Tax Resistance in Crete in the 1880s

The following report comes from the Dublin Weekly Nation:

A New Danger.

Meantime a new centre of disturbance has arisen in the East. This time the scene is Crete and not Bulgaria. The Christians of Crete have been agitating for the redress of certain grievances and the concession of certain rights guaranteed by the treaty of Chalepat. Their remonstrances were of no avail, and received not even an answer from the Porte. At length a general assembly of the Cretans has met and voted the following resolutions:–

  1. That, from the day of the publication of these resolutions the payment of taxes shall cease, until the demands of the representatives of the Christians are granted.
  2. That the Christian people are called upon to refuse the payment of all taxes whatsoever until advised otherwise.
  3. That every Christian judge, whether heretic or not, every Christian functionary, no matter what his grade or class, every Christian officer and gendarme, who orders a Christian to pay taxes, who condemns a Christian for refusal to pay, or who aids in the execution of such order or judgment, is a traitor to his country.

These are strong resolutions; and any attempt of the Porte to enforce payment in face of them may lead to events of far-reaching effect. At the same time the Christians mean to confine themselves to passive resistance, and they pledge themselves to the maintenance of public order. But should any outsider want a new excuse for interference with the Porte the occasion is one that would readily lend itself to a purpose of the kind.

In trying to learn more about this, I found Sir Edwin Pears’s Life of Abdul Hamid which contains this passage:

In Abdul Hamid sent Mahmud as a Commissioner to Crete. He did his best to bring about a settlement of the continuing difficulties, and on , made concessions which for a time satisfied the Christians. He reduced taxation, and gave to Moslems and Christians alike a larger share of local government.

This didn’t settle the matter, though, as the Christians continued to advocate for independence from the Ottoman Empire in the hopes of becoming part of Greece (an idea Greece was apparently lukewarm about at best). Cretans rose in insurrection on , Christians there fled from an ethnic cleansing campaign into Greece; another insurrection started in , grew over the following year, and finally attracted Greek military support… which didn’t go as well as planned. The Greeks lost the war with Turkey and Crete was surrendered by Greece to partial-Turkish control under an international body (which body decided to kick the Turks out as well in ).

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