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The Cretan State ( ) was established in 1898, following the intervention by the Great Powers on the island of Cretemarker. In 1897 an insurrection in Crete led the Ottoman Empire to declare war on Greece, which led the United Kingdommarker, France, Italy and Russiamarker to intervene on the grounds that the Ottoman Empire could no longer maintain control.

History

Establishment of the Cretan State

By March 1897, the Great Powers decided to restore order by governing the island temporarily through a committee of four admirals who remained in charge until the arrival of Prince George of Greece as first High Commissioner (Greek: Αρμοστής) of an autonomous Crete, effectively detached from the Ottoman Empire, on 9 December 1898. Turkish forces were expelled in 1898, and an autonomous Cretan State, under Ottoman suzerainty, garrisoned by an international military force, and with its High Commissioner provided by Greece, was founded.

Internal turmoil - The Therisos Revolt

On 13 December 1898, George of Greece arrived as High Commissioner for a three-year tenure. On 27 April 1899, an Executive Committee was created, in which a young, Athens-trained lawyer from Chaniamarker, Eleftherios Venizelos, participated as Minister of Justice. By 1900, Venizelos and the Prince had developed differences over domestic policies, as well as the issue of Enosis, the union with Greece.

Venizelos resigned in early 1901, and for the next three years, he and his supporters waged a bitter political struggle with the Prince's faction, leading to a political and administrative deadlock on the island. Eventually, in March 1905, Venizelos and his supporters gathered in the village of Therisosmarker, in the hills near Chania, constituted a "Revolutionary Assembly", demanded political reforms and declared the "political union of Crete with Greece as a single free constitutional state" in a manifesto delivered to the consuls of the Great Powers. The Cretan Gendarmerie remained loyal to the Prince, but numerous deputies joined the revolt, and despite the Powers' declaration of military law on 18 July, their military forces did not move against the rebels.

On 15 August, the Cretan Assembly voted for the proposals of Venizelos, and the Great Powers brokered an agreement, whereby Prince George would resign and a new constitution created. In the 1906 elections the pro-Prince parties took 38,127 votes while pro-Venizelos parties took 33,279 votes, but in September 1906 Prince George was replaced by former Greek prime minister Alexandros Zaimis and left the island. In addition, Greek officers came to replace the Italians in the organization of the Gendarmerie, and the withdrawal of the foreign troops began, leaving Crete de facto under Greek control.

Union with Greece

In 1908, taking advantage of domestic turmoil in Turkey as well as the timing of Zaimis's vacation away from the island, the Cretan deputies declared union with Greece, but this act was not recognized internationally until 1913, after the Balkan Wars.

By the Treaty of London, Sultan Mehmed V relinquished his formal rights to the island. In December, the Greek flag was raised at the Firkas fortress in Chaniamarker, with Eleftherios Venizelos and King Constantine in attendance, and Crete was unified with mainland Greece. The Muslim minority of Crete initially remained on the island but was later relocated to Turkey under the general population exchange agreed to in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and Greece.

References

  1. Ion, Theodore P., "The Cretan Question," The American Journal of International Law, April, 1910, pp. 276-284


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