By Barbara Keevil Parker
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Extra info for Miguel De Cervantes (Great Hispanic Heritage)
In Italy he experienced a joyful language of love that influenced his later writings. At the same time, the forges of Milan, where military armor and weapons were produced and sold throughout the world, was a reminder of crueler things to come—war. Cervantes then traveled through the marble mountains of Carrara to Lucca. This small city welcomed Spaniards who often stayed for a short time on their way to Rome. The city offered a glimpse of the ancient grandeur of Rome with its impressive amphitheater lined with marble seats all crumbling from the forces of time.
The combined fleets — the Venetians, the Spaniards, and the papal troops — were divided into three combat armadas, plus a scouting force and one in reserve. Cervantes sailed on the Marquesa commanded by an Italian, Francisco de Santo Pietro. On board the Marquesa, Cervantes was with war heroes whom he admired at first. His view seems to have changed as he heard them grumble about their way of life, watched them cheat at card games, engage in drunkenness, and act crude and cruel. Another troubling part of life at sea was the harsh way the oarsmen were treated.
In July 1570, the Turks invaded Cyprus, the farthest outpost of the Venetian territory, making it clear that they were not interested in peace. By the end of September, the Venetians began talks with the pope and Philip II. A first attempt to rescue Cyprus ended in defeat. On May 20, 1571, Venice agreed to the establishment of the Holy League by signing a three-year pact with its allies. Together they prepared for war against the Turks and began assembling an armada. Don Juan de Austria became the commander.