The Holy League 1571


Map Code: Ax02413

The Sack of Rome in 1527 by mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Empire forced the pope to reach an accommodation with the Spanish Habsburgs. Emperor Charles V faced Europe-wide criticism for his army’s actions and left the papal states intact and guaranteed Medici rule over Florence. The papal states were now subordinate to Habsburg Spain’s Kingdom of Naples, but keen to reassert their power in Italy. In 1571, a Holy League engineered by Pope Pius V (r. 1566–72), which embraced all the major Catholic maritime nations in the Mediterranean except France, achieved a crucial victory over the Turks at the sea-battle of Lepanto (1571); the western half of the Mediterranean was now under the control of the Habsburgs and their Italian allies. At a time when Europe was being torn apart by conflict over the Reformation this union of Catholic allies against the Ottoman Turks was seen as a significant turning point for the Catholic world.

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