The Venetian rule In the 8th century BC, the Dorians occupied the island, bringing their own ideas about jewellery-making, sculpture, pottery, and language. Later Romans conquered Crete, before the island fell under Byzantine rule. It was then when numerous Byzantine churches were constructed. In 827 A.D., the Arabs conquered Crete. The Byzantines regained the island but after the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade, Frankish crusaders occupied it in 1204. After a brief period of Genoese domination, in 1217, the island was sold to Venice, Venetian power was firmly established for about four and a half centuries and Crete became a commercial hub, with fortified ports and was dominated by Venetian nobles and local merchants. Heraklion, named then Kastro and renamed Candia, remained the capital and administrative centre, the hive of economic and intellectual life. In fact the whole island was known as the Kingdom of Candia ( Regnio di Candia ). The settlement of Venetian colonists brought new life into the town. The extensive use of gunpowder and artillery at that time, made the Venetians design and erect new fortifications around the town and the Port. The urban population increase, led to the expansion of the town. The construction of numerous stately public and private buildings, changed the look of the town completely. One of the impressive public buildings was the two-storey Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace), seat of the Duca di Candia (Duke of Candia), governor of the island. Candia or Chandax was also the seat of the Capitano di Candia, chief military commander of Crete.All high-ranking officials came from Venice and were members of aristocratic families.During the first two centuries of the Venetian rule, revolutionary movements, rebellions and unrest hindered the economic and agricultural development of the island. In the 15th century, the growth in crop and stock farming was extraordinary in the island. Cretan wine, cheese, honey, salt and olive oil were exported to countries throughout Europe. Cretans engaged themselves in commerce and maritime activities. Cretan ships sailed all over the Eastern Mediterranean, loaded with all kinds of goods.
Artistic activity on Venetian Crete seems to balance between East and West. The strong Byzantine tradition in ecclesiastical art and architecture and the artistic trends of the Renaissance of the West coexisted, although the former was more obvious in rural areas, while the latter had a greater influence in the urban centres. This combination formed a unique cultural prosperity in literature, painting and music.
The Orthodox Church and its link to the Byzantine Empire was a threat to the Venetians. There were attempts to convert Cretans to Catholicism, but the Cretans resisted fanatically. The Catholics in Crete were no more than 1 % of the population.
Cretans had the opportunity to get bilingual education in Greek and Latin-Italian schools in the town of Candia. Cretan scholars and students went to Italian universities to continue their education.