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

Florin Curta

Department of History, University of Florida


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


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