History of Crete – Ottoman (Turkish) Rule, Independence and Nineteenth Century turmoil

But Crete’s fate was once again to fall into the melting pot of history and in 1645 A Turkish assault on Crete, at Hania, was successful. The rest of the island soon followed suit and lay under Turkish domination except for the capital city Heraklion (Candia) which held out, under a 22 year siege, until 1669!

Crete was of great importance to the Ottoman Empire taxes provided revenue but, even more importantly, it was a strategically placed base for military and sea-going operations. Crete was an unhappy island during those years and revolt in the Aegean islands was a constant factor that the Ottomans had to deal with ……. one which gradually sapped the stregth of the empire. In 1821 there was a successful Greek (mainland and islands) revolt and for a few short years they enjoyed independence. However, in 1825 Crete was again successfully invaded, this time by the Egyptian, Mehmet Pasha, to whom the Turks had given Crete as a reward for his help in their attack on the Greeks.

However, events in this part of the world were being closely watched by other great powers and, in 1827, Britain, France, Italy and Russia joined together and brokered a deal in which independence was given to Greece (but not Crete) whilst still remaining under Turkish sovereignty. Crete still languished in Egyptian ownership. There was little peace to be found in the region, particularly in Crete, and in 1841 Crete was again returned to Turkish ownership. In 1866 hundreds of Cretans lost their lives when they blew up an arms store, at the monastery of Arkadhi, rather than fall into the hands of the beieging Turks. Three years later, in 1869, autonomy was granted to the island by the Paris Conference. A politically uncomfortable and unsettled 30 years followed until, in 1899, Crete finally achieved self-government