1494 Nov 6
, Trabzon

Suleiman was born in Trabzon on the southern coast of the Black Sea to Şehzade Selim (later Selim I), probably on 6 November 1494, although this date is not known with absolute certainty or evidence. His mother was Hafsa Sultan, a convert to Islam of unknown origins, who died in 1534.

Childhood of Suleiman

Childhood of Suleiman

1500 Jan 1
, Cankurtaran

At the age of seven, Suleiman began studies of science, history, literature, theology and military tactics in the schools of the imperial Topkapı Palace in Constantinople. As a young man, he befriended Pargalı Ibrahim, a Greek slave who later became one of his most trusted advisers (but who was later executed on Suleiman's orders).

Kaffa 1794 | ©C. G. H. Geissler

Governor of Kaffa

1511 Jan 1
, Feodosia

At age seventeen, he was appointed as the governor of first Kaffa (Theodosia), then Manisa, with a brief tenure at Edirne.

Suleiman the Magnificent | ©Hans Eworth

Ascension of Suleiman the Magnificent

1520 Sep 30
, İstanbul

Upon the death of his father, Selim I, Suleiman entered Constantinople and ascended to the throne as the tenth Ottoman Sultan. An early description of Suleiman, a few weeks following his accession, was provided by the Venetian envoy Bartolomeo Contarini:

The sultan is only twenty-five years [actually 26] old, tall and slender but tough, with a thin and bony face. Facial hair is evident, but only barely. The sultan appears friendly and in good humor. Rumor has it that Suleiman is aptly named, enjoys reading, is knowledgeable and shows good judgment."

Fortress Belgrade

Siege of Belgrade

1521 Jun 25 - Aug 29
, Belgrade

Upon succeeding his father, Suleiman began a series of military conquests, eventually leading to a revolt led by the Ottoman-appointed governor of Damascus in 1521. Suleiman soon made preparations for the conquest of Belgrade from the Kingdom of Hungary—something his great-grandfather Mehmed II had failed to achieve because of John Hunyadi's strong defense in the region. Its capture was vital in removing the Hungarians and Croats who, following the defeats of the Albanians, Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Byzantines and the Serbs, remained the only formidable force who could block further Ottoman gains in Europe. Suleiman encircled Belgrade and began a series of heavy bombardments from an island in the Danube. Belgrade, with a garrison of only 700 men, and receiving no aid from Hungary, fell in August 1521.

Suleiman during the siege of Rhodes in 1522 | ©Matrakci Nasuh

Siege of Rhodes

1522 Jun 26 - Dec 22
, Rhodes

After taking Belgrade, the road to Hungary and Austria lay open, but Suleiman turned his attention instead to the Eastern Mediterranean island of Rhodes, the home base of the Knights Hospitaller. Suleiman built a large fortification, Marmaris Castle, that served as a base for the Ottoman Navy. Following the five-month Siege of Rhodes (1522), Rhodes capitulated and Suleiman allowed the Knights of Rhodes to depart. The conquest of the island cost the Ottomans 50,000 to 60,000 dead from battle and sickness (Christian claims went as high as 64,000 Ottoman battle deaths and 50,000 disease deaths).

Suleimaniye Mosque, Istanbul, 19th Century (Süleymaniye Camii)

Arts under Suleiman

1526 Jan 1
, Cankurtaran

Under Suleiman's patronage, the Ottoman Empire entered the golden age of its cultural development. Hundreds of imperial artistic societies were administered at the Imperial seat, the Topkapı Palace. After an apprenticeship, artists and craftsmen could advance in rank within their field and were paid commensurate wages in quarterly annual installments. Payroll registers that survive testify to the breadth of Suleiman's patronage of the arts, the earliest of the documents dating from 1526 list 40 societies with over 600 members. The Ehl-i Hiref attracted the empire's most talented artisans to the Sultan's court, both from the Islamic world and from the recently conquered territories in Europe, resulting in a blend of Arabic, Turkish and European cultures. Artisans in service of the court included painters, book binders, furriers, jewellers and goldsmiths. Whereas previous rulers had been influenced by Persian culture (Suleiman's father, Selim I, wrote poetry in Persian), Suleiman's patronage of the arts saw the Ottoman Empire assert its own artistic legacy.

Suleiman also became renowned for sponsoring a series of monumental architectural developments within his empire. The Sultan sought to turn Constantinople into the center of Islamic civilization by a series of projects, including bridges, mosques, palaces and various charitable and social establishments. The greatest of these were built by the Sultan's chief architect, Mimar Sinan, under whom Ottoman architecture reached its zenith. Sinan became responsible for over three hundred monuments throughout the empire, including his two masterpieces, the Süleymaniye and Selimiye mosques—the latter built in Adrianople (now Edirne) in the reign of Suleiman's son Selim II. Suleiman also restored the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Walls of Jerusalem (which are the current walls of the Old City of Jerusalem), renovated the Kaaba in Mecca, and constructed a complex in Damascus.

Battle of Mohacs 1526 | ©Bertalan Székely

Battle of Mohács

1526 Aug 29
, Mohács

As relations between Hungary and the Ottoman Empire deteriorated, Suleiman resumed his campaign in Central Europe, and on 29 August 1526 he defeated Louis II of Hungary (1506–1526) at the Battle of Mohács. Upon encountering the lifeless body of King Louis, Suleiman is said to have lamented:

"I came indeed in arms against him; but it was not my wish that he should be thus cut off before he scarcely tasted the sweets of life and royalty."

The Ottoman victory led to the partition of Hungary for several centuries between the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg monarchy, and the Principality of Transylvania. Further, the death of Louis II as he fled the battle marked the end of the Jagiellonian dynasty in Hungary and Bohemia, whose dynastic claims passed to the House of Habsburg.

Ottoman siege of Esztergom | ©Sebastiaen Vrancx

Ottomans take Buda

1529 Aug 26 - Aug 27
, Budapest

Some Hungarian nobles proposed that Ferdinand, who was the ruler of neighboring Austria and tied to Louis II's family by marriage, be King of Hungary, citing previous agreements that the Habsburgs would take the Hungarian throne if Louis died without heirs. However, other nobles turned to the nobleman John Zápolya, who was being supported by Suleiman. Under Charles V and his brother Ferdinand I, the Habsburgs reoccupied Buda and took possession of Hungary.

Zápolya refused to give up his claims to the Hungarian throne and therefore appealed to Suleiman for recognition in return for tribute. Suleiman accepted Zápolya as his vassal in February and in May 1529 Suleiman personally embarked on his campaign.On 26–27 August Suleiman had Buda encircled and the siege began. The walls were destroyed by intensive cannon and gun fire of the Ottomans between 5 and 7 September. The military preparedness, uninterrupted attacks and physical and psychological destruction that was caused by the Ottoman artillery had the desired effect. The German mercenaries surrendered and ceded the castle to the Ottomans on 8 September. John Zápolya was installed in Buda as a vassal of Suleiman.After the defeat of Ferdinand his supporters were promised safe passage from the town, however the Ottoman troops slaughtered them outside of the city walls.

An Ottoman depiction of the siege from the 16th century, housed in the Istanbul Hachette Art Museum

Siege of Vienna

1529 Sep 27 - Oct 15
, Vienna

The siege of Vienna, in 1529, was the first attempt by the Ottoman Empire to capture the city of Vienna, Austria. Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottomans, attacked the city with over 100,000 men, while the defenders, led by Niklas Graf Salm, numbered no more than 21,000. Nevertheless, Vienna was able to survive the siege, which ultimately lasted just over two weeks, from 27 September to 15 October 1529.

The siege came in the aftermath of the 1526 Battle of Mohács, which had resulted in the death of Louis II, King of Hungary, and the descent of the kingdom into civil war. Following Louis' death, rival factions within Hungary selected two successors: Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria, supported by the House of Habsburg, and John Zápolya. Zápolya would eventually seek aid from, and become a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, after Ferdinand began to take control of western Hungary, including the city of Buda.

The Ottoman attack on Vienna was part of the empire's intervention into the Hungarian conflict, and in the short term sought to secure Zápolya's position. Historians offer conflicting interpretations of the Ottoman's long-term goals, including the motivations behind the choice of Vienna as the campaign’s immediate target. Some modern historians suggest that Suleiman's primary objective was to assert Ottoman control over all of Hungary, including the western part (known as Royal Hungary) that was then still under Habsburg control. Some scholars suggest Suleiman intended to use Hungary as a staging ground for further invasion of Europe.

The failure of the siege of Vienna marked the beginning of 150 years of bitter military tension between the Habsburgs and Ottomans, punctuated by reciprocal attacks, and culminating in a second siege of Vienna in 1683.

16th-century oil painting of Hurrem Sultan | ©Anonymous

Suleiman marries Roxelana

1531 Jan 1
, İstanbul

Suleiman was infatuated with Hurrem Sultan, a harem girl from Ruthenia, then part of Poland. Western diplomats, taking notice of the palace gossip about her, called her "Russelazie" or "Roxelana", referring to her Ruthenian origins. The daughter of an Orthodox priest, she was captured by Tatars from Crimea, sold as a slave in Constantinople, and eventually rose through the ranks of the Harem to become Suleiman's favorite. Hurrem, a former concubine, became the legal wife of the Sultan, much to the astonishment of the observers in the palace and the city. He also allowed Hurrem Sultan to remain with him at court for the rest of her life, breaking another tradition—that when imperial heirs came of age, they would be sent along with the imperial concubine who bore them to govern remote provinces of the Empire, never to return unless their progeny succeeded to the throne.

Ottoman–Safavid War

Ottoman–Safavid War

1532 Jan 1 - 1555
, Baghdad

Suleiman's father had made war with Persia a high priority. At first, Suleiman shifted attention to Europe and was content to contain Persia, which was preoccupied by its own enemies to its east. After Suleiman stabilized his European frontiers, he now turned his attention to Persia, the base for the rival Islamic faction of Shi'a. The Safavid dynasty became the main enemy after two episodes.

The war was triggered by territorial disputes between the two empires, especially when the Bey of Bitlis decided to put himself under Persian protection. Also, Tahmasp had the governor of Baghdad, a sympathiser of Suleiman, assassinated. On the diplomatic front, Safavids had been engaged in discussions with the Habsburgs for the formation of a Habsburg–Persian alliance that would attack the Ottoman Empire on two fronts.

Siege of Güns | ©Edward Schön

Siege of Güns

1532 Aug 5 - Aug 30
, Kőszeg

The siege of Kőszeg or siege of Güns in the Kingdom of Hungary within the Habsburg Empire, that took place in 1532. In the siege, the defending forces of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy under the leadership of Croatian Captain Nikola Jurišić, defended the small border fort of Kőszeg with only 700–800 Croatian soldiers, with no cannons and few guns. The defenders prevented the advance of the Ottoman army of over 100,000 toward Vienna, under the leadership of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha.

Most scholars agree that the defending Christian Knights Emerged victorious over the Ottoman invaders. Suleiman, having been delayed nearly four weeks, withdrew at the arrival of the August rains, and did not continue towards Vienna as he had intended, but turned homeward.

Suleiman secured his possession in Hungary by conquering several other forts, but after the Ottoman withdrawal, Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I reoccupied some of the devastated territory. Following this, Suleiman and Ferdinand concluded a 1533 treaty of Constantinople that confirmed the right of John Zápolya as a king of all Hungary, but recognised Ferdinand's possession of some of the reoccupied territory.

First Persian Campaign

First Persian Campaign

1533 Jan 1 - 1536
, Baghdad

First, Shah Tahmasp killed the Baghdad governor loyal to Suleiman, and put his own man in. Second, the governor of Bitlis had defected and sworn allegiance to the Safavids. As a result, in 1533, Suleiman ordered his Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha to lead an army into eastern Asia Minor where he retook Bitlis and occupied Tabriz without resistance. Suleiman joined Ibrahim in 1534. They made a push towards Persia, only to find the Shah sacrificing territory instead of facing a pitched battle, resorting to harassment of the Ottoman army as it proceeded along the harsh interior. In 1535 Suleiman made a grand entrance into Baghdad. He enhanced his local support by restoring the tomb of Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi school of Islamic law to which the Ottomans adhered.

Francis I (left) and Suleiman I (right) initiated the Franco-Ottoman alliance. They never met in person; this is a composite of two separate paintings by Titian, circa 1530.

Franco-Ottoman alliance

1536 Jan 1
, France

The Franco-Ottoman Alliance, also known as the Franco-Turkish Alliance, was an alliance established in 1536 between the King of France Francis I and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Suleiman I. The strategic and sometimes tactical alliance was one of the most important foreign alliances of France, and was particularly influential during the Italian Wars. The Franco-Ottoman military alliance reached its peak around 1553 during the reign Henry II of France.

The alliance was exceptional, as the first non-ideological alliance in effect between a Christian and Muslim state, and caused a scandal in the Christian world. Carl Jacob Burckhardt (1947) called it "the sacrilegious union of the lily and the crescent". It lasted intermittently for more than two and a half centuries, until the Napoleonic campaign in Ottoman Egypt, in 1798–1801.

Turkish galleys, 17th century

Ottoman–Portuguese Wars

1538 Jan 1 - 1559
, Tehran Province

The Ottoman-Portuguese conflicts (1538 to 1559) were a series of armed military encounters between the Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire along with regional allies in and along the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea. This is a period of conflict during the Ottoman–Portuguese confrontations.

The arrival of Portuguese ships in Hormuz

Ottoman naval expeditions in the Indian Ocean

1538 Jan 1 - 1554
, Indian Ocean

Ottoman ships had been sailing in the Indian Ocean since the year 1518. Ottoman admirals such as Hadim Suleiman Pasha, Seydi Ali Reis and Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis are known to have voyaged to the Mughal imperial ports of Thatta, Surat and Janjira. The Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great himself is known to have exchanged six documents with Suleiman the Magnificent.

The Ottoman expeditions in the Indian Ocean were a series of Ottoman amphibious operations in the Indian Ocean in the 16th century. There were four expeditions between 1538 and 1554, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.

With its strong control of the Red Sea, Suleiman successfully managed to dispute control of the trade routes to the Portuguese and maintained a significant level of trade with the Mughal Empire throughout the 16th century.

Death of Sultan Bahadur in front of Diu during negotiations with the Portuguese, in 1537. | ©Akbarnama

Siege of Diu

1538 Aug 1 - Nov
, Diu

In 1509, the major Battle of Diu (1509) took place between the Portuguese and a joint fleet of the Sultan of Gujarat, the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, the Zamorin of Calicut with support of the Ottoman Empire. Since 1517, the Ottomans had attempted to combine forces with Gujarat in order to fight the Portuguese away from the Red Sea and in the area of India. Pro-Ottoman forces under Captain Hoca Sefer had been installed by Selman Reis in Diu.

Diu in Gujarat (now a state in western India), was with Surat, one of the main points of supply of spices to Ottoman Egypt at that time. However, Portuguese intervention thwarted that trade by controlling the traffic in the Red Sea. In 1530, the Venetians could not obtain any supply of spices through Egypt.

The siege of Diu occurred when an army of the Sultanate of Gujarat under Khadjar Safar, aided by forces of the Ottoman Empire, attempted to capture the city of Diu in 1538, then held by the Portuguese. The Portuguese successfully resisted the four months long siege.

The defeat of the combined Turkish and Gujarati forces at Diu represented a critical setback in Ottoman plans for expanding their influence into the Indian Ocean. Without a suitable base or allies, failure at Diu meant the Ottomans were unable to proceed with their campaign in India, leaving the Portuguese uncontested in the western Indian coast. Never again would the Ottoman Turks ever send so large an armada to India.

Battle of Preveza | ©Ohannes Umed Behzad

Battle of Preveza

1538 Sep 28
, Preveza

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, Karpathos, Kasos, and Naxos, thus annexing the Duchy of Naxos to the Ottoman Empire. He then unsuccessfully besieged the Venetian stronghold of Corfu and ravaged the Spanish-held Calabrian coast in southern Italy.

In the face of this threat, Pope Paul III in February 1538 in assembled a ’’Holy League’’, comprising the Papal States, Hapsburg Spain, the Republic of Genoa, the Republic of Venice, and the Knights of Malta, to confront Ottoman fleet under Barbarossa.

The Ottoman won the battle at Preveza and, with 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 in 1571. It was one of the three largest sea battles that took place in the sixteenth century Mediterranean, along with the Battle of Djerba and the Battle of Lepanto.

Battle of Buda Castle in 1541

Siege of Buda

1541 May 4 - Aug 21
, Budapest

The siege of Buda (4 May – 21 August 1541) ended with the capture of the city of Buda, Hungary by the Ottoman Empire, leading to 150 years of Ottoman control of Hungary. The siege, part of the Little War in Hungary, was one of the most important Ottoman victories over the Habsburg monarchy during Ottoman–Habsburg wars (16th to 18th century) in Hungary and the Balkans.

Ottoman depiction of the siege of Nice (Matrakçı Nasuh, 16th century)

Ottoman-Italian War

1542 Jul 12 - 1546 Jun 7
, Italy

The Italian War of 1542–1546 was a conflict late in the Italian Wars, pitting Francis I of France and Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Henry VIII of England. The course of the war saw extensive fighting in Italy, France, and the Low Countries, as well as attempted invasions of Spain and England. The conflict was inconclusive and ruinously expensive for the major participants.

The war arose from the failure of the Truce of Nice, which ended the Italian War of 1536–1538, to resolve the long-standing conflict between Charles and Francis—particularly their conflicting claims to the Duchy of Milan. Having found a suitable pretext, Francis once again declared war against his perpetual enemy in 1542. Fighting began at once throughout the Low Countries; the following year saw the Franco-Ottoman alliance's attack on Nice, as well as a series of maneuvers in northern Italy which culminated in the bloody Battle of Ceresole. Charles and Henry then proceeded to invade France, but the long sieges of Boulogne-sur-Mer and Saint-Dizier prevented a decisive offensive against the French.

Charles came to terms with Francis by the Treaty of Crépy in late 1544, but the death of Francis's younger son, the Duke of Orléans—whose proposed marriage to a relative of the Emperor was the foundation of the treaty—made it moot less than a year afterwards. Henry, left alone but unwilling to return Boulogne to the French, continued to fight until 1546, when the Treaty of Ardres finally restored peace between France and England. The deaths of Francis and Henry in early 1547 left the resolution of the Italian Wars to their successors.

Second Persian campaign | ©Angus McBride

Second Persian campaign

1548 Jan 1 - 1549
, Tabriz

Attempting to defeat the Shah once and for all, Suleiman embarked upon a second campaign in 1548–1549. As in the previous attempt, Tahmasp avoided confrontation with the Ottoman army and instead chose to retreat, using scorched earth tactics in the process and exposing the Ottoman army to the harsh winter of the Caucasus. Suleiman abandoned the campaign with temporary Ottoman gains in Tabriz and the Urmia region, a lasting presence in the province of Van, control of the western half of Azerbaijan and some forts in Georgia.

16th century Turkish painting depicting the Ottoman fleet protecting shipping in the Gulf of Aden. The three peaks on the left symbolize Aden.

Capture of Aden

1548 Feb 26
, Aden

Aden had already been captured by the Ottomans for Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538 by Hadim Suleiman Pasha, in order to provide an Ottoman base for raids against Portuguese possessions on the western coast of India. Sailing on to India, the Ottomans failed against the Portuguese at the Siege of Diu in September 1538, but then returned to Aden where they fortified the city with 100 pieces of artillery.

From this base, Sulayman Pasha managed to take control of the whole country of Yemen, also taking Sanaa. In 1547, Aden arose against the Ottomans however and invited the Portuguese instead, so that the Portuguese were in control of the city.

The capture of Aden of 1548 was accomplished when Ottomans under Piri Reis managed to take the harbour of Aden in Yemen from the Portuguese on 26 February 1548.

French ambassador to the Ottoman Porte Gabriel de Luetz d'Aramont, was present at the siege.

Tripoli falls to the Ottomans

1551 Aug 15
, Tripoli

In August 1551, the Ottoman Turks, under naval commander Turgut Reis, and Barbary pirates besieged and vanquished the Knights of Malta in the Red Castle of Tripoli, which had been a possession of the Knights of Malta since 1530. The siege culminated in a six-day bombardment and the surrender of the city on 15 August.

In 1553, Turgut Reis 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. In 1560, a powerful naval force was sent to recapture Tripoli, but that force was defeated in the Battle of Djerba.

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.

The Women of Eger | ©Székely, Bertalan

Siege of Eger

1552 Jan 1
, Eger

The loss of Christian forts at Temesvár and Szolnok in 1552 were blamed on mercenary soldiers within the Hungarian ranks. When the Turks turned their attention to the northern Hungarian town of Eger in the same year, few expected the defenders to put up much resistance, particularly as the two great armies of the Ottoman lords Ahmed and Ali, which had crushed all opposition previously, united before Eger.

Eger was an important stronghold and key to the defense of the remainder of Hungarian soil. North of Eger lay the poorly reinforced city of Kassa (present-day Košice), the center of an important region of mines and associated mints, which provided the Hungarian kingdom with large amounts of quality silver and gold coinage. Besides allowing a takeover of that revenue source, the fall of Eger would also enable the Ottoman Empire to secure an alternate logistic and troop route for further westward military expansion, possibly allowing the Turks to lay sieges to Vienna more frequently.

Kara Ahmed Pasha laid siege to the Castle of Eger, located in the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, but the defenders led by István Dobó repelled the attacks and defended the castle. The siege has become an emblem of national defense and patriotic heroism in Hungary.

Siege of Temesvár, 1552

Siege of Temesvár

1552 Jun 24 - Jul 27
, Timișoara

The eastern part of Romania in 1550 came under Habsburg rule, which caused the attack of the Ottoman army against Hungary. In 1552 two Ottoman armies crossed the border into the Hungarian Kingdom. One of them – led by Hadim Ali Pasha – started a campaign against the western and central part of the country whilst the second army – led by Kara Ahmed Pasha – attacked the fortresses in the Banat region. The siege resulted with a decisive Ottoman victory and Temesvár came under Ottoman control for 164 years.

Third Persian campaign

Third Persian campaign

1553 Jan 1 - 1555
, Erzurum

In 1553 Suleiman began his third and final campaign against the Shah. Having initially lost territories in Erzurum to the Shah's son, Suleiman retaliated by recapturing Erzurum, crossing the Upper Euphrates and laying waste to parts of Persia. The Shah's army continued its strategy of avoiding the Ottomans, leading to a stalemate from which neither army made any significant gain. In 1555, a settlement known as the Peace of Amasya was signed, which defined the borders of the two empires. By this treaty, Armenia and Georgia were divided equally between the two, with Western Armenia, western Kurdistan, and western Georgia (incl. western Samtskhe) falling in Ottoman hands while Eastern Armenia, eastern Kurdistan, and eastern Georgia (incl. eastern Samtskhe) stayed in Safavid hands. The Ottoman Empire obtained most of Iraq, including Baghdad, which gave them access to the Persian Gulf, while the Persians retained their former capital Tabriz and all their other northwestern territories in the Caucasus and as they were prior to the wars, such as Dagestan and all of what is now Azerbaijan.

Ottoman embassy to Aceh

Ottoman embassy to Aceh

1565 Jan 1
, Aceh

The Ottoman expedition to Aceh started from around 1565 when the Ottoman Empire endeavoured to support the Aceh Sultanate in its fight against the Portuguese Empire in Malacca. The expedition followed an envoy sent by the Acehnese Sultan Alauddin Riayat Syah al-Kahhar (1539–71) to Suleiman the Magnificent in 1564, and possibly as early as 1562, requesting Ottoman support against the Portuguese.

Lifting of the Siege of Malta by Charles-Philippe Larivière (1798–1876). Hall of the Crusades, Palace of Versailles.

Great Siege of Malta

1565 May 18 - Sep 11
, Grand Harbour

The Great Siege of Malta occurred in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire attempted to conquer the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The siege lasted nearly four months, from 18 May to 11 September 1565.

The Knights Hospitaller had been headquartered in Malta since 1530, after being driven out of Rhodes, also by the Ottomans, in 1522, following the siege of Rhodes. The Ottomans first attempted to take Malta in 1551 but failed. In 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Sultan, made a second attempt to take Malta. The Knights, who numbered around 500 together with approximately 6,000 footsoldiers, withstood the siege and repelled the invaders. This victory became one of the most celebrated events of sixteenth-century Europe, to the point that Voltaire said: "Nothing is better known than the siege of Malta." It undoubtedly contributed to the eventual erosion of the European perception of Ottoman invincibility, although the Mediterranean continued to be contested between Christian coalitions and the Muslim Turks for many years.

The siege was the climax of an escalating contest between the Christian alliances and the Islamic Ottoman Empire for control of the Mediterranean, a contest that included the Turkish attack on Malta in 1551, the Ottoman destruction of an allied Christian fleet at the Battle of Djerba in 1560, and the decisive Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Funeral of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent

Siege of Szigetvár

1566 Sep 7
, Szigetvár

On 6 September 1566, Suleiman, who had set out from Constantinople to command an expedition to Hungary, died before an Ottoman victory at the Siege of Szigetvár in Hungary at the age of 71 and his Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha kept his death secret during the retreat for the enthronement of Selim II. The sultan's body was taken back to Istanbul to be buried, while his heart, liver, and some other organs were buried in Turbék, outside Szigetvár. A mausoleum constructed above the burial site came to be regarded as a holy place and pilgrimage site. Within a decade a mosque and Sufi hospice were built near it, and the site was protected by a salaried garrison of several dozen men.


1567 Jan 1
, İstanbul

The formation of Suleiman's legacy began even before his death. Throughout his reign literary works were commissioned praising Suleiman and constructing an image of him as an ideal ruler, most significantly by Celalzade Mustafa, chancellor of the empire from 1534 to 1557.

Suleiman's conquests had brought under the control of the Empire major Muslim cities (such as Baghdad), many Balkan provinces (reaching present day Croatia and Hungary), and most of North Africa. His expansion into Europe had given the Ottoman Turks a powerful presence in the European balance of power. Indeed, such was the perceived threat of the Ottoman Empire under the reign of Suleiman that Austria's ambassador Busbecq warned of Europe's imminent conquest: "On the Turks' side are the resources of a mighty empire, strength unimpaired, habituation to victory, endurance of toil, unity, discipline, frugality and watchfulness ... Can we doubt what the result will be? ... When the Turks have settled with Persia, they will fly at our throats supported by the might of the whole East; how unprepared we are I dare not say." Suleiman's legacy was not, however, merely in the military field. The French traveler Jean de Thévenot bears witness a century later to the "strong agricultural base of the country, the well being of the peasantry, the abundance of staple foods and the pre-eminence of organization in Suleiman's government".

Through the distribution of court patronage, Suleiman also presided over a Golden Age in Ottoman arts, witnessing immense achievement in the realms of architecture, literature, art, theology and philosophy. Today the skyline of the Bosphorus and of many cities in modern Turkey and the former Ottoman provinces, are still adorned with the architectural works of Mimar Sinan. One of these, the Süleymaniye Mosque, is the final resting place of Suleiman: he is buried in a domed mausoleum attached to the mosque.


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