George Sphrantzes, also Phrantzes or Phrantza (Greek: Γεώργιος Σφραντζής or Φραντζής, 1401–c. 1478) was a late Byzantine Greek historian. He was born in Constantinople. At an early age he became secretary to Manuel II Palaiologos; in 1432 protovestiarites; in 1446 prefect of Mistras, and subsequently great logothete (chancellor). At the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks (1453) he fell into their hands, but was ransomed after a short time and went to the Peloponnesus, where he obtained protection at the court of Thomas Palaiologos, Despot of the Morea. After the downfall of the Peloponnesian Despotate (1460) Sphrantzes retired to the monastery of Tarchaneiotes in Corfu.
Here he wrote his Chronicle, which like most Byzantine Chronicles begins with the creation of the world but is more detailed when talking of the history of the House of the Palaiologoi from 1258-1476. It is a most valuable authority for the events of his own times. The distinctive traits of his work are loyalty to the Palaiologoi, he often exaggerated their merits and supressed their defects, hatred of the Turks, faithfulness and devotion to Orthodoxy.
Editions by I. Bekker (1838) in the Corpus scriptorum hist. byz., and in J. P. Migne, Patrologia graeca, civi; see also C. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897). For centuries it was believed that he wrote two works, one the Minor Chronicle and the other the Major Chronicle. The Major Chronicle is more detailed particularly about the siege of Constantinople. But according to modern research it has been found out that the Major Chronicle is a forgery written decades later by Makarios Melissenos, a priest who fled from a Greek-Venetian island conquered by the Ottomans to Naples.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Byzantium Between the Ottomans and the Latins, Nevra Necipoğlu, page 9, 2009
- History of the Byzantine Empire: 324-1453, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Vasilʹev, page 692, 1958
- The Fall of Constantinople, Ruth Tenzer Feldman, page 140, 2008