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H. J. A. Sire speculates in The Knights of Malta (p71) that the Spanish fleet would quickly move and retake the island, had the siege been successful. The same claim is made - in passing - in Tim Willocks' historical novel, The Religion. If the siege had been successful, the Spaniards would appear as liberators, and if their counterattack succeeded, the strategically positioned island would have been theirs (as the Knights Hospitaller would have been purged in the siege).

The claim is supported by the fact that the bulk of Don Garcia's relief force only arrived in the island a day before the four-month-long siege ended, and only after it became obvious that the Turks wouldn't succeed in conquering the island.

Do we know of a concrete plan for retaking the island? Were there any actual preparations? I'd appreciate answers supported by contemporary or near-contemporary Spanish sources.

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    All I can say is that Roger Crowley's excellent book amazon.com/Empires-Sea-Battle-Lepanto-Contest/dp/0812977645 mentions no such plan. It's an argument from silence, of course, I know... – Felix Goldberg Oct 13 '13 at 17:59
  • I find it unlikely. Given that the Spanish with their Mediterranean possessions were among the main victims of Muslim piracy and slave raids, delaying help just to retake the small inland for themselves looks stupid. The Spanish themselves have given the island to the Knights when they lost Cyprus, and the Spanish were among the main beneficiaries of the Knight's labors. A Med. with no Knights would just mean more trouble for the Spanish. – Luiz Jun 9 at 22:05
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The question is interesting: the journey between Spain and Malta would have been very fast compared to the time needed to prepare a fleet and the land forces.

I do not have specific sources acknowledging a plan was made by the Spanish, however some extrapolation could be made from similar events:

During the attack on England, the Spanish fleet did not have problematic of land forces: they were supposed to be taken in the Low Lands. But the Spanish still needed a lot of logistic and combat ships. Against the Ottoman Empire in Malta, the same would have been needed, like for the raid on Algiers in 1541: one month of preparation is considered as very short.

Considering the land opposition, the army should have been also well prepared: after all, the tercios that went in rescue of Malta had chance to oppose only 9 000 Turkish soldiers.

According to wikipedia, Philippe 2 said he would give rescue to the Maltese.

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