Monday will be All Saints Day, the annual observance of those who are no longer with us in person. And very important it is, too.
Meanwhile, other dates pass with little remembrance or recollection. I’m thinking in particular of the Battle of Lepanto, on October 7, 1571, in which a force of men from Genoa, Venice and Spain overcame a Turkish fleet off western Greece.
The battle was particularly significant as it seriously weakened Turkish attempts to encroach on Europe and its efforts to turn the Mediterranean into an Ottoman puddle.
It was no small fixture with 500 ships and 100,000 men. Rowing vessels were used, in conjunction with sails, and the Catholic side suffered under no illusions that this was a fight to save Europe from foreign domination in all its possible forms, politically, militarily, and religiously.
The sea battle came 42 years after the first Siege of Vienna, when 21,000 Austrians held off Suleiman the Magnificent and 100,000 of his compatriots. At a time when the Polish authorities were more keen about the idea of a Europe with a common destiny than they are today, King John Sobieski came to the rescue at the second siege, in 1673, as we all know.
However, if the nearest Muslim nation had been an existential threat for many years, what really put the fire into the bellies of the Catholics off Greece was a recent outrage on the island of Cyprus when the town of Famagusta was pillaged and sacked after surrendering, and its Venetian commandant Marco Antonio Bragadin tortured and flogged to death.
In those days, 450 years ago this month, there was considerably less wokeness among both the mighty and the less-exalted in Europe about the willingness of the Turks to behave well or to respect others’ human rights.
Now, while there is no direct Ottoman threat, Europeans would be well-advised to imagine what may come to pass if they surrender their ideals and neglect their borders in the hopes of a quiet life and clemency.
Views expressed by Jeff Daniels do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers
ILLUSTRATION: the Battle of Lepanto