The Peacemakers of Crete


The 85 year-old Christos Chnaris from the Greek island of Crete, is considered a respected man as he has helped dozens of blood feuds (or so-called vendettas) to come to an end, as he has helped many rival families to reconcile.

Vendetta is a murder committed in order to avenge another murder or an insult usually between families.  It is often seen in Mani in the Peloponnese and the island of Crete.

Christos Chnaris, is a peacemaker since the 1960s. As he says, in every village on Crete there are at least two or three men acting as peacemakers.  A beating, a violation of territory, a rustling, even a misunderstanding could end up to a vendetta without the intervention of the peacemakers. Only in the case of a murder there cannot be a reconciliation.

The Cretan peacemakers often help authorities or play a key-role in decision making by courts.  Lawyers in Crete estimate that the peacemakers have prevented dozens of new felonies. Three years ago, in the village of Amari in Rethymno, Greece, during a gunfight between families, a man shot his rival in the knee.  When the two families appeared in court they had already been reconciled. The defendant was charged with grievous bodily harm and not with an attempted murder.

According to Chnaris the peacemakers are very few. The role of a peacemaker is usually undertaken by prestigious men of over 30 years old. A compromise is often validated with a baptism, while negotiations may last several months.


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