Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lepanto: 7 October 1571

At the Battle of Lepanto off the west coast of Greece, the Holy League – a combined effort of papal, Spanish, Venetian, and Genoese fleets under Don John of Austria – gained victory over the Turkish fleet on this day in 1571.

The forces
The Turkish fleet had about 200 galleys and four dozen small ships with 32,000 soldiers, 50,000 sailors and oarsmen, and 750 guns.

The Christian fleet had slightly fewer vessels, 23,000 soldiers, 40,000 sailors and oarsmen, and 1,300 guns.

The outcome
Fighting commenced at dawn and lasted five hours.

Fifteen Turkish ships were sunk and 177 taken, 20,000-30,000 men disabled, and 12,000-15,000 Christian rowers -- slaves on the Turkish galleys -- were delivered.

The crusaders lost 17 ships and 7,500 men.

The Christian victory was significant: the Ottomans had not lost a major naval
battle since the 15th century, and the engagement deprived them of control of the Mediterranean
Sea; it reversed what had been centuries of unstoppable Moslem raids along Europe’s southern shores. Christians of the west grew in confidence that the Turks, previously unstoppable, could be beaten.

The Holy League immediately credited the outcome to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the day of the battle, Pope St. Pius V saw the victory in a vision.

Today David Warren has a nice write-up of the event.

The Battle of Lepanto

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