Battle of Lepanto of 1571
, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, of which the Venetian Empire and the Spanish Empire were the main powers, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras, where Ottoman forces sailing westward from their naval station in Lepanto met the fleet of the Holy League sailing east from Messina, Sicily. The Holy League was a coalition of European Catholic maritime states arranged by Pope Pius V and led by Adm. John of Austria, as agreed between Philip II of Spain—who largely financed the League—and the Venetian Republic (main contributor of ships).
In the history of naval warfare, Lepanto marks the last major engagement in the Western world to be fought entirely, or almost entirely, between rowing vessels, the galleys and galeasses that were still the direct descendants of the ancient trireme warships. The battle was in essence an “infantry battle on floating platforms”. It was the largest naval battle in Western history since classical antiquity, involving more than 400 warships.
The victory of the Holy League is of great importance in the history of Europe and of the Ottoman Empire, marking the turning-point of Ottoman military expansion into the Mediterranean. More on The Battle of Lepanto
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