How a Christian Europe Became Protected at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571

Little is heard about the Battle of Lepanto in modern histories, perhaps because it is no longer considered politically correct to consider how the forces of Christendom so decisively defeated the forces of Islam in the 16th century, a defeat which would protect the future of a Christian Europe. Few now consider how important this battle was. Truth is: If this battle had not been successful, even Great Britain could now be an Islamic country!

The Battle of Lepanto was the greatest galleon sea battle of the entire 16th century and it occurred in the Gulf of Patras off the shores of Greece. The 'Holy League' was a coalition of Venice, the Papacy (under Pope Pius V), Spain, Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights of Malta and others, in which they defeated a force of Ottoman Islamic galleys.

Islamic armies had been largely undefeated in battle for many decades prior to this battle, but by 1569-1570 it had become obvious to the pope, the Venetians and the Spanish that western Christendom and western commerce would soon become eradicated unless the forces of Islam could be dealt a decisive blow.

A huge galleon fleet was constructed by a coalition mainly between Venice (this was well before Italy had become one nation), the pope and the Spanish. Despite a few squabbles, the coaltion held together for a unified purpose of inflicting a huge military defeat on Islam in order to prevent Islam from becoming the major religion and political power of western Europe and the western Mediterranean.

A depiction of the Battle of Lepanto. This decisive battle, even though rarely mentioned today, protected western Europe from a possibly all-Islamic future by 1600!

The huge sea battle occurred in October 1571. On paper, the Christian armies appeared somewhat fragile although they had control of the most modern galleons which had ever been constructed (specially constructed for this battle). But the Christian navy inflicted a huge defeat on the Islamic fleet, a defeat more devastating and complete than anybody might have expected, for 286 Islamic galleons were overcome by a mere 212 of the western Mediterranean coalition.

This was the final major naval battle in world history which was fought solely between rowing vessels.

This victory secured the future of Christian culture in the western Mediterranean, even though the Islamics reasserted themselves even within the same year in the eastern Mediterranean. They also enjoyed carrying out occasional raids even in Sicily and regained control of Cyprus. But the Holy League momentum had been so strong at Lepanto that most historians believe that if they had carried on beyond the sea battle and decided to recover Istanbul, turning it back to Christian Constantinople, nothing could have prevented them; unfortunately, they were scuppered by bickering among the various coalition members and so decided not to take the war further. But we now know that they had done enough to protect the cultural future of western Europe.

Robin A. Brace, 2007.