Today in Mediterranean history: the Battle of Preveza (1538)

There are a couple of anniversaries we could commemorate today. For example, if you’re a fan of lost causes, on this date in 1995 Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo II accord, which was supposed to provide for Palestinian autonomy leading to future (HA!) talks on an independent Palestinian state. Five years later (in 2000), then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon did his part to bury Oslo II as deep as he possibly could by “visiting” the Al-Aqsa/Temple Mount area and precipitating the Second Intifada. If the lives and times of Arab strongmen are more your thing, then you probably already know that Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser died on this date in 1970, which sent shockwaves across the Arab world and realigned regional geopolitics in several ways.

But we’re going to ignore those more recent events and go back to 1538 to talk about the (naval) Battle of Preveza, which was the decisive battle in the third of seven Ottoman-Venetian wars (most of which didn’t go well for the Venetians) that took place between the 15th and 18th centuries. This war ran from 1537 to 1540 and initially involved a joint invasion of Habsburg Italy by the Ottomans (from the south) and their new French allies (from the north). The French invasion stalled out, though, and the Ottomans withdrew their forces from Italy but continued the war nevertheless.

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