Copyright 2011, Seniram Publishing, Glenside, Pennsylvania.
The Muslims had come close to eliminating Christianity in the Suxteenth Century and were preparing to totally dominate Europe. Countless thousands of Christians had been transformed into slaves of the Muslims and the Muslims anticipatted an effortless victory over the Christian fleet at the Battle of Lepanto. If you have any doubts about the intent of the Islamic terrorists to rule the world, by reading the Battle of Lepanto, you will be reminded how important it is to have an understanding of the historical events to ensure that they do not reoccur.The spectacular Battle of Lepanto is still celebrated by the Catholic Church during October. In conjunction, at the time of the battle, there were few Protestants because Martin Luther had only recently broken away from the Catholic Church. Similarly, during the Crusades, no Protestants participated because there w
1571 – Malta – Greece- The Battle of Lepanto– The Knights of Malta (formerly Knights of St. John Hospitalers) and the Ottoman Turks have continued at odds since the Knights had fortified Rhodes during the latter part of the Thirteenth Century. Now the two antagonists again face each other, but this time, the Knights have at their side a mighty Christian Armada led by Don John of Austria. The Fleet transporting the “Holy League” is composed of nearly three hundred Vessels and carries more than 75,000 men, and of these, nearly 50,000 are aboard to row, leaving a fighting force of about twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand men.
The Fleet is composed of Vessels supplied by various Christian states including, Genoa, Spain Venice. And the Pope, Pius V, supplies a Flotilla, as Christianity intends to strike a heavy blow against the Turks. Pope Pius V, had informed Don John that if he were to leave behind all troops known to be leading “evil” lives, that victory would be assured. Don John arrives at Messina in Sicily where the Fleet awaits him. During September, Don John leads his impressive Armada from the harbor of Messina in Sicily to engage the Ottoman Turks. While pausing at Corfu, in the Ionian Sea near Albania and Greece’s mainland, they receive grave news.
The Turks had been there and inflicted great fear into the people. Soon after, the Fleet departs in search of the Turks suspected to be at Lepanto in the Lepanto Strait. The Armada speeds to Cephalonia (Keffalinia) in Greece and again receives anguishing news. Don John is informed that the Turks have stormed Cyprus and spared not a single defender. The Turks overwhelm the defenders bludgeon the troops and slaughter the survivors. The devastating information infuriates the Christian assault force and brings about cries of vengeance.
The troops aboard the Vessels press for a speedy departure to bring them within striking distance of the Turkish Fleet. In addition to the news of the massacre at Cyprus, the troops are informed that the Turk’s have been reinforced by the Bey of Algiers, Uluch Ali, of Calabria who converted to Islam. With this addition, Ali Pasha’s Armada numbers are nearly identical to those of the Christians. And the Turks are enormously more familiar with the sea where the clash is about to take place. The Christians embark from Cephalonia en route to strike and on the evening of October 6th, the Turkish Fleet sails from Lepanto to intercept the encroaching Armada in the Gulf of Patras.
The Turks observe John Don’s Fleet divide and form its lines into three distinct sectors with a fourth formation to the rear as reserve. At about this point, the Turks collapse their half-moon formation and follow suit, splintering into an attacking trio. Both opposing Commanders hold the middle of thier respective lines as the vanguard, with their flanks covered by the others. The Christian left is maintained by the Genoese, and the Galleys supplied by Pope St. Pius V. It is commanded by Andrea Doria and the Christian right is commanded by the Venetian Barbarrigo, who is hampered because his Venetians are lacking sufficient Sailors to properly maintain the Vessels. To supplement his deficiency, Spaniards are aboard, but this situation is volatile as there is mutual contempt among the mixed crews. The rear is held by Santa Cruz and a contingent of about twenty-five to thirty Spanish and Venetian Warships.
As the opposing Sea Chariots converge, the Turks, their Warships manned by Christian rowers (slaves) boldly push from the center, unaware that Don John had instructed his force to hold their fire until the moment that the Turks are close enough to ensure that their blood will splatter upon the Christians. Meanwhile the impetuous Turks thrust forward directly into the sights of the Christian Gunners, At the prescribed moment, the bellowing Cannon spew their deadly fire upon the advancing Crescent Standards of the Turks. More than five of the Turkish Vessels plummet to the depths, but the attack is maintained.
The Crescent continues to press against the Cross, maneuvering to begin to board the Ship in the center and collapse the line. In the meantime, the Turks, under the Calabrian, Uluch Ali, strikes against the Genoese under Andrea Doria Turks, following the tactics of Sirocco who strikes the contingent of Venetians under Barbarrigo, each awaiting the opportunity to board the Christian Vessels to liquidate the Soldiers and capture the rowers as slaves.
The fighting on the flanks initially favors the Turks; however, the Christians hold fast and their Crossbow Marksmen take a high toll on the Turks who are at close-quarters. Nevertheless, the Turks more skilled in these particular waters inflict severe punishment. Both Barbarrigo and Andrea Doria become encircled. Soon after, an arrow from a Turkish Marksman strikes and kills Barbarrigo. Shortly thereafter the Turks board and capture his Vessel, but the Christians regain it only to lose it again.
The ongoing slug-fest also continues in the center of the line as Ali Pasha continues to pour fire upon Don John’s center. The Turks move in closer and prepare to board, but they are soon introduced to the Spanish Infantry who bludgeon the Turks and repeatedly drive them from the Vessels. Undaunted, the Turks continue to hammer the Don John’s center, confident of eventual victory. But still, the Spanish Infantry and the Archers forestall any boarding by the bold Turks. In addition, the Turkish contingent under Sirocco, unable to encircle the Genoese, had noticed a gap in the Christian lines. He zooms through and bangs the rear of the center line, lambastes several of the Vessels, and boards and captures the Capitana (Flagship of the Knights of Malta), taking it as a fine prize.
Suddenly, the tables turn and the Christians take the offensive as Don Jon orders his troops to seize the Flagship of Ali Pasha. Suddenly the Spanish swing from the sails and bolt from the deck to crash upon the Turkish Flagship.
The Turks, forced to defend, deliver punishing blows to the Christians and drive them back, but similarly to the Turks, the Christians are also known for their valor and perseverance. They doggedly initiate another boarding attack and again are prevented from conquest. The decks are full of dead and wounded, and amidst the shrill sounds of the weaponry, the desperate cries of the wounded echo in and around the combatants.
Relentlessly, the Turks and the Christians bludgeon each other but neither can proclaim victory until the Christians mount a third attack. The relentless lightning-quick assaults had not only drawn blood, but royal blood! Ali Pasha had become wounded, a minor item, except that the Christians capture him and eliminate the need for first aid. They immediately decapitate him. In the meantime, a Sailor ascends to the mainmast and relieves it of the Turkish battle flag.
To underscore their seizure and convince the Turks that they had indeed been the initial captors of a Turkish battle-flag, the Christians raise the head of Ali Pasha which is implanted on a staff and swirled about for all to see. The Turks who had been attempting to crack the center of Don John’s line become obviously disillusioned and initiate a retreat.
All the while, the sea-duel had also been continuing on the flanks, but here too the momentum had swung to the Christians. Barbarrigo’s Flagship, seized after he had been felled, is retaken by the Christians. They pummel Siroco’s Flagship. Soon after, Sirocco is plucked from the water, but spared only temporarily. He is immediately decapitated. The final line of the Turks, commanded by Uluch Ali, had attempted escape, but the Warships under Santa Cruz had observed the action when Ali succeeded in gaining the Capitana and gave chase.
Rather than risk imminent personal disaster, Ali abandons the Capitana and speeds from the area, leaving his contingent to continue the fight. By this time, Don John, having brought the center under control, hurries to support Andrea Doria’s beleaguered Vessels. The remaining Turkish Warships are engaged and driven back bringing complete victory to the Christian Fleet and immense relief and happiness in Europe, particularly to the families of the Christian slaves that had been held by the Turks.
The four-hour bloodbath in the sea is expensive for both sides; however, for the Christian Warriors, it accomplished more than a military victory. These men had finally dispelled the lingering mystique of the invincibility of the Turks and injected a new confidence in the Christian nations. The Cross had mastered the Crescent and inexplicitly, both had shown their propensity to show no mercy or quarter to the other.
The Christians lose more than 5,000 dead and more than 15,000 wounded. They also rescue more than 10,000 men who had been held as slaves (rowers). The Christians lose less than twenty Ships. Turkish losses are approximately 20,000-25,000, and their Fleet is decimated, either by destruction or capture. More than 150 of their Vessels are seized and slightly less than twenty are sunk. In conjunction, in another example of the mutual ill-feelings between the Christians and the Turks, the Christians who capture the Turks at this Naval Battle transform their captives into slaves for the Christian Ships.
Malta becomes a primary location for the slave-markets and remains such until the Eighteenth Century. The Knights of Malta maintain many slaves for their own Vessels. In conjunction, it is reported that on the day of the battle at Lepanto, Pope Pius V, while conferring with some Cardinals, glanced out his window and soon after, declares: “A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian Army.” Later, news arrived that the Christians had won, just as the Pope had so stated. In conjunction, it is reported that by praying the Rosary, the Christians had attained victory. The defeat of the Turkish armada at Lepanto forces the Muslims to abort the invasion of Eastern Europe.