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Crete

Crete (krēt), Gr. Kríti, island (1991 pop. 539,938), c.3,235 sq mi (8,380 sq km), SE Greece, in the E Mediterranean Sea, c.60 mi (100 km) from the Greek mainland. The largest of the Greek islands, it extends c.160 mi (260 km) from east to west and marks the southern limit of the Aegean Sea, the southern part of which is also called the Sea of Crete. The rocky northern coast of Crete is deeply indented, and the interior is largely mountainous, culminating in Mt. Ida (8,058 ft/2,456 m). Iráklion is the capital of the Crete governorate and is the island's largest city; Khaniá is the only other large city.

Crete has many small farms, whose chief crops are grains, olives, and oranges, and food processing is its main industry. Sheep, goats, and dairy cattle are also raised. The island has few mineral deposits, but tourism is an increasingly important industry. Transportation facilities include a developed highway system and an airport.

History

Crete had one of the world's earliest civilizations, the Minoan civilization, named after King Minos, the legendary author of Cretan institutions; in the ruined palace at Knossos invaluable finds have been made. The Cretan kingdom reached its greatest power, prosperity, and civilization c.1600 BC Later, for reasons still obscure, its power suddenly collapsed; but Crete flourished again after the Dorian Greeks settled on the island in large numbers and established city-states. Among the most powerful of the cities (110 in number, according to Homer) were Knossos and Cydonia (modern Khaniá). Although important as a trade center, Crete played no significant part in the political history of ancient Greece. It became a pirate haven in the 3d cent. BC but was conquered (68 BC–67 BC) by the Romans under Quintus Metellus.

It passed (AD 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 Fourth Crusade, the island 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 (Iráklion) for the duke's residence. Insurrections against the arbitrary Venetians were frequent, and the Cretans were not displeased at changing masters when the Ottoman Turks conquered (1669) virtually the whole island after a 24-year war. Two offshore island fortresses remained in Venetian hands until 1715.

A series of revolts against the Turks in the 19th cent. reached a climax in the insurrection of 1896–97 that led to war (1897) between Greece and Turkey. The European powers intervened in the war, forcing Turkey to evacuate (1898) Crete. An autonomous Cretan state was formed under nominal Turkish rule, but it was governed by a high commission of the occupying powers (England, France, Russia, and Italy). The Cretan national assembly, led by Eleutherios Venizelos, declared in favor of union with Greece, but the powers rejected its demand. The Young Turk revolution of 1908, however, enabled the Cretans to proclaim their union with Greece, and in 1909 foreign occupation troops were withdrawn.

Cretan representatives were admitted to the Greek parliament in 1912, and in 1913, as a result of the Balkan Wars, Crete was officially incorporated into Greece. The followers of Venizelos controlled Crete during their uprising (1935) against the imminent restoration of the monarchy but were defeated by Gen. George Kondylis. A new revolt (1938) against the dictatorship of John Metaxas was also suppressed.

In World War II, Crete was used as a British military and naval base late in 1940. The British and Greek forces on the Greek mainland evacuated to Crete in 1941, but they were quickly overwhelmed by the Germans in a large-scale airborne invasion, the first of its kind. Late in 1944, British ships isolated the German occupation troops, who eventually surrendered. In the postwar period there was some Communist guerrilla activity on the island.

Bibliography

See R. F. Willetts, The Civilization of Ancient Crete (1978); J. W. Graham et al., The Palaces of Crete (1987); J. Freely, Crete (1989). See also bibliographies under Aegean civilization and Minoan civilization.

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Crete

Crete (Kreti, Kríti) Largest island of Greece, in the e Mediterranean Sea, sse of the Greek mainland; the capital is Iráklion. Minoan civilization flourished on Crete from 2000 bc, and the palace of Knossos was built c.1700 bc. Crete was conquered by Rome in c.68 bc and later came under Byzantine (395), Arab (826) and Venetian (1210) rule. In 1669, Crete fell to Turkey. Foreign intervention forced Turkey to evacuate Crete (1898), and it was eventually united with Greece (1908). It was occupied by German forces in World War II. Crete has a mountainous terrain upon which sheep and goats are raised. The mild climate supports the cultivation of cereals, grapes, olives and oranges. Products: wool, hides, cheese, olive oil, wine. Tourism is important. Area: 8336sq km (3218sq mi). Pop. (2001) 601,159.

http://www.crete-web.gr/crete/crete.html

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Crete

Crete a Greek island in the eastern Mediterranean, noted for the remains of the Minoan civilization which flourished there in the 2nd millennium bc.
Cretan bull the bull captured by Hercules as the seventh of his Labours; it may have been either the bull which became the father of the Minotaur, or the one which carried Europa to Crete.

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Crete

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Crete

CRETE

CRETE (Candia ), the fourth largest island, 160 mi. (248 km.) long, in the Mediterranean Sea and the largest Greek island, lying 60 mi. (96 km) from the Peloponnesus. Crete is apparently identical with the biblical *Caphtor, the original home of the *Philistines (Deut. 2:23; Jer. 47:4; Amos 9:7), who themselves, or certain groups of them, are referred to in the Bible as Cherethites (Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5; this is also the obvious meaning of i Sam. 30:14, cf. 30:16). David's bodyguard, which the Bible describes as Cherethites and Pelethites (ii Sam. 8:18; 15:18; 20:7, 23 (Kere); i Kings 1:38, 44; i Chron. 18:17), was probably composed of Philistines ("Peleti" being a derivation of "Pelishti" analogous to "Kereti") and Cretans who had either recently emigrated from Crete or were already settled in the land of the Philistines but were still named after their place of origin. The Septuagint also translates Cheretim as Κρῆτας

(Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5); the verb כְרִית in Zephaniah 2:6 is translated as Κρήτη; in Ezekiel 30:5 פוּט is also given as Κρῆτες.

The earliest evidence of a Jewish community in Crete is to be found in a circular letter in support of the Jews, sent by the Roman Senate (142 b.c.e.) to various countries at the request of Simeon the Hasmonean. As this was also forwarded to the Cretan city of Gortyna (i Macc. 15:23), it can be assumed that there was a Jewish community in existence there. There is no doubt about the existence of Jewish settlements in Crete after its conquest by the Romans in 68–67 b.c.e. The false Alexander, who after Herod's death claimed to be his son, found ardent supporters and financial help among the Cretan Jews. *Philo of Alexandria mentions Crete among the countries with a large Jewish population (Legatione ad Gaium, 282). According to the New Testament (Acts 2:11) there were Cretan Jews living in Jerusalem. Josephus married, in Rome, a woman belonging to a prominent Cretan Jewish family (Jos., Life, 427). After the partition of the Roman Empire in 395, the island remained part of the Eastern Empire. Under the Byzantine emperor Theodosius ii (408–50) the Jews of Crete, among others, were severely oppressed. Possibly in consequence of this in 440 they placed their faith in a pseudo-messiah, who claimed to be Moses sent from heaven to lead the Jews of Crete dry shod through the sea back to the Promised Land. Of those who did not drown after jumping from the cliff, most converted to Christianity. The Saracens, who invaded Crete in 823, founded a fortified city surrounded by a khandak ("ditch"), from which the city's present name Candia is derived. In 961 the Byzantines succeeded in reconquering Crete. The situation of the Jews under the Arabs and Byzantines is only vaguely known. In general the Muslim rulers gained the sympathy of the native population, while under the Eastern Empire their position, while not enviable, was probably no worse than elsewhere under Christian Byzantine rule. In the wake of the Fourth Crusade (1204) the island was sold to Venice and became known as Candia. In the period of Venetian rule (1204–1669), a fusion of various Jewish communities took place. The *Romaniots formed the upper class. Their Greek vernacular even penetrated the synagogue services. Jews settled on the island from both east and west throughout this period, and contacts with Jewish centers were maintained. In 1228 R. Baruch b. Isaac, on his way to Palestine, found a small Jewish community in Candia, which shocked him because of the laxity in observance of Jewish traditions. A series of ordinances (Takkanot Kandyah; see bibliography) were then established against the abuses. In 1481 *Meshullam of Volterra found 600 Jewish families and four synagogues in Candia. The Jewish community of that city accorded a warm welcome to the exiles from Spain in 1492.

Nevertheless, even during the period of their prosperity, Cretan Jews did not number more than 1,160; they lived mainly in the harbor towns of Candia, Canea, and *Rethymnon (Retimo). The Jews formed a middle class between the Greek population and the feudal nobility, but they were nevertheless treated as vilani ("serfs") and depended on the favors of Venetian officials. From 1350 they were forced to reside in a specified quarter (Ciudecca), and not only to wear the Jewish *badge on their clothing but also to affix it to their houses. On Epiphany they had to donate a ducat a head to the church for the lighting of candles. There were also protests that the Jews had concentrated the major part of the commerce in their hands. When the Greek population rioted in 1364, the Jews of Castel Nuovo were massacred by the rebels. About a century later, in 1449–50, the Jews were accused of showing contempt for Christianity by crucifying the paschal lamb, an original departure from the *blood libel theme. Two years later, in 1452, an accusation was brought by a nun that the Jews had desecrated the *Host. Nine notables of the Jewish community of Candia were arrested, and tried in Venice, but were set free after two years' imprisonment.

In general the central government attempted to safeguard the Jews and these in turn proved their loyalty. A distasteful burden of the Jewish community was to supply an executioner. During the war with Turkey in 1538 a rumor that the Jews were hiding Turks in their quarter led to an attack by the Greek population. A massacre was averted by the intervention of Venetian troops and the day came to be celebrated as the "Purim of Candia." In 1568 the Greek patriarch in Constantinople dispatched a letter to the Christians of Candia taking them to task for their cruel treatment of Jews. However, when the fanatic Giacomo Foscarini ruled the island (1574–77), harsh anti-Jewish measures were undertaken to isolate the Jews of the island or compel them to convert. The Jewish community was heavily taxed and became the victim of extortions to finance the war against the Turks. Even so, the situation of the Jews was relatively secure. With some exceptions, they were Venetian subjects with the status of citizens. Only a limited number of them, however, were admitted to the wholesale commerce. Nevertheless they dominated the export trade of the island. They traded in sugar, wax, ironware, hides, female finery, indigo, and wine, while a certain group was engaged in moneylending and banking. These aroused considerable hostility, especially among the Greeks on the island. In 1416 Jews were restricted in the purchase of fields out of fear that all the land would come into their possession. In 1423 the Venetian senate forbade all Jews who were Venetian subjects to purchase land. Those who were already in possession of properties were required to transfer them to other owners within two years. Jews were also restricted in the renting of property. In 1433 they were forbidden to act as brokers. However, the majority of the Jewish population in Crete were artisans, such as tailors, shoemakers, bakers, silkweavers, and dyers. Some were lawyers, physicians, and book copyists. The takkanot of Candia (from the 13th century and the end of the 16th century) reveal that the Jews of the island had the right of self-government, especially in religious matters. At the head of the community stood the condostablo and after him the ḥashbanim ("accountants"). The condostablo, who was elected by the notables of the community and its wealthier members, represented the community externally, and was responsible for the efficient organization of communal affairs. He chose the ḥashbanim, who were responsible for financial affairs. The appointment of both the condostablo and the ḥashbanim required the approval of the government. In the city of Candia there were four synagogues: "The Great," "Kohanim," "Ashkenazim," and "The High."

The community produced many talmudic scholars and rabbis, especially of the Delmedigo and Capsali families. Among the famous scholars of Crete were the historian Elijah b. Elkanah Caspali, the philosophers Joseph Solomon *Delmedigo, *Elijah b. Eliezer, *Shemariah b. Elijah Ikriti, and Elijah Cretenses *Delmedigo, and the rabbi and poet Michael b. Shabbetai *Balbo. The Turkish period (1669–1898) marked a decline in the cultural life of the Jewish communities. In 1873 a blood libel was raised against the Jews and the French consul intervened effectively on their behalf. In 1875, local Jew Abba Delmedigo was elected to the Cretan Ottoman parliament. Abraham Evlagon served as chief rabbi from 1876 to 1934. When Crete became autonomous in 1897, it had a Jewish population of 1,150, with 200 families residing in Canea, 20 in Candia, and five in Rethymnon. In 1900 Canea had 726 Jews, speaking Greek. Crete became part of Greece after the Balkan wars of 1912–13.

Prior to World War ii the community had dwindled to about 400. When the Nazis occupied Greece in 1941 many Jews fled to Crete. When Crete fell it came under direct Nazi administration. On May 20, 1944, the Jews of Canea were arrested and taken to Iraklion (Candia). On June 9, 1944, they were forced to board the Danae together with 400 Greek hostages and 800 Italian prisoners of war. The ship was then taken out to sea, identified by the British raf (Royal Air Force) as a German boat without being aware of its human cargo, and bombed. After being abandoned by its German crew it sank with all on board. Only seven Jews survived the Holocaust.

bibliography:

M. Steinschneider, in: Mosé, 2 (1879), 411–6; 3 (1880), 53–59, 281–5, 421–6; 4 (1881), 303–8; 5 (1882), 267–70, 401–6; 6 (1883), 15–18; Levi, in: rej, 26 (1893), 198–208; Schiavi, in: Nuova antologia di scienze, lettere ed arti, 131 (1893), 309–33; Rosenberg, in: Festschrift… David Hoffman (1914), 267–80; S. Krauss, Studien zur byzantinisch-juedischen Geschichte (1914), passim; Finkelstein, Middle Ages, 82–85, 265–80; C. Roth, Venice (1930), 297–304, and passim; B.D. Mazur, Studies on Jewry in Greece (1935); E.S. Artom and U.M.D. Cassuto, Takkanot Kandyah ve-Zikhronoteha (1943); Schwarzfuchs, in: rej, 111 (1961), 152–8; Marcus, in: Ozar Yehudei Sefarad, 6 (1963), 135–9; 9 (1966), 84–101; idem, in: Sinai, 60 (1967), 63–76; idem, in:Maḥanayim, 86 (1963), 138–43; J. Starr, in: paajr, 12 (1942), 59–114; M. Molho and J. Nehama, Sho'at Yehudei Yavan 1941–44 (1965). add. bibliography: J. Humphrey, "The Sinking of the Danae off Crete in June 1944," in: Bulletin of Judaeo-Greek Studies, 9 (Winter 1991), 19–34; B. Rivlin, "Khanea," in Pinkas Kehillot Yavan (1999), 155–59.

[Simon Marcus]

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