The Battle That Saved the Christian West

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Various events have taken place around the world to commemorate the anniversary. In Rome, for example, the non-profit Lepanto Center — headed by the erudite Roberto de Mattei — organized an evening roundtable. With presentations by Italian Admiral Ezio Ferrante and Professor Massimo de Leonardis, among others, the event emphasized the importance of the battle — and perhaps raised awareness of the threat we face today. There were also special Masses celebrated in Europe, the US and Australia.

We can also still read great accounts of the battle. G. K. Chesterton famously memorialized the battle in his 1911 poem, “Lepanto.” But that has been forgotten, too. And the Jesuit priest Luis Coloma wrote a short 1912 account, viewable here with images of famous paintings of the battle. There is also an excellent 12-page conference booklet titled Lepanto: A Category of the Spirit that can be viewed on-line. And the command ship of Don Juan of Austria can still be viewed, fully-restored, at the Naval Museum of Barcelona (Spain).

But, generally, it is a pity to realize how little has been written about the famous battle. Of the few articles that have been written about it, for example, only those by Michael Novak (2006) and Christopher Check (2007) are worth reading. A cumbersome, over-written account of the battle was also written by Harry W. Crocker III; but it is a slog.

In 2006, Count Niccoló Capponi, a military historian in Florence (Italy) published the eminently readable, if detailed, Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto (De Capo Press), which was favorably reviewed by Victor Davis Hanson in First Things and Daniel Johnson in The New Criterion.

Save for these, and a few awkward posts at different Catholic websites, there is lamentably very little out there.

Western elites continue to downplay the threat of radical Islam and continue to seek “peaceful coexistence,” suggesting approaches that will avoid military conflict. The suggestion is that dialogue, diplomacy and tolerance will somehow disarm radical Islamism.

Perhaps it might be worth recalling the words of the young Don Juan, who, in the final moments before the battle started on that fateful October 7th, was counseled that there was still time to avoid a full battle. As Christopher Check recounts:

“Gentlemen,” he said, looking around at his military commanders, “the time for counsel has passed. Now is the time for war.”

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  • Amused

    Bravo Mariano , excellent piece .

  • Axe

    This was really interesting. Thanks for taking the time, Navarro.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    The writer was doing reasonably well until he started with the radical Islam nonsense, which implies that the multicultural assumption that Islam is a so-called Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists isn't a political correct myth, even though it is demonstrably false.

  • StephenD

    I admit my ignorance when it comes to Lepanto. Until now, I've never heard of it. I only ever heard of Martel the Hammer. I agree with Chris. Because of who we are and where we are in history, it may serve the better purpose to see this on the big screen. The world still needs heroes and perhaps with the right light shined, Don Juan can fill that bill.

  • BonnieBarko

    For there are 0 comments since 2011 I daresay that indeed not many of us careless commoners care so much about the glorious battle 440 years ago even when ‘only’ 7000 of the good side had to sacrifice themselves for us, the supreme ones.
    Populist conservatives like the author of that nice article are the only kind that will never change (well, ‘conservatism’ states exactly that) – for also the Christians have had to go on (slaughter themselves f.e.), and even the Catholic Church itself had to make the one or other minor changes since 16th century.
    By the way: Imperial Ottoman and Osman conquers have nothing to do with modern Turkey, it does not mean ‘jihad’ and Islamistic terror has nothing to do with Lepanto at all. Because the ‘western Christians’ were mentioned: The eastern Church was widely tolerated then.
    Nevertheless it is interesting to ponder what today would look like if certain tendencies gone a different way in history – but that is sci-fi, not history and not our every day reality.

  • Axe

    A “spirit of confusion?”


  • tarleton

    Hardly …ever heard of the Reformation and the French wars of religion …the horrific St Bartholomues day massacre was only a year later ,……UNITED hahaha