Nicetas Choniates

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Nicetas Choniates (Greek: Νικήτας Χωνιάτης) was a Greek historian of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries whose works record the events of the Fourth Crusade capture of Constantinople and of the heresies and heretical writers of the twelfth century.


Nicetas Choniates, also Niketas, was born about the year 1155 in Chonae, also known as Colossae, an ancient city in Phrygia in Asia Minor. He was a member of the lesser nobility and was baptized by Bishop Nicetas of Chonae. He would later receive the name "Choniates", after his birthplace. Sometime he is also called Acominatos. At the age of nine his father sent Nicetas to Constantinople with his brother Michael to receive an education. There, he became his brother's protégé. Michael would later become the archbishop of Athens.

At first, Nicetas followed a career in politics and held appointments under the Angelus emperors including that of chancellor. Nicetas became a district governor in Philippopolis, now Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where he witnessed the ravages of the Crusaders under Frederick I Barbarossa. He later experienced the looting of Constantinople during the attack by the Fourth Crusade army.

After the Fourth Crusade conquered Constantinople in 1204, Nicetas fled to Nicea with the court of emperor Theodoras Lascaris where he devoted himself to history and literature. His chief work is his History of the Times that covered the period 1118 to 1207 and came in twenty one volumes, detailing both the Third and Fourth Crusades. The work is a generally objective and concrete record of the events of the rise and fall of the twelfth- and thirteenth-century Eastern Roman (Byzantine) dynasties, from the time of emperor John Comnenus and to the time of the intrusion of the first Latin Eastern emperor, Baldwin I of Flanders.

His descriptions of the sack of Constantinople are very vivid as he describes the desecration and looting of relics from the churches, particularly Hagia Sophia.

In a theological work, Nicetas composed the “Thesaurus of Orthodoxy” (Thesaurus Orthodoxae Fidei), a collection of tracts to use as source material for responding to contemporary heresies and to document the twelfth-century Byzantine philosophical movement.

He died between 1210 and 1220, most likely 1215/1216.


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