Venetian Turkish War

Want to learn more about the Venetian Turkish war? Read on for a historical overview of the series of naval battles that took place between the Ottomans and the Republic of Venice…

A series of naval battles took place between the Republic of Venice and Ottoman Empire between 1499 and 1503. The battles were fought over the sovereignty of lands surrounding the Ionian Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea. These battles were termed as the Venetian Turkish War.

The first clash between the two parties broke out at Zonchio and is recorded in history as being the first naval battle in which both parties made use of cannon ships. The Turks launched their offensive under the command of one of the most celebrated admirals in Turkish history, Admiral Kemal Reis. By 1503 the Turkish forces were successful in getting the Venetians to recognize the disputed territory as Turkish land.

The War Breaks Out in 1499

The Turkish admiral set out with his naval brigade consisting of 10 galleys and four other high-grade ships from Istanbul in the first month of 1499. The Naval brigade was further strengthened by a huge Ottoman fleet that was sent their way by Davud Pasha. At this point in time the Turks were ready to wage a full-fledged war against the Republic of Venice.

The Ottoman fleet was composed of a total of 67 galleys further complemented by 20 galliots and 200 other smaller vessels. The battle of Zonchio is regarded as being the decisive battle of the war wherein the Turks successfully managed to defeat the Venetian fleet that was being led by Antonio Grimani.

The battle actually took place over four different dates. The first confrontation occurred on the 12th of August, which was followed up by another battle on the 20th of the same month. The last two confrontations took place on the 22nd and 25th of August 1499.

The massive Ottoman fleet took on a relatively downsized Venetian fleet, which was composed of 47 galleys, 17 galliots, as well as circa 100 smaller vessels. The Republic of Venice suffered serious damage and loss during these battles and lost a number of prominent individuals during the war. After the war, the ruling Ottoman sultan gave away 10 captured Venetian galleys as a token of appreciation to the leading commander of the Turkish naval fleet Kemal Reis.

The Venetian counterattack

For the Venetians, the Turks may have won the battle but the war was far from over. In the last month of 1499 the Venetians launched a full- scale counterattack on Lepanto attempting to take back their territories in the Ionian Sea. However, the Turk commander Kemal Reis was quick to respond and managed to reach Lepanto with his fleet in time to save the succession of the region to the Republic of Venice.

Another battle broke out between the two forces in August 1500 but this time it was the Ottomans who launched an attack on Venetian ports situated at the island of Corfu. Once again the Turkish commander led his forces to victory and from this time onwards the sovereignty of the disputed territories was settled once and for all.

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