As I'm reading the history of the Western Mediterranean about this period, I found many references to a truce between the Ottomans and Habsburg Spain in 1580.

For example, Wikipedia - Habsburg Spain:

Philip lacked the resources to fight both the Netherlands and the Ottoman Empire at the same time, and the stalemate in the Mediterranean continued until Spain agreed to a truce in 1580.

Ottoman Algeria

After Spain had sent an embassy to Constantinople in 1578 to negotiate a truce, leading to a formal peace in August 1580, the Regency of Algiers was a formal Ottoman territory, rather than just a military base in the war against Spain

Looking at this box, it seems that the truce was observed. There is no major engagement in the Mediterannean until 1613, despite a lot of battles listed before 1580. Coincidentally, at this time the Ottomans were busy with Persia and Spain with the Dutch and England, so this truce must have been convenient for them.

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However I can't find any details about this truce. Is there a formal name for it? At what level was it agreed, e.g. was it agreed between the monarchs? What are the terms of the truce, were there any territorial exchange or delineation? Are there other arrangement (e.g. payments, promise to support or not support other powers)? And how long did it eventually last?

  • Apropos, Philip was half-hearted about fighting the Turks even before 1580 for the obvious reasons, he was busy against his other enemies). In fact, Lepanto was fought and won in contravention of his express secret order to Don Juan not to engage in major fighting. Jan 28, 2016 at 14:59

3 Answers 3


As noted in Alan G. Jamieson's Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs

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and confirmed here the truce of 1580 simply called an end to the fighting between the Spanish and Ottoman Empires that never resumed. There were never any official peace talks, and so no formal agreement on territorial concessions was ever negotiated.

The Ottomans were first occupied with a war against Persia (Iran) and then with an attempt from 1593-1606 to capture Vienna from the Austrians .

Philip II in turn became preoccupied with his attempt to subdue both the Dutch Republic and England that consumed hos attentions for the remainder of his reign.

This effective abandonment of the Western and Central Mediterranean by the navies of both Spain and the Ottoman Empire, combined with the gradual decline of both Venice and Genoa, led to the rise of the Barbary states, and their associated piracy. This would continue into the 19th century when the combined efforts of British, French and United States military forces subdued them.

  • What does the first Google Books link say? (for some reason the content unaccessible to me) The second link does not explain much, it just said that the confrontation ended with a truce. Who agreed to the truce, how was it formalized and what were the terms?
    – user69715
    Jan 27, 2016 at 7:47
  • Well done mate. This is an awesome answer Jan 28, 2016 at 16:24
  • Regarding your last paragraph, 1) I don't think that barbarian piracy has existed past the 18th century 2) Do you really think United States Navy was present in the Mediterrean sea in the 19th century ? Jun 29, 2022 at 22:27
  • 1
    @JeanMarieBecker: Google "shores of Tripoli" - as in "From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" in the USMC hymn. The barbary states took particular advantage of U.S. shipping following 1783 until Jefferson in 1805, and Madison again in 1815, authorized expeditions to punish the Barbary states and extract promises to end their preying on American shipping. Jun 29, 2022 at 23:17

Spain was fighting on two fronts. On one hand, the Netherlands wanted independence from Spain. And on the other hand, the Ottoman empire was unstoppable in Eastern Europe. Christianity was divided in two and the Ottomans were advancing.

In the end, it was decided that the Spanish navy was to join with Italian states navy against the Ottoman navy. The Spanish tercios would be concentrated mainly in the Netherlands and in a minor way against Ottomans. Most of Spanish/Habsburg kings were fed up with the Christian countries because they didn't join with them; they were concentrating on attacking Spain rather than joining forces.

The cost of fighting on two fronts was high. Normally, for both empires to make peace.

Not to say that the Netherlands was Spanish by heritage. Most of Spaniards and tercios were so fed up with fighting there because no matter how many battles the tercios won, the dutch continue fighting. "Was a hell with no-end but the head of Spanish government was stubborn to control it". That never-ending war provoked even internal rebellions in Spain.


Empires of the sea by Roger Crowley: 'In 1580, Philips signed a peace treaty with the sultan... Based on Andrew Hess, The Battle of Lepanto Oxford 1972

  • 3
    I'm not sure how this answers the question (i.e. did the truce have a formal name?)
    – Steve Bird
    May 11, 2017 at 16:58

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