Venice 1564-1669

War over Crete, 1645-1669

Also known as the Fifth Venetian-Ottoman War

A.) The Pre-History of the Invasion

Crete was a possession of the Republic of Venice, the center of administration being CANDIA (modern Iraklion).
In the fall of 1644, Maltese ships took an Ottoman vessel bound for Egypt, with high-ranking Ottoman dignitaries on board. The Sublime Porte blamed Venice for having permitted the Maltese to use their ports on Crete and thus share responsibility.

B.) The Military Course of Events

An Ottoman fleet of 78 galleys, under Kapudan Pasha Yusuf Pasha, took an Ottoman invasion army, commanded by Hussein Pasha, to Crete; it disembarked near Hania on June 24th 1645. Hania was taken after a short siege on August 2nd. Ottoman forces took control of the countryside; Rethymnon was taken Nov. 13th 1646. The siege of the island capital of Candia was begun in 1648. The Venetian fleet dominated the sea, reinforcing the besieged city, and supplying her for many years, and temporarily blocking the Dardanelles. It inflicted defeats on the Ottoman fleet off Naxos in 1651, off the Dardanelles in 1656. After the Ottoman Empire constructed a new, more modern fleet, they were able to harrass the Venetian supply lines to Crete. Candia was heavily bombarded from 1667 onward; the fortress surrendered in Sept. 1669 to Grand Vezir Köprülü Fazil Ahmed Pasha.
The war was fought in Dalmatia, too, where c. 5,000 mercenaries, supported by the Dalmatian militia, faced c. 20,000 Ottoman soldiers. The Venetian forces made territorial gains; the conflict calmed down in 1648.
In the Treaty of Candia 1669, Venice ceded Crete, while the Ottoman Empire recognized the Venetian conquest of Clissa (Dalmatia).

C.) Analysis

Venice, for her land troops, depended on foreign mercenaries; during the entire war, the question of retaking the Ottoman-occupied countryside never seemed to have been an option. Except for the early years of the Ottoman invasion and the battleground along Candia's city wall, the war was fought on sea. The Venetian naval supremacy could not be upheld indefinitely, as Venice's financial resources declined.
Contemporary accounts of the destruction the war inflicted seem to be based on the situation of the capital of Candia and its immediate environs. Greene (2000) observes no major change in the figures of the rural island population, other than a shift from the densely populated, contested areas into more remote regions.

D.) Legacy

The Republic of Venice, after 1669, held on to three small islands north of Crete, Gramvoussa, Souda and Spinalonga, which in 1718 were abandoned to Ottoman rule. A Venetian attempt to retake Chania in 1692 failed.
When the Ottoman Army was defeated in the Battle of Kahlenberg in 1683 (Habsburg-Ottoman War), the Republic of Venice declared war on the Ottoman Empire (1684). The prospect of retaking Crete was discussed as an option; yet, the Venetian force took Morea (the Peloponnes) instead. Crete remained Ottoman until 1898/1913.

Candia-Krieg 1645-1669 (Candia War), from Kriege der Neuzeit (Wars of the Modern Era), in German
Ottoman History 1645-1710, from Naqshbandi
Crete, History & Culture, from HRI, scroll down for Venetian Rule (1204- 1669)
Crete 1217-1669, from A Very Brief History of Crete by Stelios Jackson, posted by Hellenic Book Service
Venetian Fortresses in Crete, from Rome Art Lover, detailed
Timeline Ottoman Empire under Sultan Mehmed 1642-1693, posted by Turkish Ministry of Culture; numerous entries on events on Crete
History of Hania, from Municipality of Hania
History of Rethymnon, from Crete Hotels
Venetian history 1423 to 1797, from
Der Krieg der Maulwürfe. Venedigs Kampf um Kreta (War of the moles. Venice's Struggle for Crete), from, in German
DOCUMENTS Image : la Canea 1600, Map Creta (city) by Buondelmonti, undated, inserted in manuscript; Creta, Candia 1648, Battle of Milos, War of Candia, 16th C. from Mappe di Citta' ed altre mappe antiche diverse, comment in Italian
REFERENCE Molly Greene, A Shared World. Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean, Princeton : UP 2000 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 26th 2003, last revised on July 21st 2005

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