In one of the most decisive naval battles in history, the Battle of Lepanto saw the Holy League – a Christian alliance of countries including the Republic of Venice, the Papacy, Spain, Republic of Genoa, Duchy of Savoy, Knights Hospitaller and the Habsburgs – led by Don Juan of Austria (the illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V) defeat the Ottoman Turks’ main fleet, led by Ali Pasha. The battle took place on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras and while the two sides had similar numbers of ships the Christians benefited from galleasses (Venetian merchant ships) equipped with strong cannon firepower. The Ottomans lost nearly all of their fleet and some 30,000 men, and were prevented from advancing into Europe. The Christian coalition’s disunity, however, meant that they failed to capitalize on their success. While their loss of manpower crippled their capacity for galley warfare, the Ottomans soon rebuilt their naval powers and the Holy League’s control over the Mediterranean was temporary.
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