- An island on the eastern Mediterranean under the control of the Ottoman Empire since 1669 and a major battleground for the expansion of the newly independent Greek state. The Cretans, Orthodox, and Muslims, the latter numbering 30 percent of the population, had lived relatively harmoniously for centuries, but the introduction of modernity resulted in nationalism coming to determine the response of the Orthodox Cretans to Ottoman rule.Cretan revolts against Ottoman rule subsequently occurred, notably during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829), but the Ottomans maintained control of the island until 1830. In that year, by agreement of the European powers, Crete was ceded to Egypt, which in 1840 returned control of the island to the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, friction between the Orthodox and Muslim Cretans resulted in successive rebellions by the Christians. There was a revolt in 1858, but a more serious uprising occurred in 1866. Greece prepared for war and made an alliance with Serbia, but British pressure prevented Greek intervention and the revolt collapsed. In October 1878, the Halepa Pact provided for an assembly with a Christian majority. But in the 1890s, insurrections led the Porte to strengthen Ottoman direct rule and suspend representative institutions. In 1896, a full-scale revolt was led by a Cretan Liberal, Eleutherios Venizelos, and the next year Greek forces intervened on behalf of the insurgents. The ensuing war between Greece and the Ottoman Empire was terminated in 1898 when British, Russian, Italian, and Austro-Hungarian battleships and marines arrived to force the Ottoman army out. Crete was granted autonomy within the Ottoman Empire and, under pressure from the European powers, Prince George of Greece was made high commissioner.George was popular at first, but he became autocratic, and popular unrest, led by Venizelos, forced him to resign in 1906. Despite insistent Cretan demands for annexation to Greece and support for that from various European powers, namely France and Russia, the island remained an Ottoman possession under international protection until 1912. A Cretan uprising in March 1912 resulted in the establishment of an independent provisional government, with the delegates installed in the Greek parliament the following October. By the terms of the Treaty of London of 1913, which ended the First Balkan War between Greece - joined by Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Romania - and the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans formally ceded Crete to Greece. The Muslim minority initially remained on the island but was later relocated to Turkey under the general population exchange agreed to between Greece and Kemalist Turkey in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.See also <
>.FURTHER READING:Dakin, D. The Unification of Greece. New York: St. Martin’s 1972;Schurman, Jacob Gould. The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2005.ANDREKOS VARNAVA
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.