February 10, 2015


If Lepanto Went Hollywood (Mark Judge, 2/08/15, RCR)

In 1453 Muslim Turks had taken Constantinople, and were setting their sights on Europe. Their leaders was the Sultan Selim. While Europe argued over its own religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, Pope Pius V attempted to sound the alarm. As Lepanto historian Brandon Rogers once wrote: "Pius understood the tremendous importance of resisting the aggressive expansion of the Turks better than any of his contemporaries appear to have. He understood that the real battle being fought was spiritual; a clash of creeds was at hand, and the stakes were the very existence of the Christian West."

In 1571 the pope took action. He formed the Holy League, an organization to combat Islamic aggression. It included Spain, Venice, and the Papal States. The pope ordered prayers and fasts, and emphasized the importance of the Rosary to victory. The Holy League was badly outnumbered. The Ottoman fleet was 100,000 men and over 300 war galleys strong. The Holy League had 208 war galleys and 80,000 men -- 30,00 soldiers, 50,000 manning the oars. Nevertheless, Pope Pius ordered the ships out to meet the Turks. The Turks had called Rome "the Red Apple," a resplendent and valuable prize, and Pius had no doubt that that was where the Muslims would head if not faced down.

The Holy League was led by Don John of Austria, the bastard son of Emperor Charles V and half brother of Phillip II, the King of Spain. He was 24. In him Pius saw "someone who in council would rise above pettiness and envy, who in battle would lead without flinching." It was needed. Europe was a mess, and the men who would fight at Lepanto would often bicker with each other. According to Jack Beeching in his book The Galleys at Lepanto, "Don John was clear in his own mind as to the terms on which Islamic aggression must be fought...He had been given the task of fighting a total war against another system of ideas -- historically, the hardest of all wars to win...It followed that in the ships of the Holy League blasphemy or any other kind of religious doubt, openly expressed, had to be treated as sedition. The impending battle could be won only by men who were unanimous." Easier said than done. Like most free people, the Holy League was somewhat disorganized, with clashing personalities and people who questioned the mission, the cause, everything.

It's quite a setup, and has a mix of genres that would seem to make piles of money if turned into a film. It's action-adventure, underdogs versus a foe who appears unstoppable, a period piece, a war film, sword and sorcery -- and pro-Christian. It's The Avengers produced by Clint Eastwood.

Posted by at February 10, 2015 6:03 PM

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