Niketas Choniates' History is the single most important source for a crucial period in Byzantine history, which began with the death of Alexios I Komnenos in 1118 and culminated with the capture of Constantinople by the armies of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
In this first book-length study of the History in English, Simpson reviews the complex manuscript tradition and transmission of the text, and examines the substantial differences in style, content, and purpose between the two main versions in which it has been preserved. Investigating issues related to historical narrative and imperial biography, including genre and characteristic features, narrative structure, and character depiction, the volume also explores the sources from which Niketas Choniates compiled his account and the literary models and historical concepts which guided him. It emphasizes his literary mimesis of earlier writers, his creative and often innovative use of rhetorical forms and techniques, and his historical methodology and outlook. Finally, the book delves into the author's world in order to uncover his personal prejudices and preoccupations, and takes into account his other works, namely the orations and letters as well as the theological treatise, the Dogmatike Panoplia.