Piyale Pasha

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Who was Piyale Pasha?

Piyale Pasha was a Croatian Ottoman admiral for fourteen years and then Ottoman Vizier from 1568 onwards. He was born in 1515 and died in 1578. When he was 39 years old he was promoted to Admiral-in-Chief of the Ottoman navy. He took hold of the islands of Elba and Corsica together with Turgut Reis and Salih Reis. He overran Algeria, captured Sakiz and the Cerbe Islands together with 67 other small Islands which lay in the Spanish, French and Italian coastline. He damaged a great number of ships and took some commanders captive.

The Siege of Malta and the disagreements between the Pasha’s

In 1565, Piyale Pasha together with Mustafa Pasha and Turgut Reis had the assignment by Suleiman to conquer Malta so as to put an end to the Knights once and for all. The Pasha’s were unfriendly towards one another and did not agree on many decisions. Mustapha’s idea was to keep the navy at the northern side of Malta in order to capture any ship leaving or arriving. However Piyale Pasha’s decision was different as he chose to stay at the ports due to the bad weather. In this way he stayed at the southern side of the island. While Mustapha wanted to start to attack St. Michael and Birgu by using 10000 troops, Piyale preferred to start with St. Elmo. The failure to capture Mdina left the Turkish army at an unsecure location at Marsa. Dragut arrived at a later date and he too taught that St Michael or Mdina should have been attacked first.

The fighting continues and the end of the siege

After three weeks of relentless fighting Fort St. Elmo ceded however at the same time Dragut died. Senglea, Birgu and Castille were the Turks’ next goal to capture. Mustapha realized that if they continued battling Malta, they would conquer it for sure. On the other hand Piyale declared that they could not stay for more than 3 weeks since the bad weather was the vulnerable point of the Turks. On the 25th of August, Don Garcia sent his felt of 6800 men to Malta which arrived on the 7th of September, a day before the Ottomans decision to leave Malta. Mustapha got the information that there were 16000 men instead of 6800, however when he learnt the truth he went to battle. Nevertheless the Maltese’ resistance paid and the Turks finally left for Istanbul.

The end of Piyale Pasha

After the failure to capture Malta, Piyale went on to capture Chios in 1566, a number of fortresses in Puglia, Pafos, Limassol and Larnaca later on. This resulted in capturing Cyprus. His last assignment was to return to be the leader of the Ottoman navy and conquer back Tunisha together with their Turkish Hafsid vassals in 1574 from Spain. His last voyage was to Puglia in Italy once again in 1573 and he died later on in 1578.

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