Maria Victrix

Veronese, the Doges’ palace, Venezia

The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece. The Ottoman forces sailing westwards from their naval station in Lepanto met the Holy League forces, which had come from Messina.

The victory of the Holy League prevented the Ottoman Empire expanding further along the European side of the Mediterranean. Lepanto was the last major naval battle in the Mediterranean fought entirely between galleys. A Turkish victory could have led to Western Europe being overrun, as the Byzantine Empire had a little more than a century earlier.

Many Catholic writers at that time attributed the victory at Lepanto to the ora et labora of ordinary people praying Our Lady’s psalter throughout this period; even in the brutal police-state of Elizabethan England church bells were rung to celebrate the victory against this existential enemy of Christendom.

One can learn more about Lepanto here and please, in your mercy offer a decade of the rosary for the souls of the men who died that day.

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This entry was posted in Church History, Devotion, Mahometans, Marian, Rosary, The Holy Rosary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Maria Victrix

  1. rebrites says:

    “the brutal police-state of Elizabethan England”??
    Wow, here I (and most anyone who´s studied history) thought the Elizabethan Era was a time of flowering arts, poetry, drama, and free thinking, (unless of course you were hoping to overthrow the government.) Of all the states extant in those years, I think England might be the LEAST like the modern idea of a “police state!”

  2. The Raven says:

    Reb

    Stalin’s Russia produced or played host to Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Dombrovski, Bulgakov, Solzhentisyn, Grossman, Zemyatin and Eisenstein: the brightest constellation of artistic genius of the twentieth century springing up amidst the vilest oppression.

    The Elizabethan era was one in which one could be imprisoned and executed on the strength of an anonymous tip-off, where Walsingham’s security apparatus monitored the beliefs and opinions of citizens, where possession of Byrd part-books was grounds enough for a death-sentence.

    Art often flowers amid cruel persecution.

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Thanks be to God that Shakespeare’s in pectore allegiance did not cause his imprisonment, exile or execution. And thanks be to God as well that I don’t believe we will ever know, this side of the grave, whether he actually held the allegiance I like to imagine he held, because what If he didn’t? Better he remain somewhat inscrutable. The fact that he willed his “second best bed” to his wife has got to be the funniest thing a dead comedian has ever said.

  4. Toadspitttle says:

    This modish yearning to install The Bard as a crypto Catholic sits a bit oddly, doesn’t it – with the fact that he single-handedly demonised Catholic Richard the Third until the last syllable of recorded time. (Rather good that. He had a way with words.).
    But, then, not really so odd. Politics trumping religion again.

    Toad personally sees Shakespeare as a Sceptical Nihilistic Agnostic. (Viz: “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, etc.) With possibly a soupçon of Transcendential Existentialism for piquancy. As Golden might parlay. And with a keen appreciation of upon which side his bread was buttered.
    But who knows, as JH rightly muses.

    Anyway – accusing the English Protestants of those times of being particularly worse than the English Catholics is a bit futile – rather like avowing that it’s more pleasant to be beaten over the head with a croquet mallet than with a cricket bat.
    Matter of taste, in the end, really

  5. The Raven says:

    Toad

    There will always be a degree of over-compensation in reaction to the “victors’ history” version of the English Reformation that us Anglos have been raised with (a version which neatly airbrushed out the chaos and murder with which the Pilgrimage of Grace an other popular risings against the Reformation were put down; a version that ignores the butchery under Elizabeth; a version that drinks deeply from the poisoned waters of Foxe’s Actes and Monuments).

    Protestant, Whig historians were and are always keen to highlight the reign of Mary as a time of cruelty, ignoring the campaigns of murder which took place under her father, brother and sister and which continued until the Civil Wars. Their histories, so damning of Mary, were often penned in an age when the stench of burning and blood from the Gordon Riots would still have been fresh in the air.

  6. kathleen says:

    Toad, sometimes your logic is incredibly wonky!

    To say that the “English Catholics” were no worse than the “English Protestants” at the time of the Reformation is clearly untrue. The English Catholics (priests and laymen) were hunted out, tortured and cruelly executed for decades and decades; you were just not allowed to be a Catholic, full stop.

    I would rather liken it to a playground where the smallest most defenseless little boy was being beaten over the head with a “croquet mallet” and a “cricket bat” by the biggest bully boy in town.

  7. Toadspitttle says:

    Toad gracefully concedes, Kathleen – and will duly and willingly re-phrase it; “…Accusing the European Protestants of those times of being particularly worse than the European Catholics is a bit futile – rather like avowing that it’s more pleasant to be have one’s teeth pulled out with no anaesthetic than to be held upside down by the heels and have lighted matches dropped down one’s nose..
    Matter of taste, in the end, really.”

    There.
    Much more inclusive.
    Everyone satisfied.

  8. Toadspitttle says:

    “The English Catholics (priests and laymen) were hunted out, tortured and cruelly executed for decades and decades; you were just not allowed to be a Catholic, full stop.”

    Do you think, then Kathleen – that in Spain, say, at the same time, Protestants were allowed to be Protestant, full stop?
    I really don’t know if they were or not, myself.
    But I will doubt it until someone shows me evidence to the contrary.

    I’m not being pro-Protestant here – being happy to believe they are just as bad as, well, anyone else.
    But I do rather doubt that they have done quite as many horrible things as Catholics, over the centuries. Mainly because there are simply more of the latter (or used to be, at least) and they’ve been at it longer.
    As the old saying goes; “What goes around, comes around.”
    The notion that Catholics have always been The Persecuted – never The Persecutors – is not sensible.
    We all agree that. Surely?

  9. The Raven says:

    Toad

    I am not sure that the numbers game works in the way that you are suggesting.

    England was a reasonably united Catholic population at the beginning of the sixteenth century (our popular version of proto-Protestantism had already been and largely gone); the Henrican and Edwardian reforms were an elite project that were widely hated in the general populace and were very quickly undone by the efforts of Pole and Mary.

    The Elizabethan project was to take a largely unwilling majority and turn it to Protestantism and its instruments were state terror and propaganda; there was a large reserve of people in England on the receiving end of the violence and coercion in the succeeding centuries (not to mention the plight of the Irish).

    The situation elsewhere was that there were incursions by small numbers Protestant radicals into a wider Catholic population. To put it bluntly, there just didn’t tend to be the numbers to persecute for the Catholic authorities to put themselves on a par with their counterparts.

    Where you did see widespread fatalities was in situations which degenerated into civil war (as in France), but these conflicts often had many motors and would likely have arisen anyway.

    The most effective means by which the Reformation was turned back almost always turned out to be the missionary zeal of the Jesuits, the Redemptorists and the Oratorians (among many others), rather than the fire and the sword; a fact which explains quite why the persecutions in England were quite so brutal.

  10. Toadspitttle says:

    “(Toad) I am not sure that the numbers game works in the way that you are suggesting.”

    Neither am I, Raven. In fact I’m not sure of anything much, these days.
    Your learned disquisition above – fails, however, as far as I can see – to address the implicit question of whether the Spanish Catholics treated their religious opponents as savagely as the English Protestants.
    I suspect they did. What’s your opinion, or information?
    If I’m correct. I seem to detect a faint hypocritical whiff emanating from the story. Maybe. Could be wrong….

    “Where you did see widespread fatalities was in situations which degenerated into civil war (as in France), but these conflicts often had many motors and would likely have arisen anyway.”
    …But I strongly doubt that statement. What other ‘motors’? It was a religious war between two varieties of ‘Christians.’ Nothing more, nothing less.(In my opinion.)

  11. Toadspitttle says:

    …Let me put it another way. If England had trained Spanish Protestant ministers, then returned to their country to set about converting their countrymen, just as happened in reverse with Catholics coming in from Spain and Italy – how do you think these poor, foolish, fellows would have been received in Madrid?
    As you sort of say, there was little or no persecution of Protestants in Spain for the obvious reason, which I suppose I will have to spell out – that the only outcome in going there would be in order to be martyred instantly on arrival.
    Rather nastily, too, I also suspect.
    I imagine much the same would apply to Italy. But I don’t know.

  12. The Raven says:

    Toad

    The French Wars of Religion were also wrangles between centralisation and regional power bases and between factions within the Valois and the nobility; as the Frondes and turmoil of the next century showed, France was going through a time of turbulent transition.

    I think that you would be correct to say that Protestant missionaries would have had an uncomfortable reception at the hands of the Inquisition (who were more apt to throw you into prison than burn you and conditions in prisons run by the Inquisition were markedly better than in those run by the crown). Kamen puts the numbers executed in Spain at circa 100 in the whole of the sixteenth century and that number includes a wide rag bag of heretics, the irreligious and anti-clerical types.

    The problem that I perceive in your argument is that it ignores a basic fact: the state apparatus in England was keeping the lid on an entire population (hence my anachronistic use of the term “police state”); not a position analogous to Spain.

  13. Toadspitttle says:

    “…your argument …ignores a basic fact: the state apparatus in England was keeping the lid on an entire population..”

    That’s a pretty strong statement, Raven. It may be a fact – I don’t know. Very hard to justify or verify from here. I get the impression that Henry’s usurping of the power of a ‘foreign’ Church was not so unpopular with the mob.
    And it coincided with the endorsing, if not the birth, of “Patriotism,” manifested most markedly in Crypto-Catholic Shakespeare’s works:
    “This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea, etc., etc.”

    May even have fostered and encouraged nascent nationalism.
    Certainly, it was not long before this became the accepted way of the English perceiving their nation. No “Police State” pressure needed to keep that lid on.
    No Italian dude in Rome, with red shoes and a big gold hat, is going to tell us how to run our affairs.
    Of course, the peasants got stiffed. They always do. No longer ripped off by bishops, they were probably worse ripped off by jumped up nobles who took over the estates.

    Or so it seems to me. Anyway, nice discussion.

  14. OHR says:

    Please excuse my comment.

    Shakespeare was a crypto everything depending on the book you read. He may have been a Catholic but equally he might have been that other bloke, Bacon.

    But one thing is sure; Old Will hadn’t a clue about political geography – England wasn’t and isn’t an island, even if it is partly set in a ‘silvery sea’. Not even a ‘sceptred isle’.

    I put this down to non-Catholic education. I would have been beaten for such a howler by St. Pat’s Geography master. But that was a while back.

    Silly Billy.

    Bless.

  15. johnhenrycn says:

    No, there is no excuse for your comment, OHR. I failed Grade 2 arithmetic, but your comment is so full of illogic, that I consider myself a Bertrand Russell by comparitive analogy.

  16. GC says:

    O come along, Toad. It’s very hard to imagine how a Church that had been in England for a thousand years, helped form it and instigated its schools and universities, with dozens of English saints and pilgrimage places such as Canterbury and Walsingham, and Holy Wells etc. could possibly have been thought of as “foreign” by the English. The exact opposite, I would have thought.

  17. johnhenrycn says:

    …and the same goes for comparative analogies, in case you’re wondering. But welcome to the fold, since you seem to be a rather thrusting individual who might have some interesting things to say.

  18. OHR says:

    Thank you johnhenry

    Unfortunately you are unable to show me where I am wrong, nor where I am illogical, but you merely (and strangely) refer to arithmetic. As for ‘thrusting’ – gosh…

    Yes, Silly Billy it is.

    And if you are, as you suggest, a Bertrand Russell, then I fear for your faith. Have you read nothing of his ideas, that you should recklessly make such a comparison?

    A weekend retreat can work wonders, I have found. I heartily recommend that to you. It is calming and restorative.

    Bless.

  19. kathleen says:

    Perplexing how Toad constantly hops from one subject to another (only vaguely related to the one in question) in his efforts to have it his way. We were talking about the treatment of the Protestants towards Catholics in UK and Ireland, and Toad hops over to Spain! 😕
    (Are you sure you are not a little green frog rather a toad, Toad? All that ‘hopping’, you know….!)

    Must say, you sound like a Protestant yourself (a typically anti-Catholic one) with your offensive comment of 15:03 about the Pope.
    And, FYI, Rome, or the Vatican, (where the Vicar of Christ resides) is not a foreign state to all but the Italians, but just happens to be where the Church has its universal “headquarters” because that is where the first Pope (St. Peter) died. It had to be somewhere on Earth didn’t it? Our Catholic Church belongs to all baptised Catholics everywhere, whatever their race or nationality.
    (Unlike the Protestants’ national churches, Church of England, Church of Sweden, etc.)

  20. johnhenrycn says:

    Kathleen, Toad’s three middle names are Relative, Equivocal and Cryptic, and his mother’s maiden name was Obscure. His father was known as Muddy Waters to his friends.

  21. OHR says:

    The treatment of Catholics in Ireland particularly around Cromwell’s time was horrific. Bestial. Read Phillip Sydney’s writings on the ‘creeping wraiths’ of the people as they scavenged for food. If it were today, the whole Protestant English State would be in the International Criminal Court for what they did.

    No amount of hopping and slithering can efface that.

  22. Toadspitttle says:

    Who cares what Toad thinks?
    Or what his middle names are?
    Or what his father was known as?
    Kathleen thinks that I believe the words that I put into the mouths of Elizabethan English people. I might. But then maybe not.

    “Our Catholic Church belongs to all baptised Catholics everywhere, whatever their race or nationality.” That is exactly why I had no qualms about mentioning Spain (and Italy.)

  23. johnhenrycn says:

    Kathleen thinks that I believe the words that I put into the mouths of Elizabethan English people. I might. But then maybe not.

    That’s the thing that sometimes makes you a boring person, Toad. Like you, I recognise the importance of not being too strident in my views. Not that I’m a relativist, but whilst being firmly on one side of the fence, I try to see issues from both sides. You, on the other hand, are the quintessential fence-sitter. A very uncomfortable and useless place to be in the long run, and not one that does much to advance our conversation in the short run.

  24. Toadspitttle says:

    Who cares if Toad is a boring person?
    It’s not about him, is it?
    It’s about Catholicism.
    As for him sitting on a fence – he’s not even convinced there is a fence.

  25. johnhenrycn says:

    It’s about Catholicism.
    Toad, I don’t read your comments to learn “about Catholicism”. I read your comments because you can be incisive (I used your knowledge about Verdi on another blog earler today), but the problem is that you almost invariably mess things up with statements like: “What do I know?” You are the mirror image of Roger, who is an equally incisive (from the opposite spectrum) contributor to this blog, and one who

  26. johnhenrycn says:

    …the above pregnant pause was intentional 😉

  27. kathleen says:

    Toad,
    We all know what the radical anti-Catholics think and say about the Pope, the Holy Catholic Church, and all its members…. There was no need to spell it out in vulgar language unless you also had some sympathies with those “Elizabethan Protestants”. (Sometimes I feel you do!)

    And as for your:
    “Of course, the peasants got stiffed. They always do. No longer ripped off by bishops, they were probably worse ripped off by jumped up nobles who took over the estates.”
    (I presume we’re back to talking about England again?)
    The peasants were not “ripped off” by bishops at all. In fact quite the opposite is true…. not just “probably”. Once the monasteries and Church lands were dissolved or confiscated by Henry VIII the peasants, who had worked on the land under the protection and care of the monks and bishops, suddenly lost their livelihood. Great poverty ensued for many of them, those who no longer remained to till the fields under their new greedy secular landlords, resulting in a huge increase in beggars wandering the streets.

    OK, that’s enough ‘toad-bashing’ for one day!

    ______________

    GC,
    So sorry you got “moderated”, and had to wait for your comment ^ above ^ to appear. Yes, it was the change of your posting name that WordPress didn’t recognise that held it up – not any of your pals on CP&S. 🙂

  28. kathleen says:

    OHR,

    Yes, I agree that the treatment of the Irish by Cromwell and his cronies was indeed ‘bestial‘. Even today in Ireland, hundreds of years later, the words “the curse of Cromwell be upon you” is considered one of the worse things you could say to someone.
    But in all honesty I really don’t think the whole “Protestant English State” can be blamed for that. In those days of almost non-existent communications, Cromwell’s crimes in Ireland were largely unknown by the majority of those in Britain.

  29. johnhenrycn says:

    I always thought Golden Chersonnese a good way to separate [btw: did you know there’s no word in the English language that begins with seper…] the Molybdenites from those of us who are not pedants?

  30. OHR says:

    Of course there might be a fence to sit on. But perhaps not. As Toad says ad nauseam.

    JH is right for once -or maybe he’s not. After all what do I know? It’s not about whether there is a fence or not. It’s perhaps or maybe about sitting on it – or not.
    The ambivalent croaking is wearing.
    It’s cheering to see such clear views. Then again..

  31. The Raven says:

    Toad

    I’m afraid that you’re reading your history through a fog of nineteenth and early twentieth century historiography.

    The Henrican Reformation caused uprising and civil disorder throughout the kingdom, with armed insurrection breaking out all over the place (the Pilgrimage of Grace very nearly unseated the despot), there was Kett’s rebellion against the Edwardine reforms (and the widespread theft of common property by the kleptocracy that surrounded his protector) and the Northern Rising against “Good Queen Bess” (why do you think that she had to have Mary Queen of Scots executed?).

    The Tudors held on by the skin of their teeth throughout the sixteenth century. Even the crowning event in the narrative, the Armada has lost its glow: analysis of popular broadsides and ballads from the period shows a subversive current painting the Spanish as potential liberators.

  32. johnhenrycn says:

    OHR @ 17:49:
    It’s such fun on blogs when people fall into traps. I mentioned (at 17:19) that I failed Grade 2 arithmetic (which I didn’t actually) as a way of paying a back-handed compliment to Bertrand Russell, co-author of Principia Mathematica (who also didn’t fail Grade 2 arithmetic), and then you fell into the trap of thinking I approve of his atheism, because I complimented his success at arithmetic? I mentioned his name thinking (gambling) you might then say something like the following, which you then did:

    And if you are, as you suggest, a Bertrand Russell [fan], then I fear for your faith. Have you read nothing of his ideas, that you should recklessly make such a comparison?

    I’ve read his famous essay on God. I was just toying with you. But please stick around.

  33. Brother Burrito says:

    Toad is just a workaday agnostic, probably.

    In a vision, I saw Toad speaking to St Peter at the Pearly Gates:

    “It’s a fair cop guv, probably”.

    ‘Says it all!

  34. Toadspitttle says:

    Russell was an Agnostic, not an Atheist. Being an Atheist is as illogical as being a Theist.
    And Toad’s words at the Pearly Gates will be the same as Russell’s: “You didn’t give me enough evidence.”

    “I’m afraid that you’re reading your history through a fog of nineteenth and early twentieth century historiography.”
    What about the mid and late 20th Century fog, Raven? What about the early 21st century?
    All different now, no doubt. The truth is finally revealed to Raven and all who care to know.
    True, Toad is getting past it.
    Time he turned it in. Definitely .

    “Workaday Agnostic,” Is a fair cop. Certainly.

  35. johnhenrycn says:

    Bertrand Russell was a rank athiest,and I will dig out the essay I refer to above if you insist.

  36. Toadspitttle says:

    …However, assuming there is a fence, JH, – those who sit on it get the best view of what’s going on on either side.
    Uncomfortable? Who said life is supposed to be comfortable? God?

    There seems to be a growing and specious notion that Toad is a Protestant apologist.
    He is not.
    He regards Protestantism in much the same light as he regards Islamism, Hinduism, Tatooism, Pelmanism, Nationalism, Catholicism, National Catholicism, Atheism, Quivering Brethrenism, Pyramidism, Numerologism, Spiritualism or Astrologism.
    Or optimism.
    Dim.

  37. Toadspitttle says:

    I have never seen Russell in print declare he was an Atheist.
    He did say that he might just as well describe himself as such, because he was pretty much convinced that there was no God as seen by, say, Christians or Muslims. But without ‘proof’ (and there can be none) he had to fall back on being an Agnostic – a ‘don’t know.’ But if you can furnish me with the relevant details , I’ll cheerfully agree he was an Atheist.
    And he would have agreed, Spinosarishly, I suspect – that if we want to call the universe – the whole ball of wax – God, then, yes, there is a God.
    But we might just as well call the universe ‘Cyril,’ as God.

  38. johnhenrycn says:

    You might extend to me the courtesy of quoting my words about you at 19:08 accurately:
    You, on the other hand, are the quintessential fence-sitter. A very uncomfortable and useless place to be in the long run, and not one that does much to advance our conversation in the short run.

    Your fence sitting must be uncomfortable – it is for us people who care about truth. Even more importantly, it is a useless place to be, a place from which no one gains any insights, any wisdom or can hope for any progress, because people like you never hop off the fence to say “this is true”. Still, this is a blog. No one really cares what you (thank God) or I (sob) have to say.

  39. johnhenrycn says:

    Atheist vs Agnostic is a distinction without a difference, and I don’t intend to spend any more time pigeon-holing your Russell in one hole or the other. I lay down my sword for saying I would do so (even though I can), because it’s not worth the bother. He was a completely useless philosopher. He had nothing to offer. That should make our new arrival (OHR) a happy camper.

  40. Toadspitttle says:

    “Your fence sitting must be uncomfortable – it is for us people who care about truth.”

    You people (Catholics, I suppose you mean) are not the only people who care about truth.
    You often go on as if you were, though.

  41. johnhenrycn says:

    I could come back at you with a witty retort. Probably. But maybe not. Who knows. Matter of taste in the end. I could be wrong. Or so it seems to me. Anyway, nice discussion.

  42. OHR says:

    Goodness, JH. All those traps! It’s like a Le Carre novel but cunningly packed into a tiny blogpost (I could be wrong of course). And a bit of Keyboard Tourette’s thrown in too! More please!

  43. The Raven says:

    Toad

    The difference between twenty first century historiography and the sort of Whig history that you’re basing your account on should be plain and appealing to you:

    • it goes back to the source material to find out what was said and done at the time, instead of repeating the story that the last historian passed down to it (like Chinese whispers); and

    • it’s not predicated on the ideal that we are all advancing to the perfect society of the future in which [the British Empire encompasses all of the world]/[the inevitable victory of the Herrenvolk is assured]/[the dictatorship of the proletariat ensures that fresh-roasted pigeons shall fly into the mouths of the conrades]*

    (* delete according prejudice)

    It’s hardly a new revelation vouch-safed to modern historians, it’s simply a matter of attempting to review the version of the story that we have received in the light of the evidence of the time (interestingly enough, a methodology that you yourself are quite keen on in other situations).

  44. OHR says:

    Yes Kath, but I stand by the ‘English State’ phrase. It was all government policy, the slaughter in Ireland. The people had no knowledge of it (nor would they have cared) save for returning soldiers who did the killing on behalf of the English Establishment..

    You refer to ‘Britain’, but I speak of England as there was no ‘Britain’ or ‘United Kingdom’ then.

  45. GC says:

    Raven, this appears to be a fairly balanced and scholarly account
    of the Catholic Church in England just before the Reformation, which Toad referred to as “foreign”. A very decent read, in my view, although perhaps a little self-consciously over-cautious.

    There seems to have been a late 16th century verse about Henry VII’s destruction of Walsingham. Its many grave consequences reportedly included the following:

    Owls do scrike where the sweetest hymns
    Lately were sung,
    Toads and serpents hold their dens
    Where the palmers did throng.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2011/feb/23/lament-our-lady-shrine-at-walsingham

    Fancy. But it might explain Toad’s nonchalance?

  46. GC says:

    Oops! “Henry VIII’s destruction”.

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