In 1153, for the first time, we find mention of the island in the writings of the Arab geographer Edris under a new name, Santorini. This seems to have been given by the Crusaders, from the chapel of St Irene (Santa Irini – Santorini), which some scholars place at Perissos, others on Therasia.
When Constantinople fell to the knights of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Santorini and many of the oilier islands in the Aegean passed into the hands of Marco Sanudo. He founded what was called the Duchy of Naxos (or of the Archipelago) and later ceded Santorini and Therasia – as a barony – to Giacomo Barozzi. The Orthodox bishop was expelled and a Latin installed in his place. Santorini now became one of the four Latin bishoprics of the Duchy, and the fortress of Skaros was its capital. The Barozzi family governed Santorini until 1335, when it was returned to the Duchy of Naxos. From 1397 to 1418, Duke Giacomo Crispi governed the island. In 1480, Duke Giacomo 111 of Naxos gave it as dowry to Duke Domenico Pisani of Crete, but when Giacomo died his brother Giovanni III siezed it and so the island became part of the Duchy of Naxos again. In 1487, Santorini and all the other islands of the Duchy came under Venetian jurisdiction.
During their occupation of parts of Greece and afterwards, it was the policy of these Italian princes to strengthen their position by sending Jesuit missionaries to the islands and by encouraging the conversion of as many inhabitants as possible to the Catholic faith. At the same time, the Orthodox community was endeavouring to keep its language and faith alive through the founding of schools and churches.
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Under the Latins, Santorini and the rest of the islands fell victim to rivalry among local princelings and to repeated looting by pirates, who had been plundering the coastline of the Aegean even in Byzantine times. For defensive purposes, therefore, five fortified towns (castelia) were built in the interior of the island: Skaros, the most important; Epanomeria (Epano Meria – Oia); Pyrgos, erected during the Byzantine era; Nimborio, and Akrotiri.
The castle of Skaros. The most important of the fire fortified settlements on Santorini. During the Middle Ages.