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The Ottomans
The Ottomans
The island of Crete was the main theatre of the Venetian-Turkish War, known as the Cretan War which started in 1645. By 1648 the Ottomans had occupied the whole of Crete except Chandax and the small seaward fortresses at Grambousa, Suda and Spinalonga. It was a "multiethnic" war. Soldiers came to assist the Venetian defenders from many European countries. The Ottoman army included soldiers of differing descent, language and religion. The siege of Chandax lasted for 21 years. It began in May 1648 and ended in September1669 with the capitulation of the Venetians.
The remaining local population and the Venetians fled, leaving behind them the destroyed town of Kastro or Chandax or Candia and then in Turkish “Kandiye”. Most of the Christian churches were converted of into mosques and seminaries. The erection of minarets and public bathhouses changed the look of the place. Turkish toponyms were given to parts and neighbourhoods of the town.
In the 19th century successive uprisings made Muslim populations living in the outlying countryside, take refuge in fortified urban centres on the island, including Heraklion. Wrathful Muslims took revenge on the Christian inhabitants who often were the victims of fierce attacks.
In 1830 Crete was handed over to the Egyptians who built roads and bridges, repaired the fortifications and deepened the Venetian port of Heraklion. It was returned to the Ottomans in 1840.
There was mass conversion of Christians to Islam, because many local people tried to avoid the heavy Ottoman taxation law for non-Muslims. Cretan Muslims or Turco-Cretans, a powerful group of people, sprang from conversions and mixed marriages. Although they were Muslims by religion, they kept many Cretan features such as the Greek language, the way they dressed, the way they were fed and, sometimes, even parts of Christian tradition. Mutual influences, especially in language, were developed between the Christian and the Muslim communities during the centuries of their coexistence, although there were times or places that brutalities occurred between the two religious communities.
The aim of the first revolution in 1770 was to cast off the Ottoman rule, but it was smashed relatively easily. The Cretan participation in the major Greek revolution of 1821 failed to liberate the island as in 1822 Egyptian troops arrived and crashed the rebellion.However, the foundation of the Greek state in 1830 gave the Cretan Christians new hope. The successive uprisings that broke out in the 19th century did not achieve the union with Greece and although they were usually followed by bloodshed, but at least they led to concessions that made the life of Christians more tolerable. The newly born Greek state was not powerful enough to offer Crete assistance, something that was done by the European powers, especially England, France and Russia, who forced the Ottoman Empire to accept the autonomy of the island after the uprising of 1897. On the 25th of August 1898 there was an extensive bloodshed of Christians, something caused the reaction of the European powers and led to the withdrawal of the Turkish army from the island and the hanging, after trial, of 17 massacre leaders. The union with Greece came later in 1913.
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