politics as a career. He held several appointments under the Angelus emperors (amongst them that of “great logothete” or chancellor) and was governor of the “theme” of Philippopolis at a critical period. After the fall of Constantinople he fled to Nicaea, where he settled at the court of the emperor Theodorus Lascaris, and devoted himself to literature. He died between 1210 and 1220. His chief work is his History, in 21 books, of the period from 1180 to 1206. In spite of its florid and bombastic style, it is of considerable value as a record (on the whole impartial) of events of which he was either an eye-witness or had heard at first hand. Its most interesting portion is the description of the capture of Constantinople, which should be read with Villehardouin’s and Paolo Rannusio’s works on the same subject. The little treatise On the Statues destroyed by the Latins (perhaps, as we have it, altered by a later writer) is of special interest to the archaeologist. His dogmatic work (Θησαυρὸς Ὀρθοδοξίας, Thesaurus Orthodoxae Fidei), although it is extant in a complete form in MS., has only been published in part. It is one of the chief authorities for the heresies and heretical writers of the 12th century.
Editions: History, editio princeps, H. Wolf (1557); and in the Bonn Corpus Scriptorum Hist. Byz., 1st ed., Bekker (1835); Rhetorical Pieces in C. Sathas, Μεσαιωνίκη Βιβλιοθήκη, i. (1872); Thesaurus in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, cxxxix., cxl.; see also C. A. Sainte-Beuve, “Geoffroy de Villehardouin” in Causeries du Lundi, ix.; S. Reinach, “La fin de l’empire Grec” in Esquisses Archéologiques (1888); C. Neumann, Griechische Geschichtsschreiber im 12. Jahrhundert (1888); Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. lx.; and (for both Michael and Nicetas) C. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897).
ACONCAGUA, a small northern province of central Chile, bounded N. by Coquimbo, E. by Argentina, S. by Santiago and Valparaiso and W. by the Pacific. Its area is officially computed at 5487 sq. m. Pop. (1895) 113,165; (1902, official estimate based on civil registry returns) 131,255. The province is very mountainous, and is traversed from east to west by the broad valley of the Aconcagua river. The climate is hot and dry, the rainfall being too small to influence climatic conditions. The valleys are highly fertile, and where irrigation is employed large crops are easily raised. Beyond the limits of irrigation the country is semi-barren. Alfalfa and grapes are the principal products, and considerable attention is given to the cultivation of other fruits, such as figs, peaches and melons. The “Vale of Quillota,” through which the railway passes between Valparaiso and Santiago, is celebrated for its gardens. The Aconcagua river rises on the southern slope of the volcano Aconcagua, flows eastward through a broad valley, or bay in the mountains, and enters the Pacific 12 m. north of Valparaiso. The river has a course of about 200 m., and its waters irrigate the best and most populous part of the province. Two other rivers — the Ligua and Choapa — traverse the province, the latter forming the northern boundary line. The capital is San Felipe, on the Aconcagua river; it had a population of 11,313 in 1895, and an estimated population of 11,660 in 1902. The other chief town is Santa Rosa de los Andes (est. pop. 6854), which is a principal station on the Transandine branch of the state railway. The only port in the province is Los Vilos, in lat. 32° S., from which a railway 40 m. long runs north-east to the valley of the Choapa. Another short line connects Cabildo, in the valley of the Ligua, with the state railway.
ACONCIO, GIACOMO (1492–1566?), pioneer of religious toleration, was born at Trent, it is said, on the 7th of September 1492. He was one of the Italians like Peter Martyr and Bernardino Ochino who repudiated papal doctrine and ultimately found refuge in England. Like them, his revolt against Romanism took an extremer form than Lutheranism, and after a temporary residence in Switzerland and at Strassburg, he arrived in England soon after Elizabeth’s accession. He had studied law and theology, but his profession was that of an engineer, and in this capacity he found employment with the English government. He was granted an annuity of £60 on the 27th of February 1560, and letters of naturalization on the 8th of October 1561 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser., Addenda, 1547–1566, p. 495), and was for some time occupied with draining Plumstead marshes, for which object various acts of parliament were passed at this time (Lords’ Journals, vol. i., and Commons’ Journals, vol. i., passim). In 1564 he was sent to report on the fortifications of Berwick (Cal. St. Pap. For. Ser. 1564–1565, passim; Acts P.C., 1558–1570, p. 146); his report is now in the Record Office (C.S.P. For., 1564–1565, No. 512).
But his real importance depends upon his contribution to the history of religious toleration. Before reaching England he had published a treatise on the methods of investigation, De Methodo, hoc est, de recte investigandarum tradendarumque Scientiarum ratione (Basel, 1558, 8vo); and his critical spirit placed him outside all the recognized religious societies of his time. On his arrival in London he had joined the Dutch Reformed Church in Austin Friars, but he was “infected with Anabaptistical and Arian opinions” and was excluded from the sacrament by Grindal, bishop of London. The real nature of his heterodoxy is revealed in his Stratagemata Satanae, published in 1565 and translated into various languages. The “stratagems of Satan” are the dogmatic creeds which rent the Christian church. Aconcio sought to find the common denominator of the various creeds; this was essential doctrine, the rest was immaterial. To arrive at this common basis, he had to reduce dogma to a low level, and his result was generally repudiated. Even Selden applied to Aconcio the remark ubi bene, nil melius; ubi male, nemo pejus. The dedication of such a work to Queen Elizabeth illustrates the tolerance or religious laxity during the early years of her reign. Aconcio found another patron in the earl of Leicester, and died about 1566.
Authorities.—Gough’s Index to Parker Soc. Publ.; Strype’s Grindal, pp. 62, 66; Boyle’s Dictionnaire; G. Tiraboschi, Storia della let. italiana (Florence, 1805–1813); Österreichisches Biogr. Lexikon; Nouvelle biogr. générale; Dict. Nat. Biogr.
(A. F. P.)
ACONITE (Aconitum), a genus of plants belonging to the natural order Ranunculaceae, the buttercup family, commonly known as aconite, monkshood or wolfsbane, and embracing about 60 species, chiefly natives of the mountainous parts of the northern hemisphere. They are distinguished by having one of the five blue or yellow coloured sepals (the posterior one) in the form of a helmet; hence the English name monkshood. Two of the petals placed under the hood of the calyx are supported on long stalks, and have a hollow spur at their apex, containing honey. They are handsome plants, the tall stem being crowned by racemes of showy flowers. Aconitum Napellus, common monkshood, is a doubtful native of Britain, and is of therapeutic and toxicological importance. Its roots have occasionally been mistaken for horse-radish. The aconite has a short underground stem, from which dark-coloured tapering roots descend. The crown or upper portion of the root gives rise to new plants. When put to the lip, the juice of the aconite root produces a feeling of numbness and tingling. The horse-radish root, which belongs to the natural order Cruciferae, is much longer than that of the aconite, and it is not tapering; its colour is yellowish, and the top of the root has the remains of the leaves on it.
Many species of aconite are cultivated in gardens, some having blue and others yellow flowers. Aconitum lycoctonum, wolfsbane, is a yellow-flowered species common on the Alps of Switzerland. The roots of Aconitum ferox supply the famous Indian (Nepal) poison called bikh, bish or nabee. It contains considerable quantities of the alkaloid pseudaconitine, which is the most deadly poison known. Aconitum palmatum yields another of the celebrated bikh poisons. The root of Aconitum luridum, of the Himalayas, is said to be as virulent as that of A. ferox or A. Napellus. As garden plants the aconites are very ornamental, hardy perennials. They thrive well in any ordinary garden soil, and will grow beneath the shade of trees. They are easily propagated by divisions of the root or by seeds; great care should be taken not to leave pieces of the root about owing to its very poisonous character.
Chemistry. — The active principle of Aconitum Napellus is the alkaloid aconitine, first examined by P. L. Geiger and Hesse (Ann., 1834, 7, p. 267), Alder Wright and A. P. Luff obtained