Skip to comments.The Battle of Lepanto
Posted on 03/08/2004 12:08:54 PM PST by robowombat
The Battle of Lepanto by Joe Palmer [ opinion - january 04 ] "Unlike Christianity, which preached a peace that it never achieved, Islam unashamedly came with a sword." - Steven Runciman, 'A History of the Crusades'
"The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyrs." - Hadith
"May she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong." - Stephen Decatur
What ever happened to galley slaves, the motors, the petroleum resources, of the Middle Ages? Before the 17th Century, large ships called galleys were powered by human physical labor, by rowers giving off smelly but benign exhaust gas, mostly carbon dioxide, harmless to the atmosphere and beneficial to living plants. Since Roman times the Mediterranean had been plied with galleys pulled by men working together in harmony. The galley ship was an ideal, logrolling institution. There was no question who was boss. Their fuel was gruel.
There were not many applicants for the position of rower (remex). In order for a rower to work his way up to the position of conductor (dux), the man who beat the kettle drum so that the rowers could all row the boat together, he had to serve as an apprentice rower (tiro) for weeks, then as a journeyman (cerdo) for days until he became a master rower (præceptor), and then if he knew the right people he got to beat the drum, and didn't have to row any more, just as in the craft unions today. But rowing on galleys was not a trade most young men chose. They preferred to become peasants or soldiers.
When they surrendered during a battle, or when they ran afoul of the law, and then had a choice between a galley and a dungeon, most of them, with some urging from their captors and jailers, chose life on the open sea. Under those conditions they were assured a quick burial.
Miguel de Cervantes, author of the great novel, Don Quixote, was severely wounded in the battle of Lepanto, losing the use of his left arm. He had been a slave of the Barbary pirates as a young man. Did the soldiers who were carried to battle on galleys have to row them too? Did the rowers' union allow non-union soldiers to row when they needed more speed or when they got tired? The Christian forces carried about 30,000 fighting men into battle at Lepanto. Presumably, Cervantes had to row from time to time when the situation required it. But I'd bet he didn't have to row when they were going back to Spain.
The Barbary pirates, dreadful Moslems after 700 AD, had always exacted tribute, that is, protection money, from ships on the Mediterranean, particularly after the expulsion of the Moors from Spain in 1492. The Berbers had supported the piratical brothers, Arouj and Khair el-Dein, both known as "Redbeard," that is, "Barbarossa." The last slave of the Berbers was sold in Ireland in 1830, after the French, following the English lead, had abolished slavery. The United States had paid bribes to the Barbary pirates until the Tripolitan War, when Stephen Decatur led the US Marines to victory over the Ottoman Uncle, the dey of Algiers, in 1815, thus the Marines' Hymn:
From the halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli...
The enmity between the Christian West and the Moslem East has persisted for centuries. Today we are all at risk of suffering or dying because of this hostility, antipathy, antagonism, animosity, rancor, and animus. What follows here is a brief overview of this ill will and conflict.
Throughout the world, poor people envy the freedom, comfort, and opportunity in the West. An anti-modern Islamic tide of such people threatens to drown us. Bitterly resentful, they have become hateful, especially the educated ones, who can find no meaningful profession or work consistent with their training in their repressive societies. For example, the pilots of 9/11 were educated men, and thwarted.
Today in the Islamic world they look at our wealth with envy. Then they look at our distasteful, vulgar entertainment, our greed, indifference and hedonism, our society made up of armed camps, ghettos, gated communities and prisons, and they see themselves reflected. The difference between us and them is that we have made opportunity, freedom and consumer goods available to a greater part of the population, while they still wallow in medieval squalor. This is "the clash of civilizations."
In spite of the popular, enlightened way that religion has become unmentionable in Western lands and usually politely ignored as much as possible, in much of the world untouched by the bright light of anthropology, many people take organized religion seriously as a key to their very identity. One's identity entails livelihood, property, and wealth. Wealth is what you make or take.
Until modern times religion has been inseparable from the apparatus of the state and its activities of production and exploitation, of the making and taking of wealth.
In the West, however, we have been separating religion and government forcibly, prying them apart, over a long period of time, ever since the Enlightenment, because we found that religion has no adaptive value in the modern democratic world. Like the Great Vowel Shift in English, this set of changes is an ongoing process. The Founding Fathers wrote the separation of church and state into the US Constitution with good reason based on experience. Moreover, it was not until a few decades ago in the US that the practical consequences of this secularism, this ignoring of the chimera called religion, that there could be a Catholic president, and a Jew (or Conspicuous Person, for that matter) at the country club. On the other hand, to a large extent it hasn't begun to happen yet in the East. Some people there do not want it to happen. They want everyone in his little box - the Copt in his ghetto, the Druze on his mountain, the Jew in Israel, the Baha'i in Los Angeles - with everything under the control of the Moslem clergy.
Religion has been used as an excuse for exclusion, and for economic conquest, by means of warfare throughout history. It gives divinely-inspired justification for our ethnicity, our particular identities. With the kingdom, power and glory of religion, we justify inhumane actions, collective madness, greed, blood lust, and our killer-ape behavior. Always behind the motives of atrocity lies religion. Think of how we [yes, we] justified Wounded Knee, 9/11, Rwanda, Bosnia, Hiroshima, Buchenwald, Palestine... Everyone always has his reasons for what he does.
Umberto Eco summed up the human predicament: "...the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth." Traditionally, the underlying, fictitious truth has been expressed in fabulous religions. When fable is taken as fact, everybody had better agree, or there will be trouble and saints will be crucified upside down.
East versus West The Romans built a wall in Syria to keep the nomadic, disagreeable Arabs out of the Levant, just as they had built Hadrian's Wall in Britain to keep the marauding Picts beyond it in what is now Scotland in 121127 AD. They wanted no dealings with the Barbari, Arabs or Persians. The Roman way of life, that is to say, the Roman economic system, continued under the several states of Europe and North Africa formed by the German Visigoths, Franks, and Vandals (as they were pushed by Huns, Avars, and Slavs) up until around 700AD, the Moslem golden age. Islam was founded in the 7th Century.
With their secret weapon, the camel, the Moslems came out of the desert and enforced a theocracy upon part of the Roman world. They spread across North Africa, up the Iberian Peninsula (Spain) and across the Pyrenees. The Christian army made a stand near Poitiers in Western France. There Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, defeated the Moslems (the Saracens) in a great battle in 732. They have been bitter about it ever since.
Under Charlemagne the western lands became a marriage of Church and State too, like Islam, the ideals of learning and monasticism, and of rigid Church doctrine, providing the framework for feudal, agricultural states. It was farming that fed the armored horses and the men who supported armored, mounted knights. The knights had a secret weapon, the stirrup, which allowed them to stay mounted on war horses. Big armored horses with knights securely in the saddle were formidable in battle.
Between the 11th and 14th Centuries, Christian Europeans with material and spiritual motives attempted to protect the Byzantine (Eastern Christian Church) from the Moslem Turks, and to make pilgrimage to the Holy Land safe for Westerners. They didn't do very well.
It was not until 1492 that the Moslems were finally expelled from Christian Spain, at which point the Spanish looked to America for booty, for gold and silver. In 1453 Constantinople had fallen to the Turks and had become Istanbul, the Byzantine Christian Empire retreating from Islam. The Ottoman Turks, powerful Moslems, were not ousted from Hungary until 1699.
Conflicts between East and West have continued to this day. For example, in the 14th and 15th Centuries the Hungarians and Serbs were defeated by the Turkish Sultans Murad I and II in Kosovo. In particular, a great battle between Roman Catholic countries and the Moslem Ottoman Turks over control of the Mediterranean was fought in 1571 off the coast of Greece near the "Little Dardanelles" and the shipyards of Nafpaktos, also called Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Patras. It was the last such naval battle.
More than 300 years later in the 20th Century, that battle was still being celebrated in a ballad written by the English poet GK Chesterton. In the poem Chesterton reveals what Western Europeans thought of Moslems then (1911), which is what most Westerners tacitly and privately think of Moslems now, even though many of us would not admit to prejudice. Furthermore, most of us are unaware of our frames of thought, the peculiar, distorted perceptions and attitudes that guide our thinking.
Chesterton reiterates the underlying prejudices, assumptions, memories, and mythology that accompany Western references to Islam. It is these often subconscious ways of thinking about Moslems that shape our decisions, from global strategy to the way we treat our Moslem neighbors next door. Prejudice is what we feel towards those we have been taught to fear.
At the end of the 16th Century, galley slaves made possible the Battle of Lepanto (1571), the last naval engagement between rowed warships. In it, the Catholics had 208 galleys, six galleasses, and 66 smaller ships to transport 30,000 soldiers, who fought on the water. The galleasses were big galleys with sails and cannons. Sails were just coming into use then, to supplant galley slaves for centuries thereafter as the primary source of locomotion on the seas. Nobody knows for sure how many galleys and ships the Turks had, but all the sources say the sides were about evenly matched.
The battle of Lepanto remains a moment in Western history when great powers in Christendom - Spain, Genoa, Venice, and several Papal states - gained victory over Islam. The more northern and Protestant Western European states did not join in, for various reasons that make a story in themselves. The battle was a turning point in early modern history. The merchants of the West in 1571 made the world safer for trade, just as the merchants of the West are making the world safer for trade in 2004.
The battle of Lepanto was one of the last "Crusades" before modern times, before Napoleon took Egypt, before the Turks massacred the Christian Armenians, before the creation of the state of Israel on the territory of Moslem and Christian Palestine, and the reoccupation of Kuwait and Iraq, and other wars. Tripoli in Libya, for example, was taken militarily by the British in 1918, and again in 1941 with the help of the Free French. There has been bad blood all around for some time.
Chesterton was a Christian apologist who held that "nonsense and faith are the two supreme symbolic assertions of truth." He tells us in the verses that Muhammad in his paradise remembered the earlier Crusades of long ago before the battle of Lepanto took place:
"...a noise is in the mountains... and I know the voice that shook our palaces four hundred years ago: it is he that saith not Kismet;' it is he that knows not Fate: It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate."
Richard I, the Lion-Hearted (1157-1199), Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse (1038-1105), and Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower Lorraine (1058-1100), King of Jerusalem in 1099, were not given to believe that everything that happens is foreordained. They didn't say "Kismet" to explain away what happened to them, like the Moslems. They didn't believe in "fate." Things that happened were not written, not foreordained.
The Crusaders tried to stop the Saracens, the Moslems, from encroaching on what was left of Roman Mediterranean civilization in feudal days. Then the Turks took over the Byzantine Empire of Greek-speaking Christians who controlled Asia Minor, the Balkans, most of the Near East, and the Mediterranean Coast of Africa.
The great sea had been a Roman lake, with North Africa a verdant, productive bread basket. There were farms in those days all along the coast of North Africa, from the Levant to Morocco. Roman civilization persisted there, as it does today in the West.
Pushed by the tribes from the steppes of Asia, the tribes of Northern Europe mixed with the Romans, creating powerful kingdoms where Roman ways were perpetuated. Their galleys were rowed by eunuchs provided by Viking, and Syrian Jewish, slave dealers, who got their slaves among the Slavs, hence the word slave. Eunuch in Arabic is sakáliba, the same root as slave.
The Prophet Muhammad is called "Mahound" in Chesterton's ballad, an insult that goes back to a Beaumont and Fletcher play written around 1600. Salman Rushdie in his immensely popular recent novel The Satanic Verses used the name Mahound, thereby earning himself a famous Moslem fatwa, or condemnation, of the sort that could be dangerous to one's health. "Mahound" is a contemptuous name for Muhammad that means devil or evil spirit. Dogs are taboo in Islam.
"Whores, writers, Mahound, we are the people you can't forgive," Rushdie observed.
In the poem 'Lepanto', Mahound is taller than the trees; his voice is thunder, commanding the angel of death Azrael and the pagan spirits Ariel and Ammon. He has godly powers and uses the Seal of Solomon, the magic ring with the magen Dawid, Sulayman's Seal, the cachet used on Moroccan coins, to crush the infidel Christians, to root out their hermits and ascetics, to rob and pillage, to raid towns on the Adriatic coast and build fortresses, where...
"Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines... And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell..."
Most importantly he has captured the island of Cyprus, and occupied the city of Famagusta, the seat of the Venetian governors (which was to be the site of the play Othello, the Moor of Venice).
The modern European countries did not exist as such in those days. The great mercantile power in the Mediterranean Sea was Venice, along with several other "Italian" states, many controlled by the Papacy. A Holy League of Catholic states - Spain, Venice, and the Italian states - set out to destroy the Turkish fleet because the Turks were encroaching upon their territory. The Moslem Turks had taken Anatolia, that is, most of modern-day Turkey, and for 300 years had been making war to conquer the Greek Islands controlled by Venice. The Sultan was, and is, both a spiritual and temporal leader. The Pope used to be both a spiritual and temporal leader too. In Islam the state and religion are not separate. In the West we pretend otherwise. The Sultan of Istanbul was not deposed until 1922! There are historical reasons why the Turks would not help in the recent invasion of Iraq.
Venice was a city state which for one thousand years had controlled trade on the Adriatic, Ionian, and Aegean Seas. The Turks had occupied Albania and the port of Bari in Puglia [Italy] as part of their push to the west. When the enemy fleet had gone to Lepanto in order to re-supply their stores and provisions at the shipyards there, the Holy League ships and soldiers gathered at Messina in Sicily, preparing to attack the Turks, on the order of the Pope. He called for a fleet to crush the Turks, and so "the last knight of Europe," Don John of Austria, led the Holy League into battle. Nearly 14,000 Christian galley slaves were liberated after the battle. Of 75,000 Turks, the majority was killed or captured. 7,000 Christian soldiers perished. Of the 300 or so Turkish ships, 50 escaped capture. The remainder were sunk or taken.
Don John was the natural son of Charles V, 1500-1558, who was the greatest of the Hapsburg emperors, the last German crowned by a pope, and who controlled Spain and Spanish America, the Low Countries, Austria, Naples, and Sicily. Don John of Austria (his real name was Geronimo) was later made Governor-General of the Netherlands, after he had conquered Tunis. His half-brother was Philip II of Spain, of the Holy Inquisition and Spanish Armada (1588) infamy, who learned a fatal lesson from his brother's victory over the Turks. Englishmen like Francis Drake, Martin Frobisher, and Charles Howard in sailing ships were not Turks in galleys. He lost half his Armada, his fleet of 130 ships, dispersed by storms off Ireland, their crews killed or captured - 15,000 men in that venture. And the Reformation went on.
But earlier at Lepanto
"Vivat Hispania! Domino Gloria! Don John of Austria Has set his people free! And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain, Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain, And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade... Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade
Not to mention leftist:
"The Founding Fathers wrote the separation of church and state into the US Constitution "
There is no such thing in the Constitution or any of the founding documents.
No, the clear intent of the 1st amendment was to prevent a State religion, not to have a wall between religion and the state.
"The Honorable Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!"
No, the clear intent of the 1st amendment was to prevent a State religion, not to have a wall between religion and the state.
Yep, preventing state religions was the clear intent back in 1789. It worked, as they all faded away in the next several decades. -- But I see you want to bicker about 'walls' etc.. -- Granted, no wall is needed, just common sense in making laws, - pro or con - about religion.
But Dataman knows this, having argued so before.
It's an agit-prop tactic [invented by leftists], to insist upon repeating such flat out errors of constitutional fact. -- How can you argue against your own religious freedom from a state religion? Why would you want a state favored religion?
It appears you have difficulty with the word "clearly". There is nothing in my statement No, the clear intent of the 1st amendment was to prevent a State religion, not to have a wall between religion and the state. which proposes any "favored" religion. On the contrary, it mentions preventing a "favored" religion.(clearly a State religion would be "favored")
And, I would add, largely leftist: note moralizing on religion as the root of all evil, refusing to achnowledge that it was G-dless socalists in Germany, Russia and China that perpetrated most atrocities of the XX century.
Interesting references to the "Muslim and Christian Palestine" and the "fact" that only Vikings and Syrian Jews supposedly traded slaves.
I answered your question. I wrote that I did not mention favoring any religion by reading the first amendment exactly as it is written. You continue to fabricate a world which is internal to you and is not in consonance with the world outside of your skull. No wall is mentioned in the first amendment. You have at least verified that.