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Battle of Lepanto (1571)

Battle of Lepanto (1571)

The Ottoman fleet suffered a catastrophic defeat by the fleet of the Holy League.



Lepanto, naval battle, Battle of Lepanto, Ali Pasha, Don Juan de Austria, Gulf of Patras, Ottoman Empire, Holy League, battle, fleet

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  • Christian fleet
  • Ottoman Empire

Ottoman fleet

  • Left Division - 61 Ottoman, Algerian, Syrian, Anatolian and Greek galleys and 2 galliots under the command of Uluj Ali.
  • Right Division - 60 Ottoman, Lybian, Anatolian and Egyptian galleys and 2 galliots under the command of Chuluk Mehmet Pasha.
  • Centre Division - 87 Ottoman, Rhodian, Gallipolean, Greek and Black Sea galleys in two lines, under the command of Ali Pasha.
  • Reserve Division - 8 Greek and Ottoman galleys and 22 galliots under the command of Amuret Dragut Rais.

Christian fleet

  • Left Division - 53 Venetian galleys and 2 galleasses under the command of Agostino Barbarigo.
  • Right Division - 53 Venetian, Spanish, Genoese and Papal galleys and 2 galleasses under the command of Giovanni Andrea Doria.
  • Centre Division - 62 Venetian, Papal, Spanish, Genoese and other League galleys and 2 galleasses under the command of Don Juan de Austria.
  • Reserve Division - 38 Venetian, Spanish, Neapolitan, Papal and Genoese galleys under the command of Álvaro de Bazán.

Events of the battle

  • Real
  • Sultana


Stage 1 (7 October 1571)

The fleet of the Christian Holy League and the Ottoman fleet fought near the port of Lepanto, in the Gulf of Patras, on the coast of present-day Greece. Both fleets consisted of 4 main divisions: left, right and centre divisions and the reserve. While Ali Pasha, the Ottoman admiral did not leave many galleys in reserve, Don Juan of Austria, leader of the Christian fleet placed great emphasis on this division too.
The fleets participating in the huge battle were about the same size, with over 200 ships in both. However, the firepower of the Christian fleet with nearly twice as many cannons and the outstanding qualities of the Admiral, gave the fleet superiority.

Stage 2 (7 October 1571)

Less experienced in naval warfare, Ali Pasha hastily ordered the start of the attack. At the beginning of the battle, the galleys of the Ottoman centre wing broke through the line of the 6 Christian galleasses and the Ottoman right division also gained superiority over the left division of the Christian fleet. However, the Christian Reserve repulsed the attack, and the flagship of the Ottoman Centre, with the admiral on board, was lost. After losing their admiral, the Ottoman fleet became confused. The Christian galleys gained superiority in the general melee and Ottoman ships gradually surrendered.

Stage 3 (7 October 1571)

The fleeing Ottoman galleys distracted their own units still in battle; nor could the Centre Division keep up. The previously effective Ottoman Left Division then escaped the hopeless struggle. The Ottoman fleet suffered several times more losses than the Holy League. Many of their galleys were also captured and held by the Christians. The battle, one of the largest naval battles ever to be fought on the Mediterranean, slowed down the Ottoman expansion but could not stop it.

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