FROM CANDIA TO CRETAN ‘BOW’ TO OTTOMAN TURKS AND UNION WITH GREECE

(OR CRETE THROUGH THE AGES.)

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El Greco, Dominikos Theotokopoulos  a famous Cretan painter

A historical overview of the centuries covering the description of characteristics  of Cretans and their efforts to retain their identity, after being attacked and occupied by Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Venetians, Egyptians and Ottomans. At the same time it is worth noting the Cretans ability to absorb and exchange cultures with all invaders including exiles who found refuge in the island, like exiles from Andalusia or even Greek refugees from Asia Minor after the defeat of the Greek army during 1922.  Finally a bird’s eye view is given to the complex situation that led to the existence of Turkish Cretans who many of them still speak the Cretan dialect, as well as the causes that created the Crypto-Christians.

The following report contains enough details that can be used as a source of reference to support credible conclusions. I would ask to be excused for making this article too long but it was necessary to include extensive chronological details to support events that took place over extensive periods which had special importance for historical developments for Crete, Greece and Turkey.  

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Arabs arrive in Crete exiles from Andalousia to join Sarakynes already occupying Hadakas

The recent Turkey’s attempts to question the sovereignty of Cyprus and its rights to its own EEZ as well as it’s attempts to extend Turkey’s EEZ in Aegean Sea violating Dodecanese’s EEZ even Crete’s EEZ, motivated me to recollect in this article historical events for the benefit of every person who is interested to learn about Cretan history through the ages including medieval period.

This may also be of interest to Turkish people with origin from Crete, after all, these are their roots as well.

I have heard many Turks of Cretan origin stating:

“Turkey shouldn’t allow the same thing to happen in Cyprus, and become a Greek island like what happened in Crete ”.

The history of Cyprus resembles very much to the history of Crete exempt for the origin of Turkish minority of Cyprus and the cultural difference developed during renascence.

To properly understand the history of Crete and its current position as a purely Greek island one needs to go through from the Roman and Byzantine time, and three periods of foreign occupations the Arab, the Venetian and the Ottoman.

The name Crete comes from the Mythical “Kourites” the first inhabitants of Crete according to Greek Mythology.

Crete during the Roman period

Crete as a part of the Roman Empire managed to retain some independence but became part of the Eastern Empire, during 396 AD, due to its geographical position, yet, remained under Pop’s jurisdiction for a longer period.

With the exception of an attack by the “Vandals” in 457 AD the island remained peaceful and prosperous for centuries.

The population at this time is estimated at 250,000

The “Vandals” were an East Germanic tribal group that moved throughout Europe establishing kingdoms in Spain and later in North Africa during the 5th century.AD

Before that during the 2nd century BC the Vandals migrated from southern Scandinavia to the area between the Oder and Vistula rivers around 330 AD. They were confined by the Goths to Pannonia, where they were licensed to settle by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great.

Around 400 AD the Vandals were driven west again, this time by the Huns, crossing the Rhine towards Galatia, In 439 AD after many struggles, they conquered “Carthage” and made it their capital.

They built a fleet and began pirate raids that reached as far as Greece, where they tried to invade Peloponnese, but were defeated by the Greeks.

The “Vandals”, in 455, came to Italy with a powerful pirate fleet and occupied Rome. Their troops plundered the city for two weeks and brutally destroyed all works of art: buildings, statues, artifacts, etc. This act remained in history under the name of «vandalism».

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Many Vandals embraced “Arianism”. Eventually they were defeated by the Byzantines.

The remains of the “Vandals” were mixed with other tribes of North Africa (Berbers, etc.) and gradually disappeared.

Many of the captives were incorporated into the imperial army and assimilated into the multinational Byzantine Empire

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The relationship between Crete and Byzantium.

The relations between Crete and the Byzantines were not always smooth, the problems were generated due to Saracens who occupied part of Crete and the religious conflicts within Christianity at the time.

It is most important to appreciate the effect that the internal conflicts, within the Christian world had on Crete, at the time.

To make Christianity more easily accepted in the Greek and Italian peninsulas, hagiography and sculpture were originally developed as part of Christian worship, as the peoples of these areas had pagan origins and the form of ancient religions included worshiping of cults and sculptures in their temples.

This approach caused animosity from Byzantine Emperors coming from regions of the East where purely Jewish religions with the anti-icon typical prevailed. Such Emperors thought of worship of Western images as a remnant of ancient religions that had to be eliminated.

Byzantines, eventually, failed to impose “iconoclasm” on the Italian peninsula, hence Constantinople-Rome relations deteriorated.

After the issue of an “iconoclastic” decree, which made iconoclastic teaching an official doctrine of the state and the Church, rupture was inevitable. The Pope urged the faithful to revolt against the Byzantine authority

The Cretans who were mostly influenced by the Pope, revolted against Constantinople.  With the help of other Greeks, from other areas, ranged an attack against Constantinople using a fleet from Crete and the Cycladic islands. The fleet was, eventually, completely destroyed by “liquid fire” off Constantinople.

Religious disagreement was followed by political alienation. The first political consequences of the iconoclasm were the widening of the gap between Constantinople and Rome and the weakening of the eastern Roman state’s position on the Italian peninsula. This had a serious effect in the coming years during the renascence.

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Nikiforos Focas Byzantine Emperor that Liberated Handakas from Sarakynes

Foreign Occupations of Crete

Crete, situated at the crossroads of three continents, has a history of 3000 years and has experienced three main periods of foreign occupation in medieval and later times.

 

  1. The Arab occupation

The Arab occupation, from 827 to 961, left almost nothing in the way of material remains and little or no evidence of cultural interchange.

The Arabs fortified the main town with a deep defensive ditch which gave its name to the town: El Khandak, or in Greek Chandax. Later the name prevailed as Candia. This appellation came to be applied to both the town and the whole island in the later Middle Ages.

During the iconoclastic internal Christian conflict period, a group of exiles from Andalusia landed in Crete with their families, having a long history of wandering in the Mediterranean.

Legend has it that after their arrival in Crete, they burned their ships. They were the survivors of the failed coup against Emir al-Hakam I of Cordoba.

The exiles of Andalusia, who were mostly Mozartes of Roman origin, led by Abu Hafez, established the city of Chandaka in a possibly uninhabited area, with no reaction from the local Cretan Greek population, as the exiles did not move to the rest of the island. In addition, Roman rule was characterized by corruption and heavy taxation as well as extreme persecutions against the island’s iconoclasts such as St. Andronicus and the martyred Saint Andrew

The story of the Arab emirate inside is not clear as very few survived the Byzantine attack during 961.

However, it is certain that Crete was not a colony of pirates as described by some Byzantine sources. Archaeological findings and references from the Arab world show that Chandakas was the only town that. Islam appears to be confined and does not spread in other areas of the inland.

The existence of leading Greek personalities suggests the involvement of many Greeks, collaborated with the exiles from Andalusia during the 9th and 10th centuries.

Gradually these exiles were totally assimilated by the Cretans

It is interesting to note that the exiles of Andalusia helped the Cretans react against Byzantines, not so much with their numbers, which was insignificant in comparison with the Byzantine Empire as in their alliances with the Arab world.

So Crete, a sparsely populated island at the time, became part of a larger whole and de facto autonomous state that survived as such for one and a half centuries. This also indicates the capacity of the Greek population and culture to absorb alien groups due to culture and language.

Finally the Byzantines, defeated the Arab Satakynes the sprig of 96i.

At this time, the Byzantine Emperor Romanos II, of the so-called Macedonian dynasty (867 – 1056) – many historians claim that he was Armenian,   launched a huge campaign, under general Nikiforos Fokas who also was false fully referred as Armenian and managed to concur Chandakas and finished the Emirate state.

Nikiforos Fokas was later celebrated by Cretans as a liberator from the Arabs.

 

 

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  1. Venetian occupation.

The second occupation, by the Most Serene Republic of Venice, is by far the longest of the three, it lasted 440 years, from 1211, when the Venetians finally succeeded in taking possession of the prize for which they had paid 1,000 marks to Boniface of Montferrat, until the Fall of Candia in 1669, following a siege lasting twenty-one years.

The Republic of Venice was a rally of citizens of the Western Roman state that has ceased to exist since 476 AD. It was the last Roman occupation of the eastern Roman state in the Italian peninsula, with the Goths plundering Rome until 726 AD, at the time of the issuance of the iconoclastic decree of the Byzantines.

Since then it has enjoyed autonomy from the Byzantines due to the regular military assistance they were giving.

This historical coincidence will prove valuable, in the future, for the island of Crete, as the presence of the Venetians in the Aegean and the extensive fortifications carried out on the island during this period which kept Crete unaffected from most developments in the East over the next centuries, especially the early years of the Ottoman Empire, which were the darkest for the whole area.

The Venetian occupation of Crete was not free of numerous revolts and fighting from the Cretans.

The first Venetian Duke of Crete, Jacob Tiepolo, settled in Chandakas in 1209.

Two years later, while the Venetians were still in the process of trading with Malta’s Genovese Count, Errico Pescatore, the «Saint’s» revolution broke out.

It was a Cretan family who took up arms. The Cretans united around them, occupied the fortresses of Mirabellos and Sitia and dominated Eastern Crete.

The efforts to liberate Crete from Venetians was going on with intervals of piece especially because the aristocrats of Crete did not always rebel in search of national restoration but in order to regain their own feudal privileges when they happened to be affected.

As a result aristocrats from Crete assimilated with the Venetian feudal lords, as they preferred to be subordinate to Venetian aristocracy.

A characteristic example took place after a revolt, in 1299, the Venetians were forced to propose peace.

The treaty included 33 articles. Among them:

  • The Venetian and local people are free.
  • The re-establishment of the Orthodox Bishop is permitted.
  • The release of slaves is permitted.
  • Moving and creating a home is free throughout the island.
  • Feudal property may be transferred to third parties.
  • The purchase and possession of horses by local feudal lords is permitted.
  • The leader of the revolt himself and his descendants are recognized as Venetian nobles (and not merely equals) he acquire new lands (12 feudal lords).

The main message is that a new mixed society was evolving that included a unified aristocracy and middle class, Venetians were becoming Cretans and Cretans were becoming Venetians.

The Cretans secured the right of local aristocrats to marry Venetian or to give wives of their families as wives of Venetian feudal lords.

At that time, the Venetians of Crete were fewer than 10,000, with locals were  at least ten times more. The Cretans hoped that by mixed marriages, the Venetians would soon be absorbed.

Most Venetians were already speaking Greek!!!

Progressively, the metropolis of Venice itself functioned as a federation center with its holdings administered by the Venetians, but operating as federations. In the Ionian Islands, the Venetian presence seemed suffocating, because the Ionian Islands were regarded as advanced guardians of the Venetian Aristocracy, guards at the entrance to the Adriatic.

Crete, however, as a location, as an area and as a composition of the population, functioned differently. The Venetians there were Hellenized.

The feudal lords lived in their world in the countryside but in the cities the nobles were few, the bourgeois more, the people even more so.

The cities were transformed into great ports that allowed free contact with all strangers, the opening of society to more flexible morals, the marriage of nations. The few Venetians brought with them the western lifestyle. The Cretans seeking higher education in Venice went on to study in addition to the education that the island was already providing.

They came back enriched with their knowledge of Venetian culture. Such «educational exchanges» led to the creation of at least one theater in the city of Heraklion during the last century of Venetian rule.

Hagiography and organized bibliographic laboratories testify to the existence of an advanced cultural level. Names of prominent Greeks signify the existence of spiritual infrastructure on the island that brought them to life.

The first popular songs about local heroes must be traced back to the time when “Nikephoros Fokas” recovered Crete from the Arabs.. The verse from the epic poem «the tombstone” sounds similar to the epic for the Greek hero, protector of remote frontiers, “Digenis Akritas”.

Battle events were transformed into folk songs but at the same time, during   night, in the taverns, people were singing songs of joy and entertainment «The young man seeks a kiss and the daughter asks for a ring». And then, the composers envied the glory. All signs of a happy and quite period.

The boom in commerce, the transformation of cities into big and busy ports, the creation of a banking system have helped for freed morals to evolve.

The wind of the Renaissance made religion change its heavy and dark side. Faith remained deep, but the faithful did not associate “life after death” transition to paradise with forced abstinence from the joys of life. There, around 1600 AD, Numerous “Cultural Academies» sprang up in Crete, including private literary associations, with member subscriptions of high society, Venetian lords, officers, and public officials. The Cretans stared to organize «evenings» of culture, in mansions either with theatrical performances or with simple recitations. In Italian. These theatrical plays and poems did not claim literary laurels. They were mainly guided by the elements that would make the evening enjoyable.

Yet there were no theatrical works written in Greek. But soon Cretans started writing works themselves. Initially based on Italian standards which were converted in Greek, European morals were gradually replaced by the ones prevailing in Crete, at the beginning the started with foreign successes. Subsequently, works began to be written fully in Greek, original or abstracted from foreign works but adapted to Greek reality.

Some works, admittedly, were naive, others had some artistic value, and some reached the level of masterpieces: Tragedies, dramas, comedies.

Clubs of amateur actors were created. There were performances of Greek works, for, the first time since the time of the ancient drama, everywhere, in houses, in open squares.

Erotokritos modern performace l ink

The competition of the authors created what we call the «flourishing of Cretan literature».

Even the existence of one theater in Handaka makes us suspect that there was also a professional effort.

Subsequently, works began to be written, as original or extracted from foreign works but adapted to Greek reality.

This was the period many works of Greek literature, poems and theatrical plays were written by Greek personalities of literature and art, realizing the passage from the dark years of medieval times to renascence. We could refer to many names that acquired international status in art and literature including names such as El Greco and others.

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El Greco- Dominikos Theotokooulos

The golden age of Cretan literature was abruptly interrupted on its take-off, when Crete bowed to the Turks. When the Greek consciousness was also consolidated.

It is worth emphasizing that this was taking place at the same time the rest of Greece was deep in dark ages under the Ottoman occupation that even basic Greek schooling was suppressed and taking place underground in secret.

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Secret schooling in Greece under Turkish ocupation

All this under the umbrella of Ethnic or religious imperialism.

Crete represented, excluding the islands of Ionian Sea, the only case of retaining Hellenism in culture and identity that was influenced by renascence.

 

 

 

  1. The Ottoman occupation

Thus began the third period of occupation, by the Ottoman Turks, which was to end only in 1897. In fact was the smallest period

In the 17th century, and after the Ottomans had secured the preservation of Constantinople in their hands, they turned their eyes to new conquests.

It was the time of the plots in the Ottoman Empire. One-time sultans descended on Constantinople. In 1640, Ibrahim succeeded Murat II, who had just abolished child molestation. He managed to prevail.

Crete has assumed a central role in their expansionist policy because of its strategic position in the Mediterranean.

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After fierce battles, the Ottomans managed to conquer Chania in 1645 and Rethymnon in 1646, but the last fortress, the Grand Castle of Chandaka, remained in the hands of the Venetians and Cretans who jointly defended the island until 1669, when it fell out of betrayal. After 21 years siege, Handaka surrender to the Ottomans and this marked the beginning of a martyrdom for the islanders and interrupted the commercial and cultural progress achieved over 400 years with integration of Cretans and Venetians as described above.

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Battle between Venetians and Turks over Crete.

( Two donkeys were quarreling in a foreign barn)

After the fall of Chandaka, in September 1669, a dark period begins, full of turmoil, for Crete.

While enlightenment followed in the western world, medieval regeneration followed, in Crete, for almost two centuries.

The existence of the fortress of Chandaka was one of the reasons why the Ottomans did not attack Crete earlier than 1644 and did not move populations to the island, as they had done in Cyprus and other areas.  .

Chandakas was the strongest fortress in the Mediterranean of its time, allowing the island of Crete to be controlled with a small number of troops, as it could withstand a threat until reinforcements would arrive.

It is noteworthy that for the fall of Chandaka fortress, after the last rebuilding from the Venetians, it took an Ottoman empire at its peak, 25 years of effort and thousands of dead to concur.

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Handakas fell to the Turks on September 27, 1669, when the Turkish occupation in Crete was already a quarter century behind.

The Ottoman Empire counted 70,000 thousands of dead soldiers in total during the Cretan war of 1644-1669, many of which fell outside the walls of Chandaka.

The island of Crete was proclaimed a province of the Ottoman Empire in 1646 after the Ottomans occupied its western part during the Great Cretan War.

The Venetians retained control of the capital, Heraklion, until 1669, when Francesco Morosini , famous for the bombing of Athens Parthenon, handed over the keys to the city to the Ottomans. The sea forts of Souda, Gramvousa and Spinalonga remained under Venetian control until 1715, when they also fell under Ottoman control.

After the conquest of Crete by the Ottomans, the economy and trade of the Venetians, in the East, suffered a great blow, while the prestige and influence of Venice, as a world great power, declined dramatically.

The refugees from Crete, who fled to the Venetian controlled Ionian Greek Islands, transplanted elements of Cretan culture there.

The formation of the social structure of the Ionian Islands will be greatly influenced by the vibrant cultural presence of Cretan refugees, carriers of long-standing cultural traditions..

 In Crete, a new period full of martyrs begins for the island, the «Turkish occupation» with disasters, oppression and heavy taxation.

Trade and economic activity declined, the locals lost their land and most of them became slaves, and the majority of Christians fled to the mountains, where living conditions were difficult, but there was no Turkish oppression and occupation.

The island of Crete, since its conquest, was the worst ruled province of the Ottoman Empire.

The power during the Turkish occupation was exercised by the so-called «Turkish Cretans». They were Greeks of Cretan origin and speakers in most cases only of the Cretan dialect who were converted to Islam for economic and social reasons but mainly because of the role played by the Orthodox Church during the great Cretan war. They were referred to as shameless believers in Islam and oppressors of Christians, often autonomous and in conflict even with the «High Gate». Some were superficially presenting themselves as Muslims and some not, they reached, even 47% of the island’s population, at one time or another.

On paper, the Turkish occupation was perfectly designed.

Crete was a separate vilayet with a general commander based in Chandaka.

The Venetian administrative division was maintained and the four districts (Sitia, Chandaka, Rethymno and Chania) were simply renamed

The settlements were supposed to be taxed in five tax categories:

The tax system was based on the «sharia», the sacred law of the Ottomans.

In practice, nothing of above worked, there was only the head tax (percentage of income and the «property») as the sultan prohibited any other taxation, which was supposed to make the island one of the most privileged areas of the Ottoman Empire.

Yet, non-Muslim residents were required to pay a head tax and two land taxes, one of which was the so-called harac-I mucaseme,  which typically accounted for 1/5 of production which in practice ended up to 60% of production.

The countryside was obliged to provide other products such as animals, wool, hay, firewood, cheese, oil, honey, raisins, etc. In the summer they had to carry 6,500 cargo of snow from the mountains.

In order to avoid the tax, the Cretans stopped cultivating their fields.

To overcome this problem, a tax was levied on uncultivated land, based on former year’s volumes of production!

The most privileged, however, were the Sfakians who maintained their autonomy, as did with the Venetians, and had the sole obligation to send two snow loads each year to the Valide Sultana (the mother of the king). And later, they paid a token and 5,000 “grosia” a year.

In practice, the Turkish occupation proved cruel and merciless.

The Turks who settled there were the army and the administration staff itself. And any pasha sent (commander) who did not agree with the local power and administration, was either persecuted, slaughtered, or forced to resign. This behavior was such as to annoy even the fanatical Islamists. But no one dared object the local Ottoman status quo, which was even aided by ordinary clerics.

Life, property, family, women and children were at the mercy of the Turks.

Violence was on the agenda.

The Christian was at the disposal of any random Muslim.

The Cretans sent an embassy to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, asking what would happen if they were to pretend that pretending to be Muslims, to save themselves. The answer was a verse taken directly from the Gospel:

«If you deny me in front of people, I deny that in front of my Father in Heaven.»

The Cretans were desperate. Many have decided to voluntarily join Islam.

Some Cretans also remembered the Cretan Patriarch of Jerusalem, Nektarios Pelopidas (1664 – 1682), and thought to put the same question to him. Nektarios replied that in order to save their heads, tit was ok to pretend. As a result, entire villages seem to have changed their faith.

Many of their decedents managed to remain secretly Christians. Others did not find the reason to have an obvious and hidden religion and remained Muslim.

It was the Turks who grabbed and made their own whatever Christian women liked. Their children became Muslims.

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Ethnic map of Crete during Turkish occupation

A few generations later, Muslims constituted almost the majority on the island. Greek Christians and Greek Muslims, however, were waiting for the first opportunity to rise against Ottomans.

The «revolutionary activities» was never lacking in Crete.

In the remote mountains, the Cretans lived freely and always armed. There were those who co-existed with the Venetians who lived in the three fortified islands.

At every opportunity, either in collaboration with «Cretans from the mountain» and «islanders» or on independent initiatives, these guerrillas organized attacks against the most brutal of the Turks and annihilated them.

On the other hand the Turkish «Pasha» was tolerant to any Turkish aggressiveness but he had also to face the cruel punishment from the Cretans. These disobedient Cretan rebels were called: “Chainides”: by the Turks.

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“Chainides”

The Venetians had not totally abandon Crete.

The Venetian admiral appeared with his fleet off the coast of Crete in 1692. He landed on the island and besieged Chania, telling the Cretans that it was time to expel the Turks from the island.

Plenty of Cretans from the mountains and islands of the Venetians rushed to step up the siege. Others, , besieged and took the castle of Kissamos. And as the revolution began to spread, the Venetians dismantled the siege and left.

The Turks took back the fortress of Kissamos. Turkish reprisals broke out with massacres against Christians. By1715, the Venetians had decided that they would not recover Crete.

They also abandoned the fortified islands of Spinalonga and Souda.

The Turks rushed to take possession of them.

The Venetians of Spinalonga became Muslims. The Greeks of Souda were scattered back to the mountains.

 

The Russians

The next who promised Cretans freedom and convinced them to revolt were the Russians.

In 1768, another war between Russia and Turkey broke out. The Russian fleet came out to the Mediterranean, Russian agents promised everything to the Cretans, as well as the rest of the Greeks. The revolutionary wind blew on the island.

On March 25, 1770, Cretans raised the flag of the revolution at Sfakia. The Russians never came to help.

The revolution was confined in Sfakia. It lasted a whole year. They gave up after the death of their leader’ : 3,600 Sfakians were killed or sold into slavery, 1,500 died of the hardships of war, over 2,000 migrated to the Ionian Islands,  Cyclades, Italy and Russia. The remaining 4,000 were ordered to pay an annual Charats tax. They never paid it.

Using this revolt as an excuse, the Turks ranged savage persecutions against the Christians who suffered terribly. The atrocities were such that the sultan himself was obliged to send an army twice to suppress the atrocities:

In 1812, Hatzie Osman succeeded Kyoutachi. They both hanged many Turks as an example to prevent further atrocities, but were forced to flee, chased by their own furious compatriots.

The Cretans took to the mountains.

The situation after 1821. The Greek revolution in the Greek mainland

In 1821, Crete numbered 120,000 Turks and 140,000 Greeks. The Turks had 20,000 well-armed soldiers and the Greeks had 1,200 weapons (eight hundred Sfakians and four hundred, other villages at the foot of the White Mountains).

A first meeting of Greek leaders at Sfakia (April 7, 1821,) gave the message that it was time for Crete to rise.

A letter was sent to Hydra and Spetses requesting the grant of 2,000 rifles and 15 ships.

The first battle took place on June 14, when the Turks of Chania came out for “head haunting”. The Greeks fell on them and forced them to flee.

The Turks were throwing away their weapons that the attackers had devotedly collected as they desperately needed them. Greek successes continued in July.

In August, Serif Pasha, launched a combined campaign.

He lost many battles but managed to reach Sfakia, his first conquest after half a century (since the revolution, of 1770).

The civilians paid for it as the armed population scattered in the mountains.

Serif Pasha returned to his base. The Cretans took up arms again.

By the end of 1821, all of Crete was free except for the castles, where the Turks had fled.

In May 1822, a sultan fleet of forty warships ships arrived in Crete. In Souda, an army of 10,000 Albanian mercenaries landed under General Hassan Pasha. In the summer of 1823, there were also fifty Egyptian war ships, and a number of carrier ships under Ismail Gibraltar, also in Souda. Egyptian troops landed on the island under Hussein Bey.

In 1824, Crete was again under Turkish control.

Greeks continued fierce fighting within Crete as well as moved to Peloponnese, forming Cretan fighting units, in support of Peloponnese, hundreds of Cretans fought and were sacrificed there.

Out of the Cretan civilian population, 2,500 women and children were sold by Turks in Egyptian slave markets.

The Cretans, however, were not kept quiet. In July 1825, the Cretans of “diaspora» reunited, came back to Chania, they took over the fortresses of Gramvousa and Kissamos and hence, revived the revolution.

Soon the Turks confined themselves in the fortresses of Chania, Chandaka, Rethymnon and Ierapetra.

More victories of the Greeks in Sitia, Heraklion, Rethymnon, and Kydonia liberated the rest of the island, except for the coastal fortresses where the Turks were concentrated.

Crete, however, was not on plans to reunite with Greece.

By letter (June 6, 1830), the first Governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias announced that the great powers had left the island to Turks.

In September 1830, 3,000 men of the Egyptian Regular Army under Nurendin Bey arrived on the island, accompanied by French, English and Russian officers. They occupied Crete. In 1831, the Sultan assigned the island to Mohammed Ali of    Egypt. The sale price reached 25,000,000 grossia. Crete became an Egyptian province.

The «Egyptian» parenthesis:

Nurettin Bey was appointed military commander of Crete with Albanian General Mustafa Pasha in command.

Local councils were established with Turkish and Greek councilors according to population ratios in each region (30 members in Chandaka, 12 members in Rethymnon, 17 members in Chania etc.).

Civil courts were set up, policing was organized by Albanians to restrict the arbitrariness of the Turkish population and all would go well unless public works that needed money to be executed started.

Properties were confiscated, and Cretans were cruelly taxed once again.

Dissatisfaction reached Egypt. Mohammed Ali visited Crete (1833) to see closely the problems. He left with no result, and a new law was published: The best estates were confiscated and the inhabitants were lead to poverty

In Mournies, Kydonia, 7,000 Cretans gathered and, at a convention (September 1833) decided to send a report to the consulates of the great powers demanding autonomy of Crete under international protection.

Instead of great powers, the Egyptian army arrived, hanged fifty on the spot and began marching in the province, setting up hangers without even questioning.

Mohammed visited Crete again. He found it all right.

Fight for independence against Turks once again.

In 1840, a war was launched against the sultan for self-determination.

It achieved independence from Egypt. Crete, came under Turkish rule once more (July 15, 1840).

On the island, nothing had changed. Even Mustafa Pasha remained general commander.

Greeks started organizing their revolutionary units, as many volunteers had come down to the island.

Letters were sent to the consuls of the great powers. In April, while the Cretan assembly had invited and was expecting Admiral Stewart of the English squadron to arrive from Souda, he came with Mustafa Pasha and his Turkish counterpart, Admiral Tahir Bey. He brought them to listen to the Cretans’ request to bring the island under English protection.

That’s how he thought. The Cretans, instead, called for union with Greece.

Stewart allowed Mustafa to «do whatever he wanted». This reminded me the Cyprus situation during 1955,

On May 14, a Turkish army of 15,000 men, after a three-hour battle, killed the 250 Cretans who were defending the Apokoronas Provence.

On the 17th the same month, at Wafe, the Turks were defeated.

On the 23rd, in the village of Kastamonitsa, Heraklion, a thousand Cretans defeated 3,000 Turks.

Turkish aid arriving from Istanbul reversed the situation.

After repeated battles, the Cretans were repulsed to the mountains.

The great powers proved indifferent and the revolution ended peacefully.

Sultan Abdul Mejit visited Crete in 1850.

On leaving, he also recalled Mustafa, who had spent 20 years as governor of Crete.

His replacement was Salih Vamik. He allowed the establishment of schools,   stopped illegal interest bearing practices, controlled  Turkish arbitrariness at the expense of the Greeks, and, like the «good old days», was expelled by his local Muslim compatriots after four years of good administration (1854)

In 1856, the Sultan published Hati Humayun («Brilliant Document») in which he established freedom of religion, recognized the privileges of Christians and granted them equality in civil rights.

But the Turks soon forgot their signature and oppressed the Cretans with arbitrariness and heavy taxation.

In May 1866, about 4,000 Cretans gathered in Perivolia, near Chania, demanding that the terms of the treaty to be applied. The Turks refused.

Revolution broke out once more. Official Greece maintained a neutral stance but its government Dimitrios Voulgaris  formed guerrilla corps of volunteers and sent them to the island, while two  vessels were used to provide supplies to the rebels.

It was the vessel «Arkadi» that broke the naval blockade of the island, by the Turkish fleet, 23 times and the vessel «Enosis», which managed to make 46 routs, until the Turkish fleet, in December 1868, blocked it at the port of Syros.

Revolutionary heroism was not enough for the struggle to win.

In a decisive battle, the Turks won.

The blow up of Akadi Monastery

Three hundred fighters together with 643 women and children retreated and closed themselves in Arkadi Monastery in Rethymnon. 28,000 Turks besieged them.

An Officer from Tripoli, a volunteer in the Cretan revolution, Ioannis Dimakopoulos (1833 – 1866) organized the defense of the ancient monastery that tradition wanted to have been built by the Byzantine emperor Heraclitos  (575-641).

The Turks attempted to take the monastery with attacks in groups.

They were all repelled. They also brought cannons to bring down the monastery.

On November 9, 1866, a rift in the building allowed the Turks to brake in.

Dimakopoulos fell dead. The abbot of the monastery, Gabriel Manesis, did not want to fall into the hands of the invaders. The women and children agreed. They gathered on the side where they kept the gunpowder.

When the Turks arrived, Gabriel gave the sign. Constantis Giamboudakis shot the barrels with the gunpowder. They were all blown up in the air, along with the Turks. The up rise was extinguished in the spring of 1869.

Moni_Arkadiou.jpg

The blow up of the Monastery of Arkadi which was blown up and 700 people killed together with the Turkish troops so that they would  not fall in the hands of Turks

In 1878, Crete gained a kind of autonomy that guaranteed the equal coexistence of Turks and Greeks with a Treaty Yet Turkey was fighting unconventionally by trying to change the population composition in Crete

Settlement  of new foreign Muslims in Crete in the 18th century

During the 18th century,  the settlement of foreign Muslims in Crete from Asian, African and Albanian regions began to increase.

Ethiopian Muslims, Arab Muslims from Egypt, and Benghazi settled in the three major cities of Crete and mainly in Chania.

Of course, the settlement of the island with foreign Muslims was part of an organized plan to change the population composition of Crete and to contribute to the Islamization of the island.

 

The end of Ottoman Crete

The Ottoman reform, which took place in Crete during the last period of the 19th century, attempted the introduction of new institutions , along with existing ones.

The new institutional framework brought about the relative liberalization of the regime, partial autonomy of the island which allowed limited political domination of Christians over the Muslims, which was accompanied by their growth, in economic and   social terms.

Moreover, limited liberalization and limited democratization also shaped the conditions for the collapse of the intermediate regime. As, in the wake up of the economic crisis of the last three years (1887-89), socio-political conflicts between social groups were intensified.

The failure of the intermediate regime constituted the end of any attempt at consensual reform and brought about the end of Ottoman occupation of Crete, which was formally confirmed in 1898, by the establishment of the new regime of Autonomy.

The 1866 Revolution

The 1866 revolution was the most significant of a series of 19th-century revolutions where the Ottoman Empire lost control of much of the island, bringing Crete to a period of lawlessness and anarchy that predicted the independence that was to follow.

The blast of Arcadius Monastery, where more than 700 women and children were blown up sacrificing themselves, sparked international sentiment and attention, and volunteers from Italy, Serbia and Hungary arrived on the island in 1866.

Money and equipment received from the United States gave substantial aid, while the newly formed Greek state expressed support for this effort.

The short lived Cretan State

The Cretan state is the state created after the intervention of England, France, Italy and Russia in Crete in 1898 separating the island from the then Ottoman Empire on the grounds that it could no longer maintain control.

The Cretan state lasted 15 years until it joined the Greek republic in 1913.

The 1905 summer revolt against Prince George of Greece, who held power on the island, highlighted Crete’s most important politician, Eleftherios Venizelos, who was elected 7 times prime minister of the Greek republic. Under his leadership, the Greek Republic reached the largest territory in its history, but much of it was lost after his defeat in the November 1920 elections. However, much of the hatred of the present-day Greek Republic was annexed to his leadership. .The Cretan Gendarmerie (1907) was the military corps of the Cretan state, which was tasked with defending the island and policing the cities, while also serving as an expeditionary force. It participated, in the Balkan wars and in the national defense movement of Eleftherios Venizelos.

Union with Greece

After the end of the First Balkan War in May 1913, Crete joined Greece with the Treaty of London.

The union took place on 1 December 1913 with a formal ceremony in the fortress of Firka, Chania.

 

Islamization Islamisms

Islamization was a common practice during the prime years of Ottoman occupation

But Islamization of part of the Cretan population is a different and more complex phenomenon whose main characteristic is its early start before the island’s total conquest.

The most important reason for achieving such large dimensions was the preservation of local Greek speaking language and the local identity. This helped to create a a solid core of the Muslim population

All of the above make the case of Crete special and perhaps only analogous to that of Bosnia .

Islamization in Crete had two main forms, individual Islamism and Islamism originating from mixed marriages.

The process of individual Islamization took place before “Ierodikia” (Religious courts, juries), where the devotee proceeded to proclaim the Muslim symbol of faith and obtain a new Muslim name.

For mixed marriages, Islamization could have arisen if the spouse preferred to maintain custody of the child in the event of the marriage’s dissolution or death. Considering Jennings’ report that in the case of a woman converting to Islam and her husband unwilling to follow the marriage dissolved, we might suppose that an incentive for many women to Islamize was their desire to leave a marriage. , a desire that could hardly be fulfilled, if ever, under normal circumstances.

On the other hand, the cases of mass Islamization were not uncommon, at least during the period of Cretan war, as reported by Evliya Celebi and Naima.

Islamism in Crete was accompanied by the phenomenon of crypto-Christianity

Cretan Islam took a more mystical direction with renowned representatives such as Izz ed-Din Wall and Saint and founder of Haggi Bectasi Teka of Chandaka .

Otherwise there were no major Islamic shrines as created in Cyprus.

The above phenomenon may be explained by the fact that in Crete the overwhelming majority of the Muslim population were converts of Cretan origin whose acceptance of Islam was mainly driven by the improvement of their living conditions.

In Cyprus, however, the Muslim population came from a movement of people from the Ottoman interior who were already familiar with the Muslim Religion, its principles and theology, which would probably allow it to grow further in the new territory.

Adding to the above could be the fact that Cyprus is closer to the major Muslim centers of the Middle East and Egypt and therefore closer to the influence of Arab theological thought.

The Islamized Cretans had no ritual relationship with the religion they adopted.

An important part in this was evidently the conservation of Greek-speaking worshipers (in addition to the mechanical reproduction of prayers in the Arabic language) which cut them off from Islamic theological philosophy.

Whatever the main motives for Islamization, the desire to improve living conditions and to gain opportunities for social development remained.

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Note: This article consist a collection of historical information from various sources selected from published articles in respected news papers