Lepanto, Battle of, 1571, a naval battle fought between Turks and Christians. It took place near the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth off the coast of Lepanto (Návpaktos), Greece. It was the last major engagement fought with galleys. The battle was part of an effort to protect Europe from domination by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. A Turkish attack on Cyprus had caused Pope Pius V to form an alliance called the Holy League. The League's fleet, consisting chiefly of Venetian and Spanish vessels and commanded by Don John of Austria, met the Turks at Lepanto. The Turkish fleet was virtually annihilated, while Christian losses were comparatively small. The Christians failed to follow up their victory, and the Turks remained strong in the eastern Mediterranean. However, the threat of Muslim domination of the entire Mediterranean was averted.
The history of Europe is the story of many different peoples and cultures. Some peoples lagged behind, while others surged far ahead in the development of social, intellectual, and political institutions and ideas.
The control of Jerusalem and conflicts between Islam and the Western world may read like topics from today's headlines. But they were also at the heart of the Crusades.