Christendom Saved at Lepanto:
October 7, 1571
The following is an excerpt from our text, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. For information on ordering this or our other texts, please go here.
The Council of Trent had been called to deal with a threat—Protestantism—that had arisen from within Christendom. Yet, throughout the 18 years of the council, all Christendom continued to face the common threat of the Ottoman Turks. Though the Ottoman Turks had been prevented from conquering Vienna, they had not gone away. That even Protestants felt this threat is indicated in the first lines of a “children’s song” by Martin Luther:
Lord, keep us in Thy Word and work,
Restrain the murderous pope and Turk,
Who fain would tear from off Thy throne
Christ Jesus, Thy beloved Son.
It was Catholic and Orthodox Europe, however, that continued to bear the brunt of Turkish attack. When the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent died in 1566, he was succeeded by his son, Selim II. Wanting to imitate his father’s conquests, Sultan Selim began in 1570 to launch ambitious plans to expand the Turkish Empire across Europe. By 1571, Ottoman forces had conquered the Orthodox island of Cyprus, where they killed thousands of Cypriot Christians and sold many of the women and young men into slavery. Continue reading