November 2, 2014
Empires of the Sea In the book “Empires of the Sea,” Roger Crowley tells a story of the war between Christianity and Islam for the center of the world. Crowley begins his story with the Ottoman Empire’s ruler Suleiman the Magnificent. Suleiman inherited the Ottoman throne in the early 1500s. It was Islamic tradition that each new Sultan was required to conquer new territories in order to legitimize his position. Suleiman completed his grand father’s conquest by storming the fortress of Belgrade. His victory letter to L’lsle Adam (Grand master of Rhodes) in Belgrade was taken as a threat rather than a token of friendship, and the letter resulted in a preparation for war in which failure meant dismissal or death; but death was not Suleiman’s plan. On June 10, 1521 Suleiman sent out another letter demanding the surrender of Rhodes and the evacuation of its people as a result of his victory. After no response, Suleiman and his army made their way down to Rhodes. Thousands of troops died during the battle, and on December 20th a treaty was signed, Rhodes was spared, and the Ottoman Empire retreated. “Suleiman was indifferent toward the Mediterranean, beyond claiming it for himself. His ambitions were firmly territorial” (Crowley 34). Territory would bring glory, and that was what Suleiman was after.
After the battle in Rhodes, its Knights had become homeless wanderers in the Mediterranean. Emperor Charles (Spain) provided a permanent home in the Island of Malta for protection of his fort at Tripoli in return. While others were pirating the Mediterranean, Charles and Suleiman were engaged in a contest for the world and all of its territories. By 1532, the contest became personal and a talk of battle between the Turks and the Spaniards was rising. Charles’ center focus was the Mediterranean, but by 1550 it became clear that Charles was losing the contest. Charles became broken and gave up his crown to his son Philip in 1556. Suleiman realized that the Mediterranean was becoming of more importance, and he would now fight for it. The island of Malta was positioned in the center of the Mediterranean, which made it a crucial gateway between the east and the west. On March 30 the Ottoman Empire set sail for the battle of Malta, and Mustapha Pasha was appointed by Suleiman to fight in his honor. By July 1566, Suleiman had not heard any word back about the progression of the siege, so he wrote Mustapha demanding information of gain or loss and forbid a return without victory. By August 7, Malta was hanging on by a thread, and on September 5, 1565 Suleiman had died. The siege of Malta was a bloody war that thousands died for and