George Acropolita (Akropolites) (1217–1282), Byzantine historian and statesman, was born at Constantinople.
At an early age he was sent by his father to the court of John Ducas Vatatzes, emperor of Nicaea, by whom and by his successors (Theodore II Lascaris and Michael VIII Palaeologus) he was entrusted with important state missions. The office of Grand Logothete or chancellor was bestowed upon him in 1244.
As commander in the field in 1257 against Michael II, despot of Epirus, he showed little military capacity. He was captured and kept for two years in prison, from which he was released by Michael Palaeologus. Acropolita's most important political task was that of effecting a reconciliation between the Greek and Latin Churches, to which he had been formerly opposed.
In 1273 he was sent to Pope Gregory X, and in the following year, at the council of Lyons, in the emperor's name he recognized the spiritual supremacy of Rome. In 1282 he was sent on an embassy to John II, emperor of Trebizond, and died in the same year soon after his return.
His historical work, Annales, embraces the period from the capture of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade by the Latins (1204) to its recovery by Michael Palaeologus (1261), thus forming a continuation of the work of Nicetas Choniates. It is valuable as written by a contemporary, whose official position as great logothete, military commander and confidential ambassador afforded him frequent opportunities of observing the course of events.
Acropolita is considered a trustworthy authority as far as the statement of facts is concerned, and he is easy to understand, although he exhibits special carelessness in the construction of his sentences. He was also the author of several shorter works, amongst them being a funeral oration on John Vatatzes, an epitaph on his wife Irene and a panegyric of Theodorus II Lascaris of Nicaea. While a prisoner at Epirus he wrote two treatises on the procession of the Holy Spirit.
Authorities: Editio princeps by Leo Allatius (1651), with the editor's famous treatise De Georgiis eorumque Scriptis; editions in the Bonn Corpus Scriptorum Hist. Byz., by I Bekker (1836), and Migne, Patrologia Graeca, cxl.; in the Teubner series by A. Heisenberg (1903), the second volume of which contains a full life, with bibliography; see also Karl Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897).
This article incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, which is in the public domain.
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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