Siege of Candia

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Sep 19, 2022

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The Siege of Candia (1648-1669) is a siege by the Ottoman army during the Cretan War (1645-1669) of the fortress of Candia on the island of Crete, which ended in its fall. The siege lasted from 1648 to 1669 and went down in history as one of the longest. Lord Byron compared the siege of Candia to the siege of Troy and called Candia the "rival of Troy" (Witness Troy's rival, Candia!).

The first phase of the siege of Candia began in May 1648 and lasted three months. For the next 16 years the Ottomans did not storm the city, but blockaded it from the land and bombarded it without much result. The Venetians tried to blockade the Dardanelles in order to cut off the maritime supply channel for the Ottoman expeditionary forces on Crete. In 1655 and 1656 the Venetians were victorious in the battles of the Dardanelles. However, from July 17 to 19, 1657, the Ottoman fleet defeated the Venetian fleet, the commander Lazaro Mocenigo being killed by a falling mast.

Venice received aid from other states after the peace between France and Spain under the Treaty of Pyrenees of November 7, 1659. However, the Ottoman Empire also had additional forces available for action against the Venetians after the signing of the Peace of Vashvar in August 1664. A Venetian attempt to recapture Kanea in 1666 failed. The following year a defector informed the Ottomans of weaknesses in the fortifications of Candia, which made the efforts of the besiegers more effective. On July 24, 1669, a French sortie to Candia was defeated; in addition, the vice-flagship of the fleet, the Thérèse, sank in an accidental explosion. This double disaster was a severe blow to the morale of the city's defenders. In August 1669 the French left Candia, Captain General Francesco Morosini was left with only 3,600 soldiers and depleted supplies. On 27 September 1669 he surrendered the keys of the city to the Ottoman Grand Vizier Ahmed Köprühl.

After the fall of Candia, the Venetians somewhat compensated for their defeat by expanding their holdings in Dalmatia, but attempts to recapture Crete were unsuccessful; it remained Ottoman until 1898.

In the seventeenth century Venice's power in the Mediterranean waned, and as the Ottoman Empire strengthened its position, Venice tried to maintain good relations with it. However, the knightly order of St. John saw it as its duty to fight Muslims wherever they were caught. The Ottoman sultans regarded the Venetians as responsible for the actions of all Christian ships in the eastern Mediterranean, so the actions of the Ioannites constantly served as a source of complications between Venice and the Ottoman Empire. On September 28, 1644, a squadron of Maltese knights captured an Ottoman ship. The knights sailed with their booty to Crete, from which they were driven away, but all of Istanbul's claims were made against Venice. There was an agreement between Venice and the Ottoman Empire to oppose pirates, and the attack of the Order's ships on the ship carrying the sultan's men was perceived as an act of piracy. The Ottoman sultan Ibrahim ordered his revenge, whereupon the Ottoman army of 60,000 men under Silahdar Yusuf-pasha landed on the Venetian-owned island of Crete and after a two-month siege seized Kanea and then Rettimo.

In the 16th century the Venetians, expecting an attack by the Ottomans, fortified the cities of Crete. In 1538, a military engineer, Michele Sanmicheli, one of the developers of the Italian bastion system, arrived on the island. He studied the fortifications of the main cities of the island and designed new forts, taking into account the terrain and the latest developments in military engineering, but he did not directly build forts. Later, between 1562 and 1566, the fortress of Candia, like the others, was finished by order of the senate by Giulio Savornian.

During the siege, engineers from various countries visited Candia: Dutch (Wrangel), German (Waldeck, Koenigsmark, Georg Rimpler and Vermüller), Spanish (Verneda), Italian in French service (Villa

Inside the walls behind the three bastions were built cavaliers against the heights outside the city walls. They were reinforced by additional fortifications and a moat. According to C. Cui, redoubts and cavaliers behind the heights of the bastions were "particularly remarkable as strongholds for internal defense". On the sea side, the walls were built with a cremaller line, the harbor was additionally protected by the island of Diya. Camillo Gonzaga, commander of the garrison in the early stages of the war, built Fort San Dimiter as early as 1645, reinforcing Victoria Bastion.

Having conquered almost the entire island, the Ottomans laid siege to the capital, Candia, the capture of which was to complete the conquest of Crete. The siege lasted intermittently from 1648 to 1669. In 1649 and 1656 and from 1666 to 1669 there were full-fledged sieges; for the rest of the time the Ottomans carried out a siege of the city without active combat operations.

The Beginning of the Siege of Candia (1648-1649)

In the spring of 1647 the garrison of Candia, commanded by Commandant Grimaldi and Sea Captain General Francesco Morosini, had 8, the Venetians had about 400 guns. In late April/early May 1648, the Ottomans set up a battery on Mount San Lucia, opposite the Jesus and San Mari bastions, and began shelling those bastions. Then, in mid-May, a trench was dug opposite Fort San Dimitre and a battery of 6 guns was installed on its left flank and began shelling the fort. During the summer the trenches were dug by the besiegers to the counterscarp, after which the Ottomans proceeded to dig mine galleries. In addition, Gazi Deli Hussein, the Ottoman commander, cut off the aqueduct that fed the city with water from the springs of Agii Irini Canyon. But at this point the Ottoman advance stalled. Although the Ottomans managed to capture the fortifications of San Mari (28 on the diagram of La Feuillade) and Mocenigo (36 on the diagram of La Feuillade), later the Venetians repulsed them. After the unsuccessful attack on Fort St. Dimitra there was a temporary lull.

Hüseyin Pasha was forced to temporarily lift the siege of Gazi at the beginning of 1649 because of problems with supplying the army. The Christian fleet in the Aegean Sea was intercepting Ottoman convoys with supplies and reinforcements. In addition, Sultan Ibrahim's unstable character and constant executions caused an internal political crisis that led to the deposition of Ibrahim in favor of his minor son Mehmed IV.

After the arrival of the Ottoman fleet with reinforcements in June 1649, Gazi Hussein Pasha returned to active operations. The Ottomans attacked the fortifications, detonating more than 70 mines, but the defenders held out and the attackers lost more than 1,000 men. In addition, there was a problem with discipline in the Janissary regiments during the summer. By July 1649, the Janissaries in Crete had already served for two years without their annual leave of absence. When they realized that they would have to serve a third year, they began to resent it. Some of the privileged janissaries were reported to be on leave. At the same time, the duties of those who stayed on leave fell on the shoulders of those who went. As a result, several regiments returned to Istanbul arbitrarily. As a result, Hüseyin Pasha had no choice but to refrain from active action, but to continue to maintain as tight a blockade as possible. Nor did the defenders of the city have the strength to intensify action: while at the beginning of the campaign there were 6,000 infantrymen in the city, by 1650 only 4,000 remained. The rest either died in battles or from starvation.

Plan to infect the Ottomans with the plague

In 1868-1869 V. Lamansky worked in the Venetian archives studying the correspondence of the Council of Ten. He found letters from which it clearly follows that between 1649 and 1651 a plan to infect the Ottomans with plague was discussed in Venice. The correspondence between L. Foscolo, the Dalmatian General Provost, and the state inquisitors twice mentions Dr. Mikel Angelo Salomon, a Croatian Jew. Salomon proposed to make a liquid or powder ("quintessence of plague") from the "spleen, buboes, and carbuncles of plague-stricken persons. Foscolo proposed to "sow this quintessence of plague in the enemy camps of Rethymno, Canea and San Todero. This was to be done by infecting fezzes or other articles of clothing. The reply of the President of the Council of Ten instructed him to send Salomon with this preparation, properly packaged, to execute the plan of contamination. But the doctor categorically refused.

Continuation of the Siege of Candia (1650-1665)

By 1650 the Ottomans began to build fortifications to control the city's connection to the world by land. In 1652 they built a permanent fortified camp with five bastions to the south of the city about 5.5 kilometers from the bastion of Sabioner. The fortress was called New Candia and was the headquarters of the commander of the Ottoman forces on the island. The Venetians attempted to capture it twice during the siege, but were unsuccessful. The Venetians' inability to hold the interior led to the loss of virtually all the territories on the island in 1656. Despite the blockade of the Dardanelles by the Venetian navy and the political crisis in Istanbul, the Ottoman forces were strong enough to withstand the Venetian campaigns, but not strong enough to attack Candia. In 1653 Hüseyin Pasha occupied the island fortress of Selino in the Gulf of Souda and fortified the previously captured fortress of San Todero in the Gulf of Canea. In the following years, the Ottomans made numerous attacks on the fortifications of Candia, particularly in 1653, 1654, and 1655, during which they attempted to seize Fort St. Dimitar. During a break in active siege operations in August 1660, a combined fleet of papal, Maltese and French ships seized Fort Santa Veranda and attempted to liberate Canaia, but the Ottoman commander of the troops at Canaia managed to reach Canaia and drove the Europeans to the ships. The garrison of Candia decided to take advantage of the temporary absence of the main forces and made an unsuccessful sortie, losing 1,500 men.

The long interruptions in military operations at the walls of Candia were caused by problems in the Ottoman Empire. The first of these was the instability of power during the female sultanate. Only the arrival of members of the Köprülü family to the position of grand vizier in 1656 led to the stabilization of the situation. The second problem was the war with Austria that began in 1663. The second vizier of the Köprülü family, Ahmed, signed the Peace of Vashvar in August 1664, ending the war, although without success. By doing so, however, he untied his hands and was able to focus all his efforts on Crete.

Continuation of the Siege of Candia (1666-1668)

Despite the successes of the Venetian navy, the blockade of Candia continued, and the Ottomans maintained their other gains on the island until the arrival of a new Ottoman expeditionary force in 1666. And Candia's garrison was strengthened by the arrival of reinforcements from Venice's allies. In addition to soldiers, engineers and fortification specialists arrived in the city. The Marquis Da Villa (one of the most eminent military engineers of the seventeenth century), went to Crete on behalf of the Venetian Senate and arrived with a detachment of 8295 men of infantry and 1008 cavalrymen. On February 26, 1666, he landed in Crete and made an unsuccessful attempt to besiege Canea, and then arrived in Candia in April 1666. On April 16 he positioned his detachment of 6,100 infantry and 650 cavalrymen in a camp between the fortress and the Ottomans. The Ottomans made daily attacks on the camp, which existed until mid-June 1666. On June 13, Morozini ordered the camp to be taken down after learning that the Ottomans would receive large reinforcements. They relocated guns and ammunition to the Mochenigo fortification, tore down the fortifications, and in the morning blew up the redoubt.

In September 1666 work began to strengthen the fortifications according to the design of the Dutch engineer Werned who arrived in Candia. The berms were repaired and the counter-mine galleries were reinforced. The work was completed in 40 days. The Ottomans also fortified their positions: they built redoubts opposite Fort St. Dimitre, dug trenches to the fortification of St. Mary, to the fleches of Crève-coeur, to the raveline of St. Nicolas. In addition, the Ottomans poured ramparts in front of the verges. On several occasions Ville succeeded in repelling the Ottomans during sorties, but the overall balance of power did not change.

A new Ottoman army arrived on the island in the winter of 1666

To lead the troops, the Grand Vizier personally arrived on the island. In November 1666 he landed in Canaenay with large reinforcements, during the winter and spring of 1667 preparations were made. The ensuing period of siege lasted 8 months, with the main action taking place around the bastion of Panigre. By May the Ottoman army was 70 thousand men and on May 22 they were at the walls of the city. Köprülü Pasha chose three bastions to attack - Panigrah, Bethlehem and Martingo. On May 27 the Ottomans began to dig trenches. The Grand Vizier ordered New Candia to be blown up in order to use its materials in the construction of the mounds. Along the capital (the line dividing the corner of the fortification into two equal parts) of each bastion, the Ottomans dug wide zigzag trenches to move the heavy guns. They then dug transverse trenches parallel to the attack front with a frequency of 15-20 paces. In these trenches the berms were higher than human height. As the work progressed, 30 parallel trenches were dug in front of the Panigre Bastion (a year later, 50 parallel trenches were dug in front of the Sabioner Bastion). Redoubts were built at the ends of the cross trenches to reinforce them. The Ottomans had mounds piled up to allow the batteries to do maximum damage. The Ottomans shelled all the fortifications from San Mari to San Andrea, but without much result. The next day the Ottomans opened fire on it with seven batteries, fifty-five cannons and eleven mortars. After that the Ottomans went to storm the ravelin, but the defenders repulsed the attack. Then the Ottoman soldiers began to dig mine galleries. The defenders of the ravelin responded by digging counter-mines. The besiegers managed to reach the bottom of the main moat in front of the Panigra Bastion and blow up its counter-scarps and both sides of the structure.

On May 30, 1667 the defenders made the first of many sorties, they reached the Ottoman workers digging trenches and threw grenades at them. By mid-September 1667 more than two hundred piles had been blown (82 by the besiegers and 153 by the besiegers), but neither side gained an advantage. In the first half of September Da Villa made a sortie, forcing the Ottomans to retreat. They responded by increasing the number of guns in front of the Mocenigo bastion. In early October, Engineer Lobatier blew up a large counter-mine gallery that collapsed all of the Ottomans' undermining near Bastion Bethlehem. In late October, the defenders detonated forty barrels of gunpowder in the counter-mine gallery in front of the Panigre Bastion. This explosion killed 200 men and destroyed many of the Ottoman stockade. But the Ottomans were able to blow up the left retrenchment with a mine and captured the Panigra Ravelin in early November. From it they were able to get into the fortress moat and in mid-November they moved along the bottom of it to the main rampart.

In mid-November the defenders of Candia made a sortie in an attempt to defend the bastion of Panigra, but failed to prevent the Ottomans from occupying it. However, heavy rains flooded all the trenches and mine galleries, and the Ottomans had to postpone work until spring. At the end of the year the Ottomans tried to resume work in front of the bastions, but they could not hide in the flooded trenches, and the fire of the defenders forced them to abandon any active operations in this direction. The onset of winter brought some relief to the besieged. But the Ottomans did not waste the winter months - the Grand Vizier decided to cut off the supply channel to the city, and on his orders a long pier was built to block the port of Candia. Now Köprülü Pasha directed his attacks against the coastal fronts.

By this time since May 1666 Ottoman losses amounted to 20,000 men. They exploded 212 mines and 18 land mines, the defenders withstood 32 assaults of the fortifications of Candia. The losses of the besieged were 7 thousand soldiers and 2111 women and children. 369 mines and 19 land mines were detonated. The garrison made 16 sorties behind the walls of the city, and 18 times the besiegers and the besieged collided at the meeting of mines and counter-mine undermining. At the end of January 1668 the Ottomans cleared the previously flooded trenches in which they placed guards.

On November 15, 1667, the engineer Capt.

On April 21, 1668 Da Villa left Candia, either because of a quarrel with the conductor Antonio Barbaro, or because he was recalled by the Duke of Savoy. Da Villa soon died of wounds sustained in the defense of Candia. An engineer, the Marquis Da Villa, a specialist in fortification, had arrived in Candia earlier, in February 1666. He was in charge of the fortifications of the city and commanded the garrison.

Many European rulers assisted Candia. The nephew of Pope Clement IX arrived with a detachment and money, Marquis Alexandre Dupuis de Montbrune, Duke Francois de La Feuillade arrived in Candia from France on June 20, 1668, 3000 soldiers arrived from Holy Roman Emperor Leopold. The Marquis de Saint-Ange-Montbrune was appointed commander of the garrison in place of Da Villa. Catarino Cornaro was appointed second in command of the garrison of Candia.

By summer, the Ottomans were closing in on the fortifications. As de La Feuillade described the situation:

At the end of July 1668, the shelling of San Andrea Bastion began, while at the same time trenches began to be dug opposite Sabionera Bastion. On August 22, the Ottomans blew nine horns and breached a 90-step wide breach in the bastion's escarpment. On August 26 they launched an unsuccessful assault on the breach. However, the losses of the defenders were very high and the destruction was so great that their position became critical.

In the city the defenders caulked up damage and gaps and built counter-battalions on the Zane cavalier, on the fortifications of the Sabioner and St. Francis bastions and in the citadel. Bonnets (a covering of earth, sacks of earth or turf over the parapet, corners of the ravelins, counterguards, etc. to protect the defenders) were built in front of the counter-escarpments of the St. Spirit's ravelin to the bastion of San Andrea.

In mid-November 1668 the troops of the Duke of Lorraine arrived in Candia, along with a detachment of 300 French and Maltese knights. During the winter of 1668

The last stage of the siege (1669)

From the spring of 1669 the Ottomans continued the siege. In mid-April they breached a gap 20 and a half fathoms wide in the Sabioner Bastion and a gap of 15 and a half fathoms in the St. Spirit Ravelin. Nevertheless, the Ottomans did not hurry to storm the city, continuing to bombard the fortifications. The besiegers felt a shortage of food, ammunition and soldiers.

On 12 May the Ottomans blew a horn under the rampart and stormed out, but the defenders of the city managed to push them back and make a sortie. Caterino Cornaro managed to hold back the pressure of the besiegers, but on 13 May Caterino Cornaro was killed by a bomb blast and Count Waldeck arrived in Candia with 3,000 men sent by Duke Rudolf of Brunswick and Duke Julius Franz of Lauenburg and was assigned to defend the bastion of San Andrea.

On June 20, 1669 Duke Philippe de Noailles arrived in Candia with a detachment of 7 thousand infantry and Duke Francois de Beaufort with 2 thousand sailors. At this time negotiations for peace were underway between Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Encouraged by the arrival of aid, the Venetians broke off negotiations. The arrival of the second half of the French expeditionary force revived the morale of the defenders in June Noailles and Beaufort made a sortie from the bastion of Sabioner. They took the Ottomans by surprise and achieved short-term success, but the explosion of the powder cellar sowed panic among the French, and they retreated. The Ottomans lost 1,500 men and the French three times fewer, but among the dead was the Duke of Beaufort, killed by a shotgun blast. His body was never recovered. The raid did not interrupt the work of the Ottomans, and they continued to bombard and press on the bastion of San Andrea.

On June 19, a detachment of defenders of 300 men made a sortie, they managed to kill the Ottoman soldiers in the trenches closest to the bastion of Sabionera, but this time they failed to destroy the battery bombarding the bastion. It was not until the next day, after blowing up the countermines, that they repeated the sortie and destroyed two guns. Despite the European detachments arriving to help Candia, the Ottomans continued their attacks on the bastion of San Andrea. By the middle of July they even occupied part of the ramparts of the bastion and continued to storm it, but neither San Andrea nor Sabionera surrendered in July a battle took place in the harbor, with the fleet alone firing up to 15,000 cannonballs. At the same time the French made a sortie. However, the Ottomans were well protected by their deep earthworks and suffered relatively little damage. In addition, the French warship Thérèse, armed with 58 cannons, sank in an accidental explosion, causing considerable casualties both among the French and the Venetian ships nearby. A total of 28 men were killed and 56 wounded on the six Venetian galleys, while the French lost 421 dead and 219 wounded. Ottoman defectors reported that the Ottomans lost more than 1,200 men in the sortie, although according to W. Bigge this number is greatly exaggerated. This double disaster was a severe blow to the morale of the city's defenders. Combined with the catastrophe of the previous month, it further damaged relations between the French and the Venetians. In the few operations that were undertaken over the next few weeks, the Venetians and French were unable to cooperate, while the poor supply situation, the spread of disease among their troops and the constant exhaustion of forces made the French commanders especially anxious to leave.

On June 26, the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg arrived in Candia. On August 8, Count Waldeck died of the effects of a wound sustained on July 16. On August 20, because of quarrels with Morosini and de Montbrune, the detachment of the Duke of Noailles sailed away, followed by the Maltese and the papal detachment who left Candia. Having learned of the departure of the French, the Ottomans made a general assault on August 24. Two attacks were repelled with mines, but for Morosini it was clear that it was no longer possible to hold the city, as the bastions of San Andrea and Sabioner were so destroyed that they could no longer be relied upon. In addition, Duke Alessandro II Pico della Mirandola, who had arrived in Candia shortly before with 600 soldiers, testified that by his arrival the garrison had been reduced to 4000 men.

The surrender of the city


The city was surrendered 5

On September 27, 83 keys to the city's buildings were symbolically handed over to the Grand Vizier at the ruins of Fort San Andrea. The peace treaty was finally signed only two years later on 24 October 1671 in Salon.

Rimpler wrote that the soils around Candia allowed for counter-mine digging. At the end of the fifteenth century gunpowder mines began to be used in siege operations. Both attackers and defenders used them. The attackers dug mine galleries and the besieged had counter-mine galleries. In Candia such mine warfare was particularly active. A whole network of counter-mine galleries was arranged around the fortress for the first time. Underground passages were built from the outer wings, which were reinforced with counter-mine galleries, to the inner ones. However, the lack of experience in calculating the size of the charge meant that they were calculated at random rather than by formulas.

A large number of practical engineers and artillerymen summarized the experience gained in the defense of Candia in their writings. In defending Candia Da Villa applied what was later called the Vauban parallel. Menno Cugorn, although not a participant in the defense of Candia, studied the experience of the use of hidden batteries in the defense of Candia and sought to reproduce it. For Rimpler, the experience gained in the last phase of the defense of Candia in 1669 proved invaluable in the defense of Vienna against the Ottomans in 1683. Rimpler formulated a defense strategy based on the assumption that the main threat would come from the Ottoman miners, as it did in Candia. Luigi Marsigli, who observed the siege of Vienna from the Ottoman side, wrote of the siege of Candia that "this siege brought about a change in the ancient discipline of the Janissaries, and in the training of the troops in the ways of sieging fortresses." According to the British military historian Christopher Duffy "the defense of Candia was in every respect worthy to be ranked with the epic siege of Ostend at the beginning of the century both as a feat and as an academy of 'fortress warfare' for a new generation of engineers.

Venice retained the possessions of Grambousa, Suda and Spinalonga, where Venetian ships could stop during voyages to the eastern Mediterranean. After the fall of Candia, the Venetians partially compensated for the loss by expanding their possessions in Dalmatia. The Vilayet of Crete was formed on the island and in 1898, after the Cretan revolt, the Cretan state was created, which was reunited with Greece in 1913.


  1. Siege of Candia
  2. Осада Кандии
  3. Паган предложил, чтобы фланки были перпендикулярны оборонительной линии. Фронт рисовался по следующим правилам: стена имела форму многоугольника, сторона которого была не больше 362 метров. К стороне следовало провести серединный перпендикуляр с внутренней стороны и отложить отрезок, составляющий от 1/7 до 1/5 от стороны. Конец отрезка прямыми линиями соединялся с вершинами углов бастионов. На этих линиях откладывалась длина фасов, которая должна была составлять от 1/3 до 2/7 стороны многоугольника[9]. В системе Пагана были ещё усовершенствования: земляной редюит сооружался не снаружи, а внутри равелина; перед бастионом располагались контргарды, чтобы защищать главный вал; сооружался укрытый путь с плацдармами; внутри бастионов сооружались ретраншементы, отделённые от бастионов рвами[9].
  4. земляной редюит сооружался не снаружи, а внутри равелина;
  5. „Anjetzo sind sie [die Janitscharen] nicht mehr in so großem Ansehen, als… 1648 den Kayser Ibrahm absetzten, und … strangulirten. Allein, nach der Zeit haben die Groß-Veziers, um so wohl ihrer Principalen, als ihr eigenes Ansehen zu erhalten, sie zu demüthigen sich befließen, in dem sie die verwegensten unter ihnen bey der Belagerung Candia [sic] aufopferten“; Johann Heinrich Zedler: Großes vollständiges Universal-Lexikon. Bd. 14, Leipzig/Halle 1735. Sp. 200–203 s. v. Janitscharen, Janitscharen-Aga.
  6. Festungsbaumeister Georg Rümpler und die Zweite von Wien anno 1683 (Memento vom 11. Januar 2012 im Internet Archive) Jänner 2010, (PDF; 849 kB) S. 171, im Archiv abgerufen am 16. Mai 2021
  7. Klaus-Peter Matschke: Das Kreuz und der Halbmond. Die Geschichte der Türkenkriege, S. 368.
  8. a b c d e f Setton 1984, s. 1100–1102
  9. Tulard 1979, p. 106.

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