Flaying of Marsyas (Titian)
The Flaying of Marsyas is a painting by the Italian late Renaissance artist Titian painted between about 1570 and his death in 1576, when in his eighties. It is now in the Archbishop's Palace in Kroměříž, Czech Republic and belongs to the Archbishopric of Olomouc, it is one of Titian's last works, may be unfinished, although there is a partial signature on the stone in the foreground. The painting shows the killing by flaying or skinning alive of Marsyas, a satyr who rashly challenged the god Apollo to a musical contest, it is one of several canvases with mythological subjects from Ovid which Titian executed in his late years the poesie series for King Philip II of Spain, of which this painting seems not to have been part. The painting has been in Kroměříž in Moravia since 1673, was rather forgotten about, being off the beaten track as far as Venetian painting is concerned, it "did not enter critical literature until 1909". By the 1930s it was "widely accepted as an important late work" among scholars, but little known by a wider public.
On its first modern appearance abroad, it "was greeted with astonished admiration" as the "star attraction" of a major exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1983, It was new to most viewers and was described by John Russell in the New York Times as "the most astonishing picture in the show". Beginning an extended analysis, Sir Lawrence Gowing wrote that "All these months – it is not too much to say – London has been half under the spell of this masterpiece, in which the tragic sense that overtook Titian’s poesie in his seventies reached its cruel and solemn extreme. At most hours on most days there is a knot of visitors riveted and perplexed in front of it.... At the Academy people still ask, on the radio well-meaning critics debate, how it is possible that a horribly painful subject should be the occasion of beauty or greatness in art." The choice of such a violent scene was inspired by the death of Marcantonio Bragadin, the Venetian commander of Famagusta in Cyprus, flayed by the Ottomans when the city fell in August 1571, causing enormous outrage in Venice.
Titian's composition is undoubtedly derived from that of Giulio Romano from several decades before. Both artists follow the account in Ovid's Metamorphoses, which covers the contest quickly, but describes the flaying scene at relative length, though with few indications that would help to visualize it. Marsyas cries out "Why do you tear me from myself?". Marsyas was a skillful player of the classical aulos or double flute, for which by Titian's time pan pipes were substituted in art, his set hangs from the tree over his head. Apollo played his usual lyre, here represented by a modern lira da braccio, an ancestor of the violin with up to seven strings; this is played by a figure of uncertain identity, who some scholars have said to be Apollo himself appearing a second time, since Apollo is the figure wearing a laurel wreath, kneeling down and using his knife to flay Marsyas' chest. It has been suggested that the musician is Orpheus, or Olympus, a devoted pupil of Marsyas, who Apollo converts to playing the lyre, Ovid mentions.
The mythical King Midas, the seated old man on the right, is thought to be a self-portrait. His downward line of gaze at Marsyas is parallel to that of the musician looking up to the heavens on the other side of the painting. Ovid avoids the question of. In most Greek accounts the Three Muses did the role, but the story early became confused with another, the "Judgement of Midas", which has happened here; this was another musical contest, always with lyre versus pan pipes, but with Pan himself on the pipes. Of course Apollo won, but in some accounts King Midas preferred Pan, was given the ears of a donkey as punishment, while Pan was humiliated; the seated figure at right is Midas, though his ears seem unaffected. The "Judgement of Midas" was sometimes painted. Both stories were set in Phrygia, in modern Turkey, where Midas ruled, which in the ancient world had various associations with music; the Phrygians were not Greek, until Hellenized after Alexander the Great, but lived on the edge of the Greek world.
The human with the knife wears a Phrygian cap. Apollo is assisted by a sinister "Scythian" figure on the left, working on Marsyas' leg, a satyr with a bucket behind Midas to collect blood, or hold the removed skin, which in some versions of the story Apollo had nailed up in a temple. A small boy, or boy satyr, restrains a large dog at right, while a much smaller dog is lapping at the blood that has fallen to the ground; as was typical in Titian's day, in his works, the satyr is shown with the legs and feet of a goat, inverting him emphasizes these, as well as giving him the position typical of mid-sized animals being slaughtered or skinned before butchering. Most of his body still seems unflayed, but Apollo holds a large flap of detached skin in the hand not holding his knife. Compositionally, the "V" shape made by Marsyas's legs is echoed by the highlighted "V"s of the bent arms of the four figures nearest to him, all of whom are looking at him. Indeed, his navel is exactly at the centre of the canvas as it now is.
Technical examinations have determined that two of the main differences to the Giulio Romano composition are changes made well after painting was underway. Many writers have attempted to capture the meaning of the "famously savage"
Lala Mustafa Pasha
Lala Mustafa Pasha known by the additional epithet Kara, was an Ottoman general and Grand Vizier from the Sanjak of Bosnia. He was born around 1500 near the Glasinac Plateau in Bosnia, the younger brother of Deli Husrev Pasha, who helped him rise through the system's ranks more quickly. Mustafa Pasha served as kaymakam of Egypt Eyalet in 1549, he had risen to the position of Beylerbeyi of Damascus and to that of Fifth Vizier. The honorific "Lala" means "tutor to the Sultan", he had a long-standing feud with his cousin, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. He commanded the Ottoman land forces during the conquest of Venetian Cyprus in 1570/71, in the campaign against Georgia and Persia in 1578. During the campaign on Cyprus, Lala Mustafa Pasha, known for his cruelty towards vanquished opponents, ordered the Venetian commander of Famagusta Marco Antonio Bragadin flayed alive and other Venetian military officers killed in sight or executed though he had promised safe passage upon surrendering the city to the Turkish army.
It meant that Mustafa had indicated his aggressive intentions to the Sultan's court. He was a Damat to the Imperial family through his marriage to Hüma Sultan, a daughter of Sultan Murad III. In the final three months of his life, he was Grand Vizier from 28 April 1580 until his death, he is buried in the courtyard of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque in Istanbul. His tomb was designed by Ottoman architect Sinan, he has a street named after him in cities including Cyprus. His invasion and brutal treatment of the Venetian leaders in Cyprus led to Pope Pius V promoting a Roman Catholic coalition against the Ottomans which turned into the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Lala Mustafa Pasha's Caucasian campaign List of Ottoman governors of Ernle; the Great Siege: Malta 1565. Wordsworth. ISBN 1840222069. Bicheno, Hugh. Crescent and Cross: the Battle of Lepanto 1571. Phoenix, London, 2003. ISBN 1-84212-753-5. Currey, E. Hamilton, Sea-Wolves of the Mediterranean, London, 1910 Foglietta, U; the sieges of Nicosia and Famagusta.
London: Waterlow, 1903. Pickles, Tim. Malta 1565, Last Battle of the Crusades. ISBN 1-85532-603-5. Spiteri, Stephen C.. The Great Siege: Knights vs. Turks, 1565. Malta, 2005
Flaying known colloquially as skinning, is a method of slow and painful execution in which skin is removed from the body. An attempt is made to keep the removed portion of skin intact. A dead animal may be flayed when preparing it to be used for its hide or fur; this is more called skinning. Flaying of humans is used as a method of torture or execution, depending on how much of the skin is removed; this is referred to as "flaying alive". There are records of people flayed after death as a means of debasing the corpse of a prominent enemy or criminal, sometimes related to religious beliefs. Dermatologist Ernst G. Jung notes that the typical causes of death due to flaying are shock, critical loss of blood or other body fluids, hypothermia, or infections, that the actual death is estimated to occur from a few hours up to a few days after the flaying. Hypothermia is possible, as skin is essential for maintaining a person's body temperature, as it provides a person's natural insulation. Ernst G. Jung, in his "Kleine Kulturgeschichte der Haut", provides an essay in which he outlines the Neo-Assyrian tradition of flaying human beings.
From the times of Ashurnasirpal II, the practice is displayed and commemorated in both carvings and official royal edicts. The carvings show that the actual flaying process might begin at various places on the body, such as at the crus, the thighs, or the buttocks. In their royal edicts, the Neo-Assyrian kings seem to gloat over the terrible fate they imposed upon their captives, that flaying seems, in particular, to be the fate meted out to rebel leaders. Jung provides some examples of this triumphant rhetoric. Here are some from Ashurnasirpal II:I have made a pillar facing the city gate, have flayed all the rebel leaders. I let the leaders of the conquered cities be flayed, clad the city walls with their skins; the captives I have killed by the sword and flung on the dung heap, the little boys and girls were burnt. The Rassam Cylinder, in the British Museum demonstrates this, their corpses they hung on stakes, they stripped off their skins and covered the city wall with them. Searing or cutting the flesh from the body was sometimes used as part of the public execution of traitors in medieval Europe.
A similar mode of execution was used as late as the early 18th century in France. In 1303, the Treasury of Westminster Abbey was robbed while holding a large sum of money belonging to King Edward I. After arrest and interrogation of 48 monks, three of them, including the subprior and sacrist, were found guilty of the robbery and flayed, their skin was attached to three doors as a warning against robbers of State. The Copford church in Essex, may have been found to have human skin attached to a door. In Chinese history, Sun Hao, Fu Sheng and Gao Heng were known for removing skin from people's faces; the Hongwu Emperor flayed many servants and rebels. In 1396 he ordered the flaying of 5000 women. Hai Rui suggested; the Zhengde Emperor flayed six rebels, Zhang Xianzhong flayed many people. Lu Xun said the Ming Dynasty was ended by flaying. One of the plastinated exhibits in Body Worlds includes an entire posthumously flayed skin, many of the other exhibits have had their skin removed. In Greek mythology, Marsyas, a satyr, was flayed alive for daring to challenge Apollo to a musical contest, which he lost.
According to Greek mythology, Aloeus is said to have had his wife flayed. In Aztec mythology, Xipe Totec is the flayed god of rebirth. Captured enemy warriors were flayed annually as sacrifices to him. Yahu-Bihdi, ruler of Hamath, was flayed alive by the Assyrians under Sargon II. According to Herodotus, Sisamnes, a corrupt judge under Cambyses II of Persia, was flayed for accepting a bribe; the Talmud discusses. Catholic and Orthodox tradition holds. Mani, founding prophet of Manichaeism, was said to have been beheaded. In March 415, Hypatia of Alexandria, a Neoplatonist philosopher, was murdered by a Christian mob of Nitrian monks who accused her of paganism, they stripped her naked, skinned her with ostraca, burned her remains. Totila is said to have ordered the bishop of Perugia, Herculanus, to be flayed when he captured that city in 549. In 991 AD, during a Viking raid in England, a Danish Viking is said to have been flayed by London locals for ransacking a church. Alleged human skin found on a local church door has, for many years, been considered as proof for this legend, but a deeper analysis made during the production of the 2001 BBC documentary, Blood of the Vikings, came to the conclusion that the preserved skin came from a cow hide and was part of a 19th-century hoax.
Pierre Basile was flayed alive and all defenders of the chateau hanged on 6 April 1199, by order of the mercenary leader Mercadier, for shooting and killing King Richard I of England with a crossbow at the siege of Châlus, in March 1199. In 1314, the brothers Aunay, who were lovers of the daughters-in-law of king Philip IV of France, were flayed alive castrated and beheaded, their bodies were exposed on a gibbet; the extreme severity of their punishment was due to the lèse majesté nature of the crime. In 1404 or 1417, the Hurufi Imad ud-Din Nes
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, known in English as Titian, was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno in the Republic of Venice). During his lifetime he was called da Cadore, taken from the place of his birth. Recognized by his contemporaries as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars", Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, mythological and religious subjects, his painting methods in the application and use of colour, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the late Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art. His career was successful from the start, he became sought after by patrons from Venice and its possessions joined by the north Italian princes, the Habsburgs and papacy. Along with Giorgione, he is considered a founder of the Venetian School of Italian Renaissance painting. During the course of his long life, Titian's artistic manner changed drastically, but he retained a lifelong interest in colour.
Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of tone were without precedent in the history of Western painting. The exact date of Titian's birth is uncertain; when he was an old man he claimed in a letter to Philip II, King of Spain, to have been born in 1474, but this seems most unlikely. Other writers contemporary to his old age give figures that would equate to birthdates between 1473 and after 1482. Most modern scholars believe a date between 1488 and 1490 is more though his age at death being 99 had been accepted into the 20th century, he was the son of whom little is known. Gregorio was superintendent of the castle of Pieve di Cadore and managed local mines for their owners. Gregorio was a distinguished councilor and soldier. Many relatives, including Titian's grandfather, were notaries, the family were well-established in the area, ruled by Venice. At the age of about ten to twelve he and his brother Francesco were sent to an uncle in Venice to find an apprenticeship with a painter.
The minor painter Sebastian Zuccato, whose sons became well-known mosaicists, who may have been a family friend, arranged for the brothers to enter the studio of the elderly Gentile Bellini, from which they transferred to that of his brother Giovanni Bellini. At that time the Bellinis Giovanni, were the leading artists in the city. There Titian found a group of young men about his own age, among them Giovanni Palma da Serinalta, Lorenzo Lotto, Sebastiano Luciani, Giorgio da Castelfranco, nicknamed Giorgione. Francesco Vecellio, Titian's older brother became a painter of some note in Venice. A fresco of Hercules on the Morosini Palace is said to have been one of Titian's earliest works. Others were the Bellini-esque so-called Gypsy Madonna in Vienna, the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth, now in the Accademia, Venice. A Man with a Quilted Sleeve is an early portrait, painted around 1509 and described by Giorgio Vasari in 1568. Scholars long believed it depicted Ludovico Ariosto. Rembrandt borrowed the composition for his self-portraits.
Titian joined Giorgione as an assistant, but many contemporary critics found his work more impressive—for example in exterior frescoes that they did for the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Their relationship evidently contained a significant element of rivalry. Distinguishing between their work at this period remains a subject of scholarly controversy. A substantial number of attributions have moved from Giorgione to Titian in the 20th century, with little traffic the other way. One of the earliest known Titian works, Christ Carrying the Cross in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, depicting the Ecce Homo scene, was long regarded as by Giorgione; the two young masters were recognized as the leaders of their new school of arte moderna, characterized by paintings made more flexible, freed from symmetry and the remnants of hieratic conventions still found in the works of Giovanni Bellini. In 1507–1508 Giorgione was commissioned by the state to create frescoes on the re-erected Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Titian and Morto da Feltre worked along with him, some fragments of paintings remain by Giorgione.
Some of their work is known, through the engravings of Fontana. After Giorgione's early death in 1510, Titian continued to paint Giorgionesque subjects for some time, though his style developed its own features, including bold and expressive brushwork. Titian's talent in fresco is shown in those he painted in 1511 at Padua in the Carmelite church and in the Scuola del Santo, some of which have been preserved, among them the Meeting at the Golden Gate, three scenes from the life of St. Anthony of Padua, The Miracle of the Jealous Husband, which depicts the Murder of a Young Woman by Her Husband, A Child Testifying to Its Mother's Innocence, The Saint Healing the Young Man with a Broken Limb. In 1512 Titian returned to Venice from Padua, he became superintendent of the government works charged with completing the paintings left unfinished by Giovanni Bellini in the hall of the great council in the ducal palace. He set up a
Selim II known as Sarı Selim or Sarhoş Selim, was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1566 until his death in 1574. He was a son of his wife Hürrem Sultan. Selim had been an unlikely candidate for the throne until his brother Mehmed died of smallpox, his half-brother Mustafa was strangled to death by the order of his father, his brother Bayezid was killed in a coordinated effort between him and his father. Selim was born in Constantinople, on 28 May 1524, during the reign of his father Suleiman the Magnificent, his mother was Hürrem Sultan, a slave and concubine, born an Orthodox priest's daughter, was freed and became Suleiman's legal wife. In 1545, at Konya, Selim married Nurbanu Sultan, it is said that she was named Cecelia Venier Baffo, or Rachel, or Kale Katenou. She was the mother of Selim's successor. Hubbi Hatun, a famous poet of the sixteenth century, was a lady-in-waiting to him. Selim II gained the throne after palace intrigue and fraternal dispute, succeeding as sultan on 7 September 1566.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article on him remarks that he was "the first sultan devoid of military virtues and willing to abandon all power to his ministers, provided he were left free to pursue his orgies and debauches." Selim's Grand Vizier, Mehmed Sokollu, a native of what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, controlled much of state affairs, two years after Selim's accession succeeded in concluding at Constantinople a treaty with the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian II, whereby the Emperor agreed to pay an annual "present" of 30,000 ducats and granted the Ottomans authority in Moldavia and Walachia. Against Russia Selim was less fortunate. A plan had been prepared in Constantinople for uniting the Volga and Don by a canal in order to counter Russian expansion toward the Ottomans' northern frontier. In the summer of 1569 a large force of Janissaries and cavalry were sent to lay siege to Astrakhan and begin the canal works, while an Ottoman fleet besieged Azov. However, a sortie from the Astrakhan garrison drove back the besiegers.
A Russian relief army of 15,000 attacked and scattered the workmen and the Tatar force sent for their protection. The Ottoman fleet was destroyed by a storm. Early in 1570 the ambassadors of Ivan IV of Russia concluded at Constantinople a treaty that restored friendly relations between the Sultan and the Tsar. Expeditions in the Hejaz and Yemen were more successful, but the conquest of Cyprus in 1571, led to the naval defeat against Spain and Italian states in the Battle of Lepanto in the same year; the Empire's shattered fleets were soon restored, the Ottomans maintained control of the eastern Mediterranean. In August 1574, months before Selim's death, the Ottomans regained control of Tunis from Spain, which had captured it in 1572. Selim is known for giving back to Mahidevran Sultan her status and her wealth, contrasted with his father's decision, he built the tomb of his eldest brother, Şehzade Mustafa, executed in 1553. Selim's first and only wife, Nurbanu Sultan, was a Venetian, the mother of his successor Murad III and three of his daughters.
As a Haseki Sultan she received 1,000 aspers a day, while lower-ranking concubines who were the mothers of princes received 40 aspers a day. Selim bestowed upon Nurbanu 110,000 ducats as a dowry, surpassing the 100,000 ducats that his father bestowed upon Hürrem Sultan. According to a privy purse register cited by Leslie Pierce, Selim had four other women, each of them was mother of a prince. Augusta Hamilton records. ConsortsNurbanu Sultan, mother of Murad III. SonsSelim had eight sons: son of Nurbanu Sultan. DaughtersSelim had at five daughters: Ismihan Sultan, daughter with Nurbanu, married firstly in 1562 to Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, married secondly in 1584 to Kalaylıkoz Ali Pasha.
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged and quartered was from 1352 a statutory penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reign of King Henry III. A convicted traitor was fastened to a hurdle, or wooden panel, drawn by horse to the place of execution, where he was hanged, disembowelled and quartered; the traitor's remains were displayed in prominent places across the country, such as London Bridge. For reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were instead burned at the stake; the severity of the sentence was measured against the seriousness of the crime. As an attack on the monarch's authority, high treason was considered a deplorable act demanding the most extreme form of punishment. Although some convicts had their sentences modified and suffered a less ignominious end, over a period of several hundred years many men found guilty of high treason were subjected to the law's ultimate sanction, they included many English Catholic priests executed during the Elizabethan era, several of the regicides involved in the 1649 execution of Charles I.
Although the Act of Parliament defining high treason remains on the United Kingdom's statute books, during a long period of 19th-century legal reform the sentence of hanging and quartering was changed to drawing, hanging until dead, posthumous beheading and quartering, before being abolished in England in 1870. The death penalty for treason was abolished in 1998. During the High Middle Ages those in England guilty of treason were punished in a variety of ways, including drawing and hanging. In the 13th century other, more brutal penalties were introduced, such as disembowelling, burning and quartering; the 13th-century English chronicler Matthew Paris described how in 1238 "a certain man at arms, a man of some education" attempted to kill King Henry III. His account records in gruesome detail how the would-be assassin was executed: "dragged asunder beheaded, his body divided into three parts, he was sent by William de Marisco, an outlaw who some years earlier had killed a man under royal protection before fleeing to Lundy Island.
De Marisco was captured in 1242 and on Henry's order dragged from Westminster to the Tower of London to be executed. There he was hanged from a gibbet until dead, his corpse was disembowelled, his entrails burned, his body quartered and the parts distributed to cities across the country. The punishment is more recorded during Edward I's reign; the Welsh Prince Dafydd ap Gruffydd became the first nobleman in England and Wales to be hanged and quartered after he turned against the king and proclaimed himself Prince of Wales and Lord of Snowdon. Dafydd's rebellion infuriated Edward so much. Therefore, following his capture and trial in 1283, for his betrayal he was drawn by horse to his place of execution. For killing English nobles he was hanged alive. For killing those nobles at Easter he was eviscerated and his entrails burned. For conspiring to kill the king in various parts of the realm, his body was quartered and the parts sent across the country. A similar fate was suffered by the Scottish leader Sir William Wallace.
Captured and tried in 1305, he was forced to wear a crown of laurel leaves and was drawn to Smithfield, where he was hanged and beheaded. His entrails were burned and his corpse quartered, his head was set on London Bridge and the quarters sent to Newcastle, Berwick and Perth. These and other executions, such as those of Andrew Harclay, 1st Earl of Carlisle, Hugh Despenser the Younger, which each occurred during King Edward II's reign, happened when acts of treason in England, their punishments, were not defined in common law. Treason was based on an allegiance to the sovereign from all subjects aged 14 or over and it remained for the king and his judges to determine whether that allegiance had been broken. Edward III's justices had offered somewhat over-zealous interpretations of what activities constituted treason, "calling felonies treasons and afforcing indictments by talk of accroachment of the royal power", prompting parliamentary demands to clarify the law. Edward therefore introduced the Treason Act 1351.
It was enacted at a time in English history when a monarch's right to rule was indisputable and was therefore written principally to protect the throne and sovereign. The new law offered a narrower definition of treason than had existed before and split the old feudal offence into two classes. Petty treason referred to the killing of a master by his servant, a husband by his wife, or a prelate by his clergyman. Men guilty of petty treason were hanged, whereas women were burned. High treason was the most egregious offence. Attempts to undermine the king's authority were viewed with as much seriousness as if the accused had attacked him which itself would be an assault on his status as sovereign and a direct threat to his right to govern; as this might undermine the state, retribution was considered an absolute necessity and the crime deserving of the ultimate punishment. The practical difference between the two offences therefore was in the consequence of being convicted; the Act declared that a person ha
Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–1573)
The Fourth Ottoman–Venetian War known as the War of Cyprus was fought between 1570 and 1573. It was waged between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice, the latter joined by the Holy League, a coalition of Christian states formed under the auspices of the Pope, which included Spain, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights Hospitaller, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, other Italian states; the war, the pre-eminent episode of Sultan Selim II's reign, began with the Ottoman invasion of the Venetian-held island of Cyprus. The capital Nicosia and several other towns fell to the superior Ottoman army, leaving only Famagusta in Venetian hands. Christian reinforcements were delayed, Famagusta fell in August 1571 after a siege of 11 months. Two months at the Battle of Lepanto, the united Christian fleet destroyed the Ottoman fleet, but was unable to take advantage of this victory; the Ottomans rebuilt their naval forces and Venice was forced to negotiate a separate peace, ceding Cyprus to the Ottomans and paying a tribute of 300,000 ducats.
The large and wealthy island of Cyprus had been under Venetian rule since 1489. Together with Crete, it was one of the major overseas possessions of the Republic, with a population estimated at 160,000 in the mid-16th century. Aside from its location, which allowed the control of the Levantine trade, the island possessed a profitable production of cotton and sugar. To safeguard their most distant colony, the Venetians paid an annual tribute of 8,000 ducats to the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt, after their conquest by the Ottomans in 1517, the agreement was renewed with the Ottoman Porte; the island's strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean, between the Ottoman heartland of Anatolia and the newly acquired provinces of the Levant and Egypt, made it a tempting target for future Ottoman expansion. In addition, the protection offered by the local Venetian authorities to corsairs who harassed Ottoman shipping, including Muslim pilgrims to Mecca, rankled with the Ottoman leadership. After concluding a prolonged war in Hungary with the Habsburgs in 1568, the Ottomans were free to turn their attention to Cyprus.
Sultan Selim II had made the conquest of the island his first priority before his accession in 1566, relegating Ottoman aid to the Morisco Revolt against Spain and attacks against Portuguese activities in the Indian Ocean to a secondary priority. Not for a ruler nicknamed "the Sot", popular legend ascribed this determination to his love of Cypriot wines, but the major political instigator of the conflict, according to contemporary reports, was Joseph Nasi, a Portuguese Jew who had become the Sultan's close friend, and, named to the post of Duke of Naxos upon Selim's accession. Nasi harboured resentment towards Venice and hoped for his own nomination as King of Cyprus after its conquest—he had a crown and a royal banner made to that effect. Despite the existing peace treaty with Venice, renewed as as 1567, the opposition of a peace party around Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, the war party at the Ottoman court prevailed. A favourable juridical opinion by the Sheikh ul-Islam was secured, which declared that the breach of the treaty was justified since Cyprus was a "former land of Islam" and had to be retaken.
Money for the campaign was raised by the confiscation and resale of monasteries and churches of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Sultan's old tutor, Lala Mustafa Pasha, was appointed as commander of the expedition's land forces. Müezzinzade Ali Pasha was appointed as Kapudan Pasha. On the Venetian side, Ottoman intentions had been clear and an attack against Cyprus had been anticipated for some time. A war scare had broken out in 1564–1565, when the Ottomans sailed for Malta, unease mounted again in late 1567 and early 1568, as the scale of the Ottoman naval build-up became apparent; the Venetian authorities were further alarmed when the Ottoman fleet visited Cyprus in September 1568 with Nasi in tow, ostensibly for a goodwill visit, but in reality in a not concealed attempt to spy out the island's defences. The defences of Cyprus, Crete and other Venetian possessions were upgraded in the 1560s, employing the services of the noted military engineer Sforza Pallavicini, their garrisons were increased, attempts were made to make the isolated holdings of Crete and Cyprus more self-sufficient by the construction of foundries and gunpowder mills.
However, it was recognized that Cyprus could not hold for long unaided. Its exposed and isolated location so far from Venice, surrounded by Ottoman territory, put it "in the wolf's mouth" as one contemporary historian wrote. In the event, lack of supplies and gunpowder would play a critical role in the fall of the Venetian forts to the Ottomans. Venice could not rely on help from the major Christian power of the Mediterranean, Habsburg Spain, embroiled in the suppression of the Dutch Revolt and domestically against the Moriscos. Another problem for Venice was the attitude of the island's population; the harsh treatment and oppressive taxation of the local Orthodox Greek population by the Catholic Venetians had caused great resentment, so that their sympathies lay with the Ottomans. By early 1570, the Ottoman preparations and the warnings sent by the Venetian bailo at Constantinople, Marco Antonio Barbaro, had convinced the Signoria that war was imminent. Reinforcements and money were sent post-haste to Cyprus.
In March 1570, an Ottoman envoy was sent to Venice, bearing an ultimatum that demande