Monday, March 6, 2023

Something About The Battle of Lepanto

Splish splash.

I don't know what you've done in the bathtub, but one thing I've never even considered was playing with boats - especially detailed models of 16th Century galleys complete with matchstick oars and paper flags. Then again, I'm not Professor Roderick Childermass.  And that's how Johnny finds his next-door neighbor (The Curse of the Blue Figurine, 61).

The ships are the professor's attempt at reenacting the Battle of Lepanto, a naval encounter between the Holy League (with their red and gold flags) and the Ottoman Empire (hoisting the green flag with gold crescents). Pope Pius V organized the Holy League with the significant Catholic powers of southern Europe on the Iberian and Italian peninsulas to break the Ottoman Empire's control of the eastern Mediterranean Sea [1].

The professor's blackboard shows the Christians with three downed ships, and the Turks have lost seven. I suspect the prof didn't have a full set representing all ships for each side. The Christians had 206 galleys, 13 of which were sunk or destroyed. So the Turks have ten more to go before they're done (again, according to the prof's blackboard). Of the 222 galleys (plus the 50-odd smaller galliots), the Ottoman Empire lost 117 galleys captured, and 50 of their ships were destroyed [2]. Therefore, the prof's counts are a representative sample (of sorts) of how this bathtub battle will wind up.

The battle on October 7, 1571, near the island of Oxeia in the Gulf of Patras off southwestern Greece, was in response to the Ottoman seizure of Cyprus from Venice several months earlier. Lepanto was the last major naval battle fought solely between rowing vessels and ended Ottoman sea power and ensured European ascendancy over the Ottoman Empire [2].

More about Lepanto next time.


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