News arrived in Europe that Muslim Turks, under the command of Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha, surrounded the Christians in Famagusta, Cyprus.
Muslims promised the defenders of Cypus that if they surrendered, they would be allowed to leave.
Unfortunately, they broke their promise, flayed the Venetian commander, killed all 6,000 Christians prisoners, and turned the beautiful St. Nicholas Church into a mosque.
Two months later, October 7, 1571, the largest and most decisive sea battle on the Mediterranean took place - the Battle of Lepanto off the western coast of Greece.
Don John of Austria led the 212 ships with nearly 68,000 soldiers and sailors of the Holy League of Christian nations, which included Spain, Naples, Sicily, Venice, Genoa, Sardinia, Savoy, Urbino, Papal States, Germans, and Croatians.
Ali Pasha led the Muslim Ottoman Turks, consisting of 82,000 soldiers and sailors on 251 ships powered by thousands of Christian galley slaves rowing under the decks.
This was the last major battle with rowing vessels.
Right before the ships engaged, the Holy League was at a great disadvantage rowing against the wind.
Don John led his men in prayer and suddenly the wind changed 180 degrees to favor the Holy League.
The ships collided in fierce fighting, Ali Pasha had his head cut off and hung from the ship.
Had the Muslims not been defeated, they would have invaded Italy and possibly conquered Europe.
The Ottoman Muslims lost all but 30 of their ships.
Some 12,000 Christian galley slaves were freed.
G.K. Chesterton wrote in his poem, "Lepanto":
"Above the ships are palaces of brown, blackbearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a laboring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that swat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stairways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign -
But Don John of Austria has burst the battle line!
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labor under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Vivat Hispania! Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria has set his people free!"
Instead of following up on this victory and freeing Constantinople and Greek Islands from Muslim control, Spain sent their invincible Armada to conquer Protestant England.
The Spanish Armada was destroyed in a hurricane in 1588.
This caused Spain to loose its monopoly over the new world, opening the door to other European nations settling colonies in America.
Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, 1776:
"The Spaniards, by virtue of the first discovery, claimed all America as their own, and...such was...the terror of their name, that the greater part of the other nations of Europe were afraid to establish themselves in any other part of that great continent...
But...the defeat...of their Invincible Armada...put it out of their power to obstruct any longer the settlements of the other European nations.
In the course of the 17th century...English, French, Dutch, Danes, and Swedes...attempted to make some settlements in the new world."
Two years after the Spanish Armada sank, a boy was born in England named William Bradford, on MARCH 19, 1590.
At age 17, the same year Shakespeare produced his play, "Anthony and Cleopatra," William Bradford fled from England to Holland with the persecuted Pilgrims.
At age 30, he sailed with them to America.
In 1621, William Bradford was chosen governor and reelected 30 times till his death.
William Bradford's journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, is the main historical record of the Pilgrims, published in 1650:
"Since ye first breaking out of ye lighte of ye gospell in our Honourable Nation of England...what warrs and opposissions...Satan hath raised...against the Saints...by bloody death and cruell torments...imprisonments, banishments...
What could now sustaine them but ye spirite of God and His grace?...
Ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our fathers...came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto ye Lord, and He heard their voyce."
William Bradford continued:
"All great and honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties...
Out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing...and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise."
Spanish Armada. Carla Rahn Phillips, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus. William D. Phillips, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus. Carla Rahn Phillips & William D. Phillips, Jr., "Spanish Armada," World Book Online Americas Edition, http://www.aolsvc.worldbook.aol.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/522940, October 9, 2001. Mark A. Beliles & Stephen K. McDowell, America's Providential History (Providence Foundation, P.O. Box 6759, Charlottesville, Virginia 22906, 1989), pp. 57-58. Bradford, William. November 11, 1620, in his record of the Pilgrims' landing at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. William Bradford (Governor of Plymouth Colony), The History of Plymouth Plantation 1608-1650 (Boston, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856; Boston, Massachusetts: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1898, 1901, from the Original Manuscript, Library of Congress Rare Book Collection, Washington, D.C.; rendered in Modern English, Harold Paget, 1909; NY: Russell & Russell, 1968; NY: Random House, Inc., Modern Library College edition, 1981; San Antonio, TX: American Heritage Classics, Mantle Ministries, 228 Still Ridge, Bulverde, TX, 1988), p. 66. Sacvan Bercovitch, ed., Typology & Early American Literature (Cambridge: University of Massachusetts Press, 1972), p. 104. Peter Marshall & David Manuel, The Glory of America (Bloomington, MN: Garborg's Heart'N Home, Inc., 1991), 11.28. (note: reference to these first settlers as "pilgrims" is owed to this passage.)