renowned as a statesman, a philosopher, and a divine, lived in the latter part of the 13th and in the beginning of the 14th century.
He was probably a native of Constantinople, and belonged undoubtedly to one of the first families in the Greek empire. Enjoying the confidence and friendship of the emperor Andronicus Palaeologus the elder, he was successively appointed prefect of the Canieleus, keeper of the imperial seal-ring, and magnus stratopedarcha, and his merits were so great, that as early as 1295. Andronicus asked the hand of his daughter, Irene, for one of his sons, John Palaeologus, to whom she was married in the same year. During the unfortunate civil contest between Andronicus the elder and his grandson, Andronicus the younger, Chumnus remained faithful to his imperial patron, and for some time defended the town of Thessalonica, of which he was praefect, against the troops of Andronicus the younger, whom he compelled to raise the siege.
It seems that Chumnus had more influence and did more for the support of Andronicus the elder, than any other of the ministers of this unfortunate emperor. Towards the end of his life Chumnus took orders and retired into a convent, where he lived under the name of Nathanael, and occupied himself with literary pursuits.
The time of his death has not been ascertained, but we must presume that he died after 1330, during the reign of Andronicus the younger.
Treatises on philosophical, religious, ecclesiastical, rhetorical, and legal subjects
Nicephorus Chumnus is the author of numerous works and treatises on philosophical, religious, ecclesiastical, rhetorical, and legal subjects, none of which have ever been printed; they are extant in MS. in the principal libraries of Rome, Venice, and Paris. We give the titles of some of them as they stand in Latin in the catalogues of those libraries:
Confutatio Dogmatis de Processione Spiritus Sancti Sermo in Christi Transfigurationem Symbuleuticus de Justitia ad Thessalonicenses, et Urbis Encomium Ex Imperatoris Decreto, ut Judices jurejurando obligentur, ad Munus sancte obeundum Encomium ad Imperatorem (Andronicum II.) Querela adversus Niphonem ob male administratam Patriarchatus sui Provinciam Oratio funebris in Theoleptum Metropolitam Philadelphiae Ad Imperatorem de Obitu Despotae et Filii ejus, a letter to Andronicus II. the elder, on the death of his son, the despot John, who had married Irene, the daughter of Chumnus De Charitate, erga Proximum, et omnia reliquenda ut Christum sequamur, &c. De Mundi Natura De Primis et Simplicibus Corporibus Quod Terra quum in Medio sit, infra se nihil habeat Quod neque Materia ante Corpora, neque Formae seorsim, sed haec ipsa simul constant Contra Plotinum de Anima rationali Quaestiones variae, ubi de Metempsychosi, de Belluis, utrum Intellectu praeditae sint, nec ne, de Corporum Resurrectione, et aliis disseritur De Anima sensitive et vegetiva Quod non impossibile sit, etiam secundum physices Rationes, collocatam esse Aquam in Firmamento, tum, quum Orbis Terrarum creatus sit, eamque ibi esse et perpetuo manere &c.
There are also extant Oratio in Laudem Imperatoris Andronici Senioris,
and a great number of letters on various subjects, several of which seem to be of great interest for history, while others, as well as the works cited above, appear to be of considerable importance for the history of Greek civilization in the middle ages.
Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol vii. pp. 675, 676; Cave, Hist. Liter.
vol. ii. p. 494, ad an. 1320 Nicephorus Gregoras, lib. vii. p. 168, ed. Paris; Cantacuzenus, lib. i. p. 45, ed. Paris.