Battle of Preveza, 1538

1866 painting of the Battle of Preveza, by Ohannes Umed Behzad. Original in the Turkish Naval Museum, Istanbul.

Location Preveza, Greece

The Battle of Preveza took place on 28 September, 1538, about two-thirds of the way up the western coast of Greece. An alliance of Christian States, formed by the Pope, attempted to blunt the forces of Hayreddin Barbarossa, an Ottoman admiral who had been spending the last year seizing islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Barbarossa had a fleet of 122 galleys, with 12,000 soldiers. The Pope arrayed a fleet of 112 galleys, fifty galleons, and 140 barques, with 60,000 soldiers. Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria was in overall command of the Christian fleet. Barbarossa secured a fort ashore, which prompted Doria to retire South to find an anchorage for the night of 27-28 September. In the morning, Barbarossa staged a dawn attack against the larger allied force, catching them off-guard. The Turks had the initial advantage with no wind, allowing them to get in initial hits on becalmed Christian vessels. However, when the wind came up, the allies didn't fare much better. Doria was reluctant to commit the main section of his fleet directly, and instead tried to maneuver for position, but never managed to get committed. In the end, the Ottoman Fleet destroyed between thirteen and 134 ships, to no loss of their own. They did lose around 400 dead, while taking about 3,000 prisoners. Doria abandoned the battlefield the next day, despite pleas to the contrary from his commanders. This resulted in a decisive Ottoman victory, in which Venice came out particularly poorly, losing most of its overseas possessions, and having to pay the Ottomans 300,000 gold ducats (a common gold coin in Eurasian trade).