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Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Remembering Lepanto

A battle not forgotten.

by Michael Novak

The future author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, served on one of the Christian galleys in what he called the greatest naval sea battle in history and the most important to that time for the safety of Europe. The Turks had been massing an enormous fleet for an invasion of Italy. The preparations began to be reported on many months in advance. It was the year 1571 when that fleet was gathered near a port in Greece, not far from the Gulf of Lepanto.

For over a year, Pope Pius V had tried to alert the great powers of Europe to the coming menace. But England, France, and the regional powers of what later became Germany were preoccupied with the turmoil of the Reformation.

Only Don Juan of Austria, the bastard son of the king of Spain, was stirred by the danger. Despite his youth, despite his modest standing, Don Juan sent out urgent appeals and eventually gathered a sturdy fleet, outfitted with new warfare technologies invented in the West and rapidly mass-produced by the fledgling ship-building and armament firms of what was later to be called “Western capitalism.” He gathered fleets from Venice and Genoa, from Spain, and from the Knights of Malta. In a deliberately preemptive strike, blessed by the pope, this small fleet set sail to catch the Turkish armada before it left the waters of Greece.

The Venetians, on the left flank of the battle line, were especially passionate. Not long before, the Turks had so battered an island port maintained by Venetians (and others) that the Venetian commander, Marcantonio Bragadino appealed for a truce. The Turks promised him and his subjects safe passage — and then took him prisoner, beat him, cut off his nose and ears, put a collar on him, and made him crawl like a dog before the conquering army. In a little cage, he was hoisted up on the mast of the galley so that all in the fleet and on land could see him. Then he was brought down flayed mercilessly, his skin carefully stripped from his body as he died (the skin was later stuffed with straw and sent off to Constantinople as a trophy). Thousands of Venetians and others were slaughtered on the spot, or driven off in captivity for service on Turkish galleys or in Turkish harems.

But other elements of the Christian fleets were also angry. For decades now, the Turks had used their near-supremacy in the Mediterranean to make constant raids on the Christian communities near to the sea, and hauled away young women and men for the harems, and stronger men for the galleys...
 
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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.