How the Ottoman admiral Turgut Reis died during the Siege of Malta

On June 23, 1565, the Ottoman admiral Turgut Reis or Dragut died during the Great Siege of Malta. The siege ended with the Christian victory.

Dragut (Turgut Reis) was mortally wounded by cannon fire in the siege of Malta by Giuseppe Calì (Photo: Wikimedia)

Described as the greatest disciple of Khayr al-Din Barbarus (Hayreddin Barbarossa), he emerged as a successful pupil and managed to maintain Ottoman dominance in the Mediterranean despite all the difficulties. Many historians believe that, had he lived, the siege of Malta would have succeeded.

Turgut or Dragut is considered one of the greatest military geniuses and warriors of all time. He is also known as ‘The Drawn Sword of Islam’. He was active during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

There are different accounts of Turgut’s death. One of them is that Turgut was dissatisfied with a Turkish gunner who was aiming his cannon too high. He told the man to lower it. Still too high. He ordered him to it lower still more, but this final time the trajectory was too low, with disastrous consequences.

The ball glanced against a trench and chipped off a stone that ricocheted back and hit Turgut in the temple. Turgut’s turban absorbed some of the shocks, possibly preventing him from being killed outright, but the shock was severe.

Blood flowed out of his mouth, perhaps even his ear and eye, and he lost the power of speech. Staff officers, appalled, quickly covered the still breathing Turgut and carried him back to Mustapha’s own tent at the Marsa, worried that news of his injury might spread and alarm the men.

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