When you take a look at the narrow strait dividing mainland Greece and the Peloponnesian peninsula, it is really hard to believe that exactly here, the fate of Europe was decided with the clash of ships and the painting of the Aegean sea in red.

450 ships roved here, manned by crews representing two ideas, two Gods, two potential futures. It was more than just a clash fueled by conquest.

The Ottoman Turks sailed to prove that they can march into Rome and turn Saint Peters`s into a Mosque by the end of the year.

They paid the same price paid by everybody in history who tried to put Europa into chains.


In 1571. the Asiatic Muslim Turks seized Cyprus and unleashed the well-known terror on the local Christian population massacring more than 20 000 people in Nicosia and enslaving more than 2 000 young women for sex slavery (a praxis common to this day manifesting itself during the civil war in Syria).

The Papacy and the Spanish Emperor, well aware of the Ottoman menace knew that time to react in a military fashion was of the essence.  The Venetians who had already tasted Ottoman incursions in Dalmatia joined Spain, Genoa and the Papacy in a Holy league. King Philip the II of Spain ( The same one who sent the Armada to invade England) gave the command to the combined fleet to Don John of Austria, a well capable and shrewd naval Commander, a gifted orator who inspired courage in those he commanded as well as fear in those he opposed.

The banner of the Holy League.

The Fortress of Famagusta in Cyprus was still holding off the Ottoman hordes in the meantime,  to the point when the Commander of the fort decided, that in order to spare his men and the local Christian population, surrendered to the Turks, after which the same cut off his ears, nose and publicly flayed him alive. After the total Conquest of Cyprus, the Ottoman Commander Ali Pasha, wide renown for his cruelty and psychopathic personality sailed towards Lepanto, the main Ottoman naval base on the coastline of mainland Greece. He had under his command around 251 galleys, manned by a force of 50 000 slaves, mercenary, cutthroats and a unit of well trained and Armed Janissaries ( Children were taken from Christian families as a blood tax, Islamised and brainwashed hate their origins, Brothers and the Christian faith.


Depiction of the Ottoman Navy, detail from the painting by Tommaso Dolabella (1632)


On the other side, a fact unknown to Ali Pasha was, that Don John of Austria had assembled quite the fleet at Venice, consisting of 208 ships and the crew and soldiers armed with the new invention and pinnacle of European military technology: The Arquebus. The Holy league had stuffed its ships with Cannons by modifying the hauls, so they had in total 1334 guns opposed to the 741 Turkish ones (Almost double the number).

Losing the battle meant one and only one thing: Muslim Europe and the enslavement of its populace in the same way the Turks did after the Orthodox monarchies in the Balkans fell after 1389.

On the morning of Sunday, the 7 of October, the ships of the holy league sailed out protected by fog.

Mass was said on every Christian ship. Just as a divine answer to the prayers, the wind changed its direction and filled the Christians sails with wind while forcing the Turks to row. When they spotted the Turkish fleet, it had its traditional formation designed to surround and destroy the enemy ships with ease. Among the Turkish commanders was the notorious murderer and Corsair, the Italian Uluch Ali. Don John had devised a plan of his own.  He put the Galleys in front, with a reserve contingent behind. Dividing the force into three parts gave the Christian line more flexibility, The northern wing was under the command of the Venetian Marcantonio Quirini, the southern one by Gianandrea Doria from Genoe.  The flagship Real with its commander Don John held the centre. In the morning sunlight, the Turks started yelling and screaming, just as their military scare tactics work.  They did not know, that their sounds of confidence will turn into screams of anguish and agony coming from the concentrated muskets and cannons of the calculated, well disciplined and calmed Europeans. As the Turkish line was being broken, Don John, just like in a motive from a modern history movie, entered in a duel with the Turkish Flagship Sultana, with a flying banner dedicated to Allah whose name was sawn with gold 28 900 times.

Reconstruction of the battle plan.

As Don John and his crew stormed the Sultana, Ali Pasha was killed by a bullet in the forehead.  Later, one of the released Christian Slaves cut his head off and displayed it as a trophy on a spike.  The left Turkish wing was also demoralized and quickly collapsed. Only Uluch Ali escaped with his fast ships by tricking the Venetians to follow him while he turned, attacked the heavy ships belonging to the Knights of Malta, only to be able to escape with 8 ships and report the disaster to the Sultan personally. The flag dedicated to Allah was taken as a prized trophy together with a huge amount of seized gold.


By 4 p.m. a decisive victory was won.


The Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto by Paolo Veronese (c. 1572, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice)


The sea was red with the blood of the Martyrs, but Europe was saved, once more among the countless times. Europe lost between 4 000 and 7 000 sons, and 4 000 more succumbed to their wounds. The Asiatic invaders suffered a loss of 26 000, 3 500 captured and 12 000 Christian Slaves who manned the ships were freed. The fleet of the Invader was devastated to count only 40 ships. 127 were captured and another 84 destroyed during the battle. The Christian fleet lost only 33 ships.

The Ottoman onslaught was stopped. At least for another 70 years.

Graf von Marstall

The first Warden and Primus inter Pares. Born in the heart of the Balkans, where he finished his Legal and Political science education. Has a deep and profound fascination with Humanities, Culture, and art and military strength culture. Politics and writing are a passion in their own right. Fighting the Culture war as long as he remembers himself.

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