Battle of Lepanto

Article

August 14, 2022

The Battle of Lepanto was fought on October 7, 1571 by the united Christian fleet with the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Ionian Sea, in the Gulf of Patras, which is part of today's Greece. The fortified coastal port of Lepanto, from which the battle takes its name, is several nautical miles west of the site of the engagement. Roughly 600 ships took part in the battle, seventy percent of all the galleys in the Mediterranean, and 140,000 people - soldiers, sailors, free or slave oarsmen. After the unsuccessful Turkish siege of Malta in 1565, the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman I expanded towards the northwest and attacked Hungary. The old ruler died during the siege of Szigetvár. The Turks retreated, and the peace of Drinapole concluded in 1568 ensured peace along the Danube. The new Sultan, II. Sélim decided to continue his conquest in the Mediterranean. Here, the Turks had a huge advantage, since the Catholic states were struggling with their internal problems, primarily with the Reformation, and did not want to unite their forces against the Muslims. The strongest supporter of united action was Pope Pius V, who since 1566 encouraged the Christian powers to launch a new crusade against the Ottoman Empire. Suspicious of each other due to their conflicting interests, Spain and the Republic of Venice only allied in 1570, after the Turks captured the fertile possession of the Venetians, Cyprus. On May 25, 1571, the Holy League was born. In the agreement, Venice, Spain and the Papal States undertook to launch a campaign against the Turks with a joint military force. The Christian fleet gathered in the Gulf of Messina in the summer of 1571. The more than two hundred galleys were equipped by Venice, the Papal States, the King of Spain, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Order of St. Stephen of Tuscany, and the Order of Malta. Half of the costs II. It was supported by King Philip of Spain, who thus gained considerable weight in the selection of the commander-in-chief. His half-brother, Don Juan de Austria, was appointed head of the fleet, and the papal admiral Marcantonio Colonna became his deputy. The fleet of the Holy League reached the Greek coast in October, where II. Sélim's fleet of about three hundred units was stationed. The commander of the army was Müezzinzade Ali Pasha. In the Christian army the Venetians and the Spaniards debated at length as to what plan of war they should pursue; in the end, the Venetians' proposal urging an immediate attack was accepted. The Turks also debated much whether to wait for the Holy League to attack, or whether to sail out of their well-protected bay and go to meet the Christians. Finally, they too decided to attack. The two fleets consisted of four units each: main force, two wings and reserves. The Turks had more ships and men, but the Christians' artillery was much stronger. Ali Pasha therefore left few ships in reserve and instead strengthened the center. At the beginning of the battle, the Turks achieved results on their right wing led by Csuluk Mehmed, but in the end they were defeated. On their left wing, Pasha Ulucs Ali broke up Giovanni Andrea Doria's unit with an arm-of-the-arm operation and broke in between the Christian ships. He inflicted heavy losses on the Maltese, Sicilian and Venetian galleys, but eventually had to flee from Christian reinforcements. The battle was decided between the main forces, where the two flagships, La Real and Sultana, clashed. The Christians managed to repulse the attack of the Turks and captured Ali Pasha's ship. This caused confusion among the Turks, many began to flee. Roughly eight thousand of the Christians lost their lives in the battle; it fell