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The Date of Laonikos Chalkokondyles’ Histories

The Date of Laonikos Chalkokondyles’ Histories

By Anthony Kaldellis

Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, Vol 52, No 1 (2012)

Abstract: No event known to Laonikos need be dated later than ca. 1464, and the terminus ante quem is 1468: writing some 25 years earlier than has been thought, he is the first of the extant historians of the Fall, as well as the one who says the most about Ottoman institutions.

Excerpt: The present article will track down for the first time all passages that can be used to date its composition, even if some prove to be inconclusive. I include these inconclusive internal markers of the date to forestall the possibility that future scholars might misunderstand them because of Laonikos’ notoriously obscure prose and bring them forward as evidence that I missed. I will argue for a date between 1464 and 1468, and no later. If I had to guess within that range, I would say that Laonikos stopped writing in 1464. First, I will offer a new reading of the Matthias Corvinus passage. Second, I will collect and examine all passages that bear on the date of the text. Third, I will discuss a particularly problematic passage relating to the history of the Timurids. And fourth, I will offer some thoughts on the implications of this earlier dating for historians of the fifteenth century. I reserve for a separate article a study of the interpolations into the text of the Histories that will indirectly support this earlier date: the present article will instead focus on the internal evidence.

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