Siege of Malta 1565
The forces as given by the Italian-Spanish mercenary Francisco Balbi di Correggio in his famous siege diary are:
|The Knights Hospitaller||The Ottoman Forces|
|500 Knights Hospitaller||6,000 Spahis (cavalry)|
|400 Spanish Soldiers||500 Spahis from Caramania|
|800 Italian Soldiers||6,000 Janissaries|
|500 Soldiers from the galleys||400 Adventurers from Mytheline|
|200 Greek and Sicilian soldiers||2,500 Spahis from Rouania|
|100 Soldiers of the garrison of Fort St. Elmo||3,500 adventurers from Rouania|
|100 servants of the knights||4,000 "religious fanatics"|
|500 galley slaves||6,000 other volunteers|
|3,000 soldiers drawn from the Maltese population||Various corsairs from Tripoli and Algiers|
||Total: 28,500 from the East, 48,000 in all
Throughout the summer the defenders beat back assault after assault from the Turkish forces. The diminishing band of defenders, fighting with pikes and battle-axes, firing muskets and dropping blocks of stone, threw fire-hoops that set ablaze the flowing robes of the Muslims and sent them burning and plummeting to their deaths.
The fire-hoops, covered in flax and cotton, dipped in brandy and coated with pitch and salt peter, were the knights' own invention. Dropped blazing over the bastion walls, they could engulf three Turks at a time.
For 30 days the soldiers of St Elmo prevailed. The Turkish general had expected the fort to fall within three. Late at night on Friday June 22, 1565, the few hundred survivors from an original garrison of 1,500, sang hymns, offered up prayers, defiantly tolled their chapel bell and prepared to meet their end the next day. Eventually the crescent banners of the Grand Turk flew above the ruins.
The siege continued, with the target now Castel Sant’Angelo, the final and fortified enclave of the knights on the southern side of Grand Harbor.
There was much hand to hand combat; the fierce monks and their supporting gunpowder forces had so devastated the Turkish ranks that the fleet was forced to lift the siege and return to the Empire. Of the 40,000 troops that had set sail in the spring from Constantinople, only some ten thousand made it home. This siege is considered the last of the Crusades, and the Turks made no serious attempt to operate in the central or western Mediterranean after this defeat.