Biography and History

In 1669 Crete came under Ottoman Turkish occupation. However, for many years Greece and the Ottoman Turkish Empire fought bitter wars for the control of Crete, with massacres committed by both sides. An insurrection in Crete in 1896-1897 led to large-scale violence between Muslims and Christians, a proclamation by the rebels of union with Greece, and the invasion of the island by a Greek force (Feb. 1897). Greece went to war against the Ottomans (April 1897) but was defeated and had to ask for the Great Powers (Britain, France, Italy, and Russia) for intervention to rescue it from Ottoman advances into its territory. The crisis set in motion the flight of thousands of Muslim refugees from Crete and Greece to western Anatolia. The Greeks were obliged to recall their troops from Crete and to accept in advance the decisions of the powers. An armistice was arranged (May 19) and a peace settlement reached (Sept. 18).The settlement established autonomy for Crete under European control, and an independent Cretan Republic, headed by Prince George of Greece, was founded with only symbolic Ottoman presence. Greece finally annexed Crete during the First Balkan War in 1912-1913. The Commission for Refugee Women and Children from Crete was established to aid refugees of the Cretan War of Independence.

Source: From the finding aid for C1179