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CHALCONDYLES, Laonicus. L’histoire de la decadence de l’empire grec, et establissement de celuy des Turcs... depuis la ruine du Peloponese jusques à present..., Paris, Claude Sonnius, 1632.

Laonicus Chalcondyles (c. 1430-c. 1490) was a Greek historian from Athens, son of Georgios and cousin of Demetrios Chalcocondyles. After his father's dispute with the Florentine Duke of Athens, Nerio II Acciaioli, Chalcondyles and his family moved to the Peloponnese. According to the testimony of Ciriaco Anconitano, he lived in Mystras, at the court of Constantine Palaiologos, who was to be the last Byzantine emperor, and was a pupil of philosopher Georgius Gemistus Pletho. Following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Chalcondyles sought refuge in Italy, where he stayed until his death.

While in Italy, Chalcondyles composed the significant historical work which bears the title “Proofs of Histories (Ἀποδείξεις Ἱστοριῶν)”, in ten chapters. The work covers the period from 1298 to 1463 and describes the gradual decline of the Byzantine Empire and the events from the Ottomans' settlement in Bursa to their incursion into the Peloponnese. Chalcondyles was an admirer of ancient Greek historians Thucydides and Herodotus and wrote in an archaic language, which made the text quite hard to understand, while the ancient-styled names by which he called several ethnicities he mentions in his text created confusion among historians. However, the work contains valuable information on customs and traditions of England, France and Germany, found in the chapters dealing with the embassy sent by Manuel II Palaiologos to the West, asking for help against the Ottomans.

The work was translated into Latin (1556) and French (1577). It was republished in 1612 in an updated version with chapters on the history of Ottoman Sultans until 1612. More reeditions followed (1616, 1620, 1632, 1650, 1660, 1662), each time including the events which had taken place between publications. Those reeditions were illustrated by N. de Nicolay's depictions of human types of the East and their costumes. This edition, edited by Ar. Thomas, also includes a series of prophecies on the fall of the Ottoman empire, purported to date from the times of emperors Severus or Leo, which Thomas read in a manuscript.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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