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Tunis, Siege of


Subject History » Military History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


(June-July 1535) The Siege of Tunis was the first offensive operation conducted by Charles V against the Ottomans in the Mediterranean. Although it was in part a response to growing demands from Spain and Italy for the Emperor to take action against the Ottoman expansion into the central and western Mediterranean in the 1520s and early 1530s, the immediate cause was the seizure of the city by Khaireddin Barbarossa in August 1534. The expelled sultan fled to Charles and offered an alliance if he would restore him. Charles was then at peace in Europe and saw this as an opportunity to make a major demonstration of strength. A large fleet drawn from Spain and Portugal was assembled at Barcelona in the spring of 1535; in May it sailed to Sardinia where it rendezvoused with an Italian contingent. The combined fleet (100 galleys and 300 transports), under the command of Andrea Doria, then made a quick passage to North Africa and on 15 June began landing an army of 25,000 men near the fortress of La Goletta which commanded the harbour of Tunis. After three weeks of bombardment La Goletta was stormed on 14 July. The army then moved overland against Tunis itself, a riskier proposition as Barbarossa had determined to fight for the control of the principal wells en route. However, the Christian cavalry proved superior and the defeat of Barbarossa's army (20 July) inspired a revolt in the city. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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