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Crete (Greece)

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Last modified: 2010-07-30 by
Keywords: crete | state flag | naval ensign | star (white) | cross (white) | sitia | malevisi | st.george |
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[Flag of Crete]

Flag of Crete - Image by Santiago Dotor, 16 June 1998


See also:


History of Crete

Crete was part of the Byzantine Empire from A.D. 395-1204; ruled by Venice from 1204-1669; ruled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire 1669-1898.
The Greek mainland, but not Crete, had become independent in 1833, and for the rest of the century the ethnic Greeks in Crete fought for union (enosis) with Greece. In 1898, the island, while still nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, gained autonomy (unilaterally proclaimed in 1908), and in 1913 became an integral part of the Greek state.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995


Modern use of the flag of Crete

A blog article (in Greek, with photos and illustrations) explains the perception and recent use of the flag of Crete, which seems not to be tolerated by national authorities and associated more or less with independance, autonomy or revendications, the flag being sometimes also used wrongly (for instance by an airway company). It seems that this flag is today being far from neutral and cannot be seen as a simple regional flag.

Pascal Vagnat,2 August 2009


The Greek independence war in Crete

The following flags are displayed and described in the Naval Museum in Hania, which is located in the fort where the 1913 flag-raising occurred.

Gianni Statha's revolutionary fleet flag (1803): a blue flag with a narrow white cross.

Demetrios M. Zoudianos' war standard (1897): a white flag, in proportion c. 2:3, with a light blue Greek cross and three thin light blue horizontal stripes above, through, and under the cross. In the white stripes, on either side of the cross, is written, in blue "ΙΕΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙ / ΣΤΟΣ ΝΙΚΑ" ("Jesus-Christ victorious") / "Δ Ζ"; (the initials of the commander whose flag it was).
The book Hellenic flags [k7k97] shows a related flag, the flag of the Sipahis of Epirus in the Pindus mountains, as white with a Greek cross in blue charged with the figure of St. George and the dragon.

Another flag from the independence struggle: a white flag, slightly longer than tall, with blue squares in the corners; a blue Greek cross in the middle, its arms thinner than the modern Swiss cross. In the corners of the cross are the blue letters "Ι Χ Ν Κ", for "Jesus Christ Victorious", as above.
The book Hellenic flags [k7k97] shows a possible variant of this flag as Plapoutas' standard.

Flag of the Cretan Grenadiers: a nearly square blue flag with a white cross (not couped). The arms of the cross are one-third the width of the flag. In the middle is written in blue:
"ΕΝΟΣΙΣ" (Union)
"Τ. Ε. Κ."
"1897"

[Flag of Sitia District]

Flag of the Sitia District - Image by Klaus-Michael Schenider, 18 May 2010

The flag of the Sitia District is in approximate proportions 4:5 , blue with a white cross. The approximate proportions of the horizontal stripes are 1:1:1 while those of the vertical stripes are 7:5:7. The horizontal arm of the cross is charged with the red writing "ΕΝΟΣΙΣ Η ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ" (Union or Death).

[Flag of Malevisi District]

Flag of the Malevisi District - Image by Klaus-Michael Schenider, 18 May 2010

The flag of the Malevisi District is in approximate proportions 12:13, light blue with a white cross. The approximate proportions of the horizontal stripes are 5:3:5 while those of the vertical stripes are 2:1:2.
In the middle of the cross is a picture of St. George slaying the dragon. In the lower left-hand corner is a white label that says (Translation by Stelios Kutrakis and Phoevos Panagiotidis):
"ΤΟ ΝΙΚΟΛΑΙΟ ΘΙΑΚΑΚΙ" (To Nikolaios Thiakakis)
"ΑΡΧΙΓΟ ΜΑΛΕΒΥΖΙΟΥ" (Warlord of Malevisi)
"Ο ΣΥΛΛΟΓΟΣ ΚΡΙΤΟΝ" (The Cretan Union)
"ΠΕΙΡΑΙΟΣ" (of Piraeus)
A golden fringe is partially kept on the border of the flag.

Revolutionary banner of Pompia village, Kainourion district (1881): A multicolored icon-like picture of St. George and the dragon, with the following sentence written along the bottom (Translation by Stelios Kutrakis and Phoevos Panagiotidis):
"ΔΑΠΔΝΙ ΤΟΝ ΚΑΤΟΙΚΟΝ ΤΟΥ ΧΟΡΙΟΥ ΠΟΜΠΙΑ" (At the expense of the villagers of Pompia)

Bruce Tindall, Pascal Vagnat & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 18 May 2010


Principality of Crete

The union of Crete to Greece was proclaimed at a flag-raising ceremony in Hania, which is still ceremonially repeated every Sunday.The Naval Museum is located in the fort where the flag-raising occurred.
The Museum shows the flag of the Principality of Crete as divided by a white cross. Three of the quarters are blue whereas the canton is red with a white star inside it. In a couple of pictures of the flag (for instance, one painted on a commemorative porcelain plate along with a portrait of the statesman Venizelos), the star is yellow and/or has one point (pointing towards the upper left corner) longer than the other points. This flag, as well as the Greek plain cross flag, appears on some locally-woven textiles, displayed in the museum, that depict Cretan soldiers and civilians parading with flags.

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995

The book Hellenic flags [k7k97] shows this flag for autonomous Crete, 1898-1908. Crete was occupied by the big powers, led by Britain, a little more than 100 years ago and after some discussion became an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire with Prince George of Greece as governor. It united with Greece in 1908. I don't know if the flag has any legal status now (I doubt it), but I did see it several times being used for Greek patriotic purposes when I was in Greece last year.

Norman Martin, 16 June 1998

This old flag of Crete is shown in an image from a German cigarette card in The World of Flags [cra90]. The author notes that "[Crete and the Ionian Islands] are now integrated into Greece," implying that their flags are no longer in use.

Nick Pharris, 16 June 1998

The naval ensign of the Principality of Crete (1898-1913) has blue and white stripes, like the Greek flag, but a white star on a red field in canton.

Phoevos Panagiotidis, 19 May 1998

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