Record ID: 66

Site Name

Crete

Type

Islands

Description

island (area: c.3,235 sq miles; 1981 pop. 502,165), coextensive with Crete dept., SE Greece, in the E Mediterranean Sea, c.60 miles from the Gr. mainland; 35�15'N 24�45'E� Crete had Europe�s earliest civilizations, such as the Minoan Civilization, named after King Minos, the legendary author of Cretan institutions; in the ruined palace at Knossos invaluable finds have been made. Cretan civilization is sometimes called the forerunner of Gr. and Western civilizations. The Cretan kingdom reached its greatest power, prosperity, and civilization c.1600 B.C. Later, for reasons that are still obscure, its power suddenly collapsed; but Crete flourished again after the Dorian Greeks settled on the isl. in large numbers and established city-states�

Although important as a trade center, Crete played no significant part in the political history of anc. Greece. It became a pirate haven in the 3d cent. B.C. but was conquered (68 B.C.�67 B.C.) by the Romans under Quintus Metellus. It passed (395) to the Byzantines, fell (824) to the Arabs, but was reconquered by Nicephorus Phocas (later Nicephorus II) in 961. As a result of the 4th Crusade, the isl. passed to Venice in 1204; and in 1212, after expelling rival Genoese colonists, the Venetians set up a new administration, headed by a duke. Under Venetian rule Crete was generally known as Candia (after what is now the city of Ir�klion) for the duke�s residence. Insurrections against the arbitrary Venetians were frequent, and the Cretans were not displeased when the Ottoman Turks conquered (1669) virtually the whole isl. after a 24-year war. Venice maintained control of 2 offshore isl. fortresses until 1715. A series of revolts against the Turks in the 19th cent. reached a climax in the insurrection of 1896�1897 that led to war (1897) bet. Greece and Turkey.