A naval battle that changed history

Posted by Helen Saturday, October 08, 2016 , ,

Yes, I am talking about the Battle of Lepanto, which took place 445 years ago yesterday. Sorry to have missed the exact anniversary but it is only a semi-significant one. As we can read in the Britannica: "The battle marked the first significant victory for a Christian naval force over a Turkish fleet and the climax of the age of galley warfare in the Mediterranean." The Battle of Salamis may have been as important but others, big though they were, are second-rank.

I wrote about its significance before but find it hard to resist the call of G. K. Chesterton's poetry though he claimed more than either the battle or Don John of Austria had actually achieved. But, really, who cares? This is a poem, not a history book.

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 forever 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.)


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