Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

Archivo General (Simancas, Spain)

Alternate Titles:

Mapa de la Batalla de Lepanto, Die Schlacht von Lepanto

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Mapa de la Batalla de Lepanto
Die Schlacht von Lepanto

Type
Extent / Format

2 documents / N/A

Origin
Date
1571
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

John of Austria

Short description

The Spanish General Archive in Simanacas houses unique documents relating to one of the most important events of 16th century Christendom: the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. In this noteworthy battle off the coast of Greece, the Holy League triumphed over the mighty fleet of the Turks and in doing so, secured the supremacy of Spain at the expense of Ottoman power in the Mediterranean. A unique compendium of four documents bears witness to this historic event: the original document of the Holy League signed on the 25th of May, 1571 by the three participating parties, an original map of the battles with the formation of the opposing fleets, an anonymous yet detailed account of the events of the battle, and additionally, a letter dated the 10th of October, 1571 from Juan de Austria to his half-brother Philipp II, in which he informs the king of the Christian’s victory. Unique historical documents of exceptional worth!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

The Spanish General Archive in Simanacas houses unique documents relating to one of the most important events of 16th century Christendom: the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. In this noteworthy battle off the coast of Greece, the Holy League triumphed over the mighty fleet of the Turks and in doing so, secured the supremacy of Spain at the expense of Ottoman power in the Mediterranean. A unique compendium of four documents bears witness to this historic event: the original document of the Holy League signed on the 25th of May, 1571 by the three participating parties, an original map of the battles with the formation of the opposing fleets, an anonymous yet detailed account of the events of the battle, and additionally, a letter dated the 10th of October, 1571 from Juan de Austria to his half-brother Philipp II, in which he informs the king of the Christian’s victory. Unique historical documents of exceptional worth!

The Noteworthy Naval Battle

On the 7th of October, 1571 in the Gulf of Lepanto off the west coast of Greece, the fleet of the Holy League met with the Turks under the command of Sultan Selim II. The Christians embarked from the Sicilian city of Messina and boasted a modern fleet. Their commander was Don Juan de Austria, illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V and therefore the half-brother of the Spanish King Philipp II, and already a tried and tested warrior and commander of the Spanish Mediterranean fleet at the age of 24. In a gigantic battle – involving 700 ships and 80,000 combatants on the side of the Christians – the Holy League won a triumphant victory over the Ottoman fleet, thereby securing the Mediterranean from the Turkish threat.

The Holy League

The power of the Turks in the western Mediterranean was a constant menace in the 16th century for the Spanish and Italian coasts, which mostly belonged to Spain. Attacks and raids put the people living on the coasts in a state of fear and anxiety, and the sieges of Malta and Cyprus in 1565 and 1570 made the imminent expansion of this Ottoman power an urgent issue. The powerful fleet of the Turks had to be pushed back. For this reason, in May of 1571 the Republic of Venice, Pope Pious V, and Philipp II concluded an alliance against the Ottomans: the so-called Holy League was born.

Documents of World History

The event of the Holy League’s founding is certified with the original document from the 25th of May, 1571. The vellum document is signed by the three participants. With this mighty alliance the groundwork was laid for the triumph at Lepanto. The great hopes of Christianity lay on these important figures. The original map of the sea battle allows the event to be uniquely understood. The map is furnished with notes and records in Italian. It shows the formation of the opposing fleets, the Christians in the form of a cross, the Turks that of a crescent moon.

The Joy over the Triumph

The wonderful result of the battle for the Christians – according to the official data 90 Turkish ships were sunk and 130 were captured, while the Holy League lost only 15 ships – can be understood by means of two additional documents: the account of an unknown author describes, in detail, the events of the battle believably and impartially. And in a Letter from Juan de Austria to Philipp II. from the 10th of October 1571, the commander of the Holy League informs the Spanish Kings of the Christian fleet’s victory.
The Spanish National Poet Miguel de Cervantes, who participated himself in the battle, named the Lepanto naval battle a noteworthy event. Up to this day, the Battle of Lepanto is considered to be an important event of Spanish and even world history that can be impressively brought to light by the original documents at hand.

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