some muslim-christian history: Lepanto

Michael Novak writes...

The 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....

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.

Chesterton's poem is too long to reproduce here....


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