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On October 7, 1571, the naval forces of Europe, united for once in a Holy League by Pope Pius V, fought and defeated a massive Turkish/Ottoman force at Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Patmas (Patras/Patros) off the Ionian Sea. At a cost of 17 ships and 7500 men, the Crusaders, under the command of Don Juan of Austria, sank 15 Turkish ships, captured 177, killed or wounded over 20,000 Turkish sailors, and liberated as many as 15,000 Christians rowers from the Turkish galleys. In so doing, they prevented the Ottoman Empire from making the Mediterranean little more than a private lake and checked what had begun to seem an inevitable Muslim creep Westwards, Constantinople having fallen in 1453. Well might we expect such an epic victory to linger at the forefront of Western memory, and yet, with the exception of Chesterton's poem, which Catholic schoolkids may still learn, and the occasional mention by military historians, it's just not an event we tend to recall much or celebrate at all. This brief and eminently lucid account of the battle and the events leading up and following it, by the pseudonymous author, T.C.F. Hopkins, may do something to rectify at least the former, though, as she explains, there may be good reason for the latter.

Hopkins is better known to most of us as the novelist Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, whose chronicles of the vampire St. Germain have long been noted for the accuracy of their historical settings. In this non-fiction work she brings her gifts as a storyteller to bear in such a manner as to give the characters a personality that one doesn't often find in history texts and to make it possible to visualize the naval action, which I, for one, often have trouble with. She also opines that the very fact that this clash took place at sea, out of sight and with limited effect on the immediate lives of landlubbers, may have prevented it from capturing the fancy in the way that great land battles have. She also points out that its main effect at sea was to force a stalemate in the Eastern Med, while on land the West turned its attention to exploiting the New World and finding some accommodation between Protestantism and Catholicism and the Ottomans built up their land forces, which would not be finally checked until the Battle of Vienna, in 1683. At any rate, the book offers important history served up brisk and readable and we can only hope that Ms Hopkins/Yarbro plans on returning to the field of non-fiction in the future.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Chelsea Yarbro Links:
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    -AUTHOR SITE: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
    -BOOK SITE: Confrontation at Lepanto (Tor Books)
    -Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Wikipedia)
    -ESSAY: The Clash of Civilizations: A Novelist's Perspective (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, 7/24/06, History News Network)
-ESSAY: Dogma Meets Fiction: Background Notes on Magnificat (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Hidden-Knowledge)
    -REVIEW: of Gemini: The House of Niccolo. By Dorothy Dunnett (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -ARCHIVES: "chelsea quinn yarbro" (Find Articles)
    -INTERVIEW: A Visit with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Christina Francine, June 2005, The Internet Review of Science Fiction
    -INTERVIEW: Vampire Basks In Roman Dusk (SciFi Wire, 6/16/06)
    -INTERVIEW: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro created one of fantasy's most famous vampires (Cristopher DeRose, Science Fiction Weekly)
    -ESSAY: Bring Out Your Undead: The Children of Lestat (Michael Richards, 6/5/2006, Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Confrontation at Lepanto: Christendom vs. Islam by T. C. F. Hopkins ()
    -REVIEW: of Confrontation at Lepanto (Warren Kelly, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of Mansions of Darkness by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Steven H Silver)
    -REVIEW: of States Of Grace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Richard Marcus, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of Dark of the Sun by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Suite 101)
    -REVIEW: of Roman Dusk: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Yarbro (Publishers Weekly)

Book-related and General Links:

-ESSAY: St. Pius V and the Battle of Lepanto (Joseph Pearce, October 6th, 2023, Imaginative Conservative)
    -Battle of Lepanto (1571) (Wikipedia)
    -ESSAY: Remembering Lepanto: A battle not forgotten (Michael Novak, 10/07/06, National Review)
    -ESSAY: The Tactics of the Battle of Lepanto Clarified: The Impact of Social, Economic, and Political Factors on Sixteenth Century Galley Warfare (JOHN F. GUILMARTIN, JR., LT COL, USAF)
    -ESSAY: Clash of civilizations: Battle of Lepanto revisited (MARY JO ANDERSON, 10/07/06,
    -ESSAY: The Victory of September 11, 1565 (Paul J. Cella III, 11 Sep 2006, Tech Central Station)
    -ESSAY: Lepanto, October 7th, 1571: A day to remember (Paul J Cella, Red State)
    -ESSAY: Remember Lepanto! (Robert McMullen, Tradition in Action)
    -ARCHIVES: Lepanto (Find Articles)
    -POEM: Lepanto (G.K. Chesterton)