The Siege Of Candia Lasted 21 Years

Jeff Glennon | March 22nd, 2019

The city of Candia which is today known as Heraklion on Crete played an important part during the Ottoman-Venetian Wars, so much so that it was besieged for over 21 years. The siege of Candia is seen by Historians as one of the longest sieges in history. It started in 1648 and did not end until 1669 before finally surrendering, the area was highly contested because Candia held a key position in the Mediterranean.

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Of course, the goal was to have supremacy over the Mediterranean sea, which is what caused the numerous clashes between the two powers at the time: Venice and the Ottoman Empire. They had battled it out for control of the sea numerous times during the early 15th century and even during the late 16th century.

War was declared in 1644 when the Knights Hospitallers were able to loot an Ottoman ship that was carrying many of the sultan’s treasures to Constantinople. This prompted the forces of the sultan to land on Crete itself and start an invasion. They were quickly able to conquer La Canea and Rettimo and start to occupy the whole island. And this is why in 1648, they started to set their goal of conquering the city of Candia which was seen as the jewel of this region.

During a vicious 21 year siege, the Ottomans would capture numerous lands around the city and fight the Venetians on both land and water. The conflict lasting so long caused an immense expense on both Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Thousands of lives were sacrificed and huge amounts of treasure were given up in the fight for who would end up controlling Candia.

The Ottomans set up huge siege lines cutting off the city from all form of supplies, which led to the Venetians pleading with other European countries and the Pope, though this led to nothing. So the Venetians started to blockade the Ottoman’s supply routes also in different regions, and even though they won some battles, the situation at Candia did not change.

Over 40,000 Ottoman soldiers lost their lives trying to take the walls of Candia, and even though the Venetians repelled them every time: ultimately they realized the end was near with no chance of resupplying. In 1669, the city surrendered and a peace agreement was made between the Venetians and the Ottoman empire.

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