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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

In September Nicosia fell to the Turk


The

Pope, however, had long been anxious to organize a league of Christian peoples to win back the Mediterranean to the Cross and draw a line beyond which the Crescent should never pass. In this plight of Venice he saw an opportunity, because hitherto the persistent neutrality or the unwillingness of the Venetians to fight the Turk to the finish had been one of the chief obstacles to concerted action. He therefore pledged his own resources to Venice and attempted to collect allies by the appeal to the Cross. The results were discouraging, but a force of Spanish, Papal, and Venetian galleys was finally collected and after endless delays dispatched to the scene in the summer of 1570.

Meanwhile the Turks had been pressing their attack on Cyprus and were besieging the city of Nicosia. If the Christians had been moved by any united spirit they could have relieved Nicosia and struck a heavy blow at the Turkish fleet, which lay unready and stripped of its men in the harbor. But Gian Doria, who inherited from his great uncle his great dislike of Venetians, and who probably had secret instructions from his master, Philip II, to help as little as possible, succeeded in blocking any vigorous move on the part of the other commanders. Finally, after a heated quarrel, he sailed back to Sicily with his entire fleet, and the rest followed. The allies had gone no nearer Cyprus than the port of Suda in Crete. The whole expedition, therefore, came to nothing.

style="text-align: justify;">In September Nicosia fell to the Turk, who then turned to the conquest of Famagusta, the last stronghold of the Venetians on the island. Bragadino, the commander of the besieged forces, fought against desperate odds with a courage and skill worthy of the best traditions of his native city, hoping to repulse the Turks until help could arrive. But Doria's defection in 1570 decided the fate of the city the following year. After fifty-five days of siege, with no resources left, Bragadino was compelled, on August 4, 1571, to accept an offer of surrender on honorable terms. The Turkish commander, enraged at the loss of 50,000 men, which Bragadino's stubborn defense had cost, no sooner had the Venetians in his power than he massacred officers and men and flayed their commander alive. This news did not reach the Christians, however, until their second expedition was almost at grips with the Turks at Lepanto.

_The Campaign of Lepanto_

Undismayed by the failure of his first attempt, Pope Pius had immediately gone to work to reorganize his Holy League. He had to overcome the mutual hatred and mistrust that lay between Spain and Venice, aggravated by the recent conduct of Doria, but neither the Pope nor Venice could do without the help of Spain. There was much bickering between the envoys in the Papal chambers, and it was not till February, 1571, that the terms of the new enterprise were agreed upon. By this contract no one of the powers represented was to make a separate peace with the Porte. The costs were divided into six parts, of which Spain undertook three, Venice, two, and the Pope, one. Don Juan, the illegitimate brother of Philip II, was to be commander in chief. Although only twenty-four, this prince had won a military reputation in suppressing the Moorish rebellion in Spain, and, having been recognized by Philip as a half brother, he had a princely rank that would subordinate the claims of all the rival admirals. Finally, the rendezvous was appointed at Messina.

The aged Venetian admiral, Veniero, had been compelled by the situation in the east to divide his force into two parts, one at Crete, and the other under himself at Corfu. By the time he received orders to proceed to the rendezvous, he learned that Ali, the corsair king of Algiers, known better by his nickname of "Uluch" Ali, was operating at the mouth of the Adriatic with a large force. To reach Messina with his divided fleet, Veniero ran the risk of being caught by Ali and destroyed in detail, but the situation was so critical that he took the risk and succeeded in slipping past the corsair undiscovered. In permitting this escape, and in fact in allowing all the other units of the Christian fleet to assemble at Messina, Ali missed a golden opportunity to destroy the whole force before it ever collected. Instead, he continued his ravages on the coasts of the Adriatic, bent only on plunder. He carried his raids almost to the lagoons of Venice itself, and indeed might have attacked the city had he not been hampered by a shortage of men.


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