The Greatest Naval Battle in History

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.

Which was the greatest naval battle in history?

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GhostBattleship
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by GhostBattleship » Mon May 24, 2010 10:52 pm

Not to mention the gens 'd armes who studied the art of war from the time they were seven years old andI believe the spanish had the burgundian companies.

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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by neil hilton » Tue May 25, 2010 11:52 am

Sieges are tricky things and a lot of military and non military factors have to be considered. During this time period sieges were much more common than field battles and they took a very long time. The siege of Vienna failed because of the onset of winter, even so Ottoman cavalry raided deep into the Hapsburg empire, Turkish calvary arrive at the Bavarian town of Regensburg. This is the farthest West that Turkish forces ever reach.. Due to the strategic position of Vienna the Turks couldnt bypass it, they were stuck. If they had managed to take Vienna (and it was a close run thing) who knows how far they could have gotten?


http://www.answers.com/topic/seljuk-and-ottoman-turks

"...The sultans of the 16th century went on to conquer further territory, and seemed unstoppable to contemporary Christians. Selim I marched into the Arab lands of Syria and Egypt (1516-17), and Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’ annexed much of Hungary and went on to besiege Vienna in 1529, with his cavalry raiding into Bohemia and Bavaria. Suleiman's reign marks a peak of Ottoman culture and power, although in the next century the Ottomans recovered Iraq from the Persians and were still able to capture Crete from the Venetians; and they only just failed at Vienna again in 1683. It was in the 18th century that there began a slow decline for the empire, and the Christian belief in Ottoman invincibility began to wane..."

The reason why the Ottomans could only followup with the siege of Malta after Djerba was because they were at the same time still heavily occupied in Persia and trying to get a foothold on the Indian ocean, a war on two fronts. A bit stupid if you ask me dividing their effort that way!

In 1460 The Turks complete the occupation of Greece, which remains within the Ottoman empire until the nineteenth century.
In 1464 Mehmed II and the Ottoman Turks conquer Bosnia, where a large number of noble families convert to Islam.
In 1468 Skanderbeg dies and Albania becomes fully absorbed into the Ottoman empire.
In 1480 Mehmed II Conqueror sends a fleet commanded by Gedik Ahmed Pasha westward. It captures the Italian port city of Otranto. Further incursions into Italy ends with the death of Mehmed and fighting among his sons over the leadership of the Ottoman Empire. Had the Turks pressed forward, it is likely that they would have conquered most of Italy with little trouble, a feat accomplished by the French a few years later in 1494 and 1495. Had this occurred at this time, just as the Renaissance was getting off the ground, the history of the world would have been dramatically different.
In 1499 Venice goes to war with the Turks and the Venetian fleet is defeated at Sapienza.
At the Battle of Chaldiran in eastern Anatolia in 1514, Ottoman forces under Sultan Selim I won a decisive victory against the Safavids, ensuring Ottoman security on their eastern front.
In 1517 The Ottoman sultan, Selim I, captures Cairo and ends Mameluke rule in the middle east.
In 1526 after the battle of Mohacs the Ottoman empire annexes Hungary.
In 1534 The city of Baghdad fell to Suleiman's forces.
In 1538 Sea Batte of Preveza. Turkish navy controls most of Mediterranean Sea.
In 1571 just before Lepanto the turks captured Cyprus after a siege.
In 1578 Tblisi and most of Georgia is conquered by the Ottoman empire.
In 1638 Ottoman Turks recapture Baghdad, Iraq, and execute nearly the entire 30,000 man garrison.
In 1645 Ottoman Turks attack the island of Crete, at the time ruled by Venice, and lay siege to the city of Candia.
In 1649 After more than 20 years, Ottoman Turks finally capture the city of Candia, ensuring that Crete becomes a part of the Ottoman Empire.
1672 The Ottoman Turks launch a war against Poland, defeating the armies under John Sobieski. The Ottoman Empire would annex Podolia and the Ukraine while Poland would be forced to pay an annual tribute.
In 1683 An army of at least 250,000 troops, the last great Ottoman assault on Christian Europe, begins the second siege of Vienna.
In 1711 Ottoman Turks defeat Russian forces near the Pruth and in the ensuing peace treaty the regain control of Azov.

Sounds to me like a very very serious threat to europe, the formation of the Holy League obviously thought so too.
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lwd
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Tue May 25, 2010 4:22 pm

neil hilton wrote:Sieges are tricky things and a lot of military and non military factors have to be considered. During this time period sieges were much more common than field battles and they took a very long time. The siege of Vienna failed because of the onset of winter,
Indeed but if the Ottoman's try and take Western Europe especially via naval landings that restricts the size of the force they can land and furthermore the size they can support. Furthermore there are going to have to fight a lot of sieges and sieges where the relief force isn't hindered by having to rely on naval supplies and reinforcements.
Sounds to me like a very very serious threat to europe, the formation of the Holy League obviously thought so too.
Certainly it was a serious threat but that doesn't mean the defeat at Lepanto would mean the fall of Western Europe. Indeed the most likely effect would have been the Ottomans being strong longer.

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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by neil hilton » Wed May 26, 2010 12:12 pm

You're right. Most of western europe wouldn't have fallen but significant chunks of south and eastern europe may well have beed ceded to the Ottomans (a chunk of France and or Spain. Italy was completely dividied into city states and would have been fairly easy to pick off one at a time). As you said this would have meant the Ottoman empire being stronger for longer and the european countires weakned.
A stalemate may have lasted decades and then the next phase of Ottoman expansion could have seen continental europe being eaten piece by piece right up to the english channel.
Or a true peace may have occured resulting in a permanent Ottoman presence in south and eastern europe. Who knows where that would have led!
Or the european powers may have been stuck in a long protracted war in order to turf the Ottomans out. What the consequences of such a war would have been on the development of europe is anyones guess (culturally, technologically, colonially, militarily).
Or the european countires may have banded together to show a true united front and really go for the Ottomans. Where would that have led? A united europe in the 16th/17th century? Wow.
All these possibilities would have had world affecting consequences especially considering the issue of european exploration of the world and the colonisation of the new world!
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lwd
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Wed May 26, 2010 1:27 pm

neil hilton wrote:You're right. Most of western europe wouldn't have fallen but significant chunks of south and eastern europe may well have beed ceded to the Ottomans (a chunk of France and or Spain.
It would be very difficult for them to hold anything in Southern France. Christian Europe can just pour too many troops into the area. Spain is much the same unless they can take all of it and Spain was a super power of the time.
Italy was completely dividied into city states and would have been fairly easy to pick off one at a time).
Picking off Italian city states might be possible but holding them is another matter. Again if they can't take and hold the passes to the rest of Western Europe the latter can undertake repeated "crusades" until they win. They simply have a larger manpower pool in the area and a tremendious advantage in logistics.
A stalemate may have lasted decades and then the next phase of Ottoman expansion could have seen continental europe being eaten piece by piece right up to the english channel.
Highly unlikely especially as the rot was starting to set in in the heart of the Ottoman empire.
... Or the european countires may have banded together to show a true united front and really go for the Ottomans. Where would that have led? A united europe in the 16th/17th century? Wow.
All these possibilities would have had world affecting consequences especially considering the issue of european exploration of the world and the colonisation of the new world!
Well there was a fairly diverse force that showed up to defeat the Ottomans in the siege of Vienna and in the crusades for that matter. That's probably the most reasonable analog.

Note it is also possible that if the Ottomans over extend themselves trying to follow up a win at Lepanto they could be even more seriously weakened. A defeated invasion could see the professional core of their army destroyed and leave them open for follow up counter attacks in the Balkans and perhaps North Africa or the Persians might see a weakened Ottoman Empire as an opertunity to raise the isse of thier border again.

*** edit for ***
Just ran across this referance: http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/ ... eyman.html
Looks like things are more complicated that I thought. I neglected the impact of Russia and wasn't aware of the French Ottoman alliance.

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neil hilton
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by neil hilton » Wed May 26, 2010 2:11 pm

Actually europe banding together to fight the Ottomans is probably the remotest possibility I suggested. France and Spain were both superpowers of the day, and so was the Ottoman empire. France and Spain and England hated each other (no surprise there) neither would have gone to the others aid if invaded by the Ottomans, they may well have cheered at the others plight maybe even helped fund the Ottoman invasion of the other.
The Holy league was founded in 1571 and was divided from the start due to nationalism in the ranks and command structure, it was immediately disbanded in 1573 after the peace treaty with turkey and the signatories went back to their old hatreds of each other. France refused to sign on.
In 1588 Queen Elizabeth I asked for Ottoman naval help against the Spanish Armada. The Ottomans refused.
All the european powers hated each other to some degree and somewhere in europe there was always a war going between 2 eurpoean states. Remember this was the period of the Catholic vs Protestant religious wars and it was savage, catholics would not have helped protestants even from muslims and vice versa.
There is no way europe could have been fully united against the Ottomans.
Divide and conquor. Any european state is vulnerable, if the Ottomans could have gained a foothold.
Populations in europe could not sustain large standing armies so they would be forced into a guerilla war like France and England did in the hundred years war.
The Ottoman empire only really started to stagnate after the second attempted siege of Vienna in 1683 (Sulymans death in 1566 was a dip but they did recover from it, mostly). If they had won at Lepanto this wouldn't have happened, probably. Empires only start to decay when they stop expanding, they try to stop decay by starting new expansions, if they can.
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lwd
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Wed May 26, 2010 7:27 pm

The interaction of the European powers is not so simple. You mention Elisabeth and the armada but not long before that the English were helping the Spanish against the French. Russia was also becoming a major player at this time and had run ins with the Ottomans as had the Persians. France seems to have had something of an alliance with them but I'm not sure how long that would hold once the Ottomans started actually trying to conquer parts of Western Europe.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by Byron Angel » Sat May 29, 2010 9:48 pm

neil hilton wrote:Actually europe banding together to fight the Ottomans is probably the remotest possibility I suggested. France and Spain were both superpowers of the day, and so was the Ottoman empire. France and Spain and England hated each other (no surprise there) neither would have gone to the others aid if invaded by the Ottomans, they may well have cheered at the others plight maybe even helped fund the Ottoman invasion of the other.
The Holy league was founded in 1571 and was divided from the start due to nationalism in the ranks and command structure, it was immediately disbanded in 1573 after the peace treaty with turkey and the signatories went back to their old hatreds of each other. France refused to sign on.
In 1588 Queen Elizabeth I asked for Ottoman naval help against the Spanish Armada. The Ottomans refused.
All the european powers hated each other to some degree and somewhere in europe there was always a war going between 2 eurpoean states. Remember this was the period of the Catholic vs Protestant religious wars and it was savage, catholics would not have helped protestants even from muslims and vice versa.
There is no way europe could have been fully united against the Ottomans.
Divide and conquor. Any european state is vulnerable, if the Ottomans could have gained a foothold.
Populations in europe could not sustain large standing armies so they would be forced into a guerilla war like France and England did in the hundred years war.
The Ottoman empire only really started to stagnate after the second attempted siege of Vienna in 1683 (Sulymans death in 1566 was a dip but they did recover from it, mostly). If they had won at Lepanto this wouldn't have happened, probably. Empires only start to decay when they stop expanding, they try to stop decay by starting new expansions, if they can.

..... Don Juan of Austria - one of the most underappreciated statesmen and heroes of European history.

Had the Ottomans prevailed at Lepanto, the naval strength of Spain, Genoa and Venice would have been neutered at one stroke, leaving the entire central and western Mediterranean open to unpposed Ottoman expansion. The consequences would have been highly dangerous for Spain, who relied upon access to its overseas colonial empire for most of its brugeoning wealth, and lethally dangerous for the Italian city-states, both of whom relied upon international trade for their economic health.

The history of the region undeniably demonstrates that who controls the Mediterranean, controls the surrounding nations.


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Djoser
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by Djoser » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:51 am

I think the odds of an alternate outcome should also be considered, both to the battles in question, and the wars during which they were fought.

For instance, at Tsushima and Trafalgar, the losers didn't really stand much of a chance anyway. At Tsushima in particular, the strategic war was already won anyway. As decisive as these two battles might have been in terms of overwhelming tactical victories being achieved; any other outcome was unlikely, given the relative training and morale levels of the opposing, losing crews.

Midway was certainly decisive, in terms of the destruction of any serious Japanese naval aviation offensive power, but even a devastating Japanese victory would not have altered the course of the war for long.

Jutland is a bit trickier. It appears that the commonly quoted judgment that Jellicoe was 'The only man who could lose the war in an afternoon' might be an overstatement.

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RF
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by RF » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:44 am

I basically agree with Djoser's post.

In respect of Jutland, if there was a substantial German victory it would have done them little good, because they didn't have the supply logistics to be able to take advantage of the removal of the Home Fleet, even in the North Sea let alone the North Atlantic.
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José M. Rico
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by José M. Rico » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:32 pm

Hello all,
I was just trying to edit this thread's poll when suddenly all votes were reset. I'm sorry for that.
So, I took the chance to add the "Spanish Armada" and "Leyte" to the poll. This will also allow those who wanted tho change their votes to do so now.
Feel free to submit your votes again. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:45 pm

Actually it will be interesting to see what the numbers are now given the discussion to date.

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José M. Rico
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by José M. Rico » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:06 pm

There were about 70 votes. Jutland was winning by a wide margin and Trafalgar was in second place.

lwd
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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by lwd » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:55 pm

I tend to go with "greatest" meaning the most impact on world history. Jutland wasn't going to change much unless the Germans had an overwhelming victory with a lot of British ships sunk and perhaps not even then. Likewise I'm not sure Trafalgar would have changed a huge amount if it was a draw or a minor loss for the Britts. Several others appear to me to be in that catagory. Salamis on the otherhand could easily have gone to the Persians and the destruction of Greek naval power and the loss of Athens at that point could have had pretty significant ramifications. Likewise with the above critieria Letye and even Midway are out as well. Japan was just too far under the power curve to have a chance so winning another battle or two wouldn't make much difference in the long run.

Obvioulsy if we go with other criteria the selection may change. I do find myself wondering if some more obscure battle perhaps in the Pacfic or Med or even Indian Ocean might have had a greater affect.

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Re: The Greatest Naval Battle in History

Post by jmcnorkis@yahoo.com » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:55 am

To determine what really is the Greatest Naval Battle in History, i rather put it in terms on the following criteria:
1. Tactics
2. Area of coverage
3. Number and quality of warships involved


1. Battle of Leyte Gulf - Both american and japanese commanders in this battle tried to out wit each other..the japanese trying to put decoys in order to split the 3rd fleet and 7th fleet and let Admiral Kurita Center Force attack the unprotected landing force in Leyte protected only with destroyers/escorts and jeep carriers. It is on the stage of the war that combined application of naval and air warfare was introduced which not found in any naval warfare in the battles of coral sea, midway, guadalcanal or in any naval battle in history. In Battle of Leyte Gulf we find ship to ship engagement involving capital ships, ships and aircraft and aircraft againts aircraft..its a very complex battle that covered an area of more than one thousand square miles of sea...

2. Battle of Midway - The japanese has all the confidence to obliterate the american naval focrces in the pacific.. they assembled the strongest naval force ever with their four biggest aircraft carriers and their mighty battleships and cruisers with the Yamato. But intelligence failed them...with the americans in a hide and seek tactic and bad tactic of the japanese by allowing their four aircraft carriers to proceed to midway lacking the support of the capital ships...yamato, the battleships and cruisers are one thousand miles away...

3. Battle of Tsusima Strait - The japanese splendid application of crossing the "T" which the russians were outmaneuvered even at the start of the battle.

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