Suleiman's decisions came back to haunt him, starting with the Knights of Malta (once Rhodes). He tried to kick them off their island again, but failed. He launched a new campaign to take Vienna and prove the might of his empire. But he was so old...
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A messenger disrupted Suleiman in his reverie. He brought news from Malta...
Suleiman had outlived both his friends and his rivals. Charles V had passed, but his throne had passed to a son who proved just as vexing. An ardent Catholic, Philip II set his ships to harass Ottoman fleets in the Mediterranean and emboldened others to dispute Suleiman's mastery of the sea. The Knights of Malta, whom Suleiman had defeated at Rhodes and allowed to leave peacefully, once again gave safe habor to these Christian ships. Suleiman sent a force to take their island, but his commanders argued with each other and Christian Europe united against him in a way that it could not when he'd been a younger man. The Knights Hospitallier withdrew into their forts. His army struggled for three weeks to take just one of them, and although they succeeded, Suleiman's commander died and the Christian reinforcements had time to join the remaining two forts. At last, faced with yet another fleet of reinforcements, Suleiman's commanders decided to withdraw.
Back in his garden, Suleiman knew that this defeat would destroy the invincible image of his empire. He resolved to prove that the Turks were still a force to be feared, and organized a campaign to take Vienna. He would lead them himself. They left in 1566 with great fanfare, but they were immediately greeted by torrential rains that slowed their advance and cost them materiel. Suleiman spent the whole trip confined to a carriage, and when they finally arrived to siege Szeged, he had to retreat a sickbed in his tent. He died while the battle still raged outside, never to know his empire's fate.
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