Clash Of Steel And Wills: The Story Of The Battle Of Lepanto

The climax of European military effort in the Mediterranean, and one of the most awe-inspiring naval engagements ever fought, was the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.  A rickety, unlikely alliance of Christian states, cobbled together by Pope Pius V and held fast by the leadership of Don Juan of Austria, somehow managed to devastate the fleet, and humble the pride, of the invincible Ottoman Turks.  Sadly, the story has faded into obscurity.  It will be my purpose here to restore the tale to its proper rank in the annals of naval heroism and inspired genius.  To place the battle in its proper perspective, we will first review the antecedent background.


The Ottoman Empire in the 16th century was a superpower in every sense of the word.  The fall of Constantinople in 1453 had sent shock waves through the Christian West that made thrones and popes tremble.  But Western Europe, relatively weak and disorganized, could mount little effective resistance.  The Turks rolled right through the Balkans and North Africa, and began to wrest control of eastern Mediterranean shipping from the control of Venice, which had long enjoyed a monopoly on maritime trade in the region.  The Ottoman sultans had made no secret of their desire to bring all of Christian Europe under the banner of Islam; and to see the crescent banner fly from the spires of the Vatican was not only hinted at, but announced as inevitable.


The extent of the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century

The Turks could back up such bellicose aspirations.  Their military was powerful and organized:  the feared Janissaries  alone numbered over fifty thousand men, all of them disciplined professionals.  To this number the sultans could draw on their vast empire for additional conscripts, slaves, and volunteers.  By comparison, Europe after 1520 found itself ensnared in the turbulence and fratricide of the Protestant Reformation, too distracted and disunited to mount an effective challenge to Ottoman might.

The eastern Mediterranean, especially the island of Cyprus, harbored many trading and naval outposts of Venice, which had been an integral part of her maritime and commercial power since the Middle Ages.  But Venice was tired and in decline; her ports on the Ottoman doorstep were weak and undefended; and the Turks were confident and strong.  The sultans’ conclusions were obvious.  In 1570 the Turks sent a force of over sixty thousand men to assault Cyprus.  The Venetian colony of Nicosia fell in 1570 after a siege of forty five days; twenty thousand inhabitants were slain by the Turks in the aftermath.  Famagusta was attacked in 1571.  The city resisted heroically for over a year, but in the end it surrendered after receiving assurances from the Turks that the defenders would be given safe passage home.

The irate Turkish commander, Lala Mustafa, broke his word.  He had the Venetian captives reduced to slavery or imprisonment.  Marcantonio Bragadino, the city’s head defender, was flayed alive in a gruesome act of revenge for the city’s protracted resistance, which had cost the sultan about 50,000 men.  Bragadino’s preserved skin, stuffed with straw, was sent to Constantinople for the amusement of the sultan.  Venice, roused to fury by this and other atrocities, sent frantic appeals to Pope Pius V and to the other powerful states of Europe for help.

The Diplomatic Situation

We should take note here of the posture and intentions of the major powers.  Philip II of Spain led the most powerful state in Latin Christendom.  He was engaged in his own intermittent wars against the Moslems of North Africa, who had appealed to the Ottoman sultan for help.  By general consent, the Spanish had the most disciplined, experienced, and best-led army in Europe.  They were also zealous defenders of Catholicism, and their character—a passionate type, bearing much similarity to that of the Arabs, who had occupied Spain for six centuries and stamped their imprint on the Spanish bloodline and culture—was stoked with religious fervor and martial zeal.  This was the era of Spanish glory and power.  Having conquered the New World for the banner of Christ, and having expelled the last of the Moslem infidels from Spain in 1492, they had the ability and resources to confront the might of the Turks.

The French and English, fearful of Spanish influence, were wary of participating in any enterprise that might enhance Spanish prestige.  France even sought the friendship of the Ottoman sultan as an insurance policy against Spain.  Even Venice, although she desperately needed aid, was fearful of bringing Spanish power into the eastern Mediterranean.  The diplomatic abilities and deep pockets of Pope Pius V overcame all these difficulties, however, and managed to keep a delicate balance of trust between the allies.  In 1571, he formed what came to be called the “Holy League”, a coalition between Spain, the Papal States, Venice and Genoa, and the Knights of Malta.


Location and order of battle at Lepanto

The squabbling Italian city states were finally roused to unity to confront the Turkish threat.  Aware that a Turkish fleet in 1566 had threatened the papal fortress of Ancona on the Adriatic Sea, a number of Italian principalities (Genoa, Savoy, Florence, Parma, Lucca, Ferrara, and Urbino) contributed to the effort of raising a fleet.  The Spanish crown contributed the most men, money, and ships.  A papal legate appointed Don Juan of Austria commander at a ceremony in Naples.  Capuchin monks and Jesuit priests were also attached to the expedition.  It was a different age from our own.  In those days, even clerics took up the sword, and fought and died alongside soldiers in battle, with an ardor befitting their station.

Soldiers and sailors received the Eucharist on September 16, 1571, and the fleet sailed from Messina, heading for the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea.  The expedition was imbued with a passionate desire for revenge against the Turks for the deliberate cruelties that had accompanied the fall of Cyprus, and this militancy helped to overcome the national differences among the Holy League members.

As the Christian armada moved into the Gulf of Corinth, the Ottoman fleet was sighted, and Don Juan gave the order for his fleet to form in a battle line.  The Turkish commander had received orders from the sultan to engage the enemy, and so prepared his forces for combat.  The composition of the belligerents was as follows:  on the Turkish side, there were 222 galleys, 60 smaller ships, about 750  cannon, 34,000 soldiers, 13,000 sailors, and 41,000 oarsmen (almost all of them Christian slaves or convicts).  On the Holy League side, there were 207 galleys, 6 Venetian galleasses (a Venetian invention which was a heavily-armed merchant galley converted for military use), 30 smaller ships, 1,800 cannon, 30,000 soldiers, 12,900 sailors, and 43,000 oarsmen.  Besides their aggressive spirit, the Christian side possessed several advantages:  (1) the Spanish infantrymen who composed the bulk of the Holy League forces were probably the best in Europe, and (2) the cannon and gunnery of Don Juan’s fleet was superior to what the Turks could bring to bear in the engagement.


All out combat at Lepanto

The two massive fleets, one bearing the standard of the crucified Christ, and the other bearing the name of Allah embroidered in gold, made initial contact.  All along the line of battle, cries arose from the Holy League forces of “Vittoria! Vittoria! Viva Christo!”  The left wing of the battle line, under the Venetians, advanced steadily, and the superior gunnery and ammunition of the Spanish and Italians made steady progress in reducing some of the sultan’s ships to charred splinters.  And it was at this point that an act of singular courage and daring helped to tip the scales for a Christian victory.

Don Juan ordered his flagship to steer directly toward the Ottoman flagship, commanded by Muezzinzade Ali Pasha.  His plan was to decapitate the Ottoman force by killing or capturing its leader.  Naval combat in those days required opposing ships to throw out grappling hooks, and for one side to board the other, after which hand-to-hand combat would follow with cutlass, dagger, and pistol.  And this is what happened when Don Juan’s flagship collided in the blood-churned sea with the Turkish admiral’s galleon.


An artist’s rendering of the fleets before the engagement

Amid the smoke, confusion, and fury of battle, Don Juan gave the order to board Ali Pasha’s vessel, named the Sultana.  Three hundred Spanish veterans leapt aboard the enemy ship, their way led by a fearless Capuchin monk bearing nothing but a tunic and a crucifix; and the Sultana’s deck ran red with blood and gore as the steel of battle-axes and cutlasses bit into the flesh of the combatants.  The crash of metal upon metal reached a crescendo as the fighting see-sawed from one end of the ship to the other; and all around, as the galleons in the battle-line rolled and rocked, the screams of the fallen mixed with the acrid stench of gunpowder to add fear and confusion to the desperate fight.

Ottoman Janissaries, the cream of the sultan’s army, fought hand-to-hand with the Spanish tercios.  The Spanish were repulsed several times, but kept coming back.  It was an incredible sight, transcendent in its awesome carnage and merciless fury.  This was the spirit that won the New World for Spain.  Miguel de Cervantes (who would later achieve immortality for his authorship of the novel Don Quixote) was a participant in the battle, and was wounded during it.  He later described it as “the most memorable occasion that either past or present ages have beheld, and which perhaps the future will never parallel.”

The Ottoman flagship was overwhelmed by the fury of the Spaniards.  Admiral Pasha Ali was slain and decapitated by a Spanish soldier, and his head raised aloft on his own flagstaff.  At this sight, the morale of the Turks cracked, and their ships began to fall back under the steady pounding by Don Juan’s gunners all along the line.  When the smoke finally cleared hours later, over 10,000 Turks were taken prisoner and 8,000 slain; 117 ships were captured and 50 destroyed.  On the Holy League side, 7,500 men were killed, 12 galleys were sunk, and about 12,000 Christian slaves (acting as Ottoman oarsmen) were freed.

It was a devastating victory, a supreme achievement of Italian and Spanish arms, never to be equaled since.


The Spanish in action: this was their moment of glory

As with many decisive military victories, the victors were too exhausted or shocked to follow up their triumph with a pursuit of the enemy.  It seems likely that, with the bulk of the Turkish fleet destroyed, a punitive expedition to Constantinople might have met with some success.  But it was not to be.  The victorious powers divided up the spoils of battle in proportion to their contribution to the expedition, and sailed home to universal acclaim in Europe.

In Venice and the rest of Catholic Europe, the celebrations were ecstatic.  Church bells rang all over Catholic Europe. Men embraced each other in the street; artists immortalized the battle by painting picture after picture; and the Venetian doge was hailed as a hero.  Rome was convulsed in joy, and Pius V nearly canonized Don Juan for his feats as admiral.  He implored European leaders to assemble a military force for further attacks on the Ottomans, and tried to goad Persian and Arab leaders to launch their own strikes on the Turks.  Nothing came of these efforts.  Philip II of Spain was embroiled in his own struggles in the New World and in the Netherlands, France was secretly allied with the Turks in order to check Spanish power, and Venice had few friends outside of Italy.  Pius V was praised and respected, but ignored.  When he died in 1572, the concept of a second Holy League coalition was shelved.


It can be argued that Lepanto changed little in the equations of power in Europe.  The Ottoman grand vizier, Mehmed Sokullu, remarked to a Venetian diplomat that Lepanto had done no permanent damage to Turkish power.  Within six months after its defeat, the Ottoman Empire, showing great determination and skill, had rebuilt its fleet along Venetian models, incorporating lessons in tactics and gunnery learned at Lepanto.  Venice continued to decline.  The Ottomans raided Sicily and southern Italy soon after.  By 1683 the Turks were in the heart of Europe, laying siege to Vienna.

But these facts ignore the central importance of Lepanto in destroying the myth of Ottoman invincibility.  It was a psychological triumph of the first order.  Once and for all, it was proven that the Turks did not have a monopoly on bravery and military skill.  Although Turkish power continued to expand (of its own inertia) for a time after Lepanto, it is now clear that the battle provided a critical morale boost to harassed European Christendom.  As the Europeans continued to innovate in military tactics, technology, and artistry, the Turks grew complacent and torpid.  After 1580, the Ottoman fleet was allowed to deteriorate through neglect and ineptitude; from that point, the Ottomans were a decisive force on land only.

Few feats in naval history can compare with Don Juan’s bold gamble in launching a direct assault on the Ottoman flagship and killing his rival commander.  In war, as in the struggle of life itself, boldness and decision count for more than a hundred debates and discussions.  This was an inspired move that took audacity and consummate skill, and it was the turning point in the Battle of Lepanto.

Pre-battle plans and stratagems are always easy to come by.  Every commander has a plan; every historian has an explanation; and every losing general has an excuse.  But in war, as in life, the plan goes out the window once the first shot is fired.  In the end, discipline, brute strength, endurance, and tenacity matter more than delicate artistry.  As the outcome of Lepanto hung in the balance, on the blood-stained deck of the Sultana, the Spanish infantry came face-to-face with the Janissaries.  And the issue was decided—as all such military clashes are decided–only by brute force, courage, steel, and fury.

Read More:  The Humiliation Of A Great Empire

150 thoughts on “Clash Of Steel And Wills: The Story Of The Battle Of Lepanto”

  1. Pope St. Pius V ordered all Catholics to pray the rosary and ask the Blessed Virgin to grant Christendom victory. According to eyewitness reports, on the day of the battle the pope was in a meeting with some members of the Curia. The pope stopped in mid sentence and looked out the window toward the sea. He came back and said the meeting was adjourned, and to go offer prayers of thanksgiving to God for their great victory. A few days later Rome received word of Don Juan’s triumph.
    The pope declared that the day of the battle, October 7, would henceforth be known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. Today it’s known as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, but the Church still remembers Don Juan and the pope who took the fight to the Turks. Thank you for this Quintus.

    1. Yes. Pius V was a great organizer and diplomat and managed to put together an unlikely alliance.
      It was an awe-inspiring victory, the high water mark of European resistance to Islamic aggression.
      I can’t help but notice how far the Spanish have fallen from their old days of glory.
      Instead of getting tattoos, endorsing gay marriage, and weakening themselves with multi-cultural excesses, Spanish youth should be reading about what their ancestors did here.

      1. This is not restricted to the Spanish, but extends to all of the men of the West. We all come from heroic traditions, great battles, fantastic conquests, great warriors and discoveries. And now, we sit in basements, sexless, playing video games, fearful of our own shadows. Without a context of their own history to fall back on and ponder, they know nothing else. It’s no mistake that elementary and high schools teach little to nothing about our great cultures, focusing instead on “injustices!” and “the achievements of minorities and women” instead.
        Fantastic article Quintus, your style was quite inspired, and inspiring.

        1. Most readers of ROK are probably of European ancestry. A great many of our cultural and martial triumphs took place under the aegis of Christendom. Pope St. Pius V and Don Juan did what they did for Christ and the Church. All Christian churches have been brought low alongside us. They’re often on the front lines of enforcing feminism, liberalism, and the blue pill mentality. We’ve gone from “Vittoria! Viva Cristo!” to “Who am I to judge?”

        2. It is not just the men of the West who have ingested this poison, for it has made its way to the men of the East, who had either willingly or not, become members of the Body of Christ.
          They have ingested that everything from the West is bad and this means even their own religion, which they speak well about from their lips but which they hate in their hearts.
          Vatican II perhaps, not though intended, may have become the greatest disaster the Catholic Church inflicted on itself.
          It tore itself from the hermeneutic of continuity, that the Bride of Christ, had proudly asserted as its badge of honour.
          And now even the Vicar of Christ boldly mocks that heritage and anyone choosing to go back to the period before Vatican II.
          I do not believe the Bride will be destroyed for She has been given that promise from Her Bridegroom, that even the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her.
          But She will be humbled for Pride always comes before the fall.

        3. “We’ve gone from “Vittoria! Viva Cristo!” to “Who am I to judge?”
          Couldn’t have said it better myself!

        4. Terrific comments, here and throughout, following up a magnificent piece. QC has become a living legend, RoK is on a roll, and this is the only site on the whole damn internet I pay attention to the comments section — there’s always something worthwhile said here. Tip of the hat, gents.

        5. Great article & thank you Quintus. I think of how great it is to visit Spain and this just explains it all, amazing people in the midst of a dry spell currently! They’re having an epic Spring Fair in Rota right now for four days…

      2. Just as Machiavelli saw in Moses a great orator and political leader.
        QC, will you be writing an article on Xenophon or Livy?

        1. QC…great article. The Spanish were badass. Their tercios aka infantry were legendary and feared throughout Europe. Check out the author Arturo Revez Reverte and his Captain Alatriste series. Capt Alatriste was a veteran of Lepanto who becomes a sell sword and ward for his best friend’s young son. Great historical fiction of Spain at it’s zenith of power…

      3. The 1565 battle when the Ottamans laid siege to Malta was also an incredible story…. The only part of the story I remember is a knight fighting from a chair because he was so wounded…he was alone in a turret in the middle of the harbor, but the Knights of Maltas fort held in the end.

        1. Because of the storm, metereological hidden knowledge in those times thanks to the (fake)satanic jews.

        2. I was going to comment this. I remember reading about how one severely wounded Knight held a breach in the wall by himself for hours. Many stories like that from that siege.
          The Turks were turned back many times, but kept coming. The 2nd Siege of Vienna was the high water mark, where the largest heavy cavalry charge in history (led by the Polish, who marched for days on end without stopping to get there in time) smashed the Turkish army (~240K dead). This inspired the big battle scene in The Lord of the Rings where the Gondor cavalry charge saves the day.
          I read about one siege of a castle in Croatia in that campaign, 3,000 Croatians against 150K Turks who bombarded the castle into rubble over a month, with daily assaults. All the Croatians were killed in the end, but the Turks lost over 50K men. Those were real men.

        3. Sailing against England is a crap shoot. The Spanish who landed at Kinsale were hammered into oblivion once they landed. It’s bad news to try an amphibious invasion at the best of times.

        4. But it was worst when english tried at Spain and latin america lands with fewer resources XD ever heard of Maria Pita or Blas de Lezo? at least Spain defended christianity the english led the satanists start they church there, they sold they souls to the devil to be a world power.

      4. What the hell does gay marriage have to do with anything? Are right wingers stupid, with no understanding of cause and effect?
        The problem is no fault divorce, not fags getting married.

        1. “Fags getting married” and having the “right” to indoctrinate your children in your practices is not a cause but a symptom of decay just as no fault divorce is a sign of rot, had our grandfathers not been so corrupt such things would not have come to pass. Someone here needs Reading comprehension.

      5. “It was an awe-inspiring victory, the high water mark of European resistance to Islamic aggression.”
        It’s almost like, back then empires tried to, you know, EXPAND. Not “Islamic” aggression. Remember Spanish biutchering the Aztecs and the Inca?

        1. Wrong, aside from smallpox, the Spanish were able to find PLENTY of support from natives who hated the far, far more bloodthirsty Aztecs. Inca history under Pizarro I do not know as well.

  2. Great stuff QC military history has always been a passion of mine but with uni and work I’m not able to pick up the old copy of ‘On War’ and the like as much as I would like too but its always great reading one of these wee articles every now and then, keep it up much thanks.

  3. Good article but the term Turkish should be replaced by Ottoman. The Kemalist revolution invented modern Turkey by an explicit break with the Ottoman empire – ethnic homogeneity versus multi-ethnicity.

    1. No, the Ottoman Empire was called “Turkey” for centuries, because it was founded by Turks.

        1. Actually, Turkey is still multi-ethnic, with large numbers of Kurds, Caucasians, and other groups. It’s just that it’s a multi-ethnic Muslim state. Muslims are encouraged to assimilate and identify as Turks, and non-Muslims are squeezed out (they’re now down to well below 1% of the population).

      1. Question: how much was the ethnicity of Anatolia changed by the Turkish invasion? Was Anatolia primarily Greek before this?

        1. During the Middle Ages, (and likely earlier), Anatolia (the heart of the Byzantine Empire) began to see increasing mass immigration from central Asian (i.e., Turkic) tribes. The Seljuk Turks were the most powerful of these, and were later followed by the Ottoman (Osmani) Turks.
          They displaced the Greeks and other ethnicities that had been living in Anatolia (Asia Minor) since ancient times.
          The Turks are relatively new arrivals to the Middle East’s ethnic landscape.

        2. So the Byzantines were dealing with a hostile population before the arrival of the Turks?

        3. Yes, basically.
          On all sides, Byzantium was facing encroachments on its territories and consistent losses during the Middle Ages. It’s one long tale of woe. Avars, Bulgars, Hungarians, and Slavs took over the Balkans; Seljuk Turks gradually infiltrated into Asia Minor; and on the southern front, the Arabs after the coming of Islam (7th century) took away Syria, Palestine, and Egypt.
          And to add final insult to injury, the Venetians sacked Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. The miracle of Byzantium is how it survived for so long.

        4. Well, yeah. Byzantine control of central Anatolia was lost to the Turks in the years following the defeat at Manzikert in 1071. On a side note, the emperor deployed many of my Swedish Viking ancestors there, in the shape of Varangian Guardsmen and mercenaries. Still, we lost the battle.
          Nevertheless, the Turkish conquest of Anatolia was important in leading to what eventually turned into the First Crusade, defeating the Turks and taking back Jerusalem from the infidel.

        5. Most Admirals were Greek. The Janisarries were Greek, Serb, Ukrainian, Albanian, Macedonian. Lepanto in all fairness was a Spanish v Greek or Iberian v Balkan battle.

        6. By the time of Manzikert the Varangians were often refugee English. Most of the surviving nobles after 1066 fucked off to Constantiople into the Imperial bodyguard.

        7. It just required Columbus to open up the geography for Constantinople to slip.
          Even the Ottomans seem to have been somewhat of a continuation of Imperial policy. There is a lot of continuity and even blood ties between the older imperial families and the chaps who sacked the city in the 1400s. The Sultans wound up with Polish bloodlines via one marriage.

        8. It was still the center of power well into the 1660s. By then it had a different title but the continuity of the power of the city is unmistakeable.

        9. So that’s why Roosh have a mediterranean body shape with mediterranean mixed skin color with semitic-mongolian face features?

    2. In spanish documents of the era, they always are refered as “El Turco” (the Turkish). We called all the other muslims “Moros” (Moors)

    3. The usage of Ottoman actually only denotes a dynasty change among the Turks. Before the 14th century the same Turks were known as the Seljuqs.

      1. Not really. The House of Osman did not inherit power from the Seljuks. They started off as small-time noble lords in a little speck of Anatolia, and had to conquer quite a few other Turkish domains on their way to hegemony.

  4. Lepanto was also the end of an era. It was the last real battle with oar-driven ships. The Armada of 1588 heralded the new age of naval warfare dominated by ships lining up and just shooting at each other, with boarding minimal. These tactics more or less remained unchanged until the advent of the aircraft carrier.
    “In war, as in the struggle of life itself, boldness and decision count for more than a hundred debates and discussions.”
    Yes. The Duke of Marlborough’s Blenheim campaign of 1704 always comes to mind. Hell I’d like to write an article about that for ROK soon. The 310th anniversary of the battle is coming up shortly.

    1. The difference between Lepanto and the Armada was not one of technological progress, but one of different naval technology used for different conditions. Galleys are ill-suited for open seas operations due to being worse at withstanding extreme weather, and due to having to be constantly resupplied to feed their large crews of oarsmen.
      Ship types aside, Lepanto and the Armada were not that different. In both cases, the Spanish fleet followed a doctrine of direct assault, of firing a single volley with heavy carronades followed by boarding. They were, in both cases, opposed by much faster, more agile ships capable of skirmishing and outmaneuvering their enemy. In the case of the Ottomans it was intentional, in the case of England it was an incidental consequence of working with what you have, which was an ad hoc fleet of pirate ships and commandeered merchant ships.
      Difference was, inept Ottoman commanders let the Spanish the battle they wanted on their terms, while Francis Drake who was an expert raider was not so obliging.

  5. Excellent, excellent article! I just have to disagree with the asessment that Lepanto was “the supreme achievement of Spanish arms”. For me, Hernán Cortés’s conquest of the Aztec Empire gets that distinction: he landed with a handful of men on wholly unknown territory, burned his ships so there could be no turning back, and conquered a country larger in territory and population than most European states of that age, surviving incredible odds (“La Noche Triste”). In case someone thinks superior technology made it an easy task, Cortés had no cannon, few muskets, and fewer horses; the conquest was made by sword and lance. I would enjoy seeing you take on Cortés, Mr. Curtius!

    1. This is a good point. The New World conquistadores are in a class all by themselves. One could just as easily say that the conquests of Mexico and Peru were greater.
      But as a technical matter, Cortes was acting outside the authority conferred on him by the Spanish Crown. Like Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, he was pretty much on his own program. That’s why I suppose we can technically say that Lepanto was an official achievement of imperial Spain. I also think that the psychological victory over an invincible Islamic enemy had more of a “morale” effect on Spain than smashing the Aztecs.
      But you make a valid point, and your view has many adherents. I don’t pretend to have the last word on this question.

    2. Cortes was greatly aided by its political and military alliances with the peoples of the Anahuac Antiplane, who greatly hated the Aztecs, and the -if not the fist- recorded use of biological warfare: smallpox, against which the peolpe of the Americas had no natural defence.

      1. This is true! Smallpox and native Indian allies who hated the Aztecs is one of the main reasons why his men were able to defeat the empire!

  6. BTW, I see now that somebody else has asked you to write about Xenophon and Livy. And I just asked you to write about Cortés. You see, Mr. Curtius, that is the bane of the good story-teller: the better he gets at it, the more his audience demands of him…

  7. Quintus, I’d be curious to hear your opinion of Crowley’s “Empires of the Sea”. I believe it garnered some positive attention.

  8. Great article, thanks Quintus. I’d read about Lepanto before, in rather dry and dusty history textbooks, but you brought the blood and thunder of that battle to life.

      1. Henrico Paget Guzman! He commanded the Santa Puta and spent the whole battle getting crabs in a Dalmatian Brothel.

        1. as he ought to. he was probably boning one of one of ali pasha’s concubines.

      2. Love the Harry S Flashman series!!! Read them all….
        Love how Flashy uses the word “roger” as a verb…

    1. Instead of Common Core teaching cross dressing, it should give rich history like this.

  9. Great article, thanks Quintus. I’d read about Lepanto before, in rather dry and dusty history textbooks, but you brought the blood and thunder of that battle to life.

  10. Not to forget Spaniards were the only ones to have expelled Moslems from their territory after nearly 800 years of occupation (800-1500 AD)

    1. One should not exaggerate the Muslim occupation of Spain though. From the 8th century on, the Moors never controlled all of the Iberian peninsula and with the fall of Toledo in 1085 to Alfonso VI of the Kingdom of Castile, they also lost control of central Spain.
      By this time, the Moors were in decline and the Caliphate of Cordoba had already been dissolved (in 1035) and replaced by a number of smaller states, quarreling among themselves.

      1. Good point, but remember that the time from the Arab conquest to the fall of Toledo was almost as much as that between Jamestown and the present. A lot can happen in four hundred years…

    2. Nationalistic bollocks. Spain as we know it is a product of the Arab conquest, and the present-day Spanish population and culture at least as much a descendant of the Arab conquerors as of the conquered. Who, for that matter, were Visigoths who had invaded and conquered just three centuries before.
      Please stop propagating the lame trend of using “occupation” to mean “any territorial control I disagree with”.

      1. Another ignorant. Spain was influenced by the Arabic culture but has NEVER being a product of it, apparently someone doesn’t know anything about Hispanic culture or Spain’s history…

        1. Then what, pray tell, are the origins of Spanish culture? When was it born?
          Do you perchance believe there was a pre-existing Spanish culture before the Arab conquest, one that was subjugated and oppressed but remained separate from the superimposed Arab society, and got free through a contiguous 800-year mega-crusade known as La Reconquista?

        2. Not a pre-existing “spanish culture” but the main elements of the Kingdom of Castille, “core” of the Spanish nation, around which the entire Reconquista campaign would revolve (and the cradle of the Spanish language, called in those times “castellano” ), were present already in territory never held by Muslims…

        3. It was called northern Spain, the areas the Moors never conquered. Don’t let history get in the way of a good lie though.

        4. And the 95% of the Iberian peninsula that was under Arab rule for centuries, where the conquerors intermarried with the conquered and created a melting pot between Arab and Visigoth, never had any effect on the formation of Spanish society and culture…

        5. Go fuck yourself you vicious, lying little Islamist pig. No one is biting your Wahabbist shit here. Duck off to Saudi Arabia with the other Islamist pigs and stay there in their stinking desert

      1. Martel wasn’t called ‘The Hammer of God’ for nothing. Fought so many battles they can’t be counted, and won almost every one, over a long lifetime. One of history’s greatest generals, if you ask me, especially considering what he had to work with (the Dark Ages).

    1. That was the same feeling I got. I think one of the problems young men have today is the lack of a clearly-defined external struggle that they can test themselves against.

  11. Great article QC. I look forward to your history lessons to get ideas for future reading. These are the stories men need to be reading and assimilating.

  12. Always makes me sad when I think about all the Bulgarian boys taken from their homes, converted, and forced to kill their fathers, brothers, sisters, and mothers all in the name of “the holy faith”, ah Islam. Still Janissaries were the cream of the crop, ironically diseasembling and fucking up when muslims were introduced into the ranks.

    1. And when exactly would they have been killing their relatives? Their relatives would have been subjects of the Ottoman Empire, not enemies.

      1. Why don’t you just stay in your jihadist websites you Salafist Islamist troll? Take you jihadi hatred elsewhere

      2. Read up on Vlad the Impaler’s brother and how he attacked Vlad after the latter decided to have some balls and stick it to the Ottomans.
        History: a good thing with which to be familiar.

  13. “Pre-battle plans and stratagems are always easy to come by. Every commander has a plan … But in war, as in life, the plan goes out the window once the first shot is fired”,

      1. Who was the more versatile and successful general, the father or the son? Whose plans and stratagems carried the day at Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae? Whose plans and stratagems are still studied at military academies? Twenty-two hundred years after I executed them successfully.

  14. This was back when the Church was not full of faggots who have been infected by political correctness. If I had my way there would be a new crusade but it would be to reconquer the Western countries and liberate them from left-wing fudgepackers, feminist cunts, and socialist cock suckers. I really wish the Church would get back into the game and join forces with the right to restore order and respect for natural law.

    1. I agree with you, Roger. They used to be hard-core. They used to be fighters, not wusses. And in the old days, even the vow of celibacy wasn’t taken very seriously. Concubinage was common among Cardinals, popes, and other clerics.

      1. Concubinage was one of the signs of decadence of the old clergy that unfortunately brought about the infamy of “Reformation”, before the counter-reformation. I am willing to bet most of the those warrior-monke orders complied more with the celibacy votes than the guys in the higher ranks (The Borgias were the epitome of evil within the Church, that is before our heretical days) who had nothing to fear in their high towers…
        But you are right in that they were really hardcore and used to be fighters not wusses

        1. Celibacy was important too for the purposes of discipline. In today’s context I see it also as a useful way to teach people that women are secondary to self-improvement.

        2. The Borgias were no more cruel or evil than any other out there during those times. Lets not hate on the Borgias, reading from books that were written by men who had an agenda to make that family look as vile as possible. Pretty much most of what is written of the Borgias is bunk, from the Banquet of Chestnuts to Pope Alexander’s poisoned bloating corpse!
          Also remember that this family also produced a great saint – Saint Francis Borgia, third Superior General of the Society of Jesus and considered by many historians to be the greatest General of the Jesuits after its founder itself, Saint Ignatius!

      2. They also knew that a strong patriarchy was essential for social order and they saw nothing wrong with a war when it was needed. Now they are a bunch of social workers.

      3. The vow of celibacy was taken very seriously. But only religious (friars, monks, nuns) take that vow; secular clergy promise celibacy but do not make a vow, technically speaking, as religious priests do. It was simply understood that this was the expectation (especially after Lateran II), and a “reminder” of this fact was included in the admonition just before ordination, which the priest promised to heed.
        I sometimes hear fellows speak as if “real men” had the balls to ignore their vows in this way. Surely few things are less manly, than breaking your word and swearing oaths you have no intention of keeping? And why should having sex be somehow more manly than mastering one’s impulses and re-directing the libido into a tempering forge of ascetic purpose? That Capuchin friar who led the Tercios with the Cross didn’t feel that he was less manly for maintaining his chastity and offering his members in sacrifice to Christ.
        The problem with today’s celibates is that they are celibate without asceticism; they are celibate, often, because they had no choice through their effeminacy or “beta-ness.” I’m an Orthodox monk converting to the Catholic faith. I’m trying to find a new religious house in the Catholic Church, but I keep reading the vocations materials and am finding that all these Catholic “monks” and “friars” lead lives of unmitigated ease and self-pandering. Some of the Augustinian houses I visited were not embarrassed to have their friars list such pursuits as movies and video games as “favourite pastimes.” I have spent time with some Dominicans nearby, and they have televisions and personal computers in their habitations. Men who live “celibacy” under these conditions, are almost certainly neither men nor celibate. But a man who lives his celibacy the right way, shouldn’t be denigrated as though breaking his vows and getting some tail would be a more masculine course of action. It would be an effeminate thing to do, breaking vows or promises and living a lie for something so paltry as sex.

  15. I studied this battle at the Navy War College in ’86. The immediate reaction from ALL of the female students was “Yeah, DON JUAN!”, and they tuned out.

    1. I wonder if it was this Don Juan, a bit of a womanizer in real life, who inspired the Don Juan of the novels!

  16. Quintus, i have to say that you are providing to my brain USEFUL knowledge, seriously, i hope you keep writing these good articles. Thanks.

  17. Great job, Quintus. I’d love to see you cover the 1683 Siege of Vienna.

    1. Preferably not. Most overrated battle ever. The thrashing of an empire that looked big on the map but was badly stagnant and decaying from within. If the Ottomans hadn’t been trashed in that battle, they would have been in the next, or the one after that. A battle that became legendary because of the slaying of a paper tiger that everyone believed was the badass apex predator it had once been. In terms of actual significance, the siege of 1529 was way more significant, for there, an Ottoman victory would have greatly altered the course of European history by putting an end to Habsburg power. But hey, a simple failed siege is not as dramatic and fit for a song as the routing of an entire army! Also, winged hussars.
      Quintus Curtius’s articles on the histories of great men include lessons for all of us, but I’d prefer if it remained that way, rather than became a circle-jerk over the victorious awesomeness of the civilization most people here root for.

      1. Thanks for your comment, Red Knight. I’ve never heard this perspective and it compells me to do more research.

        1. Props for being open to an alternative perspective. Not many people posting on comments sections are. I like to think that I am, but idk.
          If a certain event becomes legendary and celebrated, it is not by itself an indication of the significance of what actually happened. Usually, social conditions happened to be right for the legend of the event to proliferate, or as often is, someone’s propaganda/self-aggrandizement machine did a good job in exploiting the event.
          Take the two sieges of Vienna as an example. Some local garrison commander nobody has ever heard of commands the defence of Vienna in 1529. He repels an attack by a superpower on the peak of its power and on a roll, one that just nommed Hungary in one bite. Macrohistorical significance: Huge. But who cares? Just a border affair for one European power among many, good for them I suppose. Whereas in 1683, an army of several allied European states smashed a stagnant, backwards Ottoman army that was way past its glory days. Macrohistorical significance: Not much, the other outcome would only have delayed the inevitable Ottoman decline by a bit. But as said, there was an actual battle with an actual rout of the Ottoman army, more material for an epic story, plus, the relief army was a multinational coalition army, giving a means for the story of the epic victory to spread far and wide. Not to forget that the commander was not some random nobody, but King Jan Sobieski of Poland who embellished the event to win badly-needed prestige for his country, becoming hailed as the Saviour of Christendom despite having previously tried to ally with the Ottomans against Austria.

        2. You are somewhat mis-stating the story there. Vienna was close to falling in the 2nd Siege, the walls were breached in several places, and the defenders were getting demoralized. The siege had been ongoing for while, and if the relief army had not arrived in time, the city may have fallen.
          The Turks had a much larger army than the Christians, more cannons, etc. But they made the same mistake as the Gauls vs Cesar, in effect, they divided their army into 2, turning one half to face the newly arrived Polish and allies, and the other kept attacking the city. The credit in that battle goes to King Sobieski, who played his cards well. He sent in 10,000 heavy infantry in the morning (mostly Germans) on foot, who fought all day against numerically superior Turks. By around 4 PM, the Turks pushed the Germans off the field by weight of numbers, but they still fell back in good order, and later returned to the battlefield. The Polish King sounded the charge at 5 PM and personally led it, by that time the Turks were exhausted, and the largest heavy cavalry charge in Western history (20K +), mostly Polish, swept them from the field. Only a few thousand Turks survived, and they never again attempted to invade central Europe.
          The real villains there were the French (as usual), who had a secret 300 year alliance with the Islamic Turks against their fellow Christians, and so refused to send any aid to Vienna (which was a controlled by ‘rivals’). Much fascinating history there.

        3. And if Vienna had fallen, what difference would it have made? The Ottoman Empire had already stagnated and its European rivals were quickly surpassing it. It would not have brought back it to the superpower status it had had during the reign of Suleyman. On the contrary, suffering such a major defeat, one that would lead to the Ottoman Empire having to cede territory in a peace treaty for the first time ever, created impetus for reform and triggered the Tulip Era, which even if it did not manage to restore the empire to its former heights, still revitalized it a bit and helped it survive for longer.

        4. The French King even opened the port of Marseille to the Turkish fleet a few centuries back before this event and even allowed them to convert a church into a mosque for their sailors to use.
          And this was during the Middle Ages, when such acts were considered even more blasphemous than they are now!

        5. Fucking hell – you have a serious hard on for Muslim jihadists!!! Is it their long beards or big hard knives (for beheading) that tingles your little winkle? Maybe you should get it circumcised (if not already done) as an act of tribute to your heroes?

        6. I detest you.
          And I am only half Polish. But I have both middle fingers raised.

        7. Wow, your grasp of alternate ‘what-if’ history is great.
          I guess you favor winning a war by losing all the battles.
          I think you should move to Iraq, where you can join your fellows in IS.

  18. An excellent summation of a crucial battle in History. My only criticism is you have failed to mention the greatest art inspired by the battle, Chesterton’s epic poem:
    White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
    And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
    There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
    It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
    It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
    For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
    They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
    They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
    And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
    And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
    The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
    The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
    From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
    And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.
    Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
    Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
    Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
    The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
    The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
    That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
    In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
    Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
    Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
    Don John of Austria is going to the war,
    Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
    In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
    Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
    Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
    Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
    Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
    Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
    Love-light of Spain–hurrah!
    Death-light of Africa!
    Don John of Austria
    Is riding to the sea.
    Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
    (Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
    He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
    His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas.
    He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
    And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees;
    And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
    Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
    Giants and the Genii,
    Multiplex of wing and eye,
    Whose strong obedience broke the sky
    When Solomon was king.
    They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
    From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
    They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
    Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
    On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
    Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
    They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,–
    They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
    And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
    And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
    And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
    For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
    We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
    Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
    But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
    The voice that shook our palaces–four hundred years ago:
    It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate;
    It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
    It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
    Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
    For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
    (Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
    Sudden and still–hurrah!
    Bolt from Iberia!
    Don John of Austria
    Is gone by Alcalar.
    St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
    (Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
    Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
    And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
    He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
    The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
    The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
    And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
    And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
    And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
    And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,–
    But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
    Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
    Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
    Trumpet that sayeth ha!
    Domino gloria!
    Don John of Austria
    Is shouting to the ships.
    King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
    (Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
    The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
    And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
    He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
    He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
    And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
    Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
    And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
    But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
    Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed–
    Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
    Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
    Gun upon gun, hurrah!
    Don John of Austria
    Has loosed the cannonade.
    The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
    (Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
    The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year,
    The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
    He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
    The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
    They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
    They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
    And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
    And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
    Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
    Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
    They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
    The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
    They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
    Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
    And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
    Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
    And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign–
    (But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
    Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
    Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
    Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
    Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
    Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
    White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
    Vivat Hispania!
    Domino Gloria!
    Don John of Austria
    Has set his people free!
    Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
    (Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
    And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
    Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
    And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade….
    (But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

    1. fantastic poem, which I once had the good fortune to study in english lit. Thanks for posting this

  19. And let’s not forget the most essential thing: Numerous screw-ups were committed on the Ottoman side due to ineptitude going all the way to the Sultan at the top, a drunk known as Selim the Sot. Who had gotten into power solely because his father, the gifted Suleiman the Magnificent, had developed oneitis for one of his concubines and agreed to let her son succeed him, passing over several more capable sons. And so ended an almost unbroken parade of competent sultans going back all the way to Osman I himself. One failed shit test set in motion the decline of a superpower.

  20. And this is a war that will have to be fought by Europe and the West once again…

  21. Great article! The victory at Lepanto was one of the key moments in our history. This and the victory at Vienna prevented us from being invaded, massacred, raped, humiliated, enslaved and forced to convert to Islam as was the fate of all Christian lands that the Turks attacked and conquered. Their endless jihads and their proclaimed desire to conquer all of Europe for Islam were confronted and their designs thwarted.
    It is one of the great tragedies of history that Constantinople fell to the Seljik Turks and it was a tragedy that the victory at Lepanto was not followed up by the liberation of Constantinople and the Byzantime Empire. We are still paying the price for that today.

      1. check yourself – bullying those whose views you do not subscribe to eh? Maybe I should post things with a more pro ISIS slant? Happy then?

  22. The ancestors of the jews runing today´’s USA financed the ottomans, surprised?

    1. Can’t resist this. The contract on the uniforms for the Janisarries (Christian slave soldiers) was exclusive to Thessalonika Jewish tailors. I’m pretty sure that the slave boys were selected by Jewish slavers too. The harems stocked with Russ women were also filled up by Jewish procurers who followed around the Golden Horde, Tatars as brokers in nubile flesh. I’m not making this up! Ivan the Terrible put a stop to this White Slave trade. Crimea and Odessa were the main slave ports. He stomped that shit out for good.
      Maybe Quintus should write about Ivan the (not so) Terrible.

      1. I bet this jews were behind the mongols and turks to wiped europe but was stopped by the slavs and mediterraneans, also those jew fi

        1. Also there was an argentinean website with articles about that era saying jews were capturing male and female mediterranen youngsters and it was so bad that even today this is not told today in the oficial history books because of the shame that is still being felt today that’s why european in those times said: ENOUGH!!! and hence the battle of Lepanto.

  23. Yeah you guys are a bunch of racist cocks. Why not extol the achievements of Suleiman the Magnificent over the ignorant and venal Eastern Roman Empire? Or Saladdhin (PBUM) over the cruel and unenlightened Europeans in Palestine?

    1. Fuck off back to your jihadi website you braindead, brainwashed, terrorist loving prick.

    2. Saladin was a Kurd, fool. If he was alive today, he’d be fighting Sunnis and Shiites in what is now Iraq. And despite being such a great general, he lost so many battles to Richard III of England during the 3rd Crusade that he eventually refused to fight him in open battle.

      1. And its the West that admires him, not the Muslims. The only Arab Muslims who talk highly of Saladin are the ones who have been spoon-fed on Western hysteria for this “valiant knight” and western-raised Muslims.
        Muslims who know their culture and heritage talk highly of Sultan Baibars, who is responsible for not only crushing the Crusaders and completely routing all their holdings in the Levant but he is also the man credited with giving the Mongols their very first loss on the battlefield!
        He helped increase the prestige of the Mamluk Sultanate that would rule Egypt until the rise of the Ottomans, where they continued to rule under them, until being routed by Napolean in the 19th century!

    3. This guy raises a valid point, even if in a bit indignantly butthurt way.
      What is the purpose of historical articles like this? I thought it was to learn from the example of great men and of tales of heroic deeds for inspiration. Which this article does too, but that seems lost on much of the commentariat, who seem to have taken it as a pure circle-jerk over the victory of a civilization they themselves identify with, over one which they despise.
      Would Quintus write an article about, say, the heroism of the Islamic conquerors of Persia and the Byzantine Levant during the early 7th century? Those are true testaments to how sheer force of will, grit, determination and readiness to die for a cause can overcome massively lopsided odds, and thus, an article about it would be relevant for exactly the same reasons why an article about Lepanto is. This is not a rhetorical question, I’d actually be interested to hear an answer from the man himself.

        1. Heck, I detest the Islamic prophet but this does not mean I do not admire his panache in doing what he did and what he inspired – of course he was nothing more than a glorified terrorist – seriously, read about the way he slaughtered anyone who stood against him.
          This does not mean I respect him or his religion but you have to give the guy credit.
          Same with Caliphs who followed his death – Harun al-Rashid and the first few Caliphs were men worthy of at least learning about.
          The way they took down the Persian Empire and routed the Byzantines in Egypt and Syria are worthy of a post from you!

      1. this character should come straight out and ask for a hagiography of Osama Bin Laden who one can assume from his pro Islamist, anti-Christian ranting and bigotry in relation to this artice, must be one of his biggest heroes! Fucking hell jihadi fanboy, your side got beaten – stop being so butt hurt about it

    4. I have no problem with extolling the achievements of Islamic generals, conquerors, and statesman. In fact, I may do just that in a future article.
      The inclusion of the Western perspective is not meant to imply the exclusion of the Islamic perspective. Your accusations of “racism” ring hollow, as anyone who knows my writing here knows that I go out of my way to give each culture its due.
      (But just between you and me…it was a thrill to see the Turks get a well-deserved mauling here, don’t you think?)

      1. Quintus, I think the accusation of racism was levelled at the commentariat, not at you. As I said in my other post (I won’t reply to both branches separately, that’d be redundant), there’s a difference in between what you (I think) meant with the article and how the many Islam-haters here received it. You are a scholar and a gentleman, which is more than I can say for the majority of the commentariat here.
        On the choice of topic though, might a history article on Ottoman sultans be of some direct relevance for the core purpose of this blog? Pretty much all of the early Sultans were absolutely super alpha in every way, largely due to being shaped so by their environment and what could be described as a hardcore (if mostly organically developed rather than intentionally designed) future Sultan training regime. The early Ottoman state was a lean, mean machine as a result. Then came Suleiman who, even if brilliant and high-achieving, had a beta side and whose oneitis for Roxelana screwed up the succession, and it all went downhill from there.

        1. Fanboy for Ottoman jihadism? Try and teach yourself something about the daily atrocities committed in the name of their religion against conquered Christian people.
          How about a fanboy appreciation of the Atlantic slave trade article next?

      2. The Turks, Mongols, etc., deserved to get maulings by all civilized peoples European or otherwise.

  24. Skanderbeg, First Siege of Vienna, Vlad Tepes, Lepanto, and a few others were all of what stood between the Ottomans and the conquering of Europe. When you are large and think highly of yourself the small things get skipped. An actual Navy after Lepanto and the Mediterranean becomes an Ottoman lake.

  25. When was the last time you heard the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”?
    Great article Quintus, as usual.

  26. A rickety, unlikely alliance of Christian states,..”
    They were pretty well stocked with better firepower and a big advantage in the amount of ammunition, so they didn’t come in rickety. Quite strong actually. But it is an interesting story.
    The battle was only a set back, but some think what contained Ottoman’s expansion wasn’t this battle but Ottoman’s battles with Persia.

  27. Great read! It ranks up there with the Battle of Guagamela and the Duel at Ganryu Island.

  28. Janissaries were drawn from Christian slaves initially. Many Christians were more supportive of the semi-tolerant Ottomans than the Roman “catholic” or Orthodox hierarchies. As horrible as Islam was and still is, the medieval Churches were usually worse both in corruption and persecution of true Christians. By the time of Lepanto the Janissaries were no longer exclusively Christian, and thus they lacked the tenacity of former times.

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