The siege of the city had lasted nearly a year. 100.000 Ottoman soldiers kept the city of Famagusta (Cyprus*) one year under fire. On the other side 4.000 Venetian soldiers and about 3.000 civilians had searched for shelter in the city.**
50.000 dead (amongst the Ottomans) later, on the 2nd August 1571, Famagusta and Venice had surrendered in the light of the Ottoman superiority and the hopeless situation.
Lala Mustafa Pascha, the general of the Ottoman fleet, wanted to know the brave Venetian commander who had resisted for such a long time: He received Marcantonio Bragadin and his comrades-in-arms with pomp and splendour in his tent and praised them. But suddenly the mood of the pascha changed, just like a storm that suddenly rises on the sea: Till today we don’t know the reason (Maybe the long siege that hat reduced his honour in front of his sultan or the superciliousness of Bragadin?).
„Where are my brothers that you took as prisoners?“, asked Lala Mustafa Pascha with a menacing voice.
„Some are still here, others are in Venice“, answered Bragadin.
Lala Mustafa didn’t believe him. He accused Bragadin that the prisoners had been killed instead, became even angrier and started to let his rage out on the Venetian prisoners.
He cut off Marcantonio Bragadins ears before throwing him into prison, two of Bragadins comrades-in-arms were decapitated before his eyes and the soldiers of Lala Mustafa entered the city to sack and plunder it.
On the 17th August 1571 started the dreadful ordeal of Marcantonio Bragadin that eclipses even the cruelty of Ramsay Bolton (Hello Game of Thrones fans!): Without entering into detail, Marcantonio was forced to empty and fill a hole with earth under the burning sun, then he was attached to a wooden board and hoisted like a flag on one of the ships before being flayed alive and drawing his last breath. This should not be his last ordeal: Even though he was already dead, his skin was filled with hay to create a doll of Marcantonio. This doll was then set on a cow (or donkey) and brought through the streets of Famagusta: The last walk of Marcantonio Bragadin.
The last walk of Marcantonio
Nearly the last: This horrible „war trophy“ of Lala Mustafa was brought to the Arsenal in Constantinople until a Venetian merchant was able to steal it and to bring Marcantonio’s skin to Venice in 1580 where it lies still today: In the church of San Giovanni e Paolo.
*Cyprus was part of Venice
**we don’t know the exact numbers today