Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1913), Famous Because of His Schlieffen Plan

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen. Looks like it's the same picture with the previous one, but note the left hand!

grave of Alfred Graf von Schlieffen on Invalidenfriedhof cemetery in Berlin, taken in 22 June 2008

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, mostly called Count Schlieffen (German pronunciation: [ˈʃliːfən]; 28 February 1833 – 4 January 1913) was a German field marshal and strategist who served as Chief of the Imperial German General Staff from 1891 to 1906. His name lived on in the 1905 Schlieffen Plan for the defeat of the French Third Republic and the Russian Empire.

Schlieffen was born in Berlin on 28 February 1833 as the son of a Prussian army officer. He entered the army in 1854 at the age of 20. Quickly moving to the general staff, he participated in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, and in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. In 1884, Schlieffen became head of the military history section of the general staff, replacing Count von Waldersee as chief of the Prussian General Staff in 1891, after thirty-eight years of military service.

In 1905 Schlieffen presented the Schlieffen Plan a scheme to prevent Germany from having to fight a two-front war by first defeating France quickly, then throwing its full weight against Russia.

The rest of Schlieffen’s career was spent inculcating the operational ideas required to make this strategy work. He retired on 1 January 1906 after nearly 53 years of service and died in Berlin on January 4, 1913, just nineteen months before the outbreak of the First World War. In reference to his Schlieffen Plan, Schlieffen's last words were said to have been, "Remember: keep the right wing strong."

Schlieffen was perhaps the best-known contemporary strategist of his time, although criticized for his "narrow-minded military scholasticism." Schlieffen's operational theories were to have a profound impact on the development of maneuver warfare in the twentieth century, largely through his seminal treatise, Cannae, which concerned the decidedly un-modern battle of 216 BC in which Hannibal defeated the Romans.

The plan was not applied in its pure form at the beginning of World War I. Schlieffen’s successor, Helmuth von Moltke, drastically reduced the strength of the attacking armies and thus, is often blamed for Germany’s failure to win a quick, decisive victory.

His theories were studied exhaustively, especially in the higher army academies of the United States and Europe after World War I. American military thinkers thought so highly of him that his principal literary legacy, Cannae, was translated at Fort Leavenworth and distributed within the U.S. Army and to the academic community!

As General Walter Bedell Smith, chief of staff to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II, pointed out, General Eisenhower and many of his staff officers, products of these academies, "were imbued with the idea of this type of wide, bold maneuver for decisive results."

General Erich Ludendorff, a disciple of Schlieffen who applied his teachings of encirclement in the Battle of Tannenberg, once famously christened Schlieffen as "one of the greatest soldiers ever."

Long after his death, the German General Staff officers of the Interwar and World War II period, particularly General Hans von Seeckt, recognized an intellectual debt to Schlieffen theories during the development of the Blitzkrieg doctrine.

- "A man is born, and not made, a strategist."—Schlieffen
- "To win, we must endeavour to be the stronger of the two at the point of impact. Our only hope of this lies in making our own choice of operations, not in waiting passively for whatever the enemy chooses for us."—Schlieffen

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hayreddin Barbarossa (1478-1546), the Greatest and most Successful Naval Commander in the History of Islam

16th century Portrait of Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha (1478-1546)

16th century Western depiction of Hayreddin Barbarossa

A depiction of Hayreddin Barbarossa by Italien painter circa 1580

Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha's force led by Sinan Reis defeats the Holy League of Charles V under the command of Andrea Doria at the Battle of Preveza in 1538

Statue of Khayreddin Barbarossa in Algiers, Algeria next to the Dey Fort. Photo taken on 18 August, 2011, corresponding to 18 Ramadan, 1432 of the Hijri calendar

Hayreddin Barbarossa, or Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha (Turkish: Barbaros Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa or Hızır Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa; also Khizr Reis before being promoted to the rank of Pasha and becoming the Kapudan-i Derya, born Khizr or Khidr, Turkish: Hızır; c. 1478 – 4 July 1546), was an Ottoman admiral who dominated the Mediterranean for decades. He was born on the island of Lesbos/Mytilini and died in Constantinople (Istanbul), the Ottoman capital. Hayreddin (Arabic: Khair ad-Din خير الدين, which literally means "goodness" or "best of the religion" of Islam) was an honorary name given to him by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. He became known as "Barbarossa" ("Redbeard" in Italian) in Europe, a name he inherited from his elder brother Baba Oruç (Father Aruj) after Aruj was killed in a battle with the Spanish in Algeria. This name sounded like "Barbarossa" ("Redbeard") to the Europeans, and Aruj did have a red beard. The nickname then stuck also to Hayreddin's Turkish name, in the form Barbaros.

The Battle of Preveza in 1538 was a major turning point in the history of naval power in the Mediterranean. Taking place on the same body of water where Caesar Augustus claimed final power during the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, this climactic battle of the ongoing Turkish-European war would be an epic conflict that would definitively determine jurisdiction over the Greek coast, ultimate dominion over the planet's most coveted and lucrative naval trade routes, and near-infinite bragging rights around the beer coolers at the next annual Turkish-Venetian Super Bowl Barbeque Bash.

On one side was the great Italian Admiral and perpetually-shirtless egomaniac Andrea Doria. Widely believed to be the most brilliant seaman Christianity had to offer, this dauntless, self-aggrandizing gut-buster had been whomping Turkish asses up and down the coast of Southern Greece for years, crushing Ottoman warships into sawdust and whacking babies in the face with his pimp-cane, and he now sought to finally exert his power over his hated rivals once and for all by incinerating all that remained of the Turkish Fleet. At his command was a seemingly-endless Death Armada of crusading vessels from the European nations that comprised the powerful Holy League; 300 badass warships from Papacy-Approved locales like Spain, Venice, Genoa, and Malta. Hell, when the Pope heard about the assbeating that was about to go down, he decided to get in on the action himself, sending over a dozen of his own battleships to fight the heathen Turks, and prove once and for all that the Christian God indeed was an Awesome God.

This of course was back in the day when the Pope had his own army and navy. Can you imagine what the world would be like today if Benedict XVI could send a strafing run of A-10s every time somebody pissed him off?

Well this masturbatory Grand Showcase of naval might was great and all, but as Harvey Keitel would say, "let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet, gentlemen." You see, across the Gulf of Arta stood the most badass Muslim warlord to ever sail the high seas - a man known to his countrymen simply as Kheir-ed-Din – The Defender of the Faith. Outnumbered and heavily outgunned, on this day the Grand Admiral of the Turkish Navy remained unimpressed by his enemies' vulgar display of power. This brilliant tactician and naval asskicker was determined to smite the fuck out of the infidel crusaders to the fullest extent of his impressive abilities. His beleaguered fleet of 122 battle-hardened warships stood at the ready, eagerly waiting his command. It wouldn't be long before they'd have an opportunity to show the European Nations what it was like to be on the receiving end of a Turkish shoe to the fucking face.

The boy who would become the Defender of the Faith was born on the Isle of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea at the end of the 15th century. Coming from lower-class parents on a tiny, isolated island more well-known for its etymological association with the word "lesbianism" than for it's penchant for producing epic skull-crushing hardasses, young Hizir Reis was more or less received as just one in a long line of male children produced by a nondescript family of little to no importance. His rise to prominence as Grand Admiral started from very humble beginnings - with minimal opportunity for fiscal advancement through legitimate means, the young Reis boys initially opted to turn to adventure, glory, fame, and money by buying a boat, recruiting a crew of cutthroats, and turning to a life of badass piracy on the high seas of the Mediterranean.

Operating of the Tunisian coast in the early 1500s, Hizir Reis and his band of bloodthirsty buccaneer brothers got busy bashing peoples' faces in with their scimitars on a daily basis. Over time, these enterprising asskickers built up a pretty sweet pirate empire, preying on European shipping, kicking the heads off of the Knights Hospitaller, and plundering with relative impunity all over the place like crazy whoah. As news of their success spread, they gained the support of local Moorish seafaring warriors, fought against Spanish expansion into North Africa, and pummeled a bunch of Christian knights unconscious with their own crucifixes.

Hizir eventually took over control of the ever-expanding criminal enterprise after the death of his older brother, and decided to ally himself with the Ottoman Turkish Empire. You see, back in the 16th century, the Turks really had their shit together. The Sultan basically went around to the most badass Muslim pirates in the Middle East and told them, "Hey dude if you promise only to fuck up the Christians and leave Turkish shipping alone, I'll give you a bunch of troops, cannons, supplies, and money in return." This government-sanctioned piracy worked out pretty well for everybody - the Turks gained a powerful ally, and corsairs like Hizir Reis pretty much had free reign to wreak havoc on anybody and everybody who was pissing them off. It was as a badass Turkish privateer that this ferocious corsair made a name for himself as a serious face-melting assbeater, crushing the enemies of the Ottoman Empire like empty soda cans and basically crotchpunching the European powers up and down the coastlines of the Mediterranean.

The notorious Muslim pirate, known to the Europeans as Barbarossa ("Red Beard", because he had, well, red hair. And a beard), became an overnight celebrity when he put together a massive pirate army and captured the heavily-fortified North African city of Algiers in 1517. The Sultan was so mega pumped-up about that awesome shit that he appointed Barbarossa Governor of Algiers and commander of the entire fucking Western Ottoman Fleet, and sent him out to do what he did best – smash European ships until they were no longer capable of flotation. The Empire’s newest admiral got his Darth Vader on pretty much immediately, conquering basically all of North Africa by 1529. The Hapsburg King-Emperor Charles V tried to retake the areas that had fallen to the Turks, but ended up getting kicked in the balls repeatedly by the unstoppable Peasant-turned-Pirate-turned-Admiral.

It was around this time that our buddy Andrea Doria arrived on the scene. At this point in time, Doria’s name wasn’t yet synonymous with sinking ships, but that situation that would soon be remedied by Admiral Barbarossa and his cannon-laden, shit-wrecking warships.

Doria decided he was going to liberate Greece from the Turkish yoke, sailing into the port city of Coron in 1532 and capturing it with relative ease. After hearing about this defeat, the Turkish Sultan was like, "that’s fucking it." He slammed his fist down on a table, swore loudly in basically every language he could think of, and immediately promoted Barbarossa to the position of Grand Mega Super Inane Admiral of the Entire Goddamned Turkish Navy.

Barbarossa didn’t fuck around. He built a huge fleet, relentlessly trained his men, and set out for action. In 1535 he re-captured Coron, conquered Tunis, blew up Sicily, and plundered the shit out of the Italian coast. His raids and assbeatery pissed off the Europeans so badly that they sent Andrea Doria to dish out some much-needed retaliation. Doria assembled a massive Christian Fleet, sailed out to the afore-mentioned harbor of Preveza, and prepared to teach the Muslims a lesson in getting their faces kicked in with a chainmailed boot.

Well Andrea Doria needed to recognize that stepping to Barbarossa is a good way to get one's eye swole up. Off the coast of Preveza in 1538, the Allied galleys of the Holy League were face-smashed into driftwood by the gigantic nutbag of Hayreddin Barbarossa and his Ottoman Fleet. Outnumbered more than three-to-one (six-to-one according to some accounts), Barbarossa not only demolished the invasion force – he made the combined naval might of five mighty Christian nations look like that adorable fleet of rubber duckies that menaced the shores of New England a couple years ago. The Allies were crushed in a humiliating manner, their ships were sunk and/or captured, its galleys were plundered – shit, the Republic of Venice was fucked up so hard it was forced to pay war reparations to the Turks and publicly apologize for wasting Barbarossa’s time with such a pitiful, insignificant military effort.

For his success, Barbarossa was given the top honors of the Ottoman Empire. He was even awarded the right to sit on the Imperial Council and help run the higher-workings of the government. His victory also established the might of the Turkish Navy in the Mediterranean - from that point on, Ottoman ships dominated the Adriatic and Aegean Seas, and the Sultan held sole power over some of the world's most profitable trade routes. Barbarossa continued his adventures for a couple years, sacking Sicilian cities, meddling in petty European succession wars, and plundering Spanish galley squadrons. He eventually retired to a life of luxury, and died in 1546 at the age of 68, the greatest and most successful naval commander in the history of Islam!

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Turgut Reis (1485-1565), Ottoman Admiral from Greek Descent

Portrait of Turgut (Dragut) Reis 1485 – 23 June 1565) who was a Turkish Ottoman Admiral and privateer. This is merely a cropped and enlarged version of the original image

Painting of Turgut (Dragut) Reis made by Ali Sami BOYAR (1880-1967) and in the possession of İstanbul Askeri Müze

Turgut Reis landing on Malta by Eugenio Caxes (1575-1634). Photographed at Istanbul Naval Museum

Statue of Turgut Reis in front of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul

Turgut Reis (1485 – 23 June 1565) was an Ottoman Admiral and privateer who also served as Bey of Algiers; Beylerbey of the Mediterranean; and first Bey, later Pasha, of Tripoli. Under his naval command the Ottoman Empire maritime was extended across North Africa. When Turgut was serving as pasha, he adorned and built up the city of Tripoli, making it one of the most impressive cities along the North African Coast. Known in different languages under such names as Dragut or Darghouth (Arabic: درغوث‎), the name in Turkey is Turgut Reis.

Turgut was a Muslim seaman of Greek descent. He was born in a village near Bodrum, on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. He was captured and taken prisoner by the corsairs in his youth and had converted to Islam. He was born in the sub-distirct called Saravalos in the western tip of Bodrum peninsula (which is called Turgutreis in his honour today) and most probably in the Karabağ village on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. At the age of 12 he was noticed by an Ottoman army commander for his extraordinary talent in using spears and arrows and was recruited by him. Under his support the young Turgut became a skilled sailor, an outstanding gunner, and was trained as a cannoneer and master of siege artillery, a skill which would play an important role in Turgut's future success and reputation as a superb naval tactician. The Ottoman Turkish governor eventually carried Turgut off to Egypt in 1517, where he participated in the Ottoman conquest of Egypt as a cannoneer. He further improved his skills in this field during his presence in Cairo. Following the death of his master, Turgut went to Alexandria and began his career as a sailor after joining the fleet of Sinan Reis. He immediately became one of the favourite crewmen of the famous corsair due to his success in hitting enemy vessels with cannons. Turgut soon mastered the skills of seamanship and became the captain of a brigantine, while given 1/4 of its ownership. After several successful campaigns, he became the sole owner of the brigantine. Turgut later became the captain and owner of a galliot, and arming it with the most advanced cannons of that period, he started to operate in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially targeting the shipping routes between Venice and the Aegean islands belonging to the Repubblica Serenissima.

In 1520 he joined the fleet of Hayreddin Barbarossa, who would become his protector and best friend. Turgut was soon promoted to the rank of chief lieutenant by Barbarossa and was given the command of 12 galliots. In 1526 Turgut Reis captured the fortress of Capo Passero in Sicily. Between 1526 and 1533 he landed several times at the ports of the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples, while intercepting the ships which sailed between Spain and Italy, capturing many of them. In May 1533, commanding four fustas and 18 barques, Turgut Reis captured two Venetian galleys near the island of Aegina.

In June and July 1538 he accompanied Barbarossa on his pursuit of Andrea Doria in the Adriatic Sea, while capturing several fortresses on the coasts of Albania as well as the Gulf of Preveza and the island of Lefkada. In August 1538 Turgut Reis captured Candia in Crete as well as several other Venetian possessions in the Aegean Sea.

In September 1538, with 20 galleys and 10 galliots, Turgut Reis commanded the center-rear wing of the Ottoman fleet that defeated the Holy League under the command of Andrea Doria at the Battle of Preveza. During the battle, with two of his galliots, he captured the Papal galley under the command of Giambattista Dovizi, the knight who was also the abbot of Bibbiena, taking him and his crew as prisoners.

In 1539, commanding 36 galleys and galliots, Turgut Reis recaptured Castelnuovo from the Venetians, who had taken the city back from the Ottomans. During the combat he sank two Venetian galleys and captured three others. Still in 1539, while landing on Corfu, he encountered 12 Venetian galleys under the command of Francesco Pasqualigo and captured the galley of Antonio da Canal. He later landed at Crete and fought against the Venetian cavalry forces under the command of Antonio Calbo.

Later that year, when Sinan Reis, the Governor of Djerba, was appointed by Suleiman the Magnificent as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Red Sea Fleet based in Suez, Turgut Reis was appointed as his successor and became the Governor of Djerba.

In early 1540 Turgut Reis captured several Genoese ships off the coast of Santa Margherita Ligure. In April 1540, commanding two galleys and 13 galliots, he landed at Gozo and sacked the island. He later landed at Pantelleria and raided the coasts of Sicily and Spain with a force of 25 ships, inflicting so much damage that Andrea Doria was ordered by Charles V to chase him with a force of 81 galleys! From there, Turgut Reis sailed to the Tyrrhenian Sea and bombarded the southern ports of Corsica, most notably Palasca. He later captured and sacked the nearby island of Capraia.

Turgut Reis later sailed back towards Corsica and docked his ships at Girolata on the western shores of the island. Taken by surprise while repairing his ships, Turgut Reis and his men were attacked by the combined forces of Giannettino Doria (Andrea Doria's nephew), Giorgio Doria and Gentile Virginio Orsini. Turgut Reis was captured and was forced to work as a galley slave in the ship of Giannettino Doria for nearly four years before being imprisoned in Genoa. Barbarossa offered to pay ransom for his release but it was rejected. In 1544, when Barbarossa was returning from France with 210 ships sent by Sultan Suleiman to assist King Francis I in a Franco-Ottoman alliance against Spain, he appeared before Genoa, laying siege to the city and forcing the Genoese to negotiate for the release of Turgut Reis. Barbarossa was invited by Andrea Doria to discuss the issue in his palace at Fassolo, and the two admirals reached an agreement for the release of Turgut Reis in exchange of 3,500 gold ducats.

Barbarossa gave Turgut his spare flagship and the command of several other vessels, and in that same year Turgut Reis landed at Bonifacio in Corsica and captured the city, inflicting particular damage to Genoese interests. Still in 1544 he assaulted the island of Gozo and fought against the forces of knight Giovanni Ximenes while capturing several Maltese ships which were bringing precious cargo from Sicily. In June 1545 he raided the coasts of Sicily and bombarded several ports on the Tyrrhenian Sea. In July he ravaged the island of Capraia and landed at the coasts of Liguria and the Italian Riviera with a force of 15 galleys and fustas. He sacked Monterosso and Corniglia, and later landed at Menarola and Riomaggiore. In the following days he landed at the Gulf of La Spezia and captured Rapallo, Pegli and Levanto. In 1546 he captured Mahdia, Sfax, Sousse and Al Munastir in Tunisia, afterwards using Mahdia as a base to assault the Knights of St. John in Malta. In April 1546 he raided the coasts of Liguria. In May, still in Liguria, he captured Laigueglia, a province of Savona, with a force of 1000 men. He later captured Andora and took the podestà of the town as a prisoner. There he and his troops rested for a brief period, before resuming their assault on the Italian Riviera and landing at San Lorenzo al Mare. He also destroyed the village of Civezza. From there he once again sailed towards Malta and laid siege to the island of Gozo.

In June 1546 Andrea Doria was appointed by Emperor Charles V to force Turgut Reis away from Malta, and Doria based his forces at the island of Favignana. The two admirals, however, did not meet up, as Turgut Reis had sailed to Toulon in August 1546, staying there for several months and letting his men have some rest in the security of a French port.

After Barbarossa's death in July 1546, Turgut succeeded him as supreme commander of Ottoman naval forces in the Mediterranean. In July 1547 he once again assaulted Malta with a force of 23 galleys and galliots, after hearing the news that the Kingdom of Naples was shaken by the revolt against Viceroy Don Pietro of Toledo, which would make a naval support from there to Malta rather unlikely. Turgut Reis landed his troops at Marsa Scirocco, the extreme southern point of the island which faces the shores of Africa. From there the Ottoman troops quickly marched towards the vicinity of the Church of Santa Caterina. The guards of the church tower escaped as soon as they saw the forces of Turgut Reis, which prevented them from igniting the tub of gunpowder—a common method used then to warn the local inhabitants of attacks. After sacking the island, Turgut Reis headed towards Capo Passero in Sicily, where he captured the galley of Giulio Cicala, son of Duke Vincenzo Cicala. He later sailed to the Aeolian Islands, and at Salina Island he captured a Maltese trade ship with valuable cargo. From there he sailed to Apulia and towards the end of July 1547 he assaulted the city of Salve. He later sailed to Calabria, forcing the local population to flee towards the safety of the mountains. From there he went to Corsica and captured a number of ships.

In 1548 he was appointed Beylerbey (Chief Governor) of Algeria by Suleiman the Magnificent. In that same year he ordered the construction of a quadrireme galley at the naval arsenal of Djerba, which he started using in 1549. In August 1548 he landed at Castellamare di Stabia on the Bay of Naples and captured the city along with nearby Pozzuoli. From there he went to Procida. A few days later, he captured a Spanish galley loaded with troops and gold at Capo Miseno near Procida. In the same days he captured the Maltese galley, La Caterinetta, at the Gulf of Naples, with its cargo of 70,000 gold ducats which were collected by the Knights of St. John from the churches of France with the aim of strengthening the defenses of Tripoli, which was then under Maltese control.

In May 1549 he set sail towards Liguria with 21 galleys and in July he assaulted Rapallo, later replenishing his ships with water and other supplies at San Fruttuoso. From there he sailed to Portofino and landed at the port, before appearing at San Remo where he captured an Aragonese galley from Barcelona which was heading towards Naples. From there he first sailed towards Corsica and later towards Calabria where he assaulted the city of Palmi.

In February 1550, sailing with a force of 36 galleys, he recaptured Mahdia along with Al Munastir, Sousse and most of Tunisia. In May 1550 he assaulted the ports of Sardinia and Spain and landed on their coasts with a force of six galleys and 14 galliots. Still in May he unsuccessfully tried to capture Bonifacio in Corsica. On his way back to Tunisia, he stopped at Gozo to replenish his ships with water and to gather information on the activities of the Maltese Knights. He later sailed towards Liguria.

In June 1550, while Turgut Reis was sailing near Genoa, Andrea Doria and Bailiff Claude de la Sengle of the Maltese Knights attacked Mahdia in Tunisia. In the meantime, Turgut Reis was busy assaulting and sacking Rapallo for a third time, before raiding the coasts of Spain. He then sailed to the Tyrrhenian Sea and towards the beginning of July landed at the western shores of Sardinia, before returning to Djerba, where he learned that Doria and Claude de la Sengle had been attacking Mahdia and Tunis. He collected a force of 4500 troops and 60 sipahis and marched on Mahdia to assist the local resistance. He did not succeed and returned to Djerba with his troops.

In September 1550 Mahdia surrendered to the joint Spanish-Sicilian-Maltese force. In the meantime, Turgut Reis was repairing his ships at the beach of Djerba. On October, Andrea Doria appeared with his fleet at Djerba and blocked the entrance of the island's lagoon with his ships, trapping the beached galleys of Turgut Reis inside the Channel of Cantera. Turgut Reis had all his ships dragged overland through hastily dug canals and on a heavily greased boardway to the other side of the island and sailed to Constantinople, capturing two galleys on the way, one Genoese and one Sicilian, which were en route to Djerba in order to assist the forces of Doria. Prince Abu Beker, son of the Sultan of Tunis, who was an ally of Spain, was on the Genoese galley.

After arriving in Constantinople, Turgut Reis, authorized by Sultan Suleiman, mobilized a fleet of 112 galleys and two galleasses with 12,000 Janissaries, and in 1551 set sail with the Ottoman admiral Sinan Pasha towards the Adriatic Sea and bombarded the Venetian ports, inflicting serious damage on Venetian shipping. In May 1551 they landed on Sicily and bombarded the eastern shores of the island, most notably the city of Augusta, as revenge for the Viceroy of Sicily's role in the invasion and destruction of Mahdia, where most inhabitants had been massacred by the joint Spanish-Sicilian-Maltese force. They then attempted to capture Malta, landing with about 10,000 men at the southern port of Marsa Muscietto. They laid siege to the citadels of Birgu and Senglea, and later went north and assaulted Mdina, but lifted the siege after realizing that it was impossible to capture the island with the number of troops in hand. Instead, they moved to the neighboring island of Gozo, where they bombarded the citadel for several days. The Knights' governor there, Galatian de Sesse, realizing that resistance was futile, surrendered the citadel, and the corsairs sacked the town. Taking virtually the entire population of Gozo (approximately 5,000 people) into captivity, Turgut and Sinan set sail from the port of Mġarr ix-Xini in Gozo and headed towards Libya, where they shipped the captives to Tarhuna Wa Msalata. They later sailed towards Tripoli with the aim of conquering the strategic port city and its environs.

In August 1551 Turgut Reis attacked and captured Tripoli (Ottoman Tripolitania, modern Libya) which had been a possession of the Knights of St. John since 1530. Gaspare de Villers, the commander of the fort, was captured, along with other prominent knights of Spanish and French origin. However, upon the intervention of the French ambassador in Constantinople, Gabriel d'Aramon, the French knights were released. A local leader, Ağa Murat, was initially installed as governor of Tripoli, but subsequently Turgut himself took control of the area. In recognition of his services, Sultan Suleiman awarded Tripoli and the surrounding territory to Turgut, along with the title of Sanjak Bey (Province Governor).

In September 1551, Turgut Reis sailed to Liguria and captured the city of Taggia, before capturing other ports of the Italian Riviera, after Ottoman troops landed at the beach of Riva Brigoso. Later that year, he returned to Tripoli and sought to extend his territory, capturing the entire region of Misrata all the way to Zuwara and Djerba to the west. Turning inland, he enhanced his territory until reaching Gebel.

In 1552 Sultan Suleiman appointed Turgut Reis commander-in-chief of the Ottoman fleet which he dispatched to Italy (on the basis of a treaty between the Sultan and King Henry II of France). Turgut Reis first landed at Augusta and Licata in Sicily, before capturing the island and castle of Pantelleria. In July 1552 he landed at Taormina and later bombarded and disabled the ports on the Gulf of Policastro. He later landed at Palmi and captured the city, before sailing to the Gulf of Naples in order to meet with the other branch of the Ottoman fleet under the command of Sinan Pasha and the French fleet under the command of Polin de la Garde. After arriving at the meeting location, Turgut Reis anchored his ships off the beach of Scauri, near Formia, where he met with the fleet of Sinan Pasha, but their French ally did not show up in time. After waiting for several days, Sinan Pasha decided to return to Constantinople, following an order by Suleiman to do so in case of a delay or postponement of the meeting. Turgut Reis convinced Sinan Pasha to join him, and their combined fleet bombarded various ports of Sardinia and Corsica, before capturing the island of Ponza. From there the Turkish fleet sailed towards Lazio and bombarded the ports belonging to the Papal States and the Kingdom of Naples, even though Henry II had guaranteed the Pope that the Ottoman fleet would not damage the Vatican's possessions. Due to bad weather, however, Turgut Reis and Sinan Pasha sailed back to the Gulf of Naples and landed at Massa Lubrense and Sorrento, capturing both towns. They later captured Pozzuoli and the entire coastline up to Minturno and Nola.

In response, Andrea Doria set sail from Genoa with a force of 40 galleys and headed towards Naples. When the two fleets first encountered off Naples, Turgut Reis managed to capture seven galleys, with colonel Madruzzi and many German soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire on board.

The two fleets later went southwards, where, on 5 August 1552, Turgut Reis defeated the Spanish-Italian fleet under Andrea Doria at the Battle of Ponza.

Following this victory, Suleiman appointed Turgut Beylerbey (Chief Regional Governor) of the Mediterranean Sea.

In May 1553 Turgut Reis set sail from the Aegean Sea with 60 galleys, captured Crotone and Castello in Calabria, and from there marched inland. Later he landed on Sicily and sacked most of the island until stopping at Licata for replenishing his ships with water. Afterwards he assaulted Sciacca and Modica in southern Sicily. From there he went to the island of Tavolara and to Sardinia, later headed towards Porto Ercole and landed on the coast, before setting sail towards Elba, where he captured Marciana Marina, Rio and Capoliveri. From there he sailed to Corsica and took Bonifacio, Bastia and Calvi on behalf of France, then ally of the Ottoman Empire, which paid him 30,000 gold ducats for the expense of ammunition in the conquest. Leaving Corsica, Turgut Reis returned to Elba and attempted to capture Piombino and Portoferraio, but eventually gave up and captured the island of Pianosa and recaptured the island and castle of Capri (previously captured by Barbarossa back in 1535) before returning to Constantinople.

In 1554 he sailed from the Bosphorus with 60 galleys and passed the winter in Chios. From there he sailed to the Adriatic Sea and landed at Vieste near Foggia, capturing and sacking the city. He then sailed towards Dalmatia and bombarded the port of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), capital of the maritime Republic of Ragusa. In August 1554 he landed at Orbetello and raided the coasts of Tuscany.

The following year, in July 1555, he landed at Capo Vaticano in Calabria, and from there marched to Ceramica and San Lucido, bombarding these cities, before capturing Paola and Santo Noceto. He then sailed to Elba and captured the city of Populonia before assaulting Piombino. From there he sailed to Corsica and ransacked Bastia, taking 6000 prisoners. He later assaulted Calvi before setting sail towards Sardinia and bombarding the ports of that island. From there he turned towards Liguria and landed at Ospedaletti, capturing the city and the coastline around it. He later landed at San Remo before returning to Constantinople.

In March 1556 Turgut Reis was promoted to the rank of Pasha of Tripoli. There, he strengthened the walls of the citadel surrounding the city and built a gunpowder bastion (Dar el Barud). He also strengthened the defenses of the port and built the Turgut (Dragut) Fortress in place of the old Fortress of San Pietro. In July 1556 he again set sail and landed at Cape Santa Maria at the island of Lampedusa, where he captured a Venetian ship which transported ammunition and weapons for the defense of Malta. He later landed in Liguria and captured Bergeggi and San Lorenzo. In December 1556 he captured Gafsa in Tunisia and added it to his territory.

In the summer of 1557 he left the Bosphorus with a fleet of 60 galleys and, arriving at the Gulf of Taranto, he landed in Calabria and assaulted Cariati, capturing the city. He later landed at the ports of Apulia.

In 1558 he added Gharyan, about 70 miles south of Tripoli, to his territory. He then defeated the Beni Oulid dynasty with a force of janissaries and added their territories to the Ottoman Empire. He later took Taorga, Misrata and Tagiora, before recapturing the island of Djerba and adding it to his province. In June 1558 he joined the fleet of Piyale Pasha at the Strait of Messina, and the two admirals captured Reggio Calabria, sacking the city. From there, Turgut Reis went to the Aeolian Islands and captured several of them, before landing at Amalfi, in the Gulf of Salerno, and capturing Massa Lubrense, Cantone and Sorrento. He later landed at Torre del Greco, the coasts of Tuscany, and Piombino. In August he captured several ships off Malta. In September 1558 he joined Piyale Pasha, and the two admirals assaulted the coasts of Spain before capturing Ciutadella (Minorca) and inflicting particular damage on the island's ports.

In 1559 he repelled a Spanish attack on Algiers and put down a revolt in Tripoli. In that same year he captured a Maltese ship near Messina. Learning from its crew that the knights were preparing for a major attack on Tripoli, he decided to sail back there and strengthen the city's defenses.

In the meantime, he had made enemies of many of the nominally Ottoman, but practically independent rulers in Tunis and the adjoining hinterland, and several of them concluded an alliance in 1560 with Viceroy Cerda of Sicily, who had orders from King Philip II of Spain to join his forces in an effort to capture Tripoli. This campaign ended in failure when the Ottoman fleet under the command of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis defeated the fleet of the Holy League of Philip II in the Battle of Djerba.

In March 1561 Turgut Reis and Uluç Ali Reis captured Vincenzo Cicala and Luigi Osorio near the island of Marettimo. In June 1561 Turgut landed on the island of Stromboli. In July 1561 he captured seven Maltese galleys under the command of knight Guimarens, whom he later freed for a ransom of 3,000 gold ducats. After stopping at Gozo to replenish his galleys with water, he sailed back to Tripoli. In August 1561 he laid siege to the city of Naples and blocked the port with 35 galleys.

In April 1562 he sent scout ships to explore all corners of the island of Malta. Still in 1562 he laid siege to Oran which was under Spanish control.

In 1563 he landed at the shores of the province of Granada and captured coastal settlements in the area like Almuñécar, along with 4,000 prisoners. He later landed at Málaga. In April 1563 he supported the fleet of Salih Reis with 20 galleys during the Ottoman siege of Oran, bombarding the Fortress of Mers-el-Kebir. In September 1563 he sailed to Naples and captured six ships near the island of Capri, which carried valuable goods and Spanish soldiers. He later landed at the Chiaia neighbourhood of Naples and captured it. From there he sailed to Liguria and Sardinia, raiding the coastal towns, particularly Oristano, Marcellino and Ercolento. He then sailed to the Adriatic Sea and landed on the coasts of Apulia and Abruzzo. He later landed twice at San Giovanni near Messina with a force of 28 galleys. In October 1563 he sailed towards Capo Passero in Sicily and later landed once more on Gozo, where he briefly fought against the knights.

When Sultan Suleiman ordered the Siege of Malta in 1565, Turgut Reis joined Piyale Pasha and the Ottoman forces with 1,600 men (3,000 according to some sources) and 15 ships (13 galleys and 2 galliots; while some sources mention 17 ships) on 31 May 1565. He landed his troops at the entrance of Marsa Muscietto, a cape which is now named 'Dragut Point' after Turgut Reis. There he met with Lala Mustafa, commander of the Ottoman land forces, who was besieging Fort St. Elmo. He advised him to first capture the citadel of Gozo and Mdina (the old capital city of Malta) as soon as possible, but this advice was not taken. He also arranged for more cannon fire to be concentrated on the recently-built Fort St. Elmo which controlled the entrance of the Grand Harbour and seemed weaker than the other forts; joining the bombardment with 30 of his own cannons. In only 24 hours the Ottomans fired 6000 cannon shots. Realizing that Fort St. Elmo and Fort St Angelo (the main headquarters of the Knights on the other side of the Grand Harbour) could still communicate with each other, Turgut Reis ordered a complete siege of Fort St. Elmo with the aim of isolating it from Fort St. Angelo. On 17 June 1565, during the bombardment of the fort, a cannon shot from Fort St. Angelo across the Grand Harbour struck the ground close to the Turkish battery. Debris from the impact mortally injured Turgut Reis, who lived until 23 June 1565, just long enough to hear the news of the capture of Fort St. Elmo.

Turgut's advice to capture Mdina and Gozo was never taken, to the detriment of the Ottomans. Maltese forces, from Mdina in particular, harried the Turkish troops for the remainder of the siege, and at one point prevented the key city of Senglea from falling into Ottoman hands.

His body was taken to Tripoli by Uluç Ali Reis and buried there.

Sources :

Mihai Viteazul (1558-1601), One of Romania's Greatest National Heroes

Alba Iulia Cathedral mural painting of Michael the Brave, made in the beginning of the XXth century

Contemporary copperplate engraving (not a woodcut!), 17th century, of Michael the Brave

Painting from 1601 by Franz Francken II representing Michael the Brave and his daughter, domniţa Florica, at King Rudolf's court

The assassination of Michael the Brave at Câmpia Turzii, 1601. Source: N. Iorga, Portrete şi lucruri Domneşti nou-descoperite, Ed. Cultura Noastră, Bucureşti, 1928

Seal of Michael the Brave during his personal union of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. The seal comprises the coats of arms of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania: in the middle, on a shield the Moldavian urus, above Wallachian eagle between sun and moon holding cross in beak, below Transylvanian coat of arms: two meeting, standing lions supporting a sword, treading on seven mountains. The Moldavian shield is held by two crowned figures. There are two inscriptions on the seal. First, circular, in Slavonic using Romanian Cyrillic alphabet "IO MIHAILI UGROVLAHISCOI VOEVOD ARDEALSCOI MOLD ZEMLI", meaning "Io Michael Wallachian Voivode of Transylvanian and Moldavian Lands". Second, placed along a circular arc separating the Wallachian coat from the rest of the heraldic composition, "I ML BJE MLRDIE", could be translated "Through The Very Grace of God"

Michael the Brave (Romanian: Mihai Viteazu(l) pronounced [miˈhaj viˈte̯azu(l)] or Mihai Bravu pronounced [miˈhaj ˈbravu], Hungarian: Vitéz Mihály; 1558 – August 9, 1601) was the Prince of Wallachia (1593–1601), of Transylvania (1599–1600), and of Moldavia (1600). He ruled all three principalities in a personal union for a short period of time.

During his reign, which coincided with the Long War, these three principalities forming the territory of present-day Romania and the Republic of Moldova were ruled for the first time by a single Romanian leader, although the personal union lasted for less than six months. He is regarded as one of Romania's greatest national heroes.

His rule over Wallachia began in the autumn of 1593. Two years a war with the Ottomans began, a conflict in which the Prince fought the Battle of Călugăreni, considered one of the most important battles of his reign. Although the Wallachians emerged victorious from the battle, Michael was forced to retreat with his troops and wait for aid from his allies, Prince Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. The war continued until a peace finally emerged in January 1597, but this only lasted for a year and a half. Peace was again reached in late 1599, when Michael was unable to continue the war due to lack of support from his allies.

In 1599 Michael won the Battle of Şelimbăr and soon entered Alba Iulia, becoming the Prince of Transylvania. A few months later, Michael's troops invaded Moldavia and reached its capital, Suceava. The Moldavian leader Ieremia Movilă fled to Poland and Michael was declared Prince of Moldavia. Michael kept the control of all three provinces for less than a year before the nobles of Transylvania and certain boyars in Moldavia and Wallachia rose against him in a series of revolts. Thereafter, Michael allied with the Imperial General Giorgio Basta and defeated an uprising of the Hungarian nobility at Gurăslău in Transylvania. Immediately after this victory, Basta ordered the assassination of Michael, which took place on 9 August 1601.

He was born under the family name of Pătraşcu. In 1601, during a stay in Prague, he was portrayed by the painter Aegidius Sadeler, who mentioned on the portrait the words aetatis XLIII ("in the 43rd year of life"), which indicates 1558 as the year of Michael's birth. Very little is known about his childhood and early years as an adult. He is argued by most historians to have been the illegitimate son of Wallachian Prince Pătraşcu cel Bun, while others believe he merely invented his descent in order to justify his rule. His mother was Teodora Cantacuzino, a member of the Cantacuzino family, an old boyar family of Wallachia and Moldavia, allegedly descended from the Byzantine Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus.

Michael's political rise was quite spectacular, as he became the Ban of Mehedinţi in 1588, stolnic at the court of Mihnea Turcitul by the end of 1588, and Ban of Craiova in 1593 - during the rule of Alexandru cel Rău. The latter had him swear before 12 boyars that he was not of princely descent. Still, in May 1593 conflict did break out between Alexandru and Michael, who was forced to flee to Transylvania. He was accompanied by his half-brother Radu Florescu, Radu Buzescu and several other supporters. After spending two weeks at the court of Sigismund Báthory he left for Constantinople, where with help from his cousin Andronic Cantacuzino and Patriarch Jeremiah II he negotiated Ottoman support for his accession to the Wallachian throne. He was supported by the English ambassador in the Ottoman capital, Edward Barton, and aided by a loan of 200,000 florins. Michael was invested Prince by Sultan Murad III in September 1593 and started his effective rule on October 11.

Not long after he became Prince of Wallachia, Michael turned against the Ottoman Empire. The next year he joined the Christian alliance of European powers formed by Pope Clement VIII against the Turks, and signed treaties with his neighbours: Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania, Aron Tiranul of Moldavia and the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II. He started a campaign against the Turks in the autumn of 1594, conquering several citadels near the Danube, including Giurgiu, Brăila, Hârşova, and Silistra, while his Moldavian allies defeated the Turks in Iaşi and other parts of Moldavia. Mihai continued his attacks deep within the Ottoman Empire, taking the forts of Nicopolis, Ribnic, and Chilia and even reaching as far as Adrianople. At one point his forces were only 24 kilometers from Constantinople!

In 1595 Sigismund Báthory staged an elaborate plot and had Aron of Moldavia removed from power. Ştefan Josica (Báthory's chancellor and an ethnic Romanian) masterminded the operation. Ştefan Răzvan arrested Aron on charges of treason on the night of April 24 (May 5) and sent him to the Transylvanian capital at Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár) with his family and treasure. Aron would die poisoned by the end of May in the castle of Vint. Sigismund was forced to justify his actions before the European powers, since Aron had played an active role in the anti-Ottoman coalition. Later on, in the same city of Alba Iulia, Wallachian boyars signed a treaty with Sigismund on Michael's behalf. From the point of view of Wallachian internal politics, the Treaty of Alba Iulia officialized what could be called a boyar regime, reinforcing the already important political power of the noble elite. According to the treaty, a council of 12 great boyars was to take part alongside the voivode in the executive rule of the country.

Boyars could no longer be executed without the knowledge and approval of the Transylvanian Prince and, if convicted for treason, their fortunes could no longer be confiscated. Apparently Michael was displeased with the final form of the treaty negotiated by his envoys but was forced to comply. Prince Michael said in a conversation with the Polish envoy Lubieniecki: ... they did not proceed as stated in their instructions but as their own good required and obtained privileges for themselves. He would try to avoid the obligations imposed on him for the rest of his reign.

During his reign, Michael relied heavily on the loyalty and support of a group of Oltenian lords, the most important were Buzescu Brothers (Fraţii Buzeşti) and on his own relatives on his mother's side, the Cantacuzinos. He consequently protected their interests throughout his reign; for example, he passed a law binding serfs to lands owned by aristocrats. From the standpoint of religious jurisdiction, the Treaty of Alba Iulia had another important consequence, as it placed all the Eastern Orthodox bishops in Transylvania under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Seat of Târgovişte.

During this period the Ottoman army, based in Ruse, was preparing to cross the Danube and undertake a major attack. Michael was quickly forced to retreat and the Ottoman forces started to cross the Danube on August 4, 1595. As his army was outnumbered, Michael avoided to carry the battle in open field, and he decided to give battle on a marshy field, located near the village of Călugăreni, on the Neajlov river. The Battle of Călugăreni started on August 13, and Michael defeated the Ottoman army led by Sinan Pasha. Despite the victory, he retreated to his winter camp in Stoeneşti because he had too few troops to mount a full scale war against the remaining Ottoman forces. He subsequently joined forces with Sigismund Báthory's 40,000-man army (led by István Bocskay) and counterattacked the Ottomans, freeing the towns of Târgovişte (October 8), Bucharest (October 12) and Brăila, temporarily removing Wallachia from Ottoman suzerainty.

The fight against the Ottomans continued in 1596, when Michael made several incursions south of the Danube at Vidin, Pleven, Nicopolis, and Babadag, where he was assisted by the local Bulgarians during the First Tarnovo Uprising.

During late 1596, Michael was faced with an unexpected attack from the Tatars, who had destroyed the towns of Bucharest and Buzău. By the time Michael gathered his army to counterattack, the Tatars had speedily retreated and so no battle was fought. Michael was determined to continue the war against the Ottomans, but he was prevented because he lacked support from Sigismund Báthory and Rudolf II. On January 7, 1597, Hasan Pasha declared the independence of Wallachia under Michael's rule, but Michael knew that this was only an attempt to divert him from preparing for another future attack. Michael again requested Rudolf II's support and Rudolf finally agreed to send financial assistance to the Wallachian ruler. On June 9, 1598, a formal treaty was reached between Michael and Rudolf II. According to the treaty, the Austrian ruler would give Wallachia sufficient money to maintain a 5,000-man army, as well as armaments and supplies. Shortly after the treaty was signed, the war with the Ottomans resumed and Michael besieged Nicopolis on September 10, 1598 and took control of Vidin. The war with the Ottomans continued until June 26, 1599, when Michael, lacking the resources and support to continue prosecuting the war, signed a peace treaty.

In April 1598 Sigismund resigned as Prince of Transylvania in favor of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II (who was also the King of Hungary), reversed his decision in October 1598, and then resigned again in favor of Cardinal Andrew Báthory, his cousin. Báthory had strong ties to the Polish chancellor and hetman Jan Zamoyski and placed Transylvania under the influence of the King of Poland, Sigismund III Vasa. He was also a trusted ally of the new Moldavian Prince Ieremia Movilă, one of Michael's greatest enemies. Movilă had deposed Ştefan Rǎzvan with the help of Polish hetman Jan Zamoyski in August 1595.

Having to face this new threat, Michael asked Emperor Rudolf to become the sovereign of Wallachia. On September 25 (October 5) Báthory issued an ultimatum demanding that Michael abandon his throne. Michael decided to attack Andrew Cardinal Báthory immediately to prevent invasion. He would later describe the events:

I rose with my country, my children, taking my wife and everything I had and with my army [marched into Transylvania] so that the foe should not crush me here.

He left Târgovişte on October 2 and by October 9 he reached Prejmer in southern Transylvania, where he met envoys from the city of Braşov. Sparing the city, he moved on to Cârţa where he joined forces with the Székelys.

On October 18, Michael won a decisive victory against the army of prince-cardinal Andrew Báthory at the Battle of Şelimbăr, giving him control of Transylvania. As he retreated from the battle, Andrew Báthory was killed by anti-Báthory Székely on 3 November near Sândominic, dying at the age of 38, and Michael gave him a princely burial in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Alba Iulia. With his enemy dead, Michael entered the Transylvanian capital at Alba Iulia, and received the keys to the fortress from Bishop Demeter Napragy, later depicted as a seminal event in Romanian historiography. Historian Stephen Szamosközy, keeper of the Archives at the time, recorded the event in great detail. He also wrote that two days before the Diet met on October 10, Transylvanian nobles elected Michael the voivode as Prince of Transylvania. As the Diet was assembled, Michael demanded that the estates swear loyalty to Emperor Rudolf, then to himself and thirdly to his son.

Even if he was recognized by the Transylvanian parliament (diet) only as imperial governor subject to the Holy Roman Emperor, he was nonetheless de facto ruler of Transylvania.

Michael used in Transylvania the following signature on official documents: Michael Valachiae Transalpinae Woivoda, Sacrae Caesareae Regiae Majestatis Consiliarius per Transylvaniam Locumtenens, cis transylvaniam partium eius super exercitu Generalis Capitaneus". ("Michael, voivode of Wallachia, the councillor of His Majesty the Emperor and the King, his deputy in Transylvania and General Captain of his troops from Transylvania.")

When Michael entered Transylvania, he did not free or grant rights to the Romanian inhabitants, who were primarily peasants but, nevertheless, constituted more than 60% of the population. Instead he sought to support the Hungarian nobles, the Székelys, and the Saxons by reaffirming their rights and privileges.

There is no evidence that Michael wanted Transylvania's Romanians to play a political role. Indeed, while he brought some of his Wallachian aides to Transylvania, he also invited some Székelys and other Transylvanian Hungarians to assist in the administration of Wallachia, where he wished to transplant Transylvania's far more advanced feudal system.

Michael began negotiating with the Emperor over his official position in Transylvania. The latter wanted the principality under direct Imperial rule with Michael acting as governor. The Wallachian voivode, on the other hand, wanted the title of Prince of Transylvania for himself and equally claimed the Partium region. Michael was, nevertheless, willing to acknowledge Habsburg overlordship.

The Moldavian Prince Ieremia Movilă had been an old enemy of Michael, having incited Andrew Báthory to send Michael the ultimatum demanding his abdication. His brother, Simion Movilă, claimed the Wallachian throne for himself and had used the title of Voivode since 1595. Aware of the threat the Movilăs represented, Michael had created the Banat of Buzău and Brăila in July 1598 and the new ban was charged of keeping an alert eye on Moldavian, Tatar and Cossack moves, although Michael had been planning a Moldavian campaign for several years.

On February 28, Michael met with Polish envoys in Braşov. He was willing to recognise the Polish King as his sovereign in exchange for the crown of Moldavia and the recognition of his male heirs' hereditary right over the three principalities, Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia. This did not significantly delay his attack however, on April 14, 1600 Michael's troops entered Moldavia on multiple routes, the Prince himself leading the main thrust to Trotuş and Roman. He reached the capital of Suceava on May 6. The garrison surrendered the citadel the next day and Michael's forces caught up with the fleeing Ieremia Movilă, who was only saved from being captured by the sacrifice of his rear-guard. Movilă took refuge in the castle of Khotyn together with his family, a handful of faithful boyars and the former Transylvanian Prince, Sigismund Báthory. The Moldavian soldiers in the castle deserted, leaving a small Polish contingent as sole defenders. Under the cover of dark, sometime before June 11, Movilă managed to sneak out of the walls and across the Dniester to hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski's camp.

Neighboring states were alarmed by this upsetting of the balance of power, especially the Hungarian nobility in Transylvania, who rose against Michael in rebellion. With the help of Basta, they defeated Michael at the Battle of Mirăslău, forcing the prince to leave Transylvania together with his remaining loyal troops. A Polish army led by Jan Zamoyski drove the Wallachians from Moldavia and defeated Michael at Năieni, Ceptura, and Bucov (Battle of the Teleajăn River). The Polish army also entered eastern Wallachia and established Simion Movilă as ruler. Forces loyal to Michael remained only in Oltenia.

Michael asked again for assistance from Emperor Rudolf during a visit in Prague between February 23 and March 5, 1601, which was granted when the emperor heard that General Giorgio Basta had lost control of Transylvania to the Hungarian nobility led by Sigismund Báthory, who accepted Ottoman protection. Meanwhile, forces loyal to Michael in Wallachia led by his son, Nicolae Pătraşcu, drove Simion Movilă out of Moldavia and prepared to reenter Transylvania. Michael, allied with Basta, defeated the Hungarian army in Battle of Guruslău. A few days later Basta, who sought to control Transylvania himself, ordered the assassination of Michael, which took place near Câmpia Turzii on 9 August 1601. According to Romanian historian Constantin C. Giurescu:
“ Never in Romanian history was a moment of such highness glory so closely followed by bitter failure. ”

Michael the Brave's rule, with its break with Ottoman rule, tense relations with other European powers and the leadership of the three states, was considered in later periods as the precursor of a modern Romania, a thesis which was argued with noted intensity by Nicolae Bălcescu. This theory became a point of reference for nationalists, as well as a catalyst for various Romanian forces to achieve a single Romanian state. To Romanian Romantic nationalists, he was regarded as one of Romania's greatest national heroes.

The prince, who managed for a short time in 1600 to rule the three territories that were to be united some three centuries later in modern Romania, begins to be perceived as a unifier only towards the middle of the 19th century. Such an interpretation is completely lacking in the historiography of the 17th century chroniclers, and even in that of the Transylvanian School around 1800. What they emphasized, apart from the exceptional personality of Michael himself, were the idea of Christendom and his close relations with Emperor Rudolf. The conqueror's ambition is likewise frequently cited as a motivation for his action, occupying in the interpretative schema the place which was later to be occupied by the Romanian idea.

In the writings of the Moldavian chronicler Miron Costin, Michael the Brave appears in the role of conqueror of Transylvania and Moldavia, "the cause of much spilling of blood among Christians", and not even highly appreciated by his own Wallachians: "The Wallachians became tired of the warful rule of Voivode Mihai".

The perspective of the Wallachians themselves is to be found in The History of the Princes of Wallachia, attributed to the chronicler Radu Popescu (1655–1729), which bundles together all Michael's adversaries without distinction. Romanians and foreigners alike: "He subjected the Turks, the Moldavians, and the Hungarians to his rule, as if they were his asses.". The picturesque flavor of the expression only serves to confirm the absence of any Romanian idea.

Samuil Micu, a member of the Transylvanian School said in his work Short Explanation of the History of the Romanians (written in the 1790s): "In the year 1593, Michael, who is called the Brave, succeeded to the lordship of Wallachia. He was a great warrior, who fought the Turks and defeated the Transylvanians. And he took Transylvania and gave it to Emperor Rudolf".

Panaitescu states that in Mihai's time, the concept of the Romanian nation and the desire for unification did not yet exist. A. D. Xenopol firmly states the absence of any national element in Michael's politics, holding that Michael's lack of desire to join the principalities' administrations proved his actions were not motivated by any such concept.

Sources :

Sun Tzu (544 BC - 496 BC), Author of the ART OF WAR

Painting of Sun Tzu

Statue of Sun Tzu in Yurihama, Tottori, Japan

A Chinese bamboo book, open to display the binding and contents. This copy of The Art of War (on the cover, "孫子兵法") by Sun Tzu is part of a collection at the University of California, Riverside. The cover also reads "乾隆御書", meaning it was either commissioned or transcribed by the Qianlong Emperor

Sun Wu (simplified Chinese: 孙武; traditional Chinese: 孫武; pinyin: Sūn Wǔ), style name Changqing (長卿), better known as Sun Tzu or Sunzi (simplified Chinese: 孙子; traditional Chinese: 孫子; pinyin: Sūnzǐ; pronounced [swə́n tsɨ̀]), was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed, and who is most likely, to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. Sun Tzu has had a significant impact on Chinese and Asian history and culture, both as an author of The Art of War and through legend.

Sun Tzu, also known as Sun Tze or Sun Wu in other translations, was a historical figure whose authenticity is questioned by historians. Traditional accounts place him in the Spring and Autumn Period of China (722–481 BC) as a military general serving under King Helü of Wu, who lived c. 544–496 BC. Modern scholars accepting his historicity place the completion of The Art of War in the Warring States Period (476–221 BC), based on the descriptions of warfare in the text, and on the similarity of text's prose to other works completed in the early Warring States period.

Traditional accounts state that his descendant, Sun Bin, also wrote a treatise on military tactics, titled Sun Bin's Art of War. Both Sun Wu and Sun Bin were referred to as Sun Tzu in classical Chinese writings, and some historians believed that Sun Wu was in fact Sun Bin until Sun Bin's own treatise was discovered in 1972. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Sun Tzu's The Art of War grew in popularity and saw practical use in Western society, and his work continues to influence both Asian and Western culture and politics.

The oldest available sources disagree as to where Sun Tzu was born. The Spring and Autumn Annals states that Sun Tzu was born in Qi, while the later Shiji states that Sun Tzu was a native of Wu.

Both sources agree that Sun Tzu was born in the late Spring and Autumn Period of China (722–481 BC), and that he was active as a general and strategist, serving the king of Wu, King Helü, in the late sixth century BC, beginning around 512 BC. Sun Tzu's victories then inspired him to write The Art of War. The Art of War was one of the most widely read military treatises in the subsequent Warring States Period (475–221 BC), a time of constant war among seven nations (Zhao, Qi, Qin, Chu, Han, Wei and Yan) who fought to control the vast expanse of fertile territory in Eastern China.[5]

One of the more well-known stories about Sun Tzu, taken from Shiji, illustrates Sun Tzu's temperament as follows: Before hiring Sun Tzu, the King of Wu tested Sun Tzu's skills by commanding him to train a harem of 180 concubines into soldiers. Sun Tzu divided them into two companies, appointing the two concubines most favored by the king as the company commanders. When Sun Tzu first ordered the concubines to face right, they giggled. In response, Sun Tzu said that the general, in this case himself, was responsible for ensuring that soldiers understood the commands given to them. Then, he reiterated the command, and again the concubines giggled. Sun Tzu then ordered the execution of the king's two favored concubines, to the king's protests. He explained that if the general's soldiers understood their commands but did not obey, it was the fault of the officers. Sun Tzu also said that, once a general was appointed, it was his duty to carry out his mission, even if the king protested. After both concubines were killed, new officers were chosen to replace them. Afterwards, both companies performed their maneuvers flawlessly!

Shiji claims that Sun Tzu later proved on the battlefield that his theories were effective (for example, in the Battle of Boju), that he had a successful military career, and that he wrote The Art of War based on his tested expertise. However, Zuo Zhuan, an earlier historical text which provides a much more detailed account of the Battle of Boju, does not mention Sun Tzu at all.

Sun Tzu's descendant, Sun Bin, also became a famous scholar of the military arts.

The Art of War (simplified Chinese: 孙子兵法; traditional Chinese: 孫子兵法; pinyin: Sūn​zǐ​ Bīng​ Fǎ) is attributed to Sun Tzu. It presents a philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning battles. It is accepted as a masterpiece on strategy and frequently cited and referred to by generals and theorists since it was first published, translated, and distributed internationally.

There are numerous theories concerning when the text was completed, and concerning the identity of the author or authors, but archeological recoveries have proven that the Art of War had roughly achieved its current form by at least the early Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). Because it is impossible to prove definitively when the Art of War was completed before this date, the differing theories concerning the work's author(s) and date of completion are unlikely to ever be completely resolved. Some modern scholars believe that, contrary to popular belief, it contains not only the writings of the original author, but also commentary and clarifications from later military philosophers, such as Li Quan and Du Mu.

Of the military texts written before the unification of China in the 2nd century BC, six major works survived, including The Art of War. During the Song Dynasty in the late 1st millennium AD, these six works were combined with a Tang Dynasty text into a collection called the Seven Military Classics. As a central part of that compilation, The Art of War formed the foundations of orthodox military theory in China. Illustrating this point, the book was required reading to pass the tests needed for imperial appointment to military positions.

According to Simpkins & Simpkins, Sun Tzu's Art of War uses language that may be unusual in a Western text on warfare and strategy. For example, the 11th chapter states that a leader must be "serene and inscrutable" and capable of comprehending "unfathomable plans". They state that the text contains many similar remarks that have long confused Western readers lacking an awareness of the East Asian context. The meaning of such statements are clearer when interpreted in the context of Taoist thought and practice. Sun Tzu viewed the ideal general as an enlightened Taoist master, which has led to The Art of War being considered a prime example of Taoist strategy.

The book is not only popular among military theorists, but has also become increasingly popular among political leaders and those in business management. Despite its title, The Art of War addresses strategy in a broad fashion, touching upon public administration and planning. The text outlines theories of battle but also advocates diplomacy and cultivating relationships with other nations as essential to the health of a state.

In 1972, scholars uncovered a collection of ancient texts written on unusually well-preserved bamboo slips. Among them were the Art of War and Sun Bin's Military Methods. Although Han Dynasty bibliographies noted the latter publication as extant and written by a descendant of Sun, it had since been lost. The finding of Sun Bin's work is considered to be extremely important, both because of Sun Bin's relationship to Sun Tzu, and because of the work's addition to the body of military thought in late Chinese antiquity. The discovery as a whole significantly expanded the body of surviving Warring States military theory. Sun Bin's treatise is the only known military text surviving from the Warring States period discovered in the twentieth century, and bears the closest similarity to the Art of War of all surviving texts.

Some scholars have expressed doubt in Sun Tzu's historicity and the traditional dating of the Art of War. Their skepticism is fueled by factors that include possible historical inaccuracies and anachronisms in the text, as well as the likelihood of the execution of the king's favorite concubines. This skepticism, which sometimes cause scholars to completely deny the existence of a historical figure named Sun Wu (Sun Tzu), has led to acrimonious debate between skeptics and traditionalists, especially in China. Attribution of the Art of War's authorship varies among scholars, and have included people and movements including Sun; Chu scholar Wu Zixu; an unknown author; a school of thought in Qi or Wu; Sun Bin, and others.

Traditionalists attribute the authorship of The Art of War to the historical figure Sun Wu, who is chronicled in the Records of the Grand Historian and the Spring and Autumn Annals. He was reputedly active in the late 6th century BC, beginning c. 512 BC. The appearance of features from the Art of War in other historical texts is considered to be proof of his historicity and authorship. Certain strategic concepts, such as terrain classification, are attributed to Sun Tzu. Their use in other works, such as by the compilers of the Methods of the Sima, is considered proof of Sun Tzu's historical priority.

Skeptics that identify issues with the traditionalist view point to possible anachronisms in the Art of War that include terms, technology, philosophical ideas, events, and military techniques. They argue that there is a disparity between the large scale wars and sophisticated techniques detailed in the text, and the more primitive small scale battles that many believe predominated the 6th century BC. However, according to Ralph D. Sawyer, it is very likely Sun Tzu did actually exist and not only served as a general, but also wrote the core of the book that bears his name. Sawyer argues that the teachings were probably taught to the succeeding generations in the family or a small school of disciples, including Sun-Tzu's descendant, Sun Bin, and were revised and expanded upon.

Sun Tzu's Art of War has influenced many notable figures. Traditional histories recount that the first emperor of a unified China, Qin Shi Huang, considered the book invaluable in ending the Age of Warring States. The Art of War was introduced in Japan, c. AD 760, and the book quickly became popular among Japanese generals. The work also significantly influenced the unification of Japan. Mastery of its teachings was honored among the samurai, and its teachings were both exhorted and exemplified by influential daimyos and shoguns, such as Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Admiral of the Fleet Tōgō Heihachirō, who led Japan's forces to victory against Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, was an avid reader of The Art of War.

Communist Chinese leader Mao Zedong partially credited his victory over Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang in 1949 to The Art of War. The work strongly influenced Mao's writings about guerrilla warfare, which further influenced communist insurgencies around the world.

General Vo Nguyen Giap, the military mastermind behind victories over French and American forces in Vietnam, was an avid student and practitioner of Sun Tzu's ideas. America's defeat here, more than any other event, brought Sun Tzu to the attention of American military leaders. Ho Chi Minh translated the work for his Vietnamese officers to study.

The Department of the Army in the United States, through its Command and General Staff College, has directed all units to maintain libraries within their respective headquarters for the continuing education of personnel in the art of war. The Art of War is mentioned as an example of works to be maintained at each individual unit, and staff duty officers are obliged to prepare short papers for presentation to other officers on their readings.

Sun Tzu's The Art of War is listed on the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program (formerly known as the Commandant's Reading List). During the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s, both General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. and General Colin Powell practiced Sun Tzu's principles of deception, speed, and attacking the enemy's weakness.

Mark McNeilly writes in Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare that a modern interpretation of Sun and his importance throughout Chinese history is critical in understanding China's push to becoming a superpower in the 21st century. Modern Chinese scholars explicitly rely on historical strategic lessons and The Art of War in developing their theories, seeing a direct relationship between their modern struggles and those of China in Sun Tzu's time. There is a great perceived value in Sun Tzu's teachings and other traditional Chinese writers, which are used regularly in developing the strategies of the Chinese state and its leaders.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sasaki Kojiro (1585-1612), Most Remembered for his Death While Battling Miyamoto Musashi

Sasaki Kojiro in popular culture

Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro. Model miniature by James Harold

Sasaki Kojiro (right) engages Miyamoto Musashi on the shores of Ganryū Island. Note that in this rendering, Musashi is using two bokken

Sasaki Kojirō (佐々木 小次郎?, also known as Ganryū Kojirō) (1585? – April 13, 1612) was a prominent Japanese swordsman widely considered a Kensei, born in Fukui Prefecture. He lived during the Sengoku and early Edo periods and is most remembered for his death while battling Miyamoto Musashi in 1612.

He went by the fighting name of Ganryū (巌流 lit. "Large Rock style"), which was also the name of the kenjutsu school he had founded. It is said that Kojirō studied the Chūjō-ryu of sword fighting from either Kanemaki Jisai or Toda Seigen. Toda Seigen was a master of the kodachi. If Kojirō had indeed learned Chūjō-ryu from Seigen, he would have been his master's sparring partner. Due to his master's use of the kodachi, Kojirō used a nodachi, or a long katana, against him, therefore eventually excelling in its use. It was after defeating his master's younger brother that he left and founded the Ganryū. The first reliable account of his life states that in 1610, because of the fame of his school and his many successful duels, including once when he fended off three opponents with a tessen, Kojirō was honored by Lord Hosokawa Tadaoki as the chief weapons master of the Hosokawa fief north of Kyūshū. Sasaki later became skilled in the wielding of a nodachi, and used one he called "Monohoshizao" ("The Laundry-Drying Pole") as his main weapon.

Sasaki Kojirō was a long-time rival of Miyamoto Musashi, and is considered the most challenging opponent Musashi ever faced.

There are a number of accounts of the duel, varying in most details except the essentials, such as Kojirō's defeat.

The age of Kojirō is especially uncertain - the Nitenki says that during his childhood, he

“ ...received the instruction of Toda Seigen, a master of the school of the short sword, and having been the partner of his master, he excelled him in the wielding of the long sword. After having defeated his master's younger brother he left him to travel in various provinces. There he founded his own school, which was called Ganryu. ”

The Nitenki's account initially seems trustworthy, until it goes on to give the age of Kojirō at the time of the duel as 18 years old; it is known that two years earlier he had been a head weapons master for a fief - but then that would imply he had reached such a position at the age of 16, which is extremely improbable. A further complication is that Toda Seigen died in the 1590s. This unreliability of the sources means Kojirō's age could have varied anywhere from his 20s to as late as his 50s. Even worse, a number of scholars contend that identifying Seigen as Kojirō's teacher is a mistake, and that he was actually trained by a student of Seigen's, Kanemaki Jisai.

Apparently, the young (at the time, around 29 years old) Musashi heard of Kojirō's fame and asked Lord Hosokawa Tadaoki (through the intermediary of Nagaoka Sado Okinaga, a principal vassal of Hosokawa) to arrange a duel. Hosokawa assented, and set the time and place as 13 April 1612, on the comparatively remote island of Ganryujima of Funashima (the strait between Honshū and Kyūshū). The match was probably set in such a remote place because by this time Kojirō had acquired many students and disciples, and had Kojirō lost, they would probably have attempted to kill Musashi.

According to the legend, Musashi arrived more than three hours late, and goaded Kojirō by taunting him. When Kojirō attacked, his blow came as close as to sever Musashi's chonmage. He came close to victory several times until, supposedly blinded by the sunset behind Musashi, Musashi struck him on the skull with his oversized bokken (wooden sword), which was over 90 centimeters long. Musashi supposedly fashioned the long bokken, a type called a suburitō due to its above-average length, by shaving down the spare oar of the boat in which he arrived at the duel with his wakizashi (the wood was very hard). Musashi had been late for the duel on purpose in order to psychologically unnerve his opponent (a tactic used by him on previous occasions, such as during his series of duels with the Yoshioka swordsmen).

Another version of the legend recounts that when Musashi finally arrived, Kojirō shouted insults at him, but Musashi just smiled. Angered even further, Kojirō leapt into combat, blinded by rage. Kojiro attempted his famous "swallow's blade" or "swallow cut," but Musashi's oversized bokken hit Kojiro first, causing him to fall down; before Kojiro could finish his swallow cut, Musashi smashed Kojiro's left rib, puncturing his lungs and killing him. Musashi then hastily retreated to his boat and sailed away. This was Musashi's last fatal duel.

Among other things, this conventional account (drawn from the Nitenki, Kensetsu, and Yoshida Seiken's account), has some problems. Kenji Tokitsu discusses a number of obscurities and counterintuitive claims that have been identified in the account by him and previous scholars. Would Musashi only prepare his bokuto while going to the duel site? Could he even have prepared it in time, working the hard wood with his wakizashi? Would that work not have tired him as well? Further, why was the island then renamed after Kojirō, and not Musashi? Other texts completely omit the "late arrival" portion of the story, or change the sequence of actions altogether. Harada Mukashi and a few other scholars believe that Kojiro was actually assassinated by Musashi and his students - the Sasaki clan apparently was a political obstacle to Lord Hosokawa, and defeating Kojirō would be a political setback to his religious and political foes.

The debate still rages today as to whether or not Musashi cheated in order to win that fateful duel or merely used the environment to his advantage. Another theory is that Musashi timed the hour of his arrival to match the turning of the tide. He expected to be pursued by Sasaki's supporters in the event of a victory. The tide carried him to the island then it turned by the time the fight ended. Musashi immediately jumped back in his boat and his flight was thus helped by the tide.

Kojiro's favored weapon during combat was a straight-edged nodachi with a blade-length of over 150 cm. (5 ft) long. As a comparison, the average blade-length of the regular katana are usually 70 cm (2 feet, 3 inches) but rarely longer. It was called the "Monohoshi Zao" (Clothes/Laundry-Drying Pole, often translated into English as "The Drying Pole"). Despite the sword's length and weight, Kojirō's strikes with the weapon were unusually quick and precise.

His favorite technique was both respected and feared throughout feudal Japan. It was called the "Turning Swallow Cut" or "Tsubame Gaeshi" (燕返し lit. "Swallow Reversal / Return"), and was so named because it mimicked the motion of a swallow's tail during flight as observed at Kintaibashi Bridge in Iwakuni. This cut was reputedly so quick and precise that it could strike down a bird in mid-flight. There are no direct descriptions of the technique, but it was compared to two other techniques current at the time: the Ittō-ryū's Kinshi Cho Ohken and the Ganryū Kosetsu To; respectively the two involved fierce and swift cuts downward and then immediately upwards. Hence, the "Turning Swallow Cut" has been reconstructed as a technique involving striking downward from above and then instantly striking again in an upward motion from below. The strike's second phase could be from below toward the rear and then upward at an angle, like an eagle climbing again after swooping down on its prey. Kojiro created this technique around 1605.

Sasaki Kojiro has appeared in many forms in pop culture in Japan. He features in a lot of the films about the life of Miyamoto Musashi, most prominently in Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island. In the manga Vagabond, Sasaki Kojiro is portrayed as a deaf man raised by a retired samurai after he is found in the ocean clinging to a long sword. He appears as a cultured and soft speaking psychopath with a white painted face in Samurai Warriors 2. In the Playstation 1 video game Brave Fencer Musashi, Kojiro appears as a result of a second "hero summoning" to save the princess of the Allucaneet Kingdom. Sasaki Kojiro also appeared as one of the servants in the Fate Stay/Night anime of 2006 and played the role of the Assassin Servant. He denied his identity as a fake by saying "he is nothing but a character with fabricated past that has been made into a master swordsman inside of people's memories."

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