History Project

The Battle For Christendom

Season 1, Episode 6 of 10

In 1571 the Mediterranean Sea was the battleground for the greatest naval clash in world history - the battle between "The Holy League," the Christians of Europe, and the Ottomans of Turkey - at the Battle of Lepanto. Lepanto was a clash of 600 ships with 250,000 people, resulting in nearly 50,000 casualties. It was the bloodiest confrontation ever between members of the Muslim and Christian faith, a level of mass killings not again reached until World War I, and likely the largest naval battle of all time. The Roman Catholic Pope instigated the war in fear of Muslim dominance in Europe. His fear had religious motivation but the war was also fuelled by the fear from the seafaring trade nations of losing control in their lucrative trade routes. Interestingly, Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote) fought this battle onboard a Spanish galleon! Using the latest sonar technology and cutting-edge analytical equipment, an underwater archaeological team successfully undertook a mission that not even Jacques Cousteau was able to accomplish. For the first time in history, they uncovered definitive physical evidence on where and how this battle took place.

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