By Marios Philippides
Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies v.22 (1981)
Introduction: The work attributed to George Sphrantzes (1401-1477) has comes down to us in two different forms: a short version, the Chronicon Minus, and a much large account, the Chronicon Maius. The latter incorporates all of the Minus, with a few significant alterations, and presents additional information about events and personalities, as well as a number of irrelevant digressions of little if any historical value. It was once believed that the Minus was either a later epitome of the Maius or that it represents the notes which Sphrantzes had collected during his active years and which he later expanded into the Maius during his residence at Corfu. Book III of the Maius includes a detailed dscriptin of the siege, fall, and sack of Constantinople in 1453; the Minus devotes only a small section of the siege and its immediate aftermath with no detailed narrative. Because the Maius was supposedly written by Sphrantzes, an eyewitness, who was also a functionary of the court and a personal friend of Constantine XI Palaeologus, Book III of the Maius was generally held to be of the highest importance in regard to events of the siege.