History of Crete

Brief history of Crete summarized

The history of Crete, in a brief and summarized way.

The origin of Crete

The origin of the people who settled in Crete in 2600 BC is unknown. They were peaceful, progressive, creative, and most importantly, they knew how to navigate. Over the next 1,000 years, the Cretans make their country a great naval and commercial power.

The great economic power of the island can be clearly seen in the remains that were found during the excavations at Knossos. Huge palaces with many rooms, adorned with rare paintings exude the joy of life, kindness and delicacy, limitless cities showing the peaceful mood and strength of the Cretans and the security that the number of their ships gave them and its naval power.

A terrible destruction took place in 1450 BC and the raids of the Achaeans from the Peloponnese drive Minoan Crete into depression and despair. And when the first waves of Dorians arrived in 1100 BC, Crete was occupied without resistance. From the eighth century BC begins in Crete, the Greek period.

Greek period

In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the cities of Gortyn, Eleftherna, Cydonia, Pytos, Praisos and others are found on Crete.

In Hellenistic times, the independent and autonomous Greek cities of the island made internal and external alliances with other cities and established the “Common of the Cretans” with headquarters at Knossos.

In 75 BC Crete faces the first Roman invasion and repulsion. In 69 BC the Romans come against Crete for the second time and after three years of fighting they occupy the island and Crete becomes a Roman province. From 63 to 66 AD the island accepts the influence of Christianity and establishes its first Christian church with Bishop Titus, an associate of the Apostle Paul.

From the year 395, Crete falls into the Eastern Roman Empire and experiences a peaceful and happy period until the year 824, when it was conquered by the Arabs and suffered greatly throughout its 136-year duration.

In the year 961 he was released by the general Nicephorus Phocas.

Venetian and Turkish occupations

The Venetians occupied the island in 1212, after fierce fighting that lasted eight years and rebelled eleven times, until 1603, when the Venetians gave important privileges to the Cretan people. The Venetian occupation, which lasted almost four centuries, had a significant influence on Cretan art and literature, seriously influenced by Western elements.

In 1717 Crete was completely handed over to the Turks after battles that lasted many years and where the Cretans fought together with the Venetians, who finally capitulated and abandoned the last of their forts.

Until the revolution of 1821, the people of Crete rebelled twice: in 1692 and 1770.

In 1866, a new revolution in Crete, after Turkey refused to recognize Crete’s claim to a union with Greece. The flag of the Revolution is unfurled all over Crete and sounds like a slogan: Union or death.

The heroic struggle of the Cretans and Arkady’s holocaust had caused the admiration of the world and thousands of volunteers rushed to help the island in its struggle.

On September 24, 1868, the great powers proclaimed the autonomous principality of the island, but the revolutionary situation on the island lasted until 1878, when, with the new revolution, the Cretans had more privileges. In 1897 England, France, Russia and Italy take the island under their protection and proclaim an independent state with the High Commissioner Prince George of Greece.

Twentieth century

In 1910, the great figure of Crete, Eleftherios Venizelos, as president of the Greek government, admitted the first deputies of Crete to the Greek parliament in Athens. And finally, on May 30, 1913, Crete was finally united with Greece with the Treaty of London and has followed the history and fortunes of Greece ever since.

In May 1941 the Germans, who had meanwhile occupied the rest of Greece, attacked Crete. The island’s civilian population heroically resisted the invading Germans who finally captured the island after a 10-day fight, which became known as the “Battle of Crete”.

After the collapse of Germany in 1945, the heroic island returned to Greece.

Crete today

Today, there are memorials and monuments scattered throughout the island that recall the horror and devastation of war and the great value of peaceful coexistence among nations.

In all places in Crete, you can still see the remains of the German military infrastructure. Haunted pillboxes still hang from the rugged headlands of Lithino, Spatha, Aforesmenos, Drapanos, Plakias, and many other places. You can visit the Allied War Cemetery in Souda Bay and the German War Cemetery in Maleme, at the site of the Battle of Crete.

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