Doukas (historian)

Doukas (c. 1400 – after 1462)[1] was Byzantine historian who flourished under Constantine XI Palaiologos, the last Byzantine Emperor. He is one of the most important sources for the last decades and eventual fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans.

Contents

Life

He was the grandson of Michael Doukas, who played an important role in the Byzantine civil wars of the mid-14th century. The date of his birth is not known, as is his first name.[1] He is first mentioned in 1421, living at New Phocaea and serving as the Geneoese governor's secretary. After the fall of Constantinople, he sought refuge in Lesbos, where he entered the service of the ruling Gattilusi family. They employed him in various diplomatic missions to the Ottoman court.[1] He was successful in securing a semi-independence for Lesbos until 1462, when it was taken and annexed to the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Mehmed II. It is known that Doukas survived this event, but there is no record of his subsequent life.

Work

He was the author of a history of the period 1341-1462; his work thus continues that of Nikephoros Gregoras and John Kantakouzenos, and supplements George Sphrantzes and Laonikos Chalkokondyles. There is a preliminary chapter of chronology from Adam to John V Palaiologos. Although unrefined in style, the history of Doukas is both somewhat judicious and more or less trustworthy, and it is a valuable source for the closing years of the Byzantine empire. The account of the Fall of Constantinople is of special importance. Doukas was a strong supporter of the union of the Greek and Latin churches, and is very bitter against those who rejected even the idea of appealing to the West for assistance against the Ottomans.

The history, preserved (without a title) in a single manuscript conserved in Paris, was first edited by I. Bullialdus (Bulliaud) (Paris, 1649); later editions are in the Bonn Corpus scriptorum Hist. Byz., by I. Bekker (1834) and Migne, Patrologia Graeca, clvii. The Bonn edition contains a 15th century Italian translation by an unknown author, found by Leopold Ranke in one of the libraries of Venice, and sent by him to August Bekker.

References

  1. ^ a b c Kazhdan (1991), p. 656

Sources


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