SECULAR OFFICIALS

 

 

BYZANTINES

 

MANUEL BOULLOTES

Manuel Tarchaneiotes Boullotes (PLP 3088) was an envoy of John VIII. He came from a family that appeared in Byzantine public life towards the end of the 14th c. A branch of the family rose to wealth and entered the service of the emperor, occupying positions in the court. They also formed a marriage alliance with the well known family of Tarchaneitotes, as Manuel’s second surname (inherited from his mother) clearly shows (Laurent 1953, 63-64). One of the most accomplished and successful ambassadors during the preliminary negotiations for the council, Manuel Boullotes was even honoured by the pope for his services (Laurent 1971, 167). Towards the end of the council of Florence, he made a profession of faith, which shows that he was a senator, or at least given the rights of a higher official, and allowed to express an opinion on the matter of the union (Laurent 1953, 65).

V.A.

 

DISYPATOI BROTHERS

The brothers Manuel (PLP 5540), George (PLP 5529) and John (PLP 5537) Disypatos all served as ambassadors of John VIII Palaiologos from 1437 (George from 1434) until the 1440s. They were sent to several missions to the West, including to the papal Curia, the council of Basle, Venice and Hungary. Mentions of the Disypatoi brothers are very often and regular throughout the text of Syropoulos, indicating their constant presence in Italy during the council of Ferrara-Florence as three of the most mentioned imperial envoys. It is attested that at least two of the brothers spoke Latin and/or Italian. In one instance, Manuel Disypatos, during his mission to the council of Basle addressed the members of the council in Latin (Gill 1959, 59). Also, one of the brothers, who was sent as the imperial envoy to the Doge just before the arrival of the Byzantines in Venice, was conversing with the Venetian officials ‘in their own language’ (Laurent 1971, 214). This person, mentioned in the text only by his surname, was probably John Disypatos, the only one of the brothers to hold an official title. Also surnamed Laskaris, probably his mother’s surname, John Disypatos was a gambros of Demetrios Palaiologos Metochites (Laurent  1971, 126; idem 1975, 203) and in 1437 held the title of megas hetaireiarches. The fact that when received by the Doge, he was allowed to touch his hand, suggests that this Disypatos was a high official, thus concluding that it was John and not one of his brothers (Hazlitt 1900, 431; Laurent 1971, 231, n.5). John is also attested to be an oikeios of the Emperor John VIII Palaiologos and to have received an honorary title by the Pope in July 1438 (Hofmann 1940, 69, 81, 84, 86; Laurent 1971, 127, n. 13).

V.A.

 

MANUEL IAGARIS

Manuel Palaiologos Iagaris (PLP 7810), brother of Markos and Andronikos Iagaris, was a member of the Byzantine delegation to the council of Ferrara-Florence. He was in charge of the negotiations concerning the seating arrangements of the members of the council in the cathedral of Ferrara (Laurent 1971, 240) and later he was sent to Venice to seek further help for the defence of Constantinople (Laurent 1971, 274).

V.A.

 

MARKOS IAGARIS

Markos Palaiologos Iagaris (PLP 7811), brother of Manuel and Andronikos Iagaris, was an imperial ambassador from 1417 until 1438, sent to missions to the popes Martin V and Eugenius IV, and to Venice. Throughout his career he held the titles of protobestiarites (1429), protostrator (1429/30) and megas stratopedarches (1430). He accompanied the Emperor John VIII to Italy, where he held the office of mesazon for the duration of the journey, together with George Philanthropenos. (Laurent 1971, 118, 214).

V.A.

 

Demetrios Palaiologos Kantakouzenos

Demetrios Palaiologos Kantakouzenos (PLP 10962) was a cousin of John VIII and mesazon of John VIII and Constantine XI, for the period 1434/5-1448. He had taken part in an embassy to the Turks (1422) and had served as a witness for several of John VIII’s treaties with Venice (Nicol 1968, 192-3).  He took part in the discussions with the representatives of the council of Basle, especially John of Ragusa, where he was a firm opponent of any additions or changes to the Creed, which he believed to be the original and main cause for the Schism of the two churches (Laurent 1971, 152, 156, 168). When the Byzantine delegation left for Italy, he was left behind in Constantinople, together with his colleague, Loukas Notaras. Like many members of his family, he played an important role in the defence of the City in 1453. It is not clear whether he survived the siege. It is possible that he is the Demetrios Kantakouzenos, who escaped with his family, helped by a Genoese admiral. They took refuge first to Chios and then Crete, while some are said to have gone to Italy, the Peloponnese or Corfu (Nicol 1968, 194).

V.A.

 

Theodore Karystinos

Theodore Karystinos (PLP 11297) was a member of the Byzantine delegation and a close friend and associate of the Emperor John VIII; he can be attested sitting next to the Emperor during the council (Lambros 1912, vol. 2, 59, 182). He was assigned the mission of delivering to the Patriarch the message that the Pope required him to kiss his foot, when the Patriarch was entering Ferrara. Karystinos was also an ambassador of John VIII in Venice, Bourgogne, Aragon and Sienna. He also took part in the defence of Constantinople during the siege of 1453. (Laurent 1971, 230-1; Marinesco 1950, 421).

V.A.

 

Loukas Notaras

Loukas Notaras was the son of Nicholas Notaras, a wealthy merchant, interpreter and ambassador of Manuel II. Loukas served as a mesazon of the Emperor John VIII as early as 1434, when in the preliminary negotiations for the organisation of the council he took part in the discussions with the representatives of the council of Basle (Laurent 1971, 152; Verpeaux 1956, 287-8). In 1449 he became megas doux and is considered one of the most powerful and influential men in Constantinople during its last decades (Gill 1959, 375). The Notaras family, and Loukas in particular, had strong commercial and financial ties with Genoa and Venice; Loukas was a citizen of both Venice and Genoa (ODB, 1494; Oikonomides 1979, 19f, 120f; Matschke 1995, 65-67). However, in 1437, he chose not to accompany the Byzantine delegation to Italy. Doukas attributed to him the phrase: ‘Better to see the turban of the Turk ruling in the midst of the city than the Latin mitre’ (Doukas, 264; Gill 1959, 375), which caused him to be remembered as an avid anti-unionist. In all probability, he was sceptical towards the matter of the union, not believing in an unconditional surrender to the Pope, but could understand the necessity of negotiating with the West, in order to obtain help (Gill 1959, 375-6; Matschke 1995, 66). He took part in the defence of Constantinople during the siege by the Turks in 1453. He was accused of treason, but was executed by Mehmed II after the fall of the City.

V.A.

 

George Philanthropenos

George Doukas Philanthropenos (PLP 29760) was a member of the prominent Byzantine family of Philanthropenos, which appeared in Constantinople in the mid-13th century; many of its members have appeared holding high military and administrative positions (ODB, 1649). George Philanthropenos was in the service of John VIII and accompanied him to Italy for the council of Ferrara-Florence. He received the office of mesazon for the duration of the journey (1438-1439), as the regular mesazontes, Loukas Notaras and Demetrios Palaiologos Kantakouzenos had stayed in Constantinople. A wealthy man, he has transferred a large amount of his fortune to the West. That can also explain the fact that he owned a house in Venice, where the Patriarch, a relative of Philanthropenos, retired after visiting St Mark (Laurent 1959, 191; idem 1971, 224).

V.A.

 


 WESTERNERS

 

Sigismund, King of Hungary

 

(Image from: http://www.sigismundus.hu/

guide/show.php?l=en&p=2_1)

 

 

Sigismund, King of Hungary and Holy Roman Emperor, was born in Prague in 1368. Even though he was troubled by internal conflict in his own country, in 1396 he led the combined Christian army against the Turks. In the battle of Nicopolis, 25 September 1396, the Christian forces were defeated by the Turks. (Atiya 1965, 435-462) After securing his position in Hungary, Sigismund entered in several conflicts with Bohemia and with Venice, with whom the main dispute involved the control of the eastern Adriatic coast (Gill 1959, 16; Romano 2007, 15). He was one of the main instigators of the Council of Constance, about which he had been in touch with Manuel II, trying to persuade him to take part (Gill 1959, 20). He was often approached by Byzantine ambassadors in order to offer help against the Turks, possibly in the form of another crusade, but internal problems always prevented him from doing so. In 1423 he received John Palaiologos, then still heir to the throne, in Totis, in Hungary. John travelled there to seek support for the defence of Constantinople against the Turks (Laurent 1971, 114; Gill 1959, 42; Barker 1969, 375-379), and it was at that time that Sigismund promoted the notion of the Union of the two churches (Gill 1959, 39). Manuel II as well as John VIII also regularly offered to act as mediators in the conflict between Sigismund and Venice, in the hope that these two powers would collaborate in order to offer help against the Turks.

In May 1433, Sigismund was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Eugenius IV in Rome and, due to the Pope’s mediation, he renewed his peace treaty with Venice. While in Rome, he was also approached by Byzantine envoys and entered discussions on the possibility of an ecclesiastic council that would result to the union of the churches (Romano 2007, 114; Gill 1959, 56). Sigismund’s relationship with the Pope was strained when he decided to support the Council of Basle, which both Eugenius and Venice feared could limit papal authority, particularly beyond the Alps (Romano 2007, 120). Sigismund was also opposed to the transfer of the ecclesiastic council in Italy, and voiced his objections to the Byzantines, months before they departed from Constantinople (Laurent 1971, 182). There was little possibility that he would agree to attend the council in Ferrara, however, his death, in December 1437, caused great distress to John VIII, who was counting on the King’s presence and influence in the discussions (Laurent 1971, 210-212).

V.A.

 

Micheleto Tzio

Venetian official and financier. The correct form of his name was Zeno, also seen in sources in the form of Zen, Zono. In April 1430 he was a resident of Adrianople, chosen as a possible negotiator with the Turks. In 1437 he was sent to Constantinople by the Pope Eugene IV in order to give to cover all the financial needs of the Byzantines for the journey. He returned to Venice in December 1437 and remained in the service of the Pope, sent to several missions regarding the preparations for the council. He was also in charge of giving to the Patriarch and the Emperor the first amount of money for their sustenance, upon their arrival in Venice (Laurent 1971, 218 and n.5).

V.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Translation is © Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, IAA, University of Birmingham 2008

 

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Last updated 19 June 2008