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Negociations with the Greeks,
robes of silk and pieces of gold. The fathers of Basil aspired to the
glory of reducing the Greeks, as well as the Bohemians, within the pale of the church ; and their deputies invited the emperor and patriarch of Constantinople to unite with
an assembly which possessed the confidence of the Western nations. Palæologus was not averse to the proposal ; and his ambassadors were introduced with due honours into the Catholic senate. But the choice of the place appeared to be an insuperable obstacle, since he refused to pass the Alps, or the sea of Sicily, and positively required that the synod should be adjourned to some convenient city in Italy, or at least on the Danube. The other articles of this treaty were more readily stipulated : it was agreed to defray the travelling expenses of the emperor, with a train of seven hundred persons,“ to remit an immediate sum of eight thousand ducats “2 for the accommodation of the Greek clergy; and in his absence to grant a supply of ten thousand ducats, with three hundred archers and some galleys, for the protection of Constantinople. The city of Avignon advanced the funds for the preliminary expenses; and the embarkation was prepared at Marseilles with some difficulty and delay. In his distress the friendship of Palæologus was disputed by the
ecclesiastical powers of the West; but the dexterous activity of a monarch prevailed over the slow debates and inflexible temper of a republic. The decrees of Basil continually tended to circumscribe the despotism of the
pope, and to erect a supreine and perpetual tribunal in the church. Eugenius was impatient of the yoke; and the union of the Greeks might afford a decent pretence for translating a rebellious synod from the Rhine to the Po. The independence of the fathers was lost if they passed the Alps : Savoy or Avignon, to which they acceded with reluctance, were described at Constantinople as situate far beyond the Pillars of Hercules ; *3 the emperor and his clergy were apprehensive of the dangers of a long navigation; they were
John Palæologus embarks in the pope's galleys, A.D. 1437, Nov. 24.
" Syropulus, p. 19. In this list the Greeks appear to have exceeded the real numbers of the clergy and laity which afterwards attended the emperor and patriarch, but which are not clearly specified by the great ecclesiarch. The 75,000 florins which they asked in this negociation of the pope (p. 9) were more than they could hope or want.
* I use indifferently the words ducat and florin, which derive their names, the former from the dukes of Milan, the latter from the republic of Florence. These gold pieces, the first that were coined in Italy, perhaps in the Latin world, may be compared in weight and value one-third of the English guinea.
13 At the end of the Latin version of Phranzes we read a long Greek epistle or declamation of George of Trebizond, who advises the emperor to prefer Eugenius and Italy. Ho treats with contempt the schismatic assembly of Basil, the barbarians or Gaul and Germany, who had conspired to transport the chair of St. Peter beyond the Alpe; Η άθλιοι (says he) σι και την μετά του σύνοδον έξω των Ηρακλίμων στήλων και της radhowr ikkbouri. Was Constantinople unprovided with a map?
offended by an haughty declaration, that, after suppressing the nero heresy of the Bohemians, the council would soon eradicate the old heresy of the Greeks.**
On the side of Eugenius al. was smooth, and yielding, and respectful; and he invited the Byzantine monarch to heal by his presence the schism of the Latin, as well as of the Eastern, church. Ferrara, near the coast of the Adriatic, was proposed for their amicable interview: and with some indulgence of forgery and theft, a surreptitious decree was procured, which transferred the synod, with its own consent, to that Italian city. Nine galleys were equipped for this service at Venice and in the isle of Candia; their diligence anticipated the slower vessels of Basil : the Roman admiral was commissioned to burn, sink, and destroy ; 45 and these priestly squadrons might have encountered each other in the . same seas where Athens and Sparta had formerly contended for the pre-eminence of glory. Assaulted by the importunity of the factions, who were ready to fight for the possession of his person, Palæologus hesitated before he left his palace and country on a perilous experiment. His father's advice still dwelt on his memory; and reason must suggest, that, since the Latins were divided among themselves, they could never unite in a foreign cause. Sigismond dissuaded the unseasonable adventure; his advice was impartial, since he adhered to the council ; and it was enforced by the strange belief that the German Cæsar would nominate a Greek his heir and successor in the empire of the West. Even the Turkish sultan was a counsellor whom it might be unsafe to trust, but whom it was dangerous to offend. Anurath was unskilled in the disputes, but he was apprehensive of the union, of the Christians. From his own treasures lie offered to relieve the wants of the Byzantine court; yet he declared with seeming magnanimity that Constantinople should be secure and inviolate in the absence of her sovereign."7 The resolution of Palæologus was decided by the most splendid gifts and the most specious promises : he wished to escape for a while from a scene of
“ Syropulus (p. 26-31) attests his own indignation, and that of his countrymen; and the Basil deputies, who excused the rash declaration, could neither deny nor alter un act of the council.
Condolmieri, the pope's nephew and admiral, expressly declared, oro ögonen ixu ταρα του Πάσα να πολεμήση όπου αν εύρη τα κάτεργα της Συνόδου, και ει δυνήθη, καταδύση, rad apavion. The naval orders of the synod were less peremptory, and, till the hostile squadrons appeared, both parties tried to conceal their quarrel from the Greeks.
* Syropulus mentions the hopes of Palæologus (p. 36), and the last advice of Sigismond (p. 57). At Corfu the Greek emperor was informed of his friend's death; had he known it sooner, he would have returned home (p. 79).
Pbranzes himself, though from different motives, was of the advice of Amurath (1. . c. 13). Utinam ne synodus ista unquam fuisset, si tantas offensiones et detri. menta paritura erat. This Turkish embassy is likewise mentioned by Syropulus (p. 58); and Amurath kept his word. He might threaten (p. 125, 219), but he never attacked, the city.
Janger and distress; and after dismissing with an ambiguous answer the messengers of the council, he declared his intention of embarking in the Roman galleys. The age of the patriarch Joseph was more susceptible of fear than of hope ; he trembled at the perils of the sea, and expressed his apprehension that his feeble voice, with thirty perhaps of his orthodox brethren, would be oppressed in a foreign land by the power and numbers of a Latin synod. He yielded to the royal mandate, to the flattering assurance that he would be heard as the oracle of nations, and to the secret wish of learning from his brother of the West to deliver the church from the yoke of kings. The five crossbearers, or dignitaries, of St. Sophia, were bound to attend his person ; and one of these, the great ecclesiarch or preacher, Sylvester Syropulus,'' has composed a free and curious history so of the false union. Of the clergy that reluctantly obeyed the summons of the emperor and the patriarch, submission was the first duty, and patience the most useful virtue. In a chosen list or twenty bishops we discover the metropolitan titles of Heraclea and Cyzicus, Nice and Nicomedia, Ephesus and Trebizond, and the personal merit of Mark and Bessarion, who, in the confidence or their learning and eloquence, were promoted to the episcopal rank. Some monks and philosophers were named to display the science and sanctity of the Greek church; and the service of the choir was performed by a select band of singers and musicians. The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, appeared by their genuine or fictitious deputies; the primate of Russia represented a national church, and the Greeks might contend with the Latins in the extent of their spiritual empire. The precious vases of St. Sophia were exposed to the winds and waves, that the patriarch might officiate with becoming splendour : whatever gold the emperor could procure
48 The reader will smile at the simplicity with which he imparted these hopes to his favourites : τοιαύτην πληροφορίας σχήσειν ήλπιζι και διά του Πάπα εθάρρει ελευθερώσαι την εκκλησίαν από της αποτεθείσης αυτου δουλείας παρά του βασιλέως (p. 92). Yet it would have been difficult for him to have practised the lessons of Gregory VII.
49 The Christian name of Sylvester is borrowed from the Latin calendar. In modern Greek, soudós, as a diminutive, is added to the end of words: nor can any reasoning of Creyghton, the editor, excuse his changing into Sguropulus (Sguros, fuscus) the Syropulus of his own manuscript, whose name is subscribed with his own hand in the acts of the council of Florence. Why might not the author be of Syrian extraction?
So From the conclusion of the history I should fix the date to the year 1444, four years after the synod, when the great ecclesiarch had abdicated his office (sectio xii, p. 330-350). His passions were cooled by time and retirement; and, although Syropulus is often partial, he is never intemperate.
si Vera historia unionis non veræ inter Græcos et Latinos (Hagæ Comitis, 1660, in folio) was first published with a loose and florid version, by Robert Creyghton, chaplain to Charles II. iu his exile. The zeal of the editor has prefixed a polemic title, fo. the beginning of the original is wanting. Syropulus may be ranked with the best of the Byzantine writers for the merit of his narration, and even of his style; but he is excluded from the orthodox collections of the councils.
was expended in the massy ornaments of his bed and chariot ; 52 ana while they affected to maintain the prosperity of their ancient fortune, they quarrelled for the division of fifteen thousand ducats, the first alms of the Roman pontiff. After the necessary preparations, John Palæologus, with a numerous train, accompanied by his brother Demetrius and the most respectable persons of the church and state, embarked in eight vessels with sails and oars, which steered through the Turkish straits of Gallipoli to the Archipelago, the Morea, and the Adriatic Gulf.93
After a tedious and troublesome navigation of seventy-seven days, this religious squadron cast anchor before Venice; and their reception proclaimed the joy and magnificence of that phal entry powerful republic. In the command of the world the A.D. 1438 modest Augustus had never claimed such honours from his subjects as were paid to his feeble successor by an independent state. Seated on the poop, on a lofty throne, he received the visit, or, in the Greek style, the adoration, of the doge and senators." They sailed in the Bucentaur, which was accompanied by twelve stately galleys : the sea was overspread with innumerable gondolas of pomp and pleasure; the air resounded with music and acclamations; the mariners, and even the vessels, were dressed in silk and gold; and in all the emblems and pageants the Roman eagles were blended with the lions of St. Mark. The triumphal procession, ascending the great canal, passed under the bridge of the Rialto; and the Eastern strangers gazed with admiration on the palaces, the churches, and the populousness of a city that seems to float on the bosom of the waves." They sighed to behold the spoils and trophies with which it had been decorated after the sack of Constantinople. After an hospitable entertainment of fifteen days, Palæologus pursued his journey by land and water from Venice to Ferrara ; and on this occasion the pride of the Vatican was tempered by policy to indulge the ancient
32 Syropulus (p. 63) simply expresses his intention is outW TouTÁM lv' 'Iránous Megès βασιλεύς σαρ' εκεινων νομίζοιτο; and the Latin of Creyghton may afford a specimen of his florid paraphrase. Ut pompâ circumductus noster Imperator Italiæ populis aliquis deauratus Jupiter crederetur, aut Croesus ex opulentâ Lydiâ.
53 Although I cannot stop to quote Syropulus for every fact, I will observe that the navigation of the Greeks from Constantinople to Venice and Ferrara is contained in the irth section (p. 67-100), and that the historian has the uncommon talent of placing each scene before the reader's eye.
5* At the time of the synod Phranzes was in Peloponnesus: but he received from the despot Demetrius a faithful account of the honourable reception of the emperor and patriarch both at Venice and Ferrara (Dux... : sedentem Imperatorem adorat), which are more slightly mentioned by the Latins (1. ii. c. 14, 15, 16).
* The astonishment of a Greek prince and a French ambassador (Mémoires de Philippe de Comines, 1. vii. c. 18) at the sight of Venice, abundantly proves that in the syth century it was the first and most splendid of the Christian cities. For the spoisa of Constantinople at Venice see Syropulus (p. 87).
dignity of the emperor of the East. He made his entry on a black heto Ferrara, horse; but a milk-white steed, whose trappings were em
broidered with golden eagles, was led before him; and the canopy was borne over his head by the princes of Este, the sons or kinemen of Nicholas, marquis of the city, and a sovereign more powerful than himself.96 Palæologus did not alight till he reached the bottom of the staircase : the pope advanced to the door of the apartment; refused his proffered genuflexion; and, after a paternal embrace, conducted the emperor to a seat on his left hand. Nor would the patriarch descend from his galley till a ceremony, almost equal, had been stipulated between the bishops of Rome and Constantinople. The latter was saluted by his brother with a kiss of union and charity ; nor would any of the Greek ecclesiastics submit to kiss the feet of the Western primate. On the opening of the synod, the place of honour in the centre was claimed by the temporal and ecclesiastical chiefs ; and it was only by alleging that his predecessors had not assisted in person at Nice or Chalcedon that Eugenius could evade the ancient precedents of Constantine and Marcian. After much debate it was agreed that the right and left sides of the church should be occupied by the two nations; that the solitary chair of St. Peter should be raised the first of the Latin line , and that the throne of the Greek emperor, at the head of his clergy, should be equal and opposite to the second place, the vacant seat of the emperor of the West.57
But as soon as festivity and form had given place to a more serious treaty, the Greeks were dissatisfied with their journey, with
themselves, and with the pope. The artful pencil of his emissaries had painted him in a prosperous state, at the
head of the princes and prelates of Europe, obedient at his and Florence,
voice to believe and to arm. The thin appearance of the universal synod of Ferrara betrayed his weakness; and the
Latins opened the first session with only five archbishops, eighteen bishops, and ten abbots, the greatest part of whom were the subjects or countrymen of the Italian pontiff. Except the duke of Burgundy, none of the potentates of the West condescended to appear in person, or by their ambassadors; nor was it possible to suppress
Council of the Greeks and Latins at Ferrara
Bos Nicholas III. of Este reigned forty-eight years (A.D. 1393-1441), and was lord of Ferrara, Modena, Reggio, Parma, Rovigo, and Commachio. See his Life in Muratori (Antichità Estense, tom. i. p. 159-201).
57 The Latin vulgar was provoked to laughter at the strange dresses of the Greeks, and especially the length of their garments, their sleeves, and their beards; nor was the emperor distinguished, except by the purple colour, and his diadem or tiara with a jewel on the top (Hody do Græcis Ilustribus, p. 31). Yet another spectator confesses that the Greek fashion was più grave e più degna than the Italian (Vespasiano, in Vit. Eugen. IV. in Muratori, tom. xxv. p. 261).