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TITLE Forced population shifts in Crete under Venetian rule (13th-17th cent.): a practice of imposing authority
AUTHOR Tsakiri Romina N.
LANGUAGE Αγγλικά / English
PUBLISH DATE 12.01.2019
KEYWORDS Crete under Venetian rule, violence, deviance, social control, exiles and fugitives (banditi), henchmen (bravi), population shifts, displacement, relocation, devastation of places, punishment, Sfakians, petitions for pardon
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Violent shifts of population were a standard practice of the Venetians throughout their domination of the island of Crete. Many of the instigators of rebellions or riots and outlaw leaders, the perpetrators of heinous crimes and fugitives were exiled from their homelands, the major cities of Crete and their regions, the whole island or even from the state of Venice. Similarly, the Venetians displaced many convicts to specific parts of the island, as a means of controlling people who were likely to cause upheaval and criminal acts on the island, with the relative isolation that the relocation offered.

Furthermore, the demolition of villages, evacuation and devastation, mainly in mountainous and inaccessible areas, were adopted by the Venetians over the centuries in order to deal with rebellions and riots. This practice also worked as a means of suppressing insubordination and as a measure for dealing with the action in these areas of groups of bandits and outlaws, whose delinquent activity was directed against both the authorities and the local people. The places of residence of the outlaws and their relatives, their hideouts, but also neighbouring hamlets whose residents aided them, became the recipients of the wrath and punishing attitude of the Venetians.

Similar methods of shifting populations and devastating areas, as well as resettling them with populations that can be controlled, are timeless standard mechanisms of imposing authority. In this paper an attempt is made at an overall review of this policy in the centuries of Venetian rule in Crete. Particularly interesting is the monitoring and study of the geography of the regions with problems and tendencies of delinquency that have characterised these areas until today, due to their isolation and inaccessibility, which consequently makes them difficult to control. Finally, we examine the areas of isolation and displacement of people whom the Venetians regarded as dangerous for the security and stability of the state, as well as for the protection and quiet living of the rest of the population of the island.