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The End of the Mediterranean Civilization - Focusing on the Battle of Lepanto

EungJong Kim 1

1충남대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Battle of Lepanto which took place in the Gulf of Patras near Lepanto in the morning of the 7th October 1571 between the Christian Saint League and the Ottoman empire was an historical event. The battle in which more than 400 galleys and 100,000 men fought for 4 hours was finished by the overwhelming victory of the Saint League. This was a great victory for the Christian world after the long series of defeats in the land as well as in the sea. It can be freed from the long terror and inferiority vis-a-vis the Ottoman empire. Who is responsible for the victory of the Saint League? It is undeniable that Don John, the commander in chief, contributed to forming a unified force, the Saint League, which was inherently divided and hostile against each other. And, among others, the superiority of the ordnance of the new Galleasses and the Galleys and the individual weapons such as muskets compared with those of the Ottoman Empire which had the pikes and swords. In short, the victory was a victory of the leadership and the modernized arms of the western world. Most historians agree with Fernand Braudel who considers the Battle of Lepanto to be a historical 'event' which doesn't exert any influence on the historical 'structure'. There are some historians who argue that the Ottoman empire won the final victory by retaking Tunis and La Golette in 1574. But, it cannot be justified to underestimate the historical role of the victory of the Battle of Lepanto. It enabled the Christian world to be freed from the long inferiority, which led eventually to the balance of power in the Mediterranean world. The Ottoman empire was recovered rapidly from the loss of the galleys, but the recovery of the skillful manpower needed long time. The balance of power led to the peace. Then, each empire could concentrate its forces on the internal problems. Spain turned to the north, while the Ottoman empire turned to the east, leaving the Mediterranean sea vacant. The Atlantic Ocean supplanted the Mediterranean sea as the center of the European civilization. The victory of the Battle of Lepanto did a great part in this historical transition. In this sense, it can be rightly regarded as an event which influenced the historical "structure".

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.