– Battle of Lepanto – The sinking of an Ottoman Navy vessel, painting by Pieter Brünniche, 1762

7 October 1571 A fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece. The Ottoman forces sailing westwards from their naval station in Lepanto met the Holy League forces from Messina.

The victory of the Holy League prevented the Mediterranean Sea from becoming an uncontested highway for Muslim forces, protected Italy from a major Ottoman invasion, and prevented the Ottomans from advancing further into the southern flank of Europe.

Lepanto was the last major naval battle in the Mediterranean fought entirely between galleys, and has been assigned great symbolic importance.

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