What was the Battle of Pallene (1344)?

Introduction

The Battle of Pallene occurred in 1344 between the fleets of a Latin Christian league and Turkish raiders, at the Pallene Peninsula in northern Greece.

Part of the Smyrniote Crusades, 1343-1351.

The Battle

The battle is known through the chronicle of the Paduan jurist Guglielmo Cortusi, and the history of the Byzantine emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (r. 1347-1354). Cortusi supplies the date, Ascension Day (13 May 1344), and records that the Christians destroyed 52 Turkish vessels. According to Kantakouzenos, the Christian fleet numbered 24 galleys, and it forced the Turks to abandon their ships, 60 in number, at an inlet called Longos on the Pallene Peninsula. The Christians then proceeded to burn the abandoned Turkish vessels.

The identity of the Christian fleet is not revealed by the sources, but since on 25 July, Pope Clement VI congratulated the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller, Helion de Villeneuve, for his contributions to the crusade organized by the papal legate Henry of Asti, the fleet was probably the same as that organized for the Smyrniote crusade, comprising four vessels each from the Pope and the King of Cyprus, six Hospitaller vessels, with the remainder probably made up by Venetian ships, which had assembled at Negroponte in November 1343.

Aftermath and Legacy

The Crusader fleet then went on to capture the port and lower city of Smyrna on 28 October, but the citadel remained in the hands of the Aydinid Turks. The Aydinid ruler, Umur Bey, in turn besieged the Crusaders, and in a surprise attack on 17 January managed to kill the Crusader leaders. Nevertheless, albeit with great difficulty and being constantly harassed by the Turks, Smyrna remained in Latin hands until it was captured by Tamerlane in 1402.

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