This here is a home-made (but well-made; I would like to know whose music this is) video showing the events leading to the battle. The long siege in Cyprus, the surrender, the treason and torture which followed, and the cruel events becoming a wake-up call for Europe. Whilst it is clear that a showdown was in the cards anyway (Venice had been carefully planning the conflict on its own for years before the fall of Cyprus and wanted to counter the bigger force of the Ottoman with superior technology) it is undeniable that traumatic events do play a big role in actually precipitating planned war scenarios.
In our case, the destiny of Marcantonio Bragadino (in my time, mandatory patriotic school fare; I hope it has remained that way) and of the poor defenders of Cyprus certainly gave more than an appetiser of what would become more and more frequent along Southern Italian coasts if not checked, let alone what would have happened if Rome itself had fallen in the hands of the Ottoman.
It seems that there is a common thread linking Vienna and Lepanto. An increasing threat is perceived as such, but without this creating a generalised and compact desire to react to the enemy; until something huge happens, traumatic and life-changing, and this event impresses itself in the collective consciousness of Christianity and leads, with more or less immediacy, to individual diplomacy being cast aside and the sword of Christ taking the word.
This has happened in the 1070s, with the traumatic exclusion of Christian pilgrims from the Holy Land (an event whose extent we can barely imagine today, and of cataclysmic proportions for the contemporaries) and, after the failure of a long-winded “peace process”, the decision of a strong Pope to react with open warfare. This has happened again with Bragadino’s cruel end, and again with the sieges of Vienna. Every time, though, there has been a reaction.
We can now make a parallel with the resurgent Islamic fundamentalism (a phenomenon very similar to the one leading to the closing of Jerusalem to Christian pilgrimages in the XI century) and with Nine Eleven, an event which would be extremely stupid to analyse merely in political or sociological terms, particularly when the authors of the act don’t even dream of doing it themselves.
We can only hope that – as happened in the XI century – a traumatic event will, in time, make Christianity aware not only of the need to fight an approaching danger with due decisiveness, but also to a growing awareness of the great strenght of the Christian West and of the possibility it has to wipe out – if sufficiently cohesive and united under God – every adversary and every threat.