Lepanto


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Lepanto

1. a port in W Greece, between the Gulfs of Corinth and Patras: scene of a naval battle (1571) in which the Turkish fleet was defeated by the fleets of the Holy League. Pop.: 8170 (latest est.)
2. Gulf of. another name for the (Gulf of) Corinth

Lepanto

 

medieval name for the city of Navpaktos, Greece.

On Oct. 7, 1571, the last major battle of oar-propelled vessels in the Mediterranean Sea was fought at the entrance to the Gulf of Patras, 60 km from Lepanto. Part of the Cypriot War of 1570–73, the battle was fought between Turkey and the Holy League, which was composed of Venice, Spain, the Papal States, Malta, and a number of Italian states, including Genoa, Naples, Sicily, Savoy, Tuscany, and Parma. The Turkish fleet (composed of 210 galleys and 66 galliots and commanded by Ali Pasha Muedin Zade) attacked the allied fleet (composed of 207 galleys and six galleasses and commanded by John of Austria, the brother of the Spanish king Philip II).

The six Venetian galleasses, which were in the front of the galleys, broke up with artillery fire the battle formation of the Turkish fleet, which had no artillery. However, the Turkish forces began boarding the galleys of the enemy’s first line. The ships of both sides carried 25,000 soldiers each, not counting sailors. But most of the Turkish soldiers were armed with silent weapons and arrows, whereas the soldiers of the allied fleet had harquebuses, helmets, defensive armament, and shields to protect against arrows. As a result, the Turkish fleet was routed, losing 224 ships, of which 117 were captured; the allies lost 15 galleys. However, the battle of Lepanto had almost no influence on the course of the war. Taking advantage of the lack of unity among the allies, Turkey created a new fleet and won the war. By the peace treaty of 1573, Venice ceded the island of Cyprus to Turkey.

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To the degree that La Numancia is an artistic representation of a kind of national auto de fe, but also an anxious critique of the apotheosis of Spanish Imperialism in the wake of the Alpujarras Rebellion (1568-71), the Battle of Lepanto (1571), and the annexation of Portugal (1580), then Cervantes's devil plays a fundamentally ambivalent role: on the one hand, subversive with respect to religious orthodoxy and militant nationalism; on the other hand, suggestive of humanism's efforts to reform and moderate the same.
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