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Valar Qringaomis

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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Battle of Lepanto

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Battle of Lepanto

"In Cyprus and in Crete they're ruling Orthodox Christians. Greek Orthodox Christians, who actually hate, for very good reasons, hate Latin Christianity. So when the Ottomans took over Cyprus, the Orthodoox were not that displeased. I mean it's fascinating. If you go to Cyprus now, go to Famagusta which we just talked about and Nicosia - the two places which were besieged, there are two whacking white great French Gothic cathedrals, in, one in ruins. And the Orthodox have regarded those as symbols of Western Christian tyranny. And they were not taken over by the Orthodox. One became a mosque, and the other was just left in ruins. So there is a sense in which, again, Christendom doesn't exist in this equation. Venetians can be seen as Christian Western oppressors by other Christians, just as much as the enemy the Ottomans...

We think in terms of naval battles as trying to sink the enemies' ship with artillery broadsides. And that wasn't what galley warfare was about, not least because these ships were extremely expensive. Ideally you'd end the battle by towing back your enemy's ships as prizes. You used your artillery primarily to if you could to disable an enemy ship by smashing its oars, its rudder, but above all they were anti-personnel devices. They were for mowing down men on deck because the surprising thing about galley warfare in this period is that galleys are really floating platforms for soldiers...

Ali Pasha was concerned that they shouldn't be too close to land... because too close to land means your troops can run away onto the shore...

James VI... published his poem in Edinburgh in the 1590s... a sort of apologetic preface saying why he was praising Don Jon of Austria, who he called 'a foreign papist bastard' and in the poem itself, you've got a sort of health warning at the end about God's reaction to this Christian victory, which was 'God doth love his name so well that so he did them aid that serv'd not right his name'. These Catholics were not really proper Christians. At least God condescended to give them the victory...

'There's a religious element... you think that Sunni and Shia is a more serious ideological conflict than Islam and Christianity. That's very interesting'

'I would say for the Ottomans yes. I don't know if anyone else would agree. It's much more instantly threatening. Iran has the ability to infiltrate among the Ottoman population to the East in a way that is not the case in the West. So the attack ideologically exists there but not in the West... Christendom against Islam is different from Sunni Islam'...

'You go back to the early decades of the 16th century... there are big revolts against the Ottomans in Asia Minor by people who are Shia and not directly working for Persia but... that's where their sympathies lie. So hat's a serious issue for the Ottoman rulers'"
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