Untitled Essay Research Paper By Mike DielmanIntroductionDuring

Untitled Essay, Research Paper By: Mike Dielman Introduction During a morning of blazing heat of the first July 1571 shouting of joy everywhere in Barcelona could be heard. 47 galleys were about to weigh the

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

By: Mike Dielman


During a morning of blazing heat of the first July 1571 shouting of joy

everywhere in Barcelona could be heard. 47 galleys were about to weigh the

anchor in the port. The leading ship was the “Reale” and the supreme-commander

Juan d `Austria went on board. It was not his intention to inspect the fleet

but to make himself familiar with the ship. The “Reale” build in the shipyards

of Barcelona was kept in the colors of Don Juan: Red and Gold. The ship was

heavily decorated with splendid ornamentation which made it an impressive

flagship. At the quays people were congratulating the young prince of 23

years on leading one of the most important naval enterprises in European


A beautiful day- but it ended with a humiliation for the hero. At the time

Don Juan returned to his domicile in the evening he found a letter of Philipp

II who was his royal half-brother. He prohibited him to carry the title of

sublimity because this status only should belong to one excellency. This

was also a rude reminder of his illegitimate origin. ( Jean Descola, Meilensteine

der Geschichte, 1990, Verlag Hersching)

2.The Supreme Commander


illegitimate son of the Holy Roman emperor Charles V and half brother of

King Philip II of Spain . Removed from his mother, a bourgeois daughter,

at an early age, he was brought up in concealment in Spain. After the death

of Charles V, Philip II of Spain recognized him as his half brother, provided

him with a substantial household, and gave him the name Don Juan de

Austria (1559). Though it was hoped that he would enter the church, the handsome

and spirited Don Juan expressed a desire to embark on a military career,

and Philip acceded to his

wishes. In the summer of 1568 Don Juan had his first brief experience in

warfare, fighting Moorish pirates in the Mediterranean, and he was then appointed

in March 1569 commander in chief of Spanish forces attempting to subdue the

rebellious Moors, or Christians of Moorish ancestry, in Granada. Philip then

appointed him in 1571 to head the naval forces of the Holy League of Spain,

Venice, and the pope against the Ottoman Turks in the eastern

Mediterranean.(Britannica Online ,1999, www.eb.co.uk:180)

Even though he left his mark in history as the winner of Lepanto, he surely

was not the only actor on the scene. Many others have played its part before,

during and after the battle, whose prologue began in Venice.


The only city which still could make independent politics remained Venice

which governed itself with changing luck since the 9th century. The story

of Venice could be compared to a trader epic. The streets of Venice were

shimmering of silk and scents of spices waving through the markets. The venetian

traders were the inventors of a solid trading ship and dominated the im-

and export business. Over centuries as a main supplier for products from

the east and ruler of a sea-empire it was partially only possible by force

of arms. The Venetian maritime territory reached over Istria the coast of

Dalmatia, the Ionic isles and Crete. In the 15th century Venice decided not

only to expand on sea but also on land.

The Venetian victory over Genoa took place under the threat of Turkish advance

in the East. The Venetian had to negotiate a state of neutrality with the

Turks and find another economic base to compensate for the smaller yield

now to be expected from trade with the East. So they turned to the Italian

mainland, first to rid themselves of neighboring lordships and then to defend

and exploit the rich lands they had acquired. Later Venice received from

the Turkish sultan in Istanbul the trade monopoly in the osmanic empire and

annexed 1489 the isle of Cyprus which has been a center of Christian, Latin

culture and major trading place since the conqueration of the crusaders.

Since this year Venice ruled over the whole east Mediterranean Sea through

and sent ambassadors to all European courts which its political fame increased.

( Jean Descola, Meilensteine der Geschichte, 1990, Verlag Hersching)

It can be said that Venetian policy in the 16th century was dictated by the

need to keep intact its political, economic, and territorial heritage against

the advance of the Turks on the one side and the pressure of the great western

European powers on the other. This need supplied the reason for Venice’s

intervention in the Italian crisis of the emperor Charles V; for its struggle

against the Turks, from the defeat of Préveza in 1538 to the victory

of Lepanto and the loss of Cyprus in 1571; and for its tenacious resistance

to pressure from the pope.

(Britannica Online ,1999, www.eb.co.uk:180)

4.Philipp II

In the year of the battle of Lepanto PilippII came to the high point of his

power and Spain to highest fame. Even though he might not have inherited

the hegemony in Europe

which his father Karl V has conquered but lost again, so he didn`t recognize

his country as a part of the Holy Roman Empire but as self-dependent power.

The Netherlands, Mexico and Peru belonged to him. At the same time he ruled

over Naples and Sicily which gave him quite a big influence in Italy. ( Jean

Descola, Meilensteine der Geschichte, 1990, Verlag Hersching)

5.Political Situation in Turkey

In Turkey the place of Suleiman I was taken by his son Selim II, byname SARI

(”THE BLOND”), Ottoman sultan from 1566, whose reign saw peace in Europe

and Asia and the rise of the Ottomans to dominance in the Mediterranean but

marked the beginning of the decline in the power of the sultans. He was unable

to impose his authority over the Janissaries and was overruled by the women

of his harem. Selim, the son of Süleyman I the Magnificent, came to

the throne in the wake of palace intrigues and bitter civil strife with his


He was more inclined to a life of pleasure than to the difficult task of

governing, and he entrusted the affairs of state to his able grand vizier

(chief minister) and son-in-law, Mehmed Sokollu.

6.The Ultimatum

The fact that Cyprus was occupied by Christians bothered the ruler of Turkey

because it was an obstacle for Turkish shipping. He send an Ultimatum to

Venice and requested them to clear the island. If they wouldn`t do it voluntarily

he threatened them with war. In Venice this request was considered to be

outrageous, impudent and rejected the claim with reference to the peace agreement

made years before. In July 1570 turkey lead a squadron to attack Cyprus which

commenced hostilities.

How did Spain react? While Venice was only interested to keep its territorial

property under control, Philip II intended to conquer the coast lines of

North-Africa. Despite Spain and

Venice were not well-disposed, mistrusted each other and had followed different

principles, the occasion was enough to form a community of common interests

against the Islamic world.

To make it a military pact a moral justification was needed which should

be announced by a neutral and unquestioned party. Pope Pius V whose original

name was ANTONIO GHISLIERI, Italian ascetic, reformer, and relentless persecutor

of heretics, whose papacy (1566-72) marked one of the most austere periods

in Roman Catholic church history.

During his reign, the Inquisition was successful in eliminating Protestantism

in Italy, and the decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-63) were put into


Pope Pius V gave them the induce . He increased the value of a possible war

as crusade against the infidels. The zealot Philip II and Venice founded

the Holy League.

7.The Holy League

The Holy League- the contract between Spain and Venice- approved by the pope

contained a declaration of war to the Os manic Empire as well as to the

“Barbary”-States of North-Africa, Algeria, Tunis, Tripoli. The contract contained

the regulations for the military stake as well as agreements From splitting

the costs. The campaign was guided by three commanders, one venetian, one

Spanish and a substitute of the papal court.

The holy father’s emphasized wish was to make Juan d`Austria the supreme


as ” Dux Generalis”. ( Jean Descola, Meilensteine der Geschichte, 1990, Verlag


8.The Preparations

At the 20 of May 1571 the alliance was put into action and two month later

the galleys consisting out of two groups of 11 and 37 ships left the harbor.

They headed to Genoa and then further to Messina on Sicily which was the

melting pot for the squadrons.

Don John of Austria met his fleet off Messina and saw that he had 300 ships,

great and small, under his command. The Pope himself had outfitted twelve

galleys and the depth of his war chest had paid for many more. Don John’s

eye must have gazed with pride on the 80 galleys and 22 other ships that

had been provided by his half-brother Philip II of Spain. Each of these Spanish

galleys held a hundred soldiers on top of the 50-200 rowers who propelled

the ship through the water and no less than 30,000 men in the service of

Spain would fight at Lepanto. The next largest contingent was that of Venice.

No longer the dominating power of yesteryear the Venetian could still assemble

a fleet of more than a hundred vessels beneath the winged Lion of St. Mark

standard. The Venetian ships were poorly manned, however, and the necessity

of stationing Spanish soldiers on Venetian ships led to friction and in some

cases blows. It was the Venetian, however, who provided the technological

cutting edge that was to win the battle. In the Venetian fleet were six

galleasses. Broader in the beam than regular galleys and with a deeper draught

they were so difficult to maneuver that they had to be towed into battle

by speedier vessels. Despite their lethargy of movement, they were the most

powerful ships in the Mediterranean. Their broad beam and deeper draught

gave them a stability as a gun platform hitherto unknown. On their prow was

constructed a kind of walled platform mounted with swivel guns that presaged

the armored turrets of later battleships by almost 300 years. The sides and

the stern of the galleass were also heavily armed and a wooden deck protected

the rowers. On its bow there was a long point that could effectively crush

any smaller vessel that was unfortunate enough to be in the galleass’ way.

A total of 80,000 men manned the ships of the Holy League. Of these 50,000

toiled at the oars and the remaining 30,000 were soldiers. On September 17th

1571, Don John moved his fleet eastwards and at Corfu they heard that the

Turks had recently landed and terrorized the Christian population. They then

moved on and as they lay anchored off the coast of Cephalonia, bad news reached

them. Famagusta, the last Christian stronghold on Cyprus had fallen to the

Turks. The news enraged the men of Don John’s fleet and stiffened the resolve

of the commanders to engage the Muslims as quickly as possible. There was

one other piece of disturbing news: the Turkish fleet under the command of

Ali Pasha had been reinforced by a Calabrian fisherman turned Moslem and

corsair. His name was Uluch Ali and he was now the Bey of Algiers, that notorious

nest of the Moslem corsairs feared by all Christian ships plying their trade

in the Mediterranean. Don John moved his force towards the anchorage of Lepanto

where he knew the Turks to be waiting and during the night of October 6th,

with a favorable wind behind him, Ali Pasha moved his fleet westward toward

the mouth of the Gulf of Patras and theapproaching ships of them Holy League.

(Alex`s Military History Homepage, 1999,


9.The Batlle

The action that was to follow was the biggest naval engagement anywhere on

the globe since the Battle of Actium in 30 B.C. at which Octavian and Antonius

once fought for the survival of the Roman Empire. And the tactics had changed

little since then. Both commanders hoped to rapidly come to grips with their

enemy, board them and let the soldiers fight it out to the end. The only

major difference was that in 1571 the ships carried guns and those on the

galleasses in particular would have a crucial effect. When the Turkish fleet

was sighted Don John split his force into three sections. On the right of

the Christian line he

placed the Venetian under Barbarrigo, on the left Andrea Doria leading the

Genoese and papal galleys. The center he took for himself. In reserve was

Santa Cruz with a force of 35 Spanish and Venetian ships. He also ordered

the iron rams to be removed from his ships as he knew that gunfire and close

quarter fighting would be of more use than attempts to ram. Two galleasses

were towed into position in front of each Christian division. The Turks,

initially arrayed in a giant crescent-shaped formation, quickly separated

into three sections also.

The centre, under Ali Pasha, pushed forward and the action opened when the

cannon of

Don John’s two center galleasses began to do great execution among Ali

Pasha’s advancing ships. The engagement had lasted for more than four hours

and when the smoke finally cleared it became apparent that this was a major

victory for the Holy League and a bitter defeat for the Turk. Almost 8,000

of the men who had sailed with Don

John were dead and another 16,000 wounded. On the brighter side 12,000 Christian

galley slaves had been released from their servitude to the Ottomans. The

Turks and Uluch Ali’s

Algerines had suffered more grievously: 25,000 of them had been killed. (Alex`s

Military History


10.The Outcome

Even though the victory was evident and spectacular it should be mentioned

that not all of the Turkish fleet was destroyed. The Algerian Uludsch Ali

managed to escape with a group of 40 ships. And one of his fellows put the

victory as following: They only cropped the Sultan`s beard.” Indeed, how

fast they would recover could be seen in the Turkish shipyards. Still the

7th of October was a memorable date but in its effects changing and quite

different for everyone.

Venice felt the liberation of the Turkish threat directly. It could keep

ist political independence but lost its dominating position in trade. In

the year after the battle the driven out ships from Levante stopped running

into the ports of the north. In a medium-term it supported the expansion

of England`s trade with the osmanic empire. Ten years after the battle, British

trade fleets crossed regularly the Mediterranean Sea under its flag of the

Levante Company, to trade with the Turks.

With regard to Spain it could be said they were freed from the Turkish threat

for a long term and the feared engagement of the French and Turkish fleet

was made impossible due to the battle.

Despite all assumptions Philipp II was not upset with the break-up of the

Holy League. He may have wanted to save Venice from the Turkish threat but

the victory was not supposed to be so devastating for the Turks. This way

some balance could be reached and prevented to make Venice politically too

strong for Philipp’s plans. He hoped to incorporate his Italian properties

into his empire at a later time. Furthermore, his worry was not be involved

into the Holy League too much but at the end the Spanish finances were exhausted

and loans from Genuese Banks were a burden on its treasury. In his zeal to

fight the infidels and being convenient for its finances he confiscated the

property of Jews and Moors driven out of Spain at these times. ( Jean Descola,

Meilensteine der Geschichte, 1990, Verlag Hersching)

The strategic effects of this great victory were negligible, but its moral

effects were

immense. It confirmed the Spaniards in their chosen role as champions of

Christendom and explains much of their continued willingness to support their

king’s religious and imperial policies, even in the face of ruinous costs

and mounting disasters. After Lepanto, however, it

became clear that the stalemate in the Mediterranean could not be broken.

Although the Ottoman navy was destroyed by the fleet of the Holy League at

the Battle of Lepanto (1571), it was able to rebuild and regain naval mastery

in the eastern Mediterranean through the rest of the 16th and most of the

17th century, taking Tunis from the Spanish Habsburgs (1574), Fez from the

Portuguese (1578), and Crete from Venice (1669). In

consequence, as long as Europe continued to fear the Ottomans, no one tried

to upset the precarious peace treaties concluded in Süleyman’s later

years, and the Ottomans were shielded from their own weakness for quite some

time. (Britannica Online ,1999, www.eb.co.uk:180)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Supreme Commander

3. Venice

4. The Political Situation in Turkey

5. Philipp II

6. The Ultimatum

7. The Holy League

8. The Preparations

9. The Battle

10. The Outcome