The Thinking 


October 6, 2012


The Battle of Lepanto, H. Letter

VINCENT C. writes:

October 7th marks the 441st anniversary of the great naval battle of Lepanto in 1571 in the Gulf of Corinth, where Christian naval forces met and destroyed a larger Turkish Ottoman fleet, putting an end, albeit temporarily, to Muslim seaward incursions and expansion into Western Europe. How striking this victory is in light of the sycophantic servility that Christian officials now display when dealing with a religion that to this day has never shown its willingness to “live and let live” with Christianity.

Pope Pius V, believing that his fervent rosary prayers to Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, had brought about her intercession on behalf of the smaller fleet, ordered that all the church bells be rung after the battle, and the following year an annual commemoration of our Lady of Victory to be made. Two years later, with Pius V dead, his successor, Pope Gregory XIII, instituted an annual feast of Thanksgiving to remind the inhabitants of Christendom the debt owed to the Mother of Jesus.

The historian, Victor Davis Hanson, wrote that Lepanto’s significance “underwhelmed” modern historians, but what cannot be denied is that, without the assistance of either France or England, Pius V cobbled together “The Christian League,” – Venice, Spain and the the Holy See – which prevented Islam’s steady march westward in the Mediterranean, an overwhelming event indeed. Don Juan of Austria, who assumed command of the fleet, is also known as offering one of the shortest pre-battle speeches in history: “Gentlemen, this is not the time to discuss, but to fight.” The final denouement of Islam would occur one century later at Vienna.

Military considerations apart, Lepanto must also be remembered as the ultimate effort by an aging leader of Christendom to recognize the dangers that an expansive Islam would bring to the West. Pope Pius V understood the danger that Islam presented to Christians, and took the appropriate action. The author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, wounded in the battle, wrote that Lepanto was, “the most noble and memorable event that past centuries have seen or future generations will ever hope to witness.” The participants, unlike current historians, were not “underwhelmed” by Lepanto’s importance.  They saw it clearly.

G. K. Chesterton also was not “underwhelmed” by Don Juan of Austria or Lepanto’s significance. In his epic poem of that title, he wrote:

The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,–
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

—– Comments —–

Paul writes:

Although traditionalists cannot man the Lepanto warships we lack at present, they can shout and their shouts will have a huge effect.

Traditionalists can shout by voting regularly and by calling and writing politicians.  Some states delete voters from the rolls if the voters are inactive, and politicians check the voting rolls to determine whether the voters are active.  Here is a link that gives the rules for all fifty states.

Legislators check shouting by viewing the voter’s monetary contribution record, which is trivial to a president but not to a legislator.  So traditionalists should shout vigorously by giving money, if traditionalists want to make a major impact.  The monetary amount is not that important, unless perhaps the voter is asking for a personal favor (which I have never done and therefore cannot comment about).  Although it is a sour thing to bring up, politicians are bought cheaply.

No less effective (and maybe more so) is shouting by calling near the time politicians vote.  Most don’t bother because of apathy and the liberal Media, which has feared the conservative white majority.  My experience teaches calling is powerful.  Calling is powerful regardless of whether there is a chance of winning.  Usually, calls work on close votes; but even if the calls do not succeed, the calls makes the politician realize how strong his opposition is and will cause him to reconsider his position.

Many consider calls awkward and an annoyance in their busy lives, but they should remain mindful of the sacrifices at Valley Forge if they dare think they are going to have a small chance at turning things back to traditionalism.

When calling, people merely need to say politely, “I urge senator . . . or representative . . . to oppose (or to support) the vote about . . . .”  That is it.  People need not prepare to undergo interrogation or to give reasons.  If by chance the legislator’s fumbler interrogates and the caller is nonplussed, the caller should say, “Thank you” and hang up.  People should be aware the politician’s staff often asks for a zip code and sometimes a name.  People have no reason to fear.  Such information is not going to harm the caller, and the caller can refuse if uneasy.  The call is a vital shout across the bow that we owe our soldiers of Valley Forge.

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