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Nicetas Choniates

Nicetas Choniates, sometimes called Acominatus, was a historian like his brother Michael whom he accompanied from their birthplace Chonae to Constantinople.

He initially took up politics as a career and held several appointments under the Angelus emperors (amongst them that of Grand Logothete or chancellor) and was governor of the theme of Philippopolis at a critical period.

After the capture of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, he fled to Nicaea, where he settled at the court of the Nicaean emperor Theodoras Lascaris, and devoted himself to literature. He died between 1210 and 1220. His chief work is his History, in 21 books, of the period from 1180 to 1206.

In spite of its florid and bombastic style, it is of considerable value as a record (on the whole impartial) of events of which he was either an eyewitness or had heard of first hand. Its most interesting portion is the description of the capture of Constantinople, which should be read with Villehardouin's and Paolo Rannusio's works on the same subject. The little treatise On the Statues destroyed by the Latins (perhaps, as we have it, altered by a later writer) is of special interest to the archaeologist. His dogmatic work (Thesaurus Orthodoxae Fidei), although it is extant in a complete form in manuscripts, has only been published in part. It is one of the chief authorities for the heresies and heretical writers of the 12th century.

Contains material originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.


Nicetas Choniates, The Sack of Constantinople

Jonathan Harris, 'Distortion, divine providence and genre in Nicetas Choniantes' account of the collapse of Byzantium 1180-1204', Journal of Medieval History, vol. 16 (2000) 19-31