As part of my research for my latest novel (of which I posted a teaser episode a few weeks ago), I’ve been researching the use of oared galleys in naval combat through history. The classic book “Naval Warfare Under Oars” by VAdm. William Ledyard Rogers has been a primary source. Highly recommended reading for naval history buffs.
After the famous Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the last major Western naval battle involving oared galleys, skirmishing between European and Turkish fleets continued for over a year. One such skirmish took place off Modon, the Venetian name for the town of Methoni in Greece, in October 1572. Turkish galleys attacked a convoy of supply ships, and Don John of Austria took his European alliance fleet out of harbor to defend them. In the resulting sea chase, Rogers describes this incident.
At last the Capitana of Naples, the “Lodi” (She-wolf), bearing the Marquis of Santa Cruz, drew near [the galley] of Mamut, son of Dragut and nephew of Barbarossa, both famous corsairs of the previous generation. Mamut was a young man of 22 years, noted for his cruelty to his Christian slaves, of whom he had 200 on board. He stepped forward from his station on the poop to urge the efforts of the chained rowers, and after killing several in his fury, the stroke oarsman, always a most powerful man, seized him and dragged him into the midst of the rowers, who dropped their oars and fell on him like wild animals. Mamut was thrown from bench to bench, every man taking a bite from his carcass as he passed forward and he was a corpse before he reached the bows … On the anniversary of Lepanto, Mamut’s vessel became the sole prize of the entire campaign and the reward of the labors of 70,000 men.
Ain’t that a helluva way to die?