The history of the Emirate of Crete begins around 825 A.D. when a group of Andalusian (Arab Muslims from Spain) rebels were exiled by the ruling Emir of Cordoba, al-Hakam I.
The history of the Emirate of Crete is an interesting one. Although it had little long-term repercussions on the region, the political integrity of the state was an incredibly important issue of the day, specifically of the 9th and early 10th Centuries. Due to the strategic position of Crete, often thought of as a gateway to the Aegean, the island could be used, and was used as, an important staging ground for numerous raids throughout the Eastern Aegean, from Thessaloniki to Alexandria during both the Arab and Byzantine periods. Control of the island was often analogous to naval dominance of the Aegean, Cilician, and Palestinian coastlines, and without control of the island, it has historically been nearly impossible to maintain control of Eastern Mediterranean maritime affairs, both commercial and militant, from the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Empire to Nazi Germany.
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Nikephoros II Phokas was the sole emperor of Byzantinium from 963 to 969. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century.
Who was Nikephoros II? Nikephoros II Phokas was the sole emperor of Byzantinium from 963 to 969. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century. In the east, he exhibited tactical prowess in the complete reconquest of Cilicia and of Crete, whilst also initiating the recapture of Cyprus, thereby opening the path for future Byzantine incursions into the Levant and the Jazira under future emperors, thus creating a safer, more secure empire not only for his successors, but also for his subjects, in that he, by bringing Crete and Cyprus under Christian rule, manage to spare much of the Aegean coastline from the devastating Arab raids which became commonplace over the 9th and early 10th Centuries. His reign, however, was not unmarred by controversy. In the west, relations with Bulgaria worsened, while Nikephoros was powerless to halt the Muslim conquest of Sicily. Incursions by the German emperor Otto II were also left unpunished. Nikephoros also had issues in the domestic sphere. His long wars resulted in increased taxes both on the people and on the church, while he also maintained unpopular theological positions which alienated many of his most powerful allies, including his top general and future emperor John Tzimiskes.
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