Battle Of Lepanto - Stages
The Battle of Lepanto began when the advanced ships of the Turkish fleet opened fire. The firing soon ran along the whole of the Turkish line, without interruption. Don Juan immediately ordered the guns of the allied fleet to return fire.
The Venetian galeazzas ahead of the fleet, intercepted the advance of the Turks, and with their heavy artillery sunk more than 70 galleys, considerably disrupting the enemy lines.
However, the left wing of the allies was soon outflanked and fired upon from two sides, eight galleys being sunk and others captured. On the right side, the Turks, having superiority in numbers, tried to turn it, but Andrea Doria foiled the maneuver, still, he extended his line too much, making it vulnerable.
On the left, the Venetians, by incredible efforts, became the assailants in their turn, and, sword in hand, they carried one vessel after another. The vessel of the Mahomet Sirocco was sunk and the Turkish admiral was killed by the sword of Giovanni Contarini. The fall of the commander caused the ranks to flee, pursued by the swords of the Venetians.
In the centre, Don Juan looked for an encounter with Ali Pasha. When the flagships came within range, the Pasha opened fire with cannon and musketry, fiercely returned with even more effect by Don Juan's ship.
Lepanto turning point
In the Battle of Lepanto, the fate of the engagement was generally decided by boarding, and, as in most hand-to-hand combats, there was great loss of life. Amid incessant fire of artillery and musketry, the Spaniards had boarded their enemy twice, and both times they had been repulsed with loss. During the third attack of the Spaniards, Ali Pasha was struck in the head by a musket-ball, and his men, losing confidence, were overpowered and threw down their arms.
A soldier, a convict, one of the galley-slaves whom Don Juan unchained and armed, beheaded the admiral. Against Don Juan will, the head was stuck on a pike and raised on board of the captured galley. When the Turks learned about the fate of their commander, their confidence was gone, and after four hours of fight, the left and centre of the allies emerged victorious.
However, the battle was not won yet. On the right, Andrea Doria's error of extending his line, caused Uluch Ali to succeed in capturing and destroying several ships, among them the flagship of Malta, Capitana, killing all but three men on board.
A crucial role in the Battle of Lepanto was played by the reserves under the Marquis de Santa Cruz. They already helped Don Juan when the Real was attacked by several galleys. When Santa Cruz learned about the difficult situation of Doria, he rushed to his support, together with Cardona, commander of the Sicilian squadron.
Trying to avoid their strike, the Turks encountered Doria's galleys. Surrounded from all sides, Uluch Ali was forced to seek safety by flight. The victors gave chase, but they were unable to keep the speed, as they did not have enough fit rowers left.
After five hours of fight, the Battle of Lepanto was won by the Holy League. Following victory, twelve thousand Christian captives were freed from the enemy galleys.
The Turks had twenty five thousand killed, and five thousand prisoners. The fleet lost all but 30 ships.
The Allies: The losses of the allies were comparatively small, less than eight thousand soldiers. Fifteen galleys were lost, with a larger number damaged and rendered unfit for service.
How the Battle of Lepanto began: