One of the most compelling and intriguing tales in all of Crete is the Legend of the Twelve Noblemen. While much of the story is unauthenticated, it has captured the attention of professional and amateur historians, genealogists, sociologists, mystery lovers and a large number of Cretans. It is true that many Cretans claim they are descendants of one of the twelve, but there are some actual descendants who are not aware of their true lineage. What is this tantalizing legend? What is truth and what is fiction?
In the twelfth century Constantinople, the capital of what was later called the Byzantine Empire, an emperor sent the sons of twelve noble Byzantine families to settle in Crete and he divided the island among them.
At some point, these men claimed to be Princes who were of noble birth. The true story has never been authenticated, but there are families today in Crete, some of whom are descendants of these twelve and some who are not, who claim to be of great and noble birth.