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Mediterranean Sea – the 17th century battlefield

mediterranean sea old map poster

Map of the Mediterranean Sea and the adjoining areas in the second half of the 17th century.

The dominant power in the Mediterranean Region in the second half of the 17th century was the Ottoman Empire. By then, it had controlled almost the whole coastline of the Balkan Peninsula (together with the Republic of Radusa, its vassal state), the whole of Asia Minor and a major part of the North-African coast, from today’s Algeria eastwards. Cyprus was also seized and Crete was actually being conquered at the time this map was printed. The remaining western parts of the coastline were controlled by Spain, France, the Republic of Venice, the Kingdom of Sicily and several other states in the area of today’s Italy. These were all natural rivals of the Ottoman Empire. Numerous battles raged between the Turks (and the Barbary Pirates) and their European rivals in the Mediterranean Sea in the second half of the 17th century. In 1665, one such battle took place near the coast of Tunisia. The Barbary pirates’ fleet was defeated in this battle by the French nobleman Duc de Beaufort and his ships. Duc de Beaufort is a fascinating figure from French history. As a grandson of the French King Henry IV, he served in the army during the Thirty Years’ War and took part in an unsuccessful plot against Cardinal Richelieu, which resulted in his exile in England. Upon his return to France, he was imprisoned for engaging in another conspiracy. He later escaped from prison and was appointed as the chief of the French Navy’. In addition to the victory over the Barbary Pirates in 1665, he waged various other battles in the Mediterranean Sea in the 1660s. He was killed during the Siege of Candia in 1669.