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Converting To Catholicism » Byzantine Catholicism

Crete Greece Byzantine Period

In 961 Rabdh el Khandak was recaptured by the Byzantine general (later Emperor) Nikephoros Phokas and the Arabs left Crete. When Cyprus too was seized by Phokas (in 965) Byzantine control of the sea allowed regular communication between Crete and Constantinople, the centre of the Greek world. With the island restored to Byzantium, the first priority was to reinvigorate the much depleted Christian community. The monk Nikon the Repenter led a band of missionary clergy to the island. Many basilica churches were built or rebuilt, some to serve as episcopal churches for the twelve reestablished diocese (episkopes). Early in the 11C Ayios Ioannis Xenos, St John the Stranger, also known as Erimitis (the hermit), who came from a village on the edge of the Mesara plain, was celebrated as an evangelist all over western Crete, and is still revered by Cretans today.

The fortified hilltop of Temenos, inland of Herakleion, is all that remains of an abortive attempt to move the capital to a less vulnerable position inland, and the administrative centre was soon re-established on the ruins of Rabdh el Khandak, thereafter Khandakas. In the 12C it became necessary to strengthen the Christian ruling class and the tradition is that 12 noble families, the Arkhontopouli (or aristocrats, the lordly ones) were sent out to Crete from Constantinople. Their names, such as Kallergis, Skordilis, Khortakis, have been conspicuous throughout subsequent Cretan history. Many of the small churches and chapels that these families built on their estates survive today, with in some cases the remains of the original decoration (or the redecoration of the following centuries). Gradually prosperity seems to have returned, based on an agricultural economy rather than piracy. This regime of the Second Byzantine period was to last until 1204.

The death of the Emperor Basil II (1025) is usually taken as the zenith of the Byzantine Empire: with benefit of hindsight the next 400 years can be seen to have been a period of slow hut inevitable decline. The Great Schism of 104 effected the final break between Rome and Constantinople. The Crusades, which began as a movement to rescue Christianity's holy places front the Moslems ended in a thinly-veiled power struggle between the forces of the West. Venice, originally a vassal of the Byzantine Empire, became first an independent ally and then an implacable foe. In 1081 the Emperor Alexius I made trading concessions to Venice which were eventually to result in her commercial dominance in the eastern Mediterranean, but these concessions also caused much bitterness, which came to a head with what is known as the Massacre of the Latins at Constantinople (1182). In 1204 Venice succeeded in diverting the fourth Crusade to Constantinople in order to put the young Alexius IV on the imperial throne. But his failure to fulfil his obligations to Venice led to the sack of Constantinople not by Moslems, but by the forces of Christendom.

Crete Hotels such as Porto Del Colombo Hotel and Elounda Palm are among the best hotels of the island.

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