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Constantinople and the Echo Chamber: The Vlachs in the French Crusade Chronicles

In: Medieval Encounters
Author: Florin Curta1
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  • 1 Department of History, University of Florida25 Keene-Flint Hall, Gainesville, fl 32611USAfcurta@ufl.edu
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The chroniclers of the Fourth Crusade (Geoffroi de Villehardouin, Henri de Valenciennes, and Robert de Clari) have much to say about the Vlachs. Much of that information results from direct contact with the Vlachs, particularly in the case of Villehardouin and Henri de Valenciennes. However, several issues characterizing the Vlachs, especially in Robert de Clari’s chronicle, are remarkably similar to stories that may be found in Niketas Choniates. The paper analyzes the role attributed to the Vlachs in the French chronicles, and attempts to explain the similarity to the coverage of things Vlach in Niketas Choniates. As such, the paper offers an examination of all Byzantine sources mentioning the Vlachs before Choniates and of non-Byzantine sources such as Benjamin of Tudela. The conclusion is that the image of the Vlachs in the French chronicles derives from stories about them circulating in twelfth-century Constantinople.

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