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Tema: Clash of civilizations: Battle of Lepanto revisited

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    Clash of civilizations: Battle of Lepanto revisited

    Clash of civilizations: Battle of Lepanto revisited

    MARY JO ANDERSONToday, Christians quietly recall the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, Oct. 7, 1571. On that date the forces of Islam battled the Holy League in a crucial engagement at Lepanto, the modern day Gulf of Corinth. The date assumes larger significance in light of recent struggles between the West and Islamic jihad.

    Today, Christians quietly recall the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, Oct. 7, 1571. On that date the forces of Islam battled the Holy League in a crucial engagement at Lepanto, the modern day Gulf of Corinth. The date assumes larger significance in light of recent struggles between the West and Islamic jihad. Sparked by the events like the Danish Cartoon Wars, Pope Benedict XVI's speech at Regensburg and the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, a firestorm of renewed debate about the nature of Islamic jihad fills Western magazines and newspapers. Some maintain that the "war on terror" is the result of the Bush administration's mishandling of the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Others have revised their thinking after five years.
    Jonathan Last, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer Oct. 1 states, "It's the West vs. the Islamic world, a clash that has never abated. … It predates America itself. It is a clash between Western civilization and the Islamic world."
    Last quotes Samuel Huntington, author of the 1993 article "Clash of Civilizations" and subsequent book of the same title. Huntington, a Harvard professor, wrote, "Conflict along the fault line between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300 years." Islam advanced under the sword conquering North Africa, Sicily, Spain, Portugal and parts of France. Twice "the forces of Islam laid siege to Vienna. For 1,000 years, Islam advanced and Christendom retreated," observed Last.
    But at Lepanto, Christendom did not retreat.
    The Ottoman Turks had attacked and captured Christian strongholds throughout the Mediterranean. Their strategy was to control the sea, the trade routes, and thus crush European navies and commerce. In 1522, the Knights of St. John were driven from Rhodes by the Moslems. The year 1529 saw an attack on Vienna. By 1570 Cyprus was under siege. According to historian H.W. Crocker III, the Turks skinned the commander of Cyprus while the officer was still alive. More than 12,000 Christians were enslaved on Moslem galleys, lashed to the oars of Turkish ships that then threatened Europe. Feared as "invincible," the Moslem fleet terrorized cities along the coasts of Italy and Greece.
    Jonathan Last of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, "As Pope Benedict XVI explains in his book Without Roots, the very concept of 'Europe' emerged as a reaction to the surge of Islam.
    The Turkish fleet, under the command of Ali Pasha, gathered at Lepanto (Gulf of Corinth). They were reinforced with lawless Corsairs under the command of the ferocious Moslem pirate, Uluch Ali.
    Europe's Holy League was an allied fleet of the Knights of Malta, Spanish, Venetian and Papal ships assembled by Pope Pius the V. The famous Don Juan of Austria, assisted by equally famous Andrea Dorian, led the Holy League. Maritime historians note that the Battle of Lepanto was the last of the great sea battles between oared vessels, and the largest battle since the Battle of Actium in 30 B.C.
    An estimated 50,000 seamen and another 30,000 fighting men fought for Europe against a stronger, better armed Ottoman force of 330 ships. Ottoman ships flew flags emblazoned with verses from the Quran. Christian galleys were named "Resurrected Christ," "Christ of Venice," "Angel of Venice," "St. Euphemia" and "Our Lady of Venice."
    As the day dawned over Lepanto, in Rome Pius V called the faithful to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. There he led the people to pray, asking God for a Christian victory. Throughout the morning the prayers of the people continued until, it is said, the pope had a vision of the victory and shouted, "Our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given us."
    The Battle of Lepanto sacrificed nearly 8,000 European soldiers who had fought under Don Juan. Yet, the Moslem forces suffered catastrophic losses; more than 25,000 perished. Don Juan rescued the 12,000 Catholic galley slaves. All Christendom rejoiced.
    Within a decade, the Moslem fleet was rebuilt and the Islamic assaults again threatened Europe. For this reason few historians credit the Battle of Lepanto as a decisive military victory against Islamic forces. However, few deny the great psychological victory that Oct. 7, 1571, marks for Europeans who refused to retreat before the "invincible" flag of the crescent.
    Jonathan Last of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, "As Pope Benedict XVI explains in his book Without Roots, the very concept of 'Europe' emerged as a reaction to the surge of Islam. Not until the failure of the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 did the Islamic tide recede definitively. For the next 300 years, Western civilization was ascendant and the Islamic world stagnated."
    Crocker, author of "Don't Tread On Me," wrote in the Oct. 6 issue of The American Spectator, "As we (or the better informed among us at least) celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto this Saturday, marking the date in 1571 when the navy of Pope Pius V's Holy League turned back the Ottoman Turks from one of their recurrent jihads, it might be opportune to consider how the Islamic world has advanced politically over the last half century."
    Meanwhile, despite Islamic furor over his remarks at Regensburg, Benedict XVI has not canceled his plans to visit Turkey in November.

    http://catholiceducation.org/article...rld/wh0121.htm

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    Respuesta: Clash of civilizations: Battle of Lepanto revisited

    Libros antiguos y de colección en IberLibro
    Remembering Lepanto

    MICHAEL NOVAKThe 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 the sea, and hauled away young women and men for the harems, and stronger men for the galleys.

    Indeed, many of the galley slaves pulling the oars of the Turkish fleet sailing proudly and confidently into the Gulf of Lepanto were Christians captured in these and other ways. There they were starved, beaten, and living in their own waste, kept just strong enough to pull on the great oars, to which they were chained. Furiously, below decks, some of these galley slaves were struggling to break through their chains once the battle was joined. Finally some did, and rose up from below deck swinging their chains and causing mayhem among already embattled Muslim sailors.
    Since Osama bin Laden and others often cite these battles, for which he is still seeking revenge, it is not unwise for the people of the West to bear them in mind. Besides October 7, 1571 — the great victory by Jan Sobieski’s Polish calvary over the Turks outside the gates of Vienna on September 11-12, 1683 — deserves to be remembered.
    The two greatest naval forces ever assembled — 280 ships in the Turkish Armada, some 212 on the Christian side — came into each other’s sight on the brilliant morning of October 7. So confident was the Turkish admiral, Ali Pasha, that he sailed proudly at the center of his own Armada, bringing with him on vessels just to his rearhis entire fortune, and even a part of his harem.
    Historians tell us that all over Europe a pall fell. Few had hopes that the Christian fleet could avoid the doom that seemed to hang over Italy. The pope had urged all Christians to say the rosary daily on behalf of the brave crews on the Christian galleys. The rosary is a simple prayer that can be said in almost any setting, and had already achieved a certain popularity among humble folk. With each decade of the Hail Marys they had been taught to reflect upon a different event in the life of Jesus. The beads went through one’s fingers as regularly as the blood through one’s body, as regular as heartbeats and the breathing of the lungs.

    To make a long story short, Don Juan aimed his own galley directly at the heart of the Turkish armada, directly at the clearly colored sails of theAli Pasha’s galley, with its great green flag, inscribed 28,000 times with the name of Allah in gold. The Venetian vessels sailed furiously into the Turkish right wing, and with the help of the revolt of the galley slaves collapsed that wing. Six of the largest Christian vessels had been outfitted with a platform elevated above normal levels on which rows of devastating cannons were arrayed. Blasts from these new cannons were withering, and within minutes sank dozens of Turkish ships. The sea, witnesses said, was covered with flailing sailors, floating turbans, pieces of wood and sail.

    The passion for defending their own civilization against ruthless invaders also strengthened the muscles of those engaged in the close, bloody, violent hand-fighting when one vessel came alongside another. But it was mainly the new firepower of the smaller Christian fleet that quickly sank galley after galley until, after not too many hours, the Turkish center also collapsed, as if cut through by a hot knife. The Admiral’s galley was captured, along with 240 more Turkish ships.

    Only on the other flank some Christian vessels hesitated, approached the enemy half-heartedly, and thus spurred defections by still other vessels. Although even there some acts of heroism appeared, a number of Turkish vessels were able to slip away through that gap in the battleline.


    The Christian victory was far more complete than anyone had dreamed. The victory seemed to many quite miraculous, and victory was immediately attributed to Our Lady Queen of the Rosary — soon to be called by a new title, Our Lady Queen of Victory. All over Europe, from city to town, church bells rang out continuously when news of the impressive victory arrived. Ever since, October 7 has been celebrated as a feast day by the Catholic Church.

    Whole great rooms of palaces in southern Europe have been given over to immense paintings celebrating episodes in that epic battle. All Europe, historians recount, drew a deep breath of relief and gratitude. It was as if an oppressive cloud had been lifted, some wrote. G. K. Chesterton wrote a rousing epic poem about the great event, a magnificent treat to read to young children — and even for mature adults.

    Since Osama bin Laden and others often cite these battles, for which he is still seeking revenge, it is not unwise for the people of the West to bear them in mind. Besides October 7, 1571 — the great victory by Jan Sobieski’s Polish calvary over the Turks outside the gates of Vienna on September 11-12, 1683 — deserves to be remembered. But there were also other great battles — some victories, some defeats — over that thousand-year period that still live in memory, or should.



    http://catholiceducation.org/article...rld/wh0122.htm


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