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Naupactus or Nafpaktos (Greek: Ναύπακτος, Latin:  Naupactos; Italian, Spanish and Portuguese: Lepanto), is a town in the prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania, Greece, situated on a bay on the north side of the straits of Lepanto.

The harbor, once the best on the northern coast of the Corinthian Gulf, is accessible only to the smallest craft. The origin of Naupactus comes from the two Greek words: ναύς naus ship, boat and πήγνυμι pęgnumi, pegnymi builder, fixer. Distance from Patras is about 15 km NE and about 215 km NW of Athens with the new Rio-Antirio bridge.

In historical times it belonged to the Locrians; but about 455 BC, in spite of a partial resettlement with Locrians of Opus, it fell to the Athenians, who peopled it with Messenian refugees and made it their chief naval station in western Greece during the Peloponnesian war. Two major battles were fought at this location.

Battle of Nafpactos (429 BC) and Battle of  Lepanto 1571


Nafpactos

The Battle of Nafpactos (429 BC) was a naval battle in the Peloponnesian War. The battle, which took place a week after the Athenian victory at Rion, set an Athenian fleet of 20 ships, commanded by Phormio, against a Peloponnesian fleet of 77 ships, commanded by Cnemus.

In the battle, the Peloponnesians drew the Athenians out from their anchorage at Antirio by sailing into the Corinthian gulf, moving as if to attack the vital Athenian base at Naupactus. The Athenians were forced to shadow their movements, sailing eastward along the northern shore of the gulf. Attacking suddenly, the Peloponnesians drove nine Athenian ships ashore and pursued the others towards Naupactus; victory seemed securely in their hands. At the entrance to the harbor of Naupactus, however, the last Athenian ship to reach the harbor turned the tide by circling around an anchored merchant ship to ram and sink its leading pursuer. Confusion set in among the Peloponnesians, and the newly emboldened Athenians set out after them and routed them.

In all, the Athenians recaptured all but one of their nine grounded ships and seized six Peloponnesian ships to boot. This surprising victory preserved Athens' naval dominance and kept Naupactus secure; the arrival of an additional 20 Athenian ships shortly afterwards secured the victory and put an end to Sparta's attempt to take the offensive in the Northwest.

Nafpactos - Lepanto

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 In 404 it was restored to the Locrians, who subsequently lost it to the Achaeans, but recovered it through Epaminondas.

Philip II of Macedon gave Naupactus to the Aetolians, who held it till 191 BC, when after an obstinate siege it was surrendered to the Romans. It was still flourishing about 170, but in Justinian It's reign was destroyed by an earthquake. It was again destroyed by earthquakes in 553 and in the 8th century and so on.

Nafpactos - Lepanto

In the Middle Ages it fell into the hands of the Venetians, who fortified it so strongly that in 1477 it successfully resisted a four month's siege by a Turkish army thirty thousand strong; in 1499, however, it was rumored to have been sold by the Venetians to Beyazid II (Turks invading forces).

The mouth of the Gulf of Lepanto was the scene of the great sea fight in which the naval power of the Ottoman Empire was nearly completely destroyed by the united papal, Spanish, Habsburg and Venetian forces (Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571). In 1678 it was recaptured by the Venetians, but was again restored in 1699, by the treaty of Karlowitz to the Ottomans.

In the war of independence it finally became Greek once more (March 1829). After World War II and the Greek Civil War, its buildings were rebuilt while its architecture remain.

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«Στην σύγχρονη Ευρωπαϊκή πραγματικότητα, ο δήμος Ναυπάκτου, από τη χρονιά 2007, αλλάζει το ύφος και το περιεχόμενο των εκδηλώσεων.. αφού καθιερώνει, διαπολιτισμικές, ιστορικές και καλλιτεχνικές εκδηλώσεις, στοχεύοντας στη σύμπραξη των λαών που συμμετείχαν το 1571, στην ιστορική για την Ευρώπη, Ναυμαχία της Ναυπάκτου (Lepanto)»

Την ικανοποίησή τους εξέφρασαν και οι τέσσερις Πρέσβεις (Ιταλίας, Μάλτας, Κροατίας και Αυστρίας) τόσο για τη συνεργασία, όσο και για το αποτέλεσμα και το περιεχόμενο των εκδηλώσεων, κατά τη συνέντευξη τύπου που παραχώρησαν προς τα ελληνικά και ξένα Μέσα Επικοινωνίας.

Date: 7 October 1571 Location: near Naupactus, Gulf of Patras, Greece

...In five months the Ottomans have built 150 vessels with all the artillery and equipment needed .... Already their general is prepared to set out to sea at the end of this month with two hundred galleys and one hundred galliots, of corsairs and others... / should never have believed the greatness of this monarchy, had I not seen it with my own eyes. DE NOAILLES, FRENCH AMBASSADOR IN CONSTANTINOPLE, TO CHARLES IX ON 8 MAY 1572, SEVEN MONTHS AFTER THE BATTLE OF LEPANTO

0n 7 October 1571, the allied fleet of the Holy League destroyed the Ottoman navy. Contemporaries celebrated the victory of united Christendom over the 'infidel' Turks. Historians have claimed that the battle signaled the 'decline of the Ottoman empire' and rise of the West'. But did Lepanto yield major strategic advantage for the West?

 

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Ottoman challenge: the conquest of Cyprus1570-71 By the second half of the 16th century the Ottoman empire had become a major power that controlled the Balkans, the Middle East, the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. For Grand Vizier Sokullu Mehmed Pasha (1556-78), whose political grand designs included the unsuccessful Don-Volga and Suez Canal projects (1569) to encircle Istanbul's Safavid rivals and to counter Portuguese imperialism in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean respectively, the conquest of Cyprus seemed a long-overdue task. This Venetian-held island was a nuisance in the Ottoman-controlled eastern  Mediterranean, for it offered a safe haven for Christian corsairs who endangered Ottoman lines of maritime communication between the capital and Egypt, the richest province of the empire and preyed on Muslim merchant and pilgrim ships. Failure to eliminate Christian private ring  would cause severe economic losses and weaken  Istanbul's legitimacy in the Islamic world. Cyprus was a tempting target too for its known richness in land and taxes as well as for its closeness to Ottoman logistical bases, an important consideration given the war galley fleets' limited radius of operation.

During the 1570 campaign the Ottomans mobilized some 208 to 360 vessels and at least 60,000 land forces. Despite its up-to-date, 'trace Italians' fortifications, Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, fell on 9 September after a 46-day siege. Shorter Ottoman lines of supply and reinforcement that enabled the besiegers to outnumber the defenders at a ratio of 6 to 1, Ottoman skills in siege warfare, the dismal performance of the Venetian relief fleet plagued by typhus and desertions, the incompetence of Nicosia's Venetian commander, as well as local support the Cypriots afforded the Ottomans against their detested Venetian overlords, all played a role in the conquest. The ferocity of the three-day sack of Nicosia persuaded the other Venetian forts to surrender, except for the eastern port garrison of Famagusta, which was finally captured on 1 August 1571 after withstanding seven general assaults and 74 days of heavy bombardment. Although the Ottomans agreed to generous terms of capitulation, the massacre of Muslim pilgrims, kept in the garrison, provoked Ottoman retaliation. On 5 August, the Venetian officers were beheaded and governor Bragadino, who had ordered the killing of the Muslims, was skinned alive, his hide stuffed with straw and paraded along the Anatolian coast and Istanbul.

Nafpactos - Lepanto

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Western response: the Holy League and the battle of Lepanto

On 25 May 1571 the Holy League of the Papacy (Pope Pius V) Spain, Venice, Genoa, Tuscany, Savoy, Urbino Parma and the Knights of Malta was proclaimed in Rome. The League's purpose was to fight a perpetual war against the Ottomans and the Muslims of North Africa, and to recapture Cyprus and the Holy Land. The signatories agreed to provide 200 galleys, 100 ships, 50,000 infantry and 4,500 light cavalry along with the necessary weaponry and supply.

The fleet of 1571, led by Don Juan de Austria 23-year-old half-brother of Philip 11, assembled in Messina in early September and reached Corfu or 26 September. Here the alliance was informer that the Ottoman navy, which had raided Crete and Venice's Adriatic possessions during the summer, had returned to Lepanto (a harbor town on the north side of the Gulf of Patras). On  4th October the Christians learned of the fall of Famagusta and Bragadino's torture. The news sparked desire for vengeance, giving the fragile alliance unusual unity of purpose.

Meanwhile, Ottoman scouts informed their commanders about the arrival of a Christian fleet in Cephalonia. At a war council held on 4 October, Petrev Pasha, commander-in-chief (serdar) of the1571 campaign and Uluc Ali Pasha, governor of Algiers, were of the opinion that ottomans should take a defensive position in Gulf of Lepanto, citing the undermanned -re and exhaustion of the navy. However, it was Moezzinzade Ali Pasha, admiral of the navy, a land commander with no experience in naval warfare, who prevailed. He ordered his fleet to attack the Christians. The opposing navies clashed on 7 October in Gulf of Patras. The numbers of vessels given in the fact file are somewhat misleading, for they do contain the galiots in the Christian fleet and exclude all fustas smaller transport ships, from both navies. Estimated figures of soldiers and weaponry indicate that the Holy League slightly outnumbered the Ottomans in terms of combatants and auxiliaries – 62,100 to 57,700 – and had a substantial advantage regarding firepower –1,334 to 741 guns. Ottoman accounts also underline that their fleet was undermanned due to losses during the 1571 campaign and to the fact that many of the soldiers aboard the coastal begs' ships had already left for the winter.

The battle started before 11 am with the engagement of the inshore squadrons. Ottoman commander Mehmed Suluk almost outflanked Agostino Barbarigo's galleys maneuvering between the shoals and the Venetians. The Venetians lost several galleys and Barbarigo was mortally wounded. However, unengaged galleys of the Christian left wing and vessels from the rearguard sent in by another Holy League commander, Don Alvaro de Bazan, turned the defeat into victory, destroying the entire Ottoman right- wing in two hours.

Meanwhile, a fierce melee developed between the Christian and Ottoman centre, following head-on clash of the two flagships, Don Juar Real and Ali Pasha's Sultana. Ali Pasha planned to counter Christian firepower superiority  by using his reinforcements from the reserve until Mehmed Suluk and Uluc Ali outflanked the Christian wings. Despite losses from the cannons of the galleasses (warships with auxiliary oars), Ottornan galleys penetrated the Christian ranks and Ali Pasha's men even boarded the Real. Soon however, the Ottoman centre was overwhelmed: When Ali Pasha was killed and his Sultana taken by the Real in tow, the Ottoman centre collapsed. All the Ottoman ships here were sunk or taken and almost the entire population of their crews mercilessly  massacred.

The clash between the seaward squadrons started later, for Uluc Ali and Gian Andrea Doria, the most skilled sea captains on either side, both tried to outmaneuver the other. While the bulk of his galleys engaged Doria's right and centre, Uluc Ali managed to inflict serious damage upon  some 15 of Doria's galleys that had broken forma-on at the left flank. Uluc Ali proceeded to attack the Christian center's right flank in order to help the over whelmed Ottoman centre. It was too late. Ali Pasha was already dead and Bazan sent his remaining reserve against Uluc Ali. Realizing that he could not save the day, Uluc Ali escaped into the open sea with some 30 galleys. The Christian dory was complete. The Holy League fleet destroyed almost the entire Ottoman navy with - crew and ordnance.

SIGNIFICANCE

When in 1572 an entirely rebuilt Ottoman navy emerged from Istanbul under the new admiral, Uluc Ali, it seemed as if Lepanto had altered the balance of power little. It is true that Cyprus was never regained and that the Holy League collapsed as Venice concluded a treaty with Istanbul in 1573, and as Spanish resources were redirected to meet new challenges in the Netherlands. It is also true that in 1574 the Ottomans retook Tunis, capturing also the Spanish garrison of La Goletta. But Lepanto did save Venice and its remaining Mediterranean possessions (most notably Crete) and the western Mediterranean from further Ottoman conquests. While the galleys were rebuilt by 1572, it took decades for Istanbul to replace the crews, especially the skilled Muslim marines, sailor-harquebusiers and naval archers. And Uluc Ali was too good a seaman to challenge the Christians with his green navy.


COMBATANTS

The Holy League

  • (Venice, Habsburg Spain, the Papacy, Malta, Genoa, Savoy): 62,100 combatants; 2,300 rowers; 202-219 galleys; 6 galleasses; 1,334 guns
  • Commander-in-Chief Don Juan de Austria; Agostino Barbarigo; Gian Andrea Doria; Don Alvaro de Bazan
  • 33 galleys lost/disabled; 23,000 dead/wounded

Private Tour in Greece Ottomans

  • 57,700 combatants; 19,000 rowers; 205 galleys; 35-68 galiots; 741 guns
  • Commander-in-Chief Muezzinzade Ali Pasha; Salih Pashazade; Mehmed Bey; Suluk/Sirocco Mehmed; Uluc Ali Pasha 25,000 dead; over 3,486 captured; 84 galleys & goliots destroyed; 127 captured

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