|Part of Ottoman Wars in Europe|
Clockwise from top right: Mehmed II lands in the city of Naples; Decisive naval victory in the Battle of Otranto; the March into Rome; and evacuated citizens of Rome after the Fall of Rome.
|Commanders and leaders|
| Mehmed II|| John II of Aragon|
| Estimated 150,000+ men total|
The Ottoman-Italian Wars (1471 - 1514) were a series of military conflicts primarily between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Naples, allied in a coalition with Aragon, Castille, France, Hungary, and several Italian states. It occurred nearly two decades after the Fall of Constantinople, and after initial Ottoman victories, resulted in the Fall of Rome and the temporary capture of Naples by the Ottoman Empire.
The majority of the Kingdom of Naples was captured by Ottoman forces for some time, incorporated as the Eyalet of Napoli. The territory was governed by a local Pasha, chosen by the Sultan, but the Patriarch of Rome also had influence in governance and politics. While the Ottomans had power over the peninsula for several years, the Christian forces (mainly by France and Spain) were able to expel the Ottomans and restore power.
Fall of Constantinople
- See also: Fall of Constantinople
A "succession crisis" occurred within Naples years before the war, between two claimants to the throne, Ferdinand I and René of Anjou. The supporters of René were thus mobilized and trying to gain ground in order to remove Ferdinand. Many nobles in the South supported René over Ferdinand, especially those of Angevin background. Clashes between the two leaders' followers began to break out. With the help of Jacopo Piccinino, a famed condottieri who had been invited by the Angevins, the supporters of René of Anjou managed to capture most of Southern Italy, except for Naples, Capua, Aversa, Gaeta, Troia, and Barletta.
In our timeline, the conflict was resolved within less than three years, thanks to the help of Skanderbeg's Italian expedition. However, without the help of Skanderbeg's armies and fleets, the conflict would continue in this timeline. Pope Callixtus III, John II, and Alessandro Sforza all formally recognized Ferdinand as the true king of Naples, however the insurgency would continue for years after the original battles.
In the aftermath of the Fall of Constantinople, the Sultan had declared himself the "Caesar of Rome", believing the Ottoman Empire to simply be a continuation of the ancient Roman and Byzantine Empires. This title was not recognized by Europe or the Patriarch of Constantinople. Nearly two decades later, in 1471, the Ottomans declared war on Naples, and Mehmed vowed to conquer Rome as he did Constantinople.
Turkish legend has it that one night, almost a decade after the fall of Constantinople, the Sultan read the following Hadith: "Whilst we were around the Prophet writing he was asked, 'Which of the two cities will be opened first, Constantinople or Rome?' He (the Prophet Muhammad) answered, 'The city of Heraclius [Constantinople] will be opened first!'" Later that night, the Sultan had a dream of conquering Rome and converting the Vatican into a mosque, instead of his original plan to turn Saint Peter's basilica into a stall for his horses. He believed it was a sign from God.
Historians are split on the concrete reason for the invasion. Some believe the Sultan's strong belief in the continuation of the Roman Empire was a legitimate factor, as well as establishing a Third, Islamic Rome (the first being polytheistic, and the second being Christian). Others contend that Mehmed wanted to use Rome as a base for expansion into Africa, to overrun piracy in the Mediterranean and to begin an era of naval control that would potentially be on par with the Venetians. Still, others believe that Mehmed invaded simply because he could, proving the might of the Ottoman armies as they expanded into territory after territory since its birth.
Invasions of Taranto and Brindisi
With the Fall of Constantinople, the "New Rome", still fresh in the minds of many, there were calls for another Crusade to stop the Turks from conquering Rome and the Papacy. However, politics in Italy as well as in Europe was too divided for the Pope to establish a large-scale and efficient Crusade. The mobilization of Christian forces against the Turks would have been difficult if not impossible, and the fact that many states were concerned with other wars at the time did not help.
In Italy, politics and alliances were getting in the way of unity against the Muslim forces. Venice remained neutral through the entirety of the conflict due to a recent treaty they made with the Ottomans, and risking war meant risking territorial conquests in the Mediterranean. As well, Tuscany had made a formal agreement with the Sultan that if they remained neutral, the Sultan would appoint a priest in Tuscany (a relative of the ruler, Lorenzo de' Medici) as Pope. Many other Italian states vowed to remain neutral in order to avoid conflict with the Empire for the simple fact that they were too small to mobilize a large enough army. In the end, any attempts at a Crusade were futile, and the Pope was unsuccessful in his efforts.
While many civilians were opposed to the Ottoman forces in their country, the small coastal and farming cities were struggling with the bloodshed and destruction that had gone on for more than a decade, with little help from other European forces (with the Spaniards involved in a succession crisis, and the French involved in Burgundy and Spain). After nearly two decades of fighting, the majority of cities at war with the Ottoman forces began to surrender in order to avoid further executions. Aside from war fatigue, the citizens of conquered cities were surprised to find that they would be paying a lower rate of taxes than they had being under the crown of Aragon. Many noblemen in Naples had swore their allegiance to the Sultan.
Capture of the City of Naples
Fall of Rome
Liberation of Rome
Expulsion of Turks
Treaty of Rome