Coming hard on the heels of the Ottoman occupation of Venetian Cyprus, the Battle of Lepanto was the first major victory that the Christians had ever carried against the Turks, and has been duly celebrated ever since as marking the moment that the tide turned against the Ottoman project. Only Voltaire demurred; he thought the battle was inconsequential. Niccolò Capponi dismisses this as the error of a man living in an age when victory meant territory: Lepanto gained its victors very little.
Unlike their predecessors, who turned the Mediterranean into a Muslim lake in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Ottomans were not a seafaring people: but they were patient and resourceful. Their style at sea was always a little lubberly, but they could freshen things up with the help of the