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Indian Ocean campaigns

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The Ottoman naval expeditions in the Indian Ocean (Modern Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

: Hint seferleri or Hint Deniz seferleri, literally "Indean Ocean campaigns") were a series of Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 amphibious operations in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in the 16th century. There were four expeditions between 1538 and 1554, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...



After the voyages of Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

, a powerful Portuguese navy took control of the Indian Ocean in the early 16th century. It threatened the coastal cities of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 and India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Members of that navy settled in Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

, a city on the west coast of India, in 1510.

Ottoman control of the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 meanwhile began in 1517 when Selim I
Selim I
Selim I, Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan, Hâdim-ül Haramain-ish Sharifain , nicknamed Yavuz "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" , was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to...

 annexed Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 to the Ottoman Empire after the Battle of Ridaniya. Most of the habitable zone of the Arabian Peninsula (Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

) soon fell voluntarily to the Ottomans. Piri Reis
Piri Reis
Piri Reis was an Turkish Ottoman admiral, geographer and cartographer born between 1465 and 1470 and died in 1554 or 1555....

, who was famous for his World Map
Piri Reis map
The Piri Reis map is a pre-modern world map compiled in 1513 from military intelligence by the Ottoman-Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis. The half of the map that survives shows the western coasts of Europe and North Africa and the coast of Brazil with reasonable accuracy...

, presented it to Selim just a few weeks after the sultan arrived in Egypt. Part of the 1513 map, which covers the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 and the Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, is now in the Topkapı Palace
Topkapi Palace
The Topkapı Palace is a large palace in Istanbul, Turkey, that was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years of their 624-year reign....

 museum. The portion concerning the Indian Ocean is missing; it is argued that Selim may have taken it, so that he could make more use of it in planning future military expeditions in that direction. In fact, after the Ottoman domination in the Red Sea, the Turco-Portuguese rivalry began. Selim entered into negotiations with Sultan Muzaffar II of Gujarat, (a sultanate in North West India), about a possible joint strike against the Portuguese in Goa. However Selim died in 1520.

In 1525, during the reign of Suleiman I, Selman Reis
Selman Reis
Selman Reis was an Ottoman admiral and corsair who was active in the Mamluk Navy of Egypt and later in the Ottoman Navy against the Portuguese in the first half of the 16th century...

, a former corsair, was appointed as the admiral of a small Ottoman fleet in the Red Sea which was tasked with defending Ottoman coastal towns against Portuguese attacks. In 1534, Suleiman annexed most of Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and by 1538 the Ottomans had reached Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

, i.e., the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. The Ottoman Empire still faced the problem of Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 controlled coasts. Most coastal towns on the Arabian Peninsula were either Portuguese ports or Portuguese vassals. Another reason for Turco-Portugal rivalry was economic. In the 15th century, the main trade routes from the Far East to Europe, the so-called spice route, was via the Red Sea and Egypt. But after Africa was circumnavigated the trade income was decreasing. While the Ottoman Empire was a major sea power in the Mediterranean, it was not possible to transfer the navy to the Red Sea. So a new fleet was built in Suez
Suez is a seaport city in north-eastern Egypt, located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez , near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, having the same boundaries as Suez governorate. It has three harbors, Adabya, Ain Sokhna and Port Tawfiq, and extensive port facilities...

 and named the "Indian fleet".
The apparent reason of the expeditions in the Indian Ocean, nonetheless, was an invitation from India.

Expedition by Hadim Suleiman Pasha, 1538

Bahadur Shah
Bahadur Shah of Gujarat
Sultan Qutb-ud-Din Bahadur Shah , who reigned 1526-1535 and 1536-1537, was a sultan of Gujarat Sultanate, a late medieval independent kingdom in India.-Early years:...

, (the son of Muzaffer II who had negotiated with Selim), the ruler of Gujerat, appealed to İstanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 for joint action against the Portuguese navy. Suleiman I used this opportunity to check Portuguese domination in the Indian Ocean and appointed Hadim Suleiman Pasha
Hadim Suleiman Pasha
Hadim Suleiman Pasha was an Ottoman statesman. He was the Governor, or Viceroy, of Ottoman Egypt in 1525-1535 and 1536-1538, and Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire between 1541 and 1544. He was a Hungarian eunuch. He led the capture of Aden and the Siege of Diu in 1538.- References :...

 as the admiral of his Indian Ocean fleet. Hadim Suleiman Paşa's naval force consisted of some 90 galleys. In 1538, he sailed to India via the Red and Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

s, only to learn that Bahadur Shah had been killed during a clash with the Portuguese navy and his successor had allied himself with Portugal. After an unsuccessful siege at Diu, he decided to return. On his way back to Suez
Suez is a seaport city in north-eastern Egypt, located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez , near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, having the same boundaries as Suez governorate. It has three harbors, Adabya, Ain Sokhna and Port Tawfiq, and extensive port facilities...

, however, he conquered most of Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

, including Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

. (After the expedition, Hadim Suleiman was promoted to grand vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...


Expedition by Piri Reis, 1548-1552

After the first expedition, the Portuguese navy had captured Aden and laid siege to Jeddah
Jeddah, Jiddah, Jidda, or Jedda is a city located on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. The...

 (in modern Saudi Arabia) and tried to penetrate the Red Sea. The aim of the second expedition was to restore Ottoman authority in the Red Sea and Yemen. The new admiral was Piri Reis (who had earlier presented his Word Map to Selim). He recaptured Aden in 1548, thus securing the Red Sea. He sailed east and captured Muscat
Muscat, Oman
Muscat is the capital of Oman. It is also the seat of government and largest city in the Governorate of Muscat. As of 2008, the population of the Muscat metropolitan area was 1,090,797. The metropolitan area spans approximately and includes six provinces called wilayats...

 in 1552, therefore extending Ottoman authority as far as Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

. He then sailed to Hormuz Island
Hormuz Island
Hormuz Island , also spelled Hormoz, is an Iranian island in the Persian Gulf. It is located in the Strait of Hormuz and is part of the Hormozgān Province.-Geography:...

 in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 with the intention of wresting the island from Portugal. He was only partially successful. He captured the town, but the citadel remained intact. After capturing Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 peninsula and the island of Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

, he refused to continue the operation and returned to Suez, leaving the main fleet in Basra. (He was later punished for leaving the fleet).

Expedition by Murat Reis the Elder, 1552

The purpose of this expedition was to bring the fleet back to Suez. The new admiral was Murat Reis the Elder. While trying to sail out of the Persian gulf, he encountered a large Portuguese fleet commanded by Dom Diogo de Noronha. In the largest open-sea engagement between the two countries, Murat successfully sank Noronha’s flagship with his artillery. However, a sudden change in the wind forced him to return to Basra.

Expedition by Seydi Ali Reis, 1553

Seydi Ali Reis
Seydi Ali Reis
Seydi Ali Reis was an Ottoman admiral.He commanded the left wing of the Ottoman fleet at the naval Battle of Preveza in 1538....

 was appointed as the admiral after the failure of the third expedition, in 1553. But what he found in Basra was a group of neglected galleys. Nevertheless, after some maintenance, he decided to sail. He passed through the Strait of Hormuz
Strait of Hormuz
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow, strategically important waterway between the Gulf of Oman in the southeast and the Persian Gulf. On the north coast is Iran and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman....

 and began sailing along Omani shores where he fought the Portuguese fleet twice. He was not so lucky against a great storm named the elephant typhoon (tufan’ı fil) by the locals. After the storm, his remaining six galleys drifted to India, the original target of the expeditions 15 years previously. The remainder of the fleet was unserviceable, resulting in his return home overland with 50 men. Seydi Ali Reis then arrived at the royal court of the Mughal Emperor Humayun
Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor who ruled present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Like his father, Babur, he lost his kingdom early, but with Persian aid, he eventually regained an even larger one...

 in Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 where he met the future Mughal emperor Akbar who was then 12 years old.

The route from India to Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 was a very dangerous one because of the war between the Ottoman Empire and Persia. Seydi Ali Reis returned home after the treaty of Amasya was signed between the two countries in 1555. He wrote a book named Mirror of Countries (Mir’at ül Memalik
Mirat ul Memalik
Mirat ul Memalik is a historical book written by Ottoman Admiral Sidi Ali Reis about his travels in South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East...

about this adventurous journey and presented it to Suleiman I in 1557 . This book is now considered one of the earliest travel books in Ottoman literature.


The naval expeditions in the Indian Ocean were only partially successful. The original goals of checking Portuguese domination in the ocean and assisting a Muslim Indian lord were, naturally enough, not achieved. On the other hand, Yemen, as well as the west bank of the Red Sea (roughly corresponding to a narrow coastal strip of Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 and Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

), were annexed by Özdemir Pasha
Özdemir Pasha
Özdemir Pasha was a Caucasian Mameluke general for the Ottoman Empire. He joined Hadim Süleyman Pasha's campaign to India , in 1538. Later he became the Governor of Yemen and invaded Ethiopia in 1557 for the Ottoman Empire.He died in 1561 in Sana, Yemen....

, the deputy of Hadım Suleiman Pasha. Three more provinces in East Africa were established: Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

, Habesh
Habesh Eyalet was an Ottoman eyalet that bordered the Red Sea. It comprised Massawa, Hergigo, Suakin and their hinterlands. Later it would also incorporate Zeila and western Somaliland...

 (Abyssia) and Sawakin
Suakin or Sawakin is a port in north-eastern Sudan, on the west coast of the Red Sea. In 1983 it had a population of 18,030 and the 2009 estimate is 43, 337.It was formerly the region's chief port, but is now secondary to Port Sudan, about 30 miles north. The old city built of coral is in ruins...

 (Suakin). The ports around the Arabian Peninsula were also secured.

Sometimes, Ottoman assistance to Aceh (in Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

), in 1569 is also considered to be a part of these expeditions (see Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis
Kurtoglu Hizir Reis
Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis was an Ottoman admiral who is best known for commanding the Ottoman naval expedition to Sumatra in Indonesia .-Background and family origins:...

.) However, that expedition
Ottoman expedition to Aceh
The Ottoman expedition to Aceh was started from around 1565 when the Ottoman Empire endeavoured to support the Aceh Sultanate in its fight against the Portuguese Empire in Malacca...

 was not a military expedition.

It is known that Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, the grand vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...

 of the empire between 1565–1579, had proposed a canal between the Mediterranean and Red Seas. If that project could have been realized, it would be possible for the navy to pass through the canal and eventually into the Indian Ocean. But this project was beyond the technological capabilities of the 16th century (the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 was not opened until 1869, some three centuries later.)

See also

  • Ottoman Navy
    Ottoman Navy
    The Ottoman Navy was established in the early 14th century. During its long existence it was involved in many conflicts; refer to list of Ottoman sieges and landings and list of Admirals in the Ottoman Empire for a brief chronology.- Pre-Ottoman:...

  • Siege of Diu
    Siege of Diu
    The Siege of Diu occurred when an Ottoman imperial fleet attempted to capture the Indian city of Diu in 1538, then held by the Portuguese.It ended with a Portuguese victory.-Background:...

  • Capture of Aden (1548)
    Capture of Aden (1548)
    The Capture of Aden of 1548 was accomplished when Ottomans under Piri Reis managed to take the harbour of Aden in Yemen from the Portuguese on 26 February 1548....

  • Capture of Muscat (1552)
    Capture of Muscat (1552)
    The Capture of Muscat occurred in 1552, when an Ottoman fleet under Piri Reis attacked Muscat, modern Oman, and seized the town from the Portuguese...

  • Ottoman campaign against Hormuz
    Ottoman campaign against Hormuz
    The Ottoman campaign against Hormuz took place in 1552-54. An Ottoman fleet led by Admiral Piri Reis and Seydi Ali Reis was dispatched from the Ottoman harbour of Suez to eliminate the Portuguese presence from the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean, and especially their fortress at Hormuz...