The first Dorians immigrated to the island around the middle of the 10th century BC from Sparta and Argolis. Those who came from Sparta settled in the central part of Crete, while those from Argolis were established in the western side. In the 9th century BC new Dorian immigrants, called Magnites, who came from Pelion and Ossa, settled between
Gortyna and Phaistos. Dorians were severe and polemic people and that is the reason why they occupied and established their rule Crete so rapidly, although not many of them had come to Crete. Due to their being warlike people, they were striving against each other for almost 1000 years; during this period no attempts had been made in order these settlements to be merged and that caused the non-existence of any cultural activities.
It stood to reason that the structure of the society would be organized in accordance with the Spartan method since Dorians had descended having these principles. Consequently, people were divided in three ranks, the Liberated, the Neighbours and the Slaves.
The Liberated people were the Dorians and those of the Cretans, mostly noble, who accepted them without fighting. These formed the Ruling Class.
The Neighbors or Citizens were the islanders who yielded after they had capitulated to the conquerors. They were farmers, craftsmen, tradesmen and they composed the second social class. They had the right to maintain their property and only paid in a part of their income to the city-state. They were not oppressed; therefore, they never rose in rebellion against the Dorians.
The slaves were those Minoans and Achaeans islanders who offered a stout resistance and yielded by the force of arms. They cultivated state or private land and they kept only a small amount of the products for themselves. There were also slaves who occupied themselves with other tasks, such as burials of the dead or any kind of services at their master's houses.
Three governmental-state organs, the Kosmoi, the Parliament and the Church according to the Dorian Greek model administered every city-state.
The Kosmoi had extensive authorities and competence. They were chiefs of the army during warfare and sovereigns in time of peace. They were between four and eleven members and were elected for a year without being entitled to be re-elected before three to ten years had passed.
The Kosmoi determined several issues and afterwards they called the people to uphold their decisions. At the end of their service they accounted for it and that procedure was called "trial". In case of violation or malpractice, they were penalized with heavy punishment or were relieved of their command.
The Parliament was the equivalent of the Senate of Sparta. It was composed of Kosmoi who successfully passed the "trial". The members of Parliament were permanent and unaccountable. They were superintending the Kosmoi and were taking their place when the later lost office. They were studying every significant case and on the motion of Kosmoi they disclosed the dismissal which must have been approved by the people's assembly.
The church was the assembly of the Free Citizens that held regular or not meetings. The main characteristic, though, was that the sanction or approval was taking place with no further discussion.
During the last centuries of the Dorian Era, an atmosphere of friendliness evolved towards the Macedonians. The big cities Gortyna, Knossos, Kidonia and Irtakina played a leading part. The Spartans, who worried, sent Agisilaos, brother of the king of Sparta, to limit this friendly attitude. He egged some of the Cretan cities on to piratical activities against the free connection and contact of Alexander with the main part of Greece. Alexander's reaction was direct. He sent Admiral Amfoteros to cut up the Spartan forces in Crete. The accurate results of this battle are not known, however we do know, from a script found in Kirini in Africa, that the sole cities that Alexander permitted to be supplied with wheat, while the whole Crete was infested by shortage of corn, were Gortyna, Knossos, Kidonia and Eliros. Thus, it is surmised that these were the cities that nursed feelings of friendliness and prevailed in this Macedonian-Sparta antagonism.
In the 3rd century even Ptolemys tried to influence Crete, the Hellenistic kingdom of Egypt. The necessity of controlling the sea routes of the East Mediterranean urged the Ptolemys to take an interest in Crete which is formed the center of their foreign policy. The cause of interference in Cretan affairs came from Itanioi when, being in conflict with Presioi over the administrative control of the Sanctum of Dictean Zeus, asked for help. The ambitious and vigorous king of Egypt Ptolemy Philadelphos the 2nd sent Admiral Patroklos who settled in Itanos, creating a Ptolemy protectorate which lasted for about two centuries. The sanctum of Dictean Zeus is situated near the area of today's Palaiokastro, Sitia. The influence of Ptolemys seems to have spread into the whole Crete. Scripts and honorable resolutions, found in several cities such as Gortyna, Eleftherna, Lappa, Phalasarna etc, are evidence of it.
However, Ptolemys were not the ones who made an attempt and succeeded in insinuating and win the Cretan cities over. Other Hellenistic kingdoms did the exact same thing. In this way, sundry Cretan cities had occasionally established friendly relations with several Hellenistic kingdoms. Such cases were Liktos that entered into alliance with the kingdom of Slefkides,
Eleftherna and Ierapitna with Atigonos Dosonas the king of Macedonia. Another king of Macedonia, Philip the 5th, who dreamt of dominating over the entire hellenic area, entangled Crete in trouble with his policy in the Aegean Sea. Knowing that powerful Rhodes, which controlled all sea routes with its fleet, was an obstacle to his plans incited Ierapitna and Olounda to pirate against the Rhodians. The later responded by allying with the Romans who began war against Philip and then they allied with Knossos in order both of them to attack Philip's allies, Ierapitna and Olounda. This war is called Cretan War and ended with the defeat of Ierapitna and Olounda. All this external infiltration in Crete resulted in the peak of internal tensions and oppositions; moreover, the toughest and bloodiest battles took place and this was a direct consequence.