Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “The conditions that led up to Lepanto had been building for one might even say centuries. A bit of a backstory, there’s a very good book out there for any of you out there looking at this called White Gold, the untold history of white slaves and the Muslim slave traffic. You can get it on Amazon. You always hear about slavery in Africa and slavery in other parts of the world, which, of course, no one is going to say much of that was actually run by Muslims selling Africans. They were also selling Europeans into slavery for centuries going back as early as the year 636. What they would do is they would raid the Mediterranean coastlines, for the most part, but they even went further. They actually went up as far as Iceland and actually took slaves from Iceland…” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Today is the commemoration day for the Battle of Lepanto. You’re not going to find anyone that’s a military historian that doesn’t know about it because they all do. They probably had to study it at academy. I would suspect that some in the Navy might have studied it or might have had to have studied it for the naval strategy employed by Don Juan. You’re not going to find much mention of it today, and I believe there is a good reason for that. We’ll try to supplement this and say hello to Andrew Bieszad. Great to have you back, my friend. How are you?
Andrew Bieszad: Great to be back, Mike. Thanks for having me on.
Mike: Four hundred, forty-four years ago today, a nice number there, 444.
Bieszad: It is, a good number and a good day. It’s also the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which [private |FP-Monthly|FP-Yearly|FP-Yearly-WLK|FP-Yearly-So76|Founding Brother|Founding Father|FP-Lifetime]
corresponds directly with this.
Mike: That was going to be the reason why no one is going to talk about Lepanto, because you might have to stumble upon the tales of what some of the oarsmen that were driving the ships of the Holy League, what was wrapped around their hands.
Bieszad: Yep. Pope St. Pius V ordered his soldiers and all of Christendom to pray the rosary for victory.
Mike: Let’s just go through how all this came about, the Battle of Lepanto. I believe that this begins with the sultan desiring to take over or invade and conquer, is it the island of Crete because it’s got some wine on it he wants?
Bieszad: Actually, that was the breaking moment. The conditions that led up to Lepanto had been building for one might even say centuries. A bit of a backstory, there’s a very good book out there for any of you out there looking at this called White Gold, the untold history of white slaves and the Muslim slave traffic. You can get it on Amazon. You always hear about slavery in Africa and slavery in other parts of the world, which, of course, no one is going to say much of that was actually run by Muslims selling Africans. They were also selling Europeans into slavery for centuries going back as early as the year 636. What they would do is they would raid the Mediterranean coastlines, for the most part, but they even went further. They actually went up as far as Iceland and actually took slaves from Iceland and Scotland and parts of Norway. This is how pervasive this traffic was. Traveling in the seas was very dangerous. It had become especially dangerous during the times of the Ottoman Empire because these times we talk about with the Ottoman slavers going into Norway and England and Scotland and Iceland, this was during the Ottoman period. There were Ottoman slavers literally running around everywhere taking people and throwing them into slavery in the Middle East.
By the way, there’s a distinction here to make. When we talk about slavery in the Middle East, a distinction between American slavery. Slavery in the United States was, for the most part, for work. Not that it was right, but the fact is most of these slaves were taken to work in the sugar and coffee and corn plantations in the new world. The slaves that were taken in the Middle East by the Arabs, most of these were done for sexual purposes. Most of them were actually women who were targeted. The men were usually worked to death. They were usually made to carry heavy loads across the desert until they died. There were actually many Europeans who were captured and survived and have written about this. There’s an Englishman, I forget his name, but he was actually captured in the year 1860. He wrote about his ordeal. Again, most of slavery was done for sexual purposes, and still is done that way today.
You mentioned the island of Crete. That was a particularly interesting incident. What happened is the Ottomans were taking over the Isle of Crete. The Isle of Crete had fought the Muslims off. Specifically it was a Venetian-controlled fort — I’m sorry, it wasn’t Crete; it was Cyprus, the Port of Famagusta in Cyprus. What happened is the Ottoman sultan promised to spare the men’s lives if they would surrender, give up their arms, and they could leave peacefully. So the men agreed to it. Again, this is an example of Islamic practice of taqiyya. Taqiyya simply means lying for Allah. It literally means being pious, but the idea is one shows his piety to Allah by seeking the cause of religion up to and including lying for him.
So the sultan performed an act of taqiyya. He told the men he’d spare their lives. Well, he didn’t. Instead, he had them flayed, some flayed and some skinned alive, and their bodies dragged around the island. That upset the Venetians a lot. The Venetians said they were going to go send a squadron of ships to the Ottomans in Cyprus to meet them. Before doing that, Pope Pius said: You need to get some other Christians to come along with you. He contracts with the Spanish, the Venetians, and the Austrians, the Habsburgs. He said: Let’s pray the rosary for victory. He asked all Christians to do it. Go out and deal with these Ottomans as you have to.
What they did not know is at the same time this is going on, the Ottomans sent a rival fleet to try to conquer Italy. No one knew this was going on. They were going to send the fleet up the Ionian Sea, between Greece and Italy, I’m sorry, toward the Adriatic Sea. Again, the Holy League fleet is coming down from Italy. The Ottoman fleet is coming up. They met, unexpectedly, at the Gulf of Preveza, also known as the Gulf of Lepanto. That was where the naval battle ensued.
Mike: A couple of historical points here. When you say they flayed some of the men after they had lied to them and told them to surrender — you had mentioned they skinned them alive. Wasn’t one of them that they skinned alive, didn’t they, the men of Cyprus and the people of Cyprus, didn’t they run when they realized what was going on and they weren’t going to be spared? Didn’t they run — this was a siege, right — to a center part of the island? They actually held out for a little while against an attack. Wasn’t one of the guys that held out, wasn’t he the brother of Don Juan?
Bieszad: Yes, he was.
Mike: What can you tell us about that part of the story?
Bieszad: I can’t remember his name offhand. I wrote about it in my book Lions of the Faith. He was there. I remember he was present. I don’t remember if he stayed. I think they ended up killing him. I think they skinned him alive. It didn’t kill him so they set him on fire. I think that’s what happened to him. I do not remember exactly. I’m pretty sure he died a horrific death.
Mike: The fort was at Famagusta, right?
Bieszad: Famagusta, yes.
Mike: So the islanders run to this fort of Famagusta. This is where they’re holed up and trying to outlast the Ottomans that have decided to attack the island of Cyprus. I just have an account from an article that I have been referring to for the last year about this. “For the brave defenders of Famagusta, it was too late. In August 1571, after ten months of resistance . . . .” So apparently they held out for ten months, Andrew. That was quite a siege.
Bieszad: I should mention that Cyprus was one of several islands that was being attacked. You see, what happened is since the crusader period, you had a lot of knights who were able to hold successfully off against the Muslim pirates a series of different islands all throughout the Mediterranean, along the Greek coast, all these little islands positioned there. What the Ottomans had been doing is they had been picking off select islands little by little. [/private]
There was actually a group of knights, I think the Knights of St. Mary. They were actually formed to hold these different islands for as long as they could. They did for a while. Obviously you can only hold something for so long when it’s a few men versus the entire Ottoman military, which at the time it would have been like going against the U.S. Navy. It was very powerful. They had their own special forces called janissaries. They were just as brutal as we have our Delta Force and Green Berets and Navy SEALs, just as tough. Like I said, you can only hold out for so long. Cyprus was the last area for them to conquer. They had conquered most of the other small forces.
Mike: They had been turned back previously, though, at Malta. They’d failed at Malta, right?
Bieszad: Correct. That was part of the reason why they were making another land incursion. They figured it was a small setback. They wanted to make a full land incursion into Italy and then just go . . .
End Mike Church Show Transcript