Ducas (historian) - Encyclopedia

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DUCAS (15th cent.), Byzantine historian, flourished under Constantine Xiii. (Xi.) Dragases, the last emperor of the East, about 1450. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. He was the grandson of Michael Ducas (see above). After the fall of Constantinople, he was employed in various diplomatic missions by Dorino and Domenico Gateluzzi, princes of Lesbos, where he had taken refuge. He was successful in securing a semi-independence for Lesbos until 1462, when it was taken and annexed to Turkey by Sultan Mahommed II. It is known that Ducas survived this event, but there is no record of his subsequent life. He was the author of a history of the period 1341-1462; his work thus continues that of Gregoras and Cantacuzene, and supplements Phrantzes and Chalcondyles. There is a preliminary chapter of chronology from Adam to John Palaeologus I. Although barbarous in style, the history of Ducas is both judicious and trustworthy, and it is the most valuable source for the closing years of the Greek empire. The account of the capture of Constantinople is of special importance. Ducas 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 Turks.

The history, preserved (without a title) in a single Paris MS., 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 Bekker.

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