The Venetian army became a microcosm of complex divisions in the years of the
war for Candia, because of the different languages, cultures and nationalities
involved. The Turkish landing in 1645 compelled several European powers to send
money and troops to the Serenissima ,
in a revival of the spirit of the Crusades
against Constantinople .
In Candia in 1651 there were 1,602
'oltremontani' ('those from beyond the mountains', 36.2%), 1,005 Greeks
(22.6%), 804 Corsicans (18.1%), 691 Italians (15.5%), and 338 'oltremarini'
('those from beyond the sea', 7.6%). Added to these troops were another 200
cavalrymen, who with the local militia and feudal soldiers totalled a garrison
force of about 6,000 infantrymen and 450 cavalrymen. These forces were pitted
against some 12,000 to 15,000 Turkish soldiers under the walls of Candia - a
ratio of roughly 3 to 1. So outnumbered, it seems miraculous that Candia was
able to withstand the Turkish assault for 25 years. It is true that
Constantinople had to distribute its army, which in 1669-70 amounted to a good
95,000 men, along the borders and in the inland to quell uprisings and
alleviate military tension with other powers. Clearly the assistance of
European powers also helped to prolong Candia's resistance, but it is equally
clear that the internal structure of the Ottoman Empire kept the island's fate
uncertain for so long.