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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

October 7th, 1571 - The Battle of Lepanto

Conflict: Ottoman-Venetian Wars

Combatants: Holy League vs. Turks

Location: Greece

Outcome: Holy League victory

When Ottoman Turks attacked the island of Cyprus in 1571, Pope Pius V and Phillip II of Spain agreed to send support to the Venetians against the Ottoman Empire. Although Cyprus fell to the Turks on August 3rd, John of Austria (a.k.a. Don Juan), the commander of the League fleet, pursued his Turkish counterpart. On October 7th, the two great fleets clashed off the coast of Greece. The galleys rammed one another and launched boarding parties in a massive melee. The Turkish commander, Ali Pasha, was killed in the battle and Turks lost 25,000 men killed. The League suffered 7,500 killed but rescued nearly 15,000 Christian slaves from the Ottoman galleys.

Battle of Lepanto, 1571 by Andrea Vicentino

Points of Interest:

  • The Turks were never again able to dominate the Mediterranean after this defeat.

  • Lepanto was the last major naval battle fought with oar-driven vessels.

John of Austria (Don Juan) in armour by Alonso Sánchez Coello

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