By SHAWN STEEL, CA National Committeeman, RNC
October 7, 2016 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org – The Battle of Lepanto was one of history’s largest and most crucial naval battles because it represented the beginning of the end of the Islamic expansionist threat to Europe which had been an ugly fact of life since the late 7th century, led at the time by Umayyad Caliphate and subsequent to the conquest of Northern Africa.
The conflict took place nearly 450 years ago today - October 7, 1571 – and involved a fleet amassed by the Christian princes of Europe operating under a charter called the Christian Holy League [a broad coalition of Continental powers, including Italian city states] and led by the Holy See of Rome, Pope Pius V.
Despite being a numerically inferior force, the Christian navy - led by Spanish admiral Don Juan of Austria – effectively destroyed the entire Ottoman’s massive fleet. The engagement took place along the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, just off western Greece. The Islamic forces sailed westwards from their naval station at Lepanto whereupon it met the Holy Christian Coalition defending the Italian peninsula.
Since the victory of the Christian Holy League prevented the Ottoman Islamic Empire from expanding further along the European side of the Mediterranean – it is not over stating the case to say that this victory saved Western Civilization.
Lepanto was the last major naval battle in the Mediterranean fought entirely between galleys and has been assigned great symbolic and historical importance as one of the world’s most important naval battles.
Before the Battle of Lepanto, Christian cities had been under relentless attack by Muslim jihadists triggering alarm throughout Italy and Europe. The long term strategy of the Islamists was to employ a pincer attack by which they hoped to conquer Italy, seize Rome, destroy the Catholic Church and then pick off the remaining countries. That effort ultimately failed because Christianity was still a living faith in Europe at the time, which kept the Continent cohesive, culturally confident and fearless in the face of one of the world’s most savage and merciless war machines.
For example, on 1 August 1571, a large Christian army surrendered after being reassured that it could leave Cyprus freely. However, the Ottoman commander, Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha, who had lost some 50,000 men in the siege, broke his word, imprisoning the Christians. In a display of the Muslim’s typical brutally, on the 17 August, the Christian commander Bragadin was flayed alive and his corpse hung on Mustafa's galley together with the heads of the Venetian commanders, Astorre Baglioni, Alvise Martinengo and Gianantonio Querini.
Thus, the fears of Europe's Christians were more than justified, the reason why we today celebrate the Battle of Lepanto which destroyed the existential threat posed by the Ottomans, who were, much like ISIS today, an engine of ritualistic barbarity.
Historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote a classic account of this battle in his monumental Carnage and Culture, an excellent read.
©2016 Shawn Steel. Mr. Steel is the Republican National Committeeman from California. He is a past Chairman of the California Republican Party and the Founding Director of the California chapter of the influential pro-taxpayer group, the Club for Growth. He maintains a web presence at SteelZone.org. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.