Empires of the Sea

Empires of the Sea

The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World

Downloadable Audiobook - 2015
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Empires of the Sea tells the story of the fifty-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent-the legendary ruler of the Ottoman Empire-through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.The core of the story is the six years of bitter and bloody conflict between 1565 and 1571 that witnessed a fight to the finish. It was a tipping point in world civilization, a fast-paced struggle of spiraling intensity that led from the siege of Malta and the battle for Cyprus to the pope's last-gasp attempt to rekindle the spirit of the Crusades and the apocalypse at Lepanto. It features a rich cast of characters: Suleiman the Magnificent, greatest of Ottoman sultans; Hayrettin Barbarossa, the pirate who terrified Europe; the Knights of St. John, last survivors of the medieval crusading spirit; the aged visionary Pope Pius V; and the meteoric, brilliant Christian general, Don John of Austria. It is also a narrative about places: the shores of the Bosphorus, the palaces and shipyards of the Venetian lagoon, the barren rocks of Malta, the islands of Greece, the slave markets of Algiers-and the character of the sea itself with its complex pattern of winds and weather, which provided the conditions and the field of battle. It involves all the peoples who border the Great Sea: Italians, Turks, Greeks, Spaniards, the French and the people of North Africa.This story is one of extraordinary color and incident, rich in detail, full of surprises, and backed by a wealth of eyewitness accounts. Its denouement, the battle of Lepanto, is a single action of quite shocking impact-considered at the time in Christian Europe to be "a day to end all days." It is also a narrative about technology and money. Lepanto was the Mediterranean's Trafalgar, one of the great battles of world history, and a turning point in naval warfare. It was the last and greatest moment in the age of the galleys before sailing ships with broadside guns swept all before them, and it was paid for, on the Christian side, with Inca gold.The battle for the Mediterranean was instrumental in fixing the boundaries of Christendom and Islam and redirecting the course of empire. After Lepanto, the great powers turned away exhausted from the bitter and fruitless struggle for mastery of the Mediterranean. Henceforth, the contest for empire would be global: its new theaters would be the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, the spice islands and the Americas.
Publisher: Old Saybrook, Conn. : Tantor Media ; [Prince Frederick, Md.] : [Distributed by] OneClick Digital, 2015, p2008
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9781400127221
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Lee, John
Tantor Media

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Dec 03, 2019

"Empires of the Sea" is the spiritual successor to Roger Crowley's "City of Fortune." Picking up where "City of Fortune" leaves off, with the retreat of Venice back to its home lagoon in 1500, "Empires of the Sea" increases its scope telling the story of the rise of Ottoman Turkish sea power through the auspices of corsairs like the dreaded Barbarossa Brothers and men like Piri Reis, who mapped much of the Mediterranean. On the other side of the conflict Crowley details the Holy League, a loose confederation of Catholic nations and polities gathered in its opposition of the Ottoman expansion. Crowley also takes a deep dive into the history of the Knights of St. John (the Hospitallers) backward to Rhodes and the fascinating French-born nobleman La Vallete who led the retreat of the order back to Malta. Crowley also introduces a rogues gallery of Spanish admirals such as Don Garcia, the Viceroy of Sicily and Don Juan, the bastard brother of King Phillip the II who saved the day at the battle of Lepanto. The book is awash in details and primary accounts of the war that decided the fate of the Mediterranean, a world of prelates, popes, pirates and kings. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Renaissance history or the imperial histories of Spain or Ottoman Turkey.

Jan 21, 2012

Fascinating account.

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