Proto-Byzantine Period (330-824 AD)
In 323 AD, the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Empire to the Greek city of Byzantium and changed its name to Constantinople (now Istanbul). In doing this he was acknowledging the increasing importance and economic growth of the Eastern provinces. This new capital became the centre of the most Christianized region of the Empire with this religion becoming the official one of the Empire, including its provinces.
It was during these years that Crete first learned of Christianity and the Abbey of Crete under the Patriarchy of Constantinople was established. Several of the biggest churches on the island were built at this time, including the first and largest church in the area of Gortys, the Basilica of Ayios Titus, dedicated to Ayios Titus, the island's protector saint and a student of the Apostle Paul.
Also the Basilica of Panormos in Rethimno and the Basilica of
Almyrida Apokoronou were constructed. Crete continued its
peaceful existence as a Byzantine outpost for nearly 500 years
until in around 824 AD it was conquered by Iberian Muslims under
Abu Hafs who then established a piratical emirate on the island. .