The Venetian Period in Cyprus 

Invasion of Cyprus

On 1 July, 1570, the Turkish fleet appeared off the western coast of Cyprus and anchored off Larnaca. There Lala Mustafa Pasha, the Turkish commander, landed his men and guns, and sent reconnoitring parties into the interior to discover the strength of the island. The Cypriots, who had no reason to love the Venetians, offered no opposition to the invaders, but supplied them with provisions, so that the defence of the island devolved on the fortresses of Nicosia, Famagusta, and Kyrenia. Lala Mustafa waited at Larnaca until the arrival of the whole of his troops, amounting to some 50,000 infantry, 2,500 cavalry, 30 pieces of heavy artillery and 50 smaller guns. 

Meanwhile, the Venetian commanders in Cyprus collected all their forces in the fortresses of Nicosia and Famagusta, with a small garrison in Kyrenia. The troops available in the island were far outnumbered by the Turks. 

Besides the Cypriot militia, there were about 3,000 regular infantry and 2,000 of the reinforcements sent with Martinengo, who had died on the voyage. The cavalry hardly amounted to 500, because the feudal nobles who were responsible for maintaining horses had been replacing them by the locally bred mules. Men of authority were lacking. The office of lieutenant- governor was vacant by the death of Lorenzo Bembo, and his successor had not arrived before the Turks invaded the island. The provveditore was Nicolo Dandolo, a man of weak character and unable to grapple with the situation. Astore Baglione, general of the militia, a strong and efficient officer, devoted himself to the completion of the defences of Nicosia. He also wished to oppose the Turks on the coast, but as his advice was overruled by the provveditore, he left Nicosia, and with his militia went to Famagusta.

  • From: Newman, P., (1940), "A Short History of Cyprus", Longmans, Green & Co., London.

Chronological History