Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto, Paolo Veronese
The banner of the Holy League, flown by John of Austria on his flagship Real. It is made of blue damask interwoven with gold thread, of a length of 7.3 m and a width of 4.4 m at the hoist. It displays the crucified Christ above the coats of arms of Pius V, of Venice, of Charles V, and of John of Austria. The coats of arms are linked by chains symbolizing the alliance.
Order of battle of the two fleets, with an allegory of the three powers of the Holy League in the foreground, fresco by Giorgio Vasari (1572, Sala Regia).
Depiction of the Ottoman Navy, detail from the painting by Tommaso Dolabella (1632)
One of the Venetian Galleasses at Lepanto (1851 drawing, after a 1570s painting).
Plan of the Battle (formation of the fleets just before contact)
Fresco in the Vatican's Gallery of Maps
The Victors of Lepanto, John of Austria, Marcantonio Colonna and Sebastiano Venier (anonymous oil painting, c. 1575, formerly in Ambras Castle, now Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
Jacopo Ligozzi, The Return of the Knights of Saint Stephen from the Battle of Lepanto (c. 1610, Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, Pisa)
Battle of Lepanto by Martin Rota, 1572 print, Venice
Felipe II offers Prince Fernando to Victory by Titian, c. 1572–1575, Museo del Prado, Madrid
Monument to John of Austria in Messina
The Battle of Lepanto by Andrea Vicentino (c. 1600, Doge's Palace, Venice)
The Battle of Lepanto by Tommaso Dolabella (c. 1625–1630, Wawel Castle, Cracow)
The Battle of Lepanto by Andries van Eertvelt (1640)
The Battle of Lepanto by Juan Luna (1887, Spanish Senate, Madrid)
The Battle of Lepanto by Tintoretto
The Battle of Lepanto by anonymous
The Battle of Lepanto by Giorgio Vasari

Naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic states arranged by Pope Pius V, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras.

- Battle of Lepanto

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Town and a former municipality in Aetolia-Acarnania, West Greece, situated on a bay on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth, 3 km west of the mouth of the river Mornos.

The Venetian fortress.
The Battle of Lepanto, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich/London.
View of the port.
Houses by the port.
View from the fortress
A square
View from the port towards the fortress
Statue of Miguel de Cervantes at the port (he took part at the Battle of Lepanto)
View of the old harbour
Botsaris tower museum
Fortifications of the port
Fortifications along the sea wall

It fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1499 and was used as naval station by the Ottoman Navy in the 16th century, being the site of the decisive victory by the Holy League in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Pope Pius V

Head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 January 1566 to his death in 1572.

Portrait by Bartolomeo Passarotti (c. 1566, Walters Art Museum in Baltimore)
Portrait by Scipione Pulzone, c. 1578
Pius V by Palma il Giovane.
The body of Pius V in his tomb in Santa Maria Maggiore
Portrait of Pius V by Pierre Le Gros on the tomb

Although outnumbered, the Holy League famously defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Our Lady of the Rosary

Marian title.

Illustration Our Lady of the Rosary
Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fátima, Portugal
Our Lady of the Rosary by Anthony van Dyck, between 1623 and 1624
The Vision of Saint Dominic by Bernardo Cavallino, 1640
Our Lady of Victory by Józef Mehoffer, 1896-1897, stained glass window in Fribourg Cathedral

7 October is the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League of 1571 over the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto.

Ottoman wars in Europe

A series of military conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and various European states took place from the Late Middle Ages up through the early 20th century.

The Ottoman Army surrounds Vienna by Frans Geffels.
Conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453
1475 miniature of the Battle of Nicopolis by Jean Colombe called Les Passages d'Outremer, BnF Fr 5594
Albanian assault on a Turkish encampment in 1457
Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the Klis Fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, an elite Croatian military faction of Uskoci was formed.
Battle of Mohács in 1526, Ottoman miniature
Ottoman advances resulted in some of the captive Christians being carried deep into Turkish territory
Ottoman soldiers in the territory of present-day Hungary
The Ottoman campaign in Hungary in 1566, Crimean Tatars as vanguard
The siege of Malta – Arrival of the Turkish Fleet by Matteo Perez d'Aleccio
Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571
Turkish Empire, drawn by Hondius, just at the end of the Long War, 1606
Battle of Vienna on 12 September 1683 by Gonzales Franciscus Casteels
Austrian conquest of Belgrade: 1717 by Eugene of Savoy, during the Austro-Turkish War (1716–1718)
Greek War of Independence
Ottoman capitulation at Nikopol, 1877
Public demonstration in the Sultanahmet district of Constantinople, 1908
Surrender of Ioannina by Esat Pasha to the Greek Crown Prince Constantine during the First Balkan War.

This period witnessed the fall of Negroponte in 1470, the fall of Famagusta (Cyprus) in 1571, the defeat of the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 (at that time the largest naval battle in history), the fall of Candia (Crete) in 1669, the Venetian reconquest of Morea (Peloponnese) in the 1680s and its loss again in 1715.


Type of ship that is propelled mainly by oars.

A model of a Maltese design typical of the 16th century, the last great era of the war galley in the Mediterranean Sea
The English-built Charles Galley, a "galley frigate" built in the 1670s. It was not a "true" galley, but the term still became part of its name due to its oars.
Watercolor of United States ships at the Battle of Valcour Island, depicting several "row galleys"; similar function, but based on very different designs from Mediterranean galleys.
Assyrian warship, a bireme with pointed bow. 700 BC
Dionysus riding on a small galley-like craft in a painting from the Dionysus cup by Exekias, from c. 530 BC
A reconstruction of an ancient Greek galley squadron based on images of modern replica Olympias
A Roman naval bireme in a relief from the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia in Praeneste, (Palastrina) built c. 120 BC, (in the Museo Pio-Clementino).
Odysseus and the Sirens, Ulixes mosaic at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, Tunisia, 2nd century AD
Two compact liburnians used by the Romans in the campaigns against the Dacians in the early 2nd century AD; relief from Trajan's Column, c. 113 AD.
Triumph of Poseidon and Amphitrite: the couple in procession, mosaic detail from Cirta, Roman Africa, ca. 315–325 AD, (in the Louvre)
Venetian great galley with three sails taking pilgrims to Jerusalem (Conrad Grünenberg 1486/7).
A 3D model of the basic hull structure of a Venetian "galley of Flanders", a large trading vessel of the 15th century. The reconstruction by archaeologist Courtney Higgins is based on measurements given in contemporary ship treatises.
Illustration of a 15th-century trade galley from a manuscript by Michael of Rhodes (1401–1445) written in 1434.
Painting of the Battle of Haarlemmermeer of 1573 by Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom. Note the use of small sailing vessels and galleys on both sides.
Ottoman galleys in battle with raiding boats in the Black Sea; Sloane 3584 manuscript, c. 1636
The Battle of Lepanto in 1571, naval engagement between allied Christian forces and the Ottoman Turks.
French ship under attack by Barbary pirates, c. 1615
Dutch ships ramming Spanish galleys in the Battle of the Narrow Seas, October 1602.
A painting of the Battle of Grengam in 1720 by Ferdinand Perrot (1808–41) showing a large Russian galley engaging Swedish frigates at close range. Note the crowded fighting platform (rambade) in the bow.
A galley from Banten, 1598. The galley has balai (raised fighting platform). Four cetbang can be seen.
Illustration of an Egyptian rowed ship of c. 1250 BC. Due to a lack of a proper keel, the vessel has a truss, a thick cable along its length, to prevent it from losing its shape.
A schematic view of the mortise and tenon technique for shipbuilding that dominated the Mediterranean until the 7th century AD.
The stern of the modern trireme replica Olympias with twin side rudders
The Athlit ram, a preserved original warship ram from around 530–270 BC. It weighs nearly half a tonne and was probably fitted to a "five" or a "four".
14th-century painting of a light galley, from an icon now at the Byzantine and Christian Museum at Athens
A Venetian galea sottile from the late 15th century from Vittore Carpaccio's Return of the Ambassadors in the series Legend of Saint Ursula (1497–1498). Note the oars arranged in groups of three according to the alla sensile rowing method.
The ubiquitous bow fighting platform (rambade) of early modern galleys. This model is of a 1715 Swedish galley, somewhat smaller than the standard Mediterranean war galley, but still based on the same design.
Modern reconstruction of a cross-section of an ancient Greek trireme, showing the three levels of rowers.
Model of a Venetian three-banked galley rowed alla sensile, with three rowers sharing a bench but handling one oar each
An illustration from 1643 showing the layout of rowing benches as well and placement of rowers on a galley with 16 pairs of oars. It also shows a rower at the top of the stroke using the standing rowing technique typical of a scaloccio rowing.
The ram bow of the trireme Olympias, a modern full-scale reconstruction of a classical Greek trireme.
The Byzantine fleet repels the Rus' attack on Constantinople in 941. The Byzantine dromons are rolling over the Rus' vessels and smashing their oars with their spurs.
Byzantine ship attacking with Greek fire. Madrid Skylitzes manuscript, 11th century.
Battle between Venetian and Holy Roman fleets; detail of fresco by Spinello Aretino 1407–1408.
Contemporary depiction of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 that shows the strict formations of the opposing fleets. Fresco in the Gallery of Maps in Vatican Museum.
The Galley Subtle, one of the very few Mediterranean-style galleys employed by the English. This illustration is from the Anthony Roll (c. 1546) and was intended as its centerpiece.
Gouache of a late 17th-century French royal galley. The vessel is richly decorated with red and blue damask, brocade, and velvet for the stern canopy and flags, and carved gilded ornaments on railings, outrigger, and hull.
La Liberté, a full-scale replica of a 17th-century galley in Switzerland, though without any rowing benches

The zenith of galley usage in warfare came in the late 16th century with battles like that at Lepanto in 1571, one of the largest naval battles ever fought.

Holy League (1571)

These Christian states were to have a force of 200 galleys, 100 other ships, 50,000 infantry, 4,500 cavalry and adequate artillery ready by 1 April each year.

The banner of the Holy League, flown by John of Austria on his flagship Real. It is made of blue damask interwoven with gold thread, of a length of 7.3 m and a width of 4.4 m at the hoist. It displays the crucified Christ above the coats of arms of Pius V, of Venice, of Charles V, and of John of Austria. The coats of arms are linked by chains symbolizing the alliance.
The banner was given to Toledo Cathedral in 1616 by Philip III of Spain. It was moved to the Museum of Santa Cruz in 1961.
The coats of arms of the leaders of the Holy League (Habsburg Spain, Pope Pius V, Republic of Venice, John of Austria) as depicted in the printed order of battle published on 14 November 1571 by Antonio Lafreri in Rome.

On 7 October 1571, the League won a decisive victory over the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in the Gulf of Patras.

Spanish Empire

Colonial empire governed by Spain and its predecessor states between 1492 and 1976.

All areas of the world that were ever part of the Spanish Empire
Crowns and Kingdoms of the Catholic Monarchs in Europe (1500)
The Capitulation of Granada by F. Pradilla: Muhammad XII (Boabdil) surrenders to Ferdinand and Isabella.
El gran capitán at the Battle of Cerignola.
The conquest of the Canary Islands (1402–1496)
Iberian 'mare clausum' in the Age of Discovery
Monument to Columbus, Statue commemorating New World discoveries. Western façade of monument. Isabella at the center, Columbus on the left, a cross on her right. Plaza de Colón, Madrid (1881–85)
The return of Columbus, 1493
Castile and Portugal divided the world in The Treaty of Tordesillas.
Iberian-born pope Alexander VI promulgated bulls that invested the Spanish monarchs with ecclesiastical power in the newly found lands overseas.
Ferdinand the Catholic points across the Atlantic to the landing of Columbus, with naked natives. Frontispiece of Giuliano Dati's Lettera, 1493.
Columbus landing in 1492 planting the flag of Spain, by John Vanderlyn
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Founded in 1502, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the New World.
Cumaná, Venezuela. Founded in 1510, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the continental Americas.
Battle of Vega Real (1494)
Spanish territories in the New World around 1515
Approximate reconstruction of the route of Juan Ponce de León on his voyage of discovery of Florida (1513)
Cerro de Potosí, discovered in 1545, the rich, sole source of silver from Peru, worked by compulsory indigenous labor called mit'a
Main trade routes of the Spanish Empire
Spanish galleon, the mainstay of transatlantic and transpacific shipping, engraving by Albert Durer
Cover of the English translation of the Asiento contract signed by Britain and Spain in 1713 as part of the Utrecht treaty that ended the War of Spanish Succession. The contract broke the monopoly of Spanish slave traders to sell slaves in Spanish America
Philip V of Spain (r. 1700–1746), the first Spanish monarch of the House of Bourbon.
Representation of the two powers, church and state, symbolized by the altar and the throne, with the presence of the king Charles III and the Pope Clement XIV, seconded by the Viceroy, Antonio Bucareli, and the Archbishop of Mexico, Alonso Núñez de Haro, respectively, before the Virgin Mary. "Glorification of the Immaculate Conception".
San Felipe de Barajas Fortress Cartagena de Indias. In 1741, the Spanish repulsed a British attack on this fortress in present-day Colombia in the Battle of Cartagena de Indias.
Portrait of Alexander von Humboldt by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, 1806
Spanish expedition to Oran (1732)
Battle of Cartagena de Indias (1741). Spain managed to defeat Britain and inflict heavy casualties.
Painting of Bernardo de Gálvez at the Siege of Pensacola (1781) during the American War of Independence. Gálvez cleared the south part of the United States of the British fortresses
Spanish and Portuguese empires in 1790.
Spanish territorial claims on the West Coast of North America in the 18th century, contested by the Russians and the British. Most of what Spain claimed in Nootka was not directly occupied or controlled.
Spanish Empire in 1790. In North America, Spain claimed lands west of the Mississippi River and the Pacific coast from California to Alaska, but it did not control them on the ground. The crown constructed missions and presidios in coastal California and sent maritime expeditions to the Pacific Northwest to assert sovereignty.
Churruca's Death, oil on canvas about the Battle of Trafalgar by Eugenio Álvarez Dumont, Prado Museum.
Spanish Constitution of 1812 enacted by the Cortes of Cádiz
The Americas towards the year 1800, the colored territories were considered provinces in some maps of the Spanish Empire.
Spanish troops routing Dominican rebels at Monte Cristi
The explosion of the USS Maine (ACR-1) in Havana Harbor led to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence
Filipino soldiers during the near end of the Revolution
The Spanish Empire in 1898
A map of Equatorial Guinea
General Prim at the Battle of Tétouan
Spanish officers in Africa in 1920
Morocco and Spanish territories
Villa de Leyva, Colombia plaza de armas. Spain impregnate its public square style in present-day Hispanic America.
Roof tiles are a common Hispanic American architectural element because Spanish colonization. Hospital Escuela Eva Perón in Granadero Baigorria, Santa Fe, Argentina.
A photo of Cathedral of Mexico City, it is one of the largest cathedrals in Americas, built on the ruins of the Aztec main square.
Detail of a Mural by Diego Rivera at the National Palace of Mexico showing the ethnic differences between Agustín de Iturbide, a criollo, and the multiracial Mexican court

The death of the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent in 1566 and the naval victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 gave Spain a claim to be the greatest power not just in Europe but also in the world.

Age of Sail

Period that lasted at the latest from the mid-16th to the mid-19th centuries, in which the dominance of sailing ships in global trade and warfare culminated, particularly marked by the introduction of naval artillery, and ultimately reached its highest extent at the advent of the analogue Age of Steam.

The Battle of Scheveningen, 10 August 1653, painted by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten.
A ship of war, Cyclopaedia 1728, Vol 2
Austronesian proto-historic and historic maritime trade network in the Indian Ocean
Several of Zheng He's 15th century ships as depicted on a woodblock print, early 17th century

For warships, the age of sail runs roughly from the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the last significant engagement in which oar-propelled galleys played a major role, to the development of steam-powered warships.

John of Austria

Illegitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Oil in canvas, 2nd half of 16th century, probably by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz.
Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Portrait of Don Juan by Jooris van der Straeten
Portrait, ca. 1559-60 by Alonso Sánchez Coello.
Portrait, ca. 1560 by Alonso Sánchez Coello.
John of Austria in armour, by Alonso Sánchez Coello, 1567.
John of Austria monument in Messina
Battle of Lepanto.
The Victors of Lepanto (from left: Don Juan de Austria, Marcantonio Colonna, Sebastiano Venier).
Coat of arms of John of Austria. Being the illegitimate son of Charles V, in his coat the partitions of the armories of his father were modified. It consisted of a divided shield in which the arms of Castile and León were placed in a cut and not quartered (repeated in four quarters), as usual. To the sinister, departures, Aragon and Aragon-Sicily. On the whole, in escusón, Austria and Duchy of Burgundy. In the coat of arms of John of Austria did not incorporate the blazons of Granada, Franche-Comté, Brabant, Flanders and Tyrol that appeared in the coat of arms of his father. On the outside, surrounding the shield, the necklace of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Engraving of John of Austria.
The Joyous Entry of John of Austria into Brussels, 1 May 1577. Print from 'The Wars of Nassau' by W. Baudartius, Amsterdam 1616.
Tomb of John of Austria by Giuseppe Galeotti (according to a design by Ponzano) in the fifth chamber of the Pantheon in the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

He became a military leader in the service of his half-brother, King Philip II of Spain, and is best known for his role as the admiral of the Holy Alliance fleet at the Battle of Lepanto.


Galleasses were military ships developed from large merchant galleys, and intended to combine galley speed with the sea-worthiness and artillery of a galleon.

A galleass of the Spanish Armada
Engraving of a galleass from Plan de Plusieurs Batiments de Mer avec leurs Proportions (c. 1690) by Henri Sbonski de Passebon. Engraving by Claude Randon.

Venetian Galleasses were used successfully at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, their firepower helping to break the force of the first Turkish attack, and eventually helping to win victory for the Holy League fleet.