Eustathios – The capture of Thessaloniki

Eusthathios was was a native of Constantinople who became archbishop of Thessaloniki. When a Norman army from Sicily in 1185 besieged, captured and pillaged the city of Thessaloniki, Eustathios wasnt only an eye-witness but he played a courageous and noble part in sustaining the morale of the citizens and negotiating with count Alduin, the norman commander. Eustathios is probably the only classical scholar to have attained sainthood.

The account which he wrote of the Norman capture of Thessalonike survives in a single manuscript which had been translated twice into german and twice into italian. The english translation has been perfomed by Melville Jones.

According to Eusthathios account, one of the most remarkable passages describes how the latins “went round cutting off the long hair and beards of the Greeks, often with their swords, while some Greeks aped their shaven and crew-cut overlords by cutting their own hair and shaving their beards.”

At the same time Eustathios mentions that some latins entered into friendly discussion of religion with the Greek clergy, and how the well-intentioned but vacillating count Alduin gave Eustathios some books.

As anyone can notice from the numerous mentions of Eustathios’ account, Thessaloniki was inhabited by Greeks.