Kvarner newsletter / no 45

440th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto on the island of Krk
The story of the Cristo Ressussitato galley

To mark the 440th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, which played a significant role in the history of the Mediterranean, on the 6th and 7th October the town of Krk will host a varied programme designed to showcase the maritime and historical heritage of the town and the eastern Adriatic coast.

The town of Krk, distinguished for its eventful history and rich culture, for the fourth year in a row remembers the famous naval battle of Lepanto that took place in 1571 between the fleets of the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire. This battle is today considered to be the last great naval battle that was fought with rowing boats. The defeat of the Ottoman fleet on the sea has determined the history of the Mediterranean, but it also caused three centuries of turmoil for the Croatian areas. Eight galleys from the eastern Adriatic coast took part in the battle: from Kopar, Cres, Krk, Rab, Šibenik, Trogir, Hvar and Kotor. The largest among them was the 'Cristo Ressussitato' ("Resurrected Christ") trireme from Krk under the command of the sopracomito Ljudevit Čikut, whose grave is located in the Krk Cathedral as the only known grave of a Croatian galley commander.

The programme starts on the 6th of October with the presentation of a post envelope with a stylised trireme galley and the presentation of a postal stamp with the same motif, which will be used to stamp outgoing post from Krk on the 7th of October, the day of the battle.

The Town of Krk and the Gallery Decumanus will play host to the presentation of the Town of Kotor, whose galley 'St. Tryphon' took part in the mentioned battle. The Town of Kotor will present itself with the exhibition entitled 'Maritime affairs in Boka Kotorska during Venetian administration 1420-1797' with special emphasis on the second half of the 16th century, the period in which the battle took place. Visitors will have the chance to see a model of the St. Tryphon galley, various nautical maps of that period, and equipment from galleys. This part of the programme is sponsored by Ministries of Culture of Montenegro and Croatia.

On the 7th of October, the famous Croatian photographer Šime Strikoman will take a millennium photograph representing a stylised galley made of ca. 750 people on Krk waterfront, which is approximately the number of people who were on the galley. The programme continues in the evening with music and sampling of drinks and dishes.
From the 5th to the 14th of October, the Krk Cathedral will be opened to visits to the grave of the commander Ljudevit Čikuta.

The Battle of Lepanto (the Greek town of Nafpaktos), one of the most celebrated naval battles in history, included more than 600 galleys and other types of ships. In honour of 80,000 soldiers, sailors and oarsmen, members of the Holy League, the Pope Pius V, who had a vision of victory even before the battle, after receiving the good news invited Christians to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and established the 7th of October as the Thanksgiving Day to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This day has been celebrated in Croatia for centuries as the feast of the Our Lady of the Rosary, which is a common motif in sacred painting of the Renaissance and Baroque in the entire Mediterranean area.

The galley from Krk 'Cristo Ressussitato' was positioned in the left wing as the twenty-eighth ship in the first naval row, and the success of that wing was crucial for the victory. When galleys on the right Ottoman wing began to retreat, this enabled the left wing to help the Christian forces in the centre and in the right wing.

What we know today about the galley from Krk is that it sank during the battle. However, already in the early afternoon on the 7th of October 1571, the Holy League has won a victory, which marked the end of the Ottoman domination on the Mediterranean and changed the course of history. The victory of the Holy League helped Mediterranean and Europe a lot, but also made the position of Croats in the coming centuries significantly harder, because Ottoman invasions continued through the Balkans and the Croatian areas.