On November 1866, a 15,000 strong Ottoman force besieged the Arkadi Monastery, which served as the headquarters of the Cretans during The Great Cretan Revolt of 1866. The Greeks of Crete, who were geographically separated from their brethren after the Venetians sacked Constantinople and occupied the strategically important island, saw a devastating period of massacres, slavery, and oppression by the Latin Crusaders and the Ottomans, who eventually conquered Crete.
When most of Greece gained its independence in 1829, the Greeks of Crete witnessed the wrath of the Turks, who took it upon themselves to brutally take out their wartime losses on the rest of the island’s second-class citizens whom they had under their helm. The locals of Crete had revolted before, but they were unorganized and rebellions were quickly quelled. This time, they were more strategically organized and gave stiff resistance. After beating back the local militias, the Greeks of Crete were besieged in the Arkadi Monastery, the headquarters of the rebellion and sanctuary to Orthodox Christians on the island. The Ottomans assaulted the monastery on November 8th thereby suffering heavy casualties while also managing to annihilate most of the Greek defenders.
The women and children were hidden in the powder room, and when it seemed inevitable that the Ottomans would commit horrific acts on them after breaching the walls, defender Konstantinos Giaboudakis set the barrels on gunpowder on fire. Consequently, this resulted in the deaths of numerous Turkish soldiers and the majority of the civilian population was killed by explosion. The majority of the civilian population in the monastery accepted their fate rather than being subjected to continued Turkish domination.
Pictured are photos that our director, Julian McBride, took of the Monastery during his anthropological field studies in Crete, Greece.