Most of Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century until its declaration of independence in 1821. The Ottoman Turks first crossed into Europe in 1354. The Byzantine Empire, which had ruled most of the Greek-speaking world for over 1100 years, had been fatally weakened since the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204. Having defeated the Bulgarians in 1371 and the Serbs in 1389, the Ottomans advanced south into Greece proper, capturing Athens in 1458. The Greeks held out in the Peloponnese until 1460, and the Venetians and Genoese clung to some of the islands, but by 1500 most of the plains and islands of Greece were in Ottoman hands. The mountains of Greece were largely untouched, and were a refuge for Greeks to flee foreign rule. Cyprus fell in 1571, and the Venetians retained Crete until 1670. The Ionian Islands were only briefly ruled by the Ottomans (Kefalonia from 1479 to 1481 and 1485 to 1500), and remained primarily Venietian territory during the period in question.
Attempts at Reunion
After the Crusades the hatred was high in the East against the Western world. Now the split became generally accepted. There were firm doctrinal differences such as the “filioque” and each claimed to be the True Church. Shortly after the forth crusade Constantinople was recaptured by Emperor Michael VIII in 1261. But the impact of the fourth crusade was such an economic, political and military blow to the Empire it proved to be a mortal. This was the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.
Michael sought alliances to protect him from the onslaught of the Turks and thought that a reunion of the Church was a prerequisite to security. There was a council meeting that took place in Lyons in 1274 in which a union was agreed to. The Eastern Church accepted the “filioque” clause. But there was a popular uprising because the political nature of this agreement was seen by the people and the monks in the monasteries.
Again in 1438 Emperor John VIII sought political
and military assistance and another council was held at Florence.
The Emperor and the Patriarch attended and the East agreed to the
Western doctrine and to keep their different rites. Again it was
rejected by the populous and repudiated by its Eastern signers. In
1453 Constantinople fell to the Turks and all of the east was under
Muslim rule. This lasted for 400 years. Orthodox Christianity entered
a long period of suppression.