Joannes Kinnamos or John Cinnamus (Greek: Ἰωάννης Κίνναμος or Κίναμος or Σίνναμος; fl. 12th century) was a Greek historian. He was imperial secretary (Greek "grammatikos", most likely a post connected with the military administration) to Emperor Manuel I (1143–1180), whom he accompanied on his campaigns in Europe and Asia Minor. It appears that Kinnamos outlived Andronikos I, who died in 1185.
Kinnamos was the author of a history that covered the years 1118-1176, thereby continuing the Alexiad of Anna Komnene, and covering the reigns of John II and Manuel I, up until Manuel's unsuccessful campaign against the Turks, which ended with the disastrous Battle of Myriokephalon and the rout of the Imperial army. He was probably an eye-witness to the events of the last ten years that he describes.
Kinnamos's work breaks off abruptly, though it is highly likely that the original continued to the death of Manuel. There are also indications that the present work is an abridgment of a much larger work. The hero of the history is Manuel, and throughout the history Kinnamos attempts to highlight what he sees as the superiority of the Eastern Empire to the West. Similarly, he is a determined opponent of what he perceives as the pretensions of the papacy. Nevertheless, he writes with the straightforwardness of a soldier, and occasionally admits his ignorance of certain events. The work is well organized arranged, and its style, modeled on Xenophon, is simple, especially when compared with the florid writing of other Greek authors of the period. William Plate considers him the best of the European historians of this period.
John Kinnamos is also credited for writing a book on one of the Angeli emperors, however this book is believed to be lost (perhaps together with the rest of his much larger work).
The first reference of his writings can be found in the catalogue known as Vaticanus graecus, it is described as :"Historie cuis(us)dam Manasse vulgari versu.|Item choniati i(n) satis bono stilo a t(em)po(r)ib(us) Io. Comnei"
- Ἐπιτομὴ τῶν κατορθωμάτων τῷ μακαρίτῃ βασιλεῖ καὶ πορφυρογεννήτῳ κυρίῳ Ἰωάννῃ τῷ Κομνηνῷ, καὶ ἀφήγησις τῶν πραχθέντων τῷ ἀοιδίμᾳ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ τῷ βασιλεῖ καὶ πορφυρογεννήτῳ κυρίῳ Μανουὴλ τῷ Κομνηνῷ ποιηθεῖσα Ἰωάννῃ βασιλικῷ γραμματικῷ Κιννάμῳ, or Summary of the feats of the late emperor and purple-born lord John Komnenos and narration of the deeds of his celebrated son the emperor and purple-born lord Manuel I Komnenos done by John Kinnamos his imperial secretary. Editio princeps by Cornelius Tollius (Utrecht 1652).
- Smith, editor. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1867.
- John Kinnamos, Rerum ab Ioannes et Alexio [sic] Comnenis Gestarum, ed. A. Meineke, Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae (Bonn, 1836)
- John Kinnamos, The Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus, trans. C.M. Brand (New York, 1976). ISBN 0-231-04080-6
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Jonathan Harris, Byzantium and the Crusades (Hambledon and London, 2003). ISBN 1-85285-298-4
- J. Ljubarskij, ‘John Kinnamos as a writer’, in Polypleuros Nous: Miscellanea für Peter Schreiner zu seinem 60 Geburtstag (Byzantinisches Archiv, 19), ed. C. Scholz and G. Makris (Munich, 2000), pp. 164–73
- Paul Magdalino, 'Aspects of twelfth century Byzantine Kaiserkritik', Speculum 58 (1983), 326-46 and reprinted in Paul Magdalino, Tradition and Transformation in Medieval Byzantium (Ashgate publishing, 1991), No. VIII
- Paul Stephenson, 'John Cinnamus, John II Comnenus and the Hungarian campaign of 1127-1129', Byzantion 66 (1996), 177-87