Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – MPD,10,81 – Archivo General (Simancas, Spain)

Spain — 1571

The victory of the Holy League over the mighty Ottoman army: unique evidence of one of the greatest naval battles in history, including Juan de Austria's personal report and a map of the battle

  1. Documents relating one of the most important events of the 16th century: the 1571 Battle of Lepanto

  2. The victory of the Holy League, lead by Juan de Austria (1547–1578), stopped the Ottoman Turks in the Mediterranean

  3. A letter from Juan to his brother, King Philip II (1527–1598), dated October 10th, 1571 relates the victory first hand

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

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Description
Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

The Spanish General Archive in Simanacas houses unique documents relating to one of the most important events of 16th century Christendom: the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. In this noteworthy battle off the coast of Greece, the Holy League triumphed over the mighty fleet of the Turks and in doing so, secured the supremacy of Spain at the expense of Ottoman power in the Mediterranean. A unique compendium of four documents bears witness to this historic event: the original document of the Holy League signed on the 25th of May, 1571 by the three participating parties, an original map of the battles with the formation of the opposing fleets, an anonymous yet detailed account of the events of the battle, and additionally, a letter dated the 10th of October, 1571 from Juan de Austria to his half-brother Philipp II, in which he informs the king of the Christian’s victory. Unique historical documents of exceptional worth!

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

The Spanish General Archive in Simanacas houses unique documents relating to one of the most important events of 16th century Christendom: the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. In this noteworthy battle off the coast of Greece, the Holy League triumphed over the mighty fleet of the Turks and in doing so, secured the supremacy of Spain at the expense of Ottoman power in the Mediterranean. A unique compendium of four documents bears witness to this historic event: the original document of the Holy League signed on the 25th of May, 1571 by the three participating parties, an original map of the battles with the formation of the opposing fleets, an anonymous yet detailed account of the events of the battle, and additionally, a letter dated the 10th of October, 1571 from Juan de Austria to his half-brother Philipp II, in which he informs the king of the Christian’s victory. Unique historical documents of exceptional worth!

The Noteworthy Naval Battle

On the 7th of October, 1571 in the Gulf of Lepanto off the west coast of Greece, the fleet of the Holy League met with the Turks under the command of Sultan Selim II. The Christians embarked from the Sicilian city of Messina and boasted a modern fleet. Their commander was Don Juan de Austria, illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V and therefore the half-brother of the Spanish King Philipp II, and already a tried and tested warrior and commander of the Spanish Mediterranean fleet at the age of 24. In a gigantic battle – involving 700 ships and 80,000 combatants on the side of the Christians – the Holy League won a triumphant victory over the Ottoman fleet, thereby securing the Mediterranean from the Turkish threat.

The Holy League

The power of the Turks in the western Mediterranean was a constant menace in the 16th century for the Spanish and Italian coasts, which mostly belonged to Spain. Attacks and raids put the people living on the coasts in a state of fear and anxiety, and the sieges of Malta and Cyprus in 1565 and 1570 made the imminent expansion of this Ottoman power an urgent issue. The powerful fleet of the Turks had to be pushed back. For this reason, in May of 1571 the Republic of Venice, Pope Pious V, and Philipp II concluded an alliance against the Ottomans: the so-called Holy League was born.

Documents of World History

The event of the Holy League’s founding is certified with the original document from the 25th of May, 1571. The vellum document is signed by the three participants. With this mighty alliance the groundwork was laid for the triumph at Lepanto. The great hopes of Christianity lay on these important figures. The original map of the sea battle allows the event to be uniquely understood. The map is furnished with notes and records in Italian. It shows the formation of the opposing fleets, the Christians in the form of a cross, the Turks that of a crescent moon.

The Joy over the Triumph

The wonderful result of the battle for the Christians – according to the official data 90 Turkish ships were sunk and 130 were captured, while the Holy League lost only 15 ships – can be understood by means of two additional documents: the account of an unknown author describes, in detail, the events of the battle believably and impartially. And in a Letter from Juan de Austria to Philipp II. from the 10th of October 1571, the commander of the Holy League informs the Spanish Kings of the Christian fleet’s victory. The Spanish National Poet Miguel de Cervantes, who participated himself in the battle, named the Lepanto naval battle a noteworthy event. Up to this day, the Battle of Lepanto is considered to be an important event of Spanish and even world history that can be impressively brought to light by the original documents at hand.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Mapa de la Batalla de Lepanto
Die Schlacht von Lepanto
Origin
Spain
Date
1571
Language
Patron
John of Austria

Available facsimile editions:
Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – MPD,10,81 – Archivo General (Simancas, Spain)
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1998
Detail Picture

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

Christian Fleet, Center and Reserve Divisions

Juan de Austria, appointed by the Holy League to be commander-in-chief of the fleet facing off with the Turks, personally took command of the Center Division in his flagship, the Real. Two large “galleasses”, heavily armed with artillery, served as the spear heads to 62 galleys supported by a Reserve Division of another 46 galleys. Don Juan met with the flagship of the Ottoman admiral, Ali Pasha, boarding and killing all onboard and hoisting his banner on its mast, breaking Turkish morale.

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – MPD,10,81 – Archivo General (Simancas, Spain)
Single Page

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents

Plan of Battle

On October 7th, 1571, the navy of the Ottoman Empire, which had previously dominated the Mediterranean and threatened to carry invading armies to Italy, was decisively defeated at the Battle of Lepanto by a Christian alliance known as the Holy League. Here, the line of battle for the last major naval engagement in the West to be fought entirely by rowing vessels is depicted in detail.

At the top of the page, we see the Ottoman fleet deployed in a long curved line. It is facing off with the combined fleet of the Holy League, which is deployed in three squadrons with a fourth in reserve. Four so-called “galleasses”, large new Venetian warships carrying an abundance of artillery, act as spearheads for the rest of the fleet.

Battle of Lepanto: Essential Documents – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – MPD,10,81 – Archivo General (Simancas, Spain)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Mapa de la Batalla de Lepanto

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1998
Binding: The work is presented in a luxury silk lined leather folder, stamped in gold.
Commentary: 1 volume (30 pages) by José Luis Rodríguez de Diego
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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