities. He was coached as a cannoneer and maser of siege artillery. These were vital parts for Turgut’s future status and triumphs. He followed his leader to Egypt in 1517 when they had won it over and took part in combating as a cannoneer. Once his master had died, Turgut Reis set off to Alexandria where he commenced his job as a sailor joining the ships of Sinan Reis.

How he advanced in ranks…

Turgut Reis was quite a favourite as he was quite competent in beating enemy ships with cannons. His mastery in the skill of seamanship led him to become the captain of a brigantine and ¼ of its ownership. After a while he managed to become the only owner of the brigantine ship, and later on the captain and owner of a galliot too. He joined the navy of Hayreddin Barbarossa who later on was not only his protector but also his best friend. Dragut advanced in rank by becoming chief lieutenant and having the command of 12 galliots. In 1539 he was selected as the governor of Djerba.

Captured and ended up as a Galley-Slave

Dragut’s name started to be quite feared in the Mediterranean. When he travelled with his ship to Corsica, he and his ship mates were attacked by Gianettino, Giorgio Doria and Gentile Virginio Orsini. He was thus captured and became a galley salve for four years before ending up incarcerated in Genoa. Though Barbarossa wanted to pay ransom, it was not allowed. However finally Barbarossa and Andrea Doria found a form of agreement and released Turgut Reis for 35000 gold ducats.

Gozo and Malta Attacked

During 1544, he attacked Gozo and battled against the Knights of St. John. Meanwhile he took hold of a number of Maltese ships whose mission was to bring important cargo from Sicily. Mahdia was his base from where he could attack the Knights of St. John in Malta. Before he came to attack Malta and Gozo once again, he fought many battles and conquered a number of places. Once that Barbarossa died, Turgut Reis ended up becoming the supreme leader of the Ottoman naval forces in the Mediterranean. As soon as Sultan Suleiman instructed the Siege of Malta in 1565, Turgut Reis joined together with Piyale Pasha and the Ottoman forces which consisted of 1600 men, 15 ships on 31st May.

His advice on attacking Malta and Gozo

He counselled Mustafa to first acquire the citadel of Gozo and Mdina but his advice went unheard. Dragut organized additional cannon fire to be directed on Fort St. Elmo as it had power over the entrance of the Grand Harbour. In addition to this the fort appeared to be more vulnerable than other forts. 6000cannon shots were fired in 24 hours, however Fort St. Elmo and Fort St. Angelo still managed to correspond with each other. Consequently Turgut gave directions so that Fort St. Elmo would be sieged in order to separate it from Fort St. Angelo.

Turgut Reis’ Death

When a cannon shot from Fort St. Angelo hit the ground in the vicinity of the Turks, fragments from the blow fatally injured Turgut Reis. Though he was hit on June 17th 1565, he died on June 23rd and managed to hear the news that Fort St. Elmo was captured. Had Turgut’s advice been listened to, most probably the result of the siege would have varied. Maltese military forces, especially those residing in Mdina harassed the Turks for the rest of the Siege and averted the Turks from capturing Senglea. Turgut Reis’ body was buried in Tripoli by Uluc Ali Reis.

See the spanish translation.