Ottoman invasion of Otranto
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|Battle of Otranto|
|Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe
and Ottoman-Hungarian Wars
|Ottoman Empire|| Kingdom of Naples
Crown of Aragon
Kingdom of Hungary
|Commanders and leaders|
|Gedik Ahmed Pasha|| Francesco Largo †
Alphonso II of Naples
Hungary: 2,100 Hungarian heavy infantry
|Casualties and losses|
|Garrisoned forces surrender||Unknown|
approx. 1,600 Hungarians (mostly servants)
On 28 July 1480, an Ottoman fleet of 128 ships of which 28 were galleys arrived near the Neapolitan city of Otranto in the region Apulia. Possibly these troops came from the siege of Rhodes. On July 29 the garrison and the citizens retreated to the citadel, the Castle of Otranto. On 11 August this fort was taken by the invaders.
According to Christian historiography a raid was held to round up all male citizens. Archbishop Stefano Agricoli and others were killed in the cathedral, while Bishop Stefano Pendinelli and the garrison commander, Count Francesco Zurlo, were sawn in two alive. On August 12, 800 citizens who refused to convert to Islam were taken to the Hill of the Minerva and beheaded without mercy. These 813 victims were canonized as saints in the Roman Catholic Church in May 12, 2013.  Some of the remains of the 800 martyrs are today stored in Otranto Cathedral and in the church of Santa Caterina a Formiello in Naples. The cathedral is said to have been used as a stable after that.
This version has come under severe criticism. From the Turkish side it is disputed that large-scale executions took place; the bones to be found in the Cathedral of Otranto are claimed to be actually those of fighters killed during the Turkish invasion. Italian researchers, on the other hand, conclude that some acts of terror were committed by the Turkish invaders to create panic among the Italians around Otranto.
In August, 70 ships of the fleet attacked Vieste. On September 12, the Monastero di San Nicholas di Casole, which accommodated one of the richer libraries of Europe, was destroyed. In October 1480, the coastal cities of Lecce, Taranto and Brindisi were attacked.
Due to lack of food, Gedik Ahmed Pasha returned with most of his troops to Albania, leaving a garrison of 800 infantry and 500 cavalry behind to defend Otranto. It was assumed he would return after the winter.
Since it was only 27 years after the fall of Constantinople, there was some fear that Rome would suffer the same fate. Plans were made for the Pope and citizens of Rome to evacuate the city. Pope Sixtus IV repeated his 1471 call for a crusade. Several Italian city-states, Hungary and France responded positively to this. The Republic of Venice did not, as it had signed an expensive peace treaty with the Ottomans in 1479.
The city was besieged starting 1 May 1481. On May 3 the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed II, died, with ensuing quarrels about his succession. This possibly prevented the sending of Ottoman reinforcements to Otranto. So in the end the Turkish occupation of Otranto ended by negotiation with the Christian forces, permitting the Turks to withdraw to Albania. However, quite a few of them were still taken captives when the Christian troops occupied Otranto again.
- Csaba Csorba, János Estók, Konrád Salamon (1999). Magyarország Képes Története. Budapest, Hungary: Magyar Könyvklub. p. 62. ISBN 963-548-961-7.
- Ted Byfield (2010). Christians - Their First Two Thousand Years, Renaissance: God in Man, A.D. 1300 to 1500. Edmonton, Alberta: McCallum Printing Group Inc.
- Bunson, Matthew. "How the 800 Martyrs of Otranto Saved Rome". Catholic Answers. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
- "Martyrs of Otranto, entire village that chose death instead of renouncing their faith". Rome Reports. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- How the Eight Hundred Men of Otranto Saved Rome
- The Crusades Wiki