Giovanni Giustiniani Longo
Sun Mar 16 23:07:52 2008
As the condition of the Byzantine Empire gets worse, our sources get better and better. Ostrogorsky’s “Golden Age” comes to us from a handful of chronicles whose main purpose was something other than historical accuracy. To get a complete picture we need to fill in the gaps with Arab and Russian sources. The Palaeologan era on the other hand is full of rich material. There appears to be plenty of good detailed material on final siege of Constantinople in just about every language and culture of the time. The historian’s job here is to sort out the contradictions instead of filling in the blanks or reading between the lines. It is an exciting project and leaves plenty of room for interpretation, as is the case with Giovanni Giustiniani Longo.
The Italian sources view him as a hero. The Greek sources tend to view his as a coward and a traitor. Runciman tends to favor the Greek point of view, although not as harsh. David Nicolle (Constantinople 1453) and Donald Nicol (The Immortal Emperor) view the situation as the inevitable result of his mortal wounds. Norwich is much more sympathetic to Giovanni and finds Constantine perhaps more unreasonable, or at least more aware of and hence afraid of the consequences.