[V. Laurent, Les ‘Mémoires’ de Sylvestre Syropoulos sur le concile de Florence (1438-1439)

(Paris: CNRS, 1971), pp. 196, ff.]





Section Four


In which <there is an account> of events in relation to the journey and the reception of the Emperor by the Venetians, and their discussion; and in relation to his departure to the Pope and the salutation,[1] and the seating arrangement; and the placement of the delegates; and the four-month delay, and how the inauguration of the council took place.


1. The appointed day was assigned to a Sunday, which was the 24th of the month of November in the first Indiction, in the year 6946,[2] when the chief ‘trireme’ was brought to anchor in the quarter of Eugeniou, awaiting the Patriarch. After the morning meal,[3] we, along with many others, gathered before the Patriarch. And he, having come out, was present with us on the aforementioned shore, and a crowd of people came together there. He had previously commanded that there should be an honourable, universal, writ of absolution for everyone, and it was read out there.[4] And the Patriarch blessed and prayed for everyone, and so we embarked and remained on the boat. The next day the boats were brought to anchor again at Kynegos, and at around the fourth hour the Emperor embarked on his own boat, and at once there was a great earthquake, a second symbol of God’s wrath[5]. And after the meal, the galleys, sailing away with pomp, proceeded with acclamations and trumpets and stopped near the Topike and stayed there, while we were all inside them during the second and the third day. For we needed to practise in advance in the harbour and to accustom ourselves to the hardships of the boat.


2. On the fourth day, which was the 27th of November, having got underway from the harbour along with the sun, we had scarcely reached Athyrion by evening. At the very beginning of the journey, Christopher said to one of his friends, ‘Our undertaking will be one that has missed the mark!’ There were three galleys <belonging to> the Pope[6] (for one of them had left earlier with soldiers), another belonging to the Emperor, three moreover that were for trade, and one <had come> from Florence. On that day then, when <the bishop> of Heracleia, the megas sakellarios,[7] and many others were sitting on the boat, Christopher, the bishop of Corone, who had been sent by the Pope three times,[8] as has been mentioned, and accomplished all the afore-mentioned things, passed by; the megas sakellarios said to him, ‘Master bishop, you have done a great deed and the Pope ought to acknowledge great favour for you.’ And while <Christopher> was at a loss as to why he was saying this, the megas sakellarios said, ‘Don’t you think that it is something for the holy Emperor, the absolute ruler of the Romans, to set off and depart from the City, <along with> the holy Patriarch, the bishops, the officials, the whole Eastern Church, amongst whom are also old and infirm people, and for all of these to go to the Pope? This is something and you have accomplished a great feat indeed. And may the result be good! For if God should grant that a beneficial union takes place, you will have many rewards from God and prayers and praises from men on account of your labours and struggles for the beneficial union.’ When he heard these <remarks>, Christopher, becoming very happy, said, ‘The union will come about with God’s help. For I,’ he said, ‘had doubts until I saw the Emperor and the Patriarch embarking the boats; but from the moment when I saw them embarking, I no longer have any doubt. For I know the dispositions of those in authority and I am convinced that the union will come about.’ But those mentioned <above>, on hearing such <words>, sat without speaking.


3. On the first day, then, the journey made no progress either with oars or with sails, for there was a calm; and the galleys were equipped not for the comfort of men but were <intended> for the carrying of freight. In the evening, the conjunction of the stars frightened and disturbed the ecclesiastical congregation considerably,[9] and around the middle of the night a storm blew up and a great squall broke out and darkness became tangible.[10] At this the sailors were greatly distressed and blamed, with good reason, the Emperor's lack of counsel since he had not thought of taking the counsel of the wise man <who said>,[11] ‘If one must ever sail, on no account let it be at the end of the month.’ For the galleys were borne along for such a distance without sails that those inside them feared that because of the darkness, having drawn close to the Proconnesian <island>, they might shatter. Hence they let down anchors to drag behind in the sea in order that <these> might hold them back from the way. But even when this happened, we would have been in danger if the Lord, having had mercy on us, had not helped us. For when day arrived and we saw the Proconnesian <island> left behind us at a sufficient distance, we sent up glory and thanksgiving to God. And the wind, which became gentle, from a good source, allowed us to sail easily.


4. Then, as we passed Gallipoli, when the imperial galley sailed more closely and ostentatiously past it,[12] those from Gallipoli returned this compliment by shooting arrows and throwing stones with a defensive catapult. When we arrived at Madytos, the Emperor dismissed the advice of those who said that we should continue to Tenedos, for the weather was favourable and the rest of the day was sufficient to arrive <there>. But he stopped at Madytos and after a short time a great earthquake again took place, such that even in the boat it was distinctly recognised by all of us, and we conjectured that this was a third sign of God’s wrath. The Patriarch then wished to disembark and to stay on dry land, and he made this clear to the Emperor.[13] But <the latter> said, ‘Let him wait a short time and he will get off <the boat> when this will be necessary.’ Meanwhile, the sailors disembarked to fetch water, but before they could fill their water jars, the Hagarenes[14] ran at them; and when the sailors saw them, abandoning their water jars, they fled at full speed back onto the ships by means of the row-boats.[15] Then, having sent men of good repute, they asked for water, or at least to take back the empty water jars. But <the Hagarenes> gave way to neither one nor the other; and while some from the boats were preparing for battle, the Emperor prevented them and, having sent an officer to the subaši,[16] he won him over both with speeches and courtesy, and in this way, he received permission from him to fetch water. Then the Patriarch forgot about his rest on dry land. So we spent the night there and a crowd of the barbarian army encircled us, lighting fires on the shore and ululating[17] all night long. As the day drew towards dawn, the other galleys pulled up anchor and sailed away, but the barbarians did not permit that of the Patriarch to release its mooring ropes. And the people on board demanded many things and achieved nothing; some were preparing their weapons while others were trying to cut the cable with an axe. On seeing this, the barbarians eventually allowed it to be released.


5. The Florentine galley, suddenly abandoning us, sailed off on another route. But we sailed for a whole day and a good part of the night both with sails and oars, and eventually came to anchor in the harbour of Moudros on Lemnos. We remained there for two days so that the sailors could turn the possessions of the unfortunate Lemnians into ‘booty of the Mysians’[18] and were filled up with spoils—for nothing else that was necessary was accomplished there, nor did any timely <reason> pressure us to remain—and, having raised <our anchors>, we sailed away, while the trading vessels detached themselves earlier after being loaded since they had no concern with regard to the Emperor. In order that I myself may sail past the matters which lie in the middle of my account, we were brought to anchor in Euripos on a Saturday morning and there the Patriarch, who wished to disembark and rest inside the castle, because the officials of the Latins approached him with honour and he heard that a resting-place was prepared for him—I don’t know whether this was true—nevertheless, he was prevented by the Emperor, who said that it was not fitting for him to enter the castle but that it was more appropriate, if he should so wish, for him to rest outside. And feeling grieved about this, he pitched his tent outside and stayed there for a couple of days, being brought gifts of fruits and certain foodstuffs and wine by the islanders; meanwhile the Emperor did not disembark from his galley at all.


6. From there we travelled to the Peloponnese, while the imperial ship was always leading by a generous interval and was as if flying over the seas. Then, after two days, a strong and violent wind blew at around the middle of the day and she flew off and became invisible to us, having taken another route, while our <vessels> were again sailing for the island of Pelops[19] and, on arriving in the harbour called Sykea, stopped there. But on not discovering <the Emperor’s vessel>, we remained there, expecting it, while the Patriarch rested in a tent on dry land. But as even two days went by and we learned nothing at all about this <vessel>, neither by land nor by <other> ships, we were seized by a great disquiet and sadness. But on the third day, the captain prepared the dinghy[20] of the ship, at the instigation of many of us, and sent it with the ship’s officer in order to learn some <tidings> of the Emperor. And on the following day he returned and said that the Emperor had disembarked in Kenchreae. Later, the boat also arrived and we departed together after the fourth day. The reason for the separation from us was the following: when the Emperor saw that the sea was choppy and the wind was blowing more violently, he had decided that it was necessary to stop somewhere. And so he stopped at the place called Gaidouronessos and remained there until the wind became lighter, while those who were with him did not know into what parts they had fallen. Then they went on from there to Kenchreae.


7. On that island, there were two Catalan boats and two galiotes[21] from another region, and the Emperor's men neither saw nor knew about these. But the Catalans both saw the boat and understood that the Emperor was inside, and they plotted to attack it. Thus when there was still nocturnal darkness,[22] they were arming themselves, and, as day was dawning,[23] they were exerting themselves to sail out against him. But while they were still engaged in these <preparations>, one of them changed his mind and said, ‘We must consider well what we are undertaking. For look, the Emperor is a great ruler, and every strong weapon and every brave soldier will be with him, and his ship seems to be ready to confront three ships. For if we attempt to come against it and fail, dishonour and damage will follow us, and it will turn out badly for us; for that reason, it seems better to me to stop the undertaking.’ Being convinced by these arguments, they stopped. And it was in fact <due to> God’s succour. For our people know now how those men in the boat would have been able to arm themselves, and there is no need to say more! We learned accurately of these matters after some time in Florence from a certain capable man, a Rhodian, who had at that time been held by the Catalans, but later had escaped and was found there among us.


8. As for us, we finished our voyage and, battling sometimes with calm and sometimes with waves, arrived at Methone on Saturday morning. And the bishop of the Romans[24] and many others came there and made their obeisance to the Patriarch. And the kastellanos[25] along with other Latin officials came to him with honour. The Patriarch ordered us to be prepared honourably and to be close to him, which we had done before the kastellanos arrived. Then <the Patriarch> said, ‘These Latin bishops wish to hold me from both sides, according to custom, but this is your right. But they are appointed for this <privilege> even by the Pope. How does it seem then to you? Would anyone accuse us as a result of this? This is an external honour. It is the Pope’s instruction and it does not seem to me to encroach on us.’ While we wished to consider examination <of this topic>, the megas skeuophylax[26] said at once, impetuously, ‘This is an honour that is external to us and it doesn’t cause any harm.’ And the megas sakellarios said the same thing.


9. The bishop of Methone, having made obeisance to the Patriarch, went back and, having collected together all the priests and taken the holy icons, went to lead the Patriarch in with a procession[27]. Then, when we had disembarked from the ship, he asked me whether Latins were coming with us. For he said, ‘When we go in procession, the Latins do not go with us.’ But I, knowing what would happen, said, ‘Don’t worry now about this, since the Patriarch is present. All things will proceed according to his judgement.’ And so, as we passed through the streets, the Patriarch was held by the arms on one side by Christopher, the bishop of Corone, with appropriate distinction, and on the other by the bishop of Portugal, by the tips of his fingers, in the manner that the Latins are accustomed to present[28] <people>. But the lodging place into which they led the Patriarch was a very old two-storied house, which they said belonged to the diocese <and> which had been uninhabited for many years <and> was entirely dilapidated and unadorned, without a door to its lower storey, <which was> also a dwelling-place for pigs. There was one bed there and on it a felt pillow, perhaps on account of the Patriarch, which was utterly filthy and poor. And so we entered this place and, on finding nowhere to sit down, we went out again. But the Patriarch, having partaken of a most unpleasant meal in it and having found no rest since he was disturbed by the grunting of the pigs, told Christopher about this and rebuked <him>. Then he requested that he might depart into the palace of the kastellanos, for he had heard that it was large and splendid. Christopher went to the kastellanos and persuaded him to receive the Patriarch in the palace. At the hour of the vesperal hymn, we were also present. Then the deacon, saying the usual collect, exclaimed impulsively,[29] ‘… On behalf of this holy house.’[30] <This> at once seemed serious to us and we criticised the man who had said this. When it became morning, the spiritual Lord Gregory sent one of his monks to us bearing a letter, which said, ‘We heard that the deacon said, “On behalf of this holy house”, and we seek to know whether <this occurred> from impulse or with deliberation. If it was from impulse, let him be corrected; but if it was deliberate, give us this information, in order that we may learn whether you were united even before leaving for the council, and we ourselves will do what it befits us <to do>.’ But we answered, ‘Even though it was impulsive, it seemed serious to us and we criticised and corrected this, since we are of the same opinion as you.’ We celebrated the feast of Christmas there with splendour, since it was a great house, and the Patriarch remained in it for thirteen days.


10. Some people were delaying the voyage to Italy, citing as a cause the difficulty and the lack of space in the ships due to the number of people. The Patriarch was taking counsel with respect to this in order that he might ask the Pope's people to find and prepare another boat from Nauplion, or from somewhere else, and to bring it there for those who could not <find any> accommodation and for others, from among the many, in order that in this way there would be space in the ships and accommodation for those who were there—<an idea> which found favour with many. But the bishop of Sardis said, ‘First it is difficult for them to find a boat, and even if they find one, they will not be able to equip it for at least a month even if they hurry a great deal; in addition, there will be much delay and expenditure with regard to the boats. And then they will not wish to consider such a thing since they have no instruction from the Pope. We ought to ask what they can do easily. If we ask for great things and these are refused by them, then we will both renounce what we are asking for and they will realise that we are easily giving up our requests, and we shall incur great harm from this. For when we come to the ecclesiastical requests that are essential, these people, seeing our renunciations, will resist and we will not be able to achieve anything.’ He said, ‘It seems to me that there are two possible remedies. One <remedy> is that when the boats from Syria arrive here and there are cabins in them which are under the authority of their officers, the use of them may be hired so that some of our people may be brought into them and may thus secure accommodation. The other <remedy> is that they should eject the slaves[31] which they have and that perhaps there will be some space on account of this. It is essential for us to endure our lack of space for a few days, as though we were ill or confined to the house.’ Thus he prevailed, that they might ask for the slaves and the merchandise which they had to be thrown out so that in this way there would be more free space in the boats for many people. They informed the captain and Christopher of this on our behalf. With regard to the merchandise, they said that they had not brought any on board, nor did they have any, although in fact they had <some> and had brought it on board. With regard to the slaves, on the other hand, they said, ‘We will not bring them onto the boats, for we were about to leave them here even if you had not asked for this. For not one of the slaves will arrive at Venice by boat.’ They spoke the truth, but unwillingly and only in the final part of their speech. They both put all of the slaves onto the boats and not one of them made it safely to Venice, for the bubonic <plague> dispatched every one of them to the depths of the sea. The strangest thing was that although everybody, of every age, was living together, the disease did not attack any one of the Greeks or the Latins, apart from all the slaves. For not one <of them> survived. 


11. After boarding the ships again, we went from there through these parts to the port of Navarino, which is a short distance from Methone. The Emperor travelled across the Peloponnese from Kenchreae on horseback, and after being joined in the middle by his brothers,[32] he himself arrived at Navarino. And once he was on board the ship, we resumed the voyage. To pass over what came between— the storms and dangers which we encountered both around Methone and around the gulf of Ioannina (there the imperial ship, which <that of> the Venetians was perforce following, wished to leave, and as the two <ships> turned, since their sails suddenly tore from top to bottom) and the calms, when we were held back by the weather— nevertheless, one day, having encountered a favourable wind, we sailed with a fair breeze, cheered by the purity and brightness of the sun and the air, and by the speed of the voyage. But it was Sunday and the vigil of the feast of the holy Theophany, and we were sailing past the island of Kephalonia and, at around the second hour in the afternoon,[33] the imperial ship put in and stopped in a harbour which is called Pitzkardo. But everyone was shouting and almost wailing, since they were deprived of such an auspicious sailing, to the extent that the legate[34] was forced to say in Greek, ‘Are we indeed able to send out the wind from our lungs whenever we wish?’ But the words of all, like unintelligible voices and like empty noises,[35] were flung into the air. One of the galleys, having obtained permission and advanced thirty miles, reached harbour before the evening, and on the following day, having continued its voyage, arrived at Corfu and had a good rest.


12. But the contrary winds kept us there for five nights and days without being able even to fill up with water. Then, on seizing the opportunity and lifting <anchor> sometime in the middle of the night, we were borne along easily at first. Then, after a short time the wind strengthened and, <as it became> still greater, the sea became wild and reached <the state of> a complete storm. As long as the wind allowed the ships to be borne along in a straight line, we covered sixty miles in four hours, being borne along violently. In the midst of these events, the thing called a souni,[36] which held the yard-arm, began to break. What struck us later, when we understood what was happening with regard to this, was how, in complete darkness and with so much force and noise both of the wind and the sea, the sailors knew that the souni was broken and, despite such violence, they went up and tied it and strengthened it, at a time when most of the sailors were unable even to walk upright on the deck. But while it was still dark, suddenly it began to blow contrariwise and the wind turned around, and it brought opposing waves that were tall and violent, raising up waves in the contrary direction to those that were already coming against them, and it pushed the ships violently backwards. Just how great the danger then was, we were not able to understand accurately, since we were numbed by the surges and plethora of whirlwinds. Only one consolation was granted to us, namely the sweet and pleasant brightness[37] which shone on us then and which some of us saw with our own eyes; however, since we had nowhere that we might take refuge, we turned again and pursued the same way that we had covered in four hours, scarcely traversing it in nearly fourteen <hours>. When we had again taken refuge at Pitzkardo, we were assailed by the storm for that whole day during which we tasted no food or drink— neither we ourselves, nor the sailors. And all were lying as if dead, with dizziness[38] and in a heavy torpor, with only five or six who were able to stay awake and to keep the boat aligned, while waves were knocking against it as if they were huge mountains. And so again we waited in the same harbour for three days. Then, having taken the opportunity of some good weather, we began to sail when night had just begun and the moon was emitting a sweet and pure light. We were not yet well departed from the harbour when the other boat unfurled its sails and the wind pushed it and drove it against our boat, and <this> drove it towards the shallows and broke the oars like reeds. And this nearly shattered the boat. As we were delivered from this danger by the help of God, we sailed both during that night and through the next day and yet into the following night. And on the next day, at about the second or third hour, we came to harbour in Corfu.


13. The Patriarch disembarked in <Corfu>; then the priests[39] and the Latin officials went beforehand to meet him, and then again the priests gathered together and came again with the holy icons and led the Patriarch with a procession into the palace of the kastellanos.[40] But he was held by us, since he had experienced a surfeit of honour from the Latin bishops and had renounced the concession with regard to this from the Pope. Indeed, he celebrated the feast of St Antony, staying there for eleven days, and during that time some of the Latins, on witnessing so much delay, were asking one another, ‘How many of the quails would you eat?’ And they also answered, ‘If someone else is buying them, I shall eat ten; but if it is I who am buying and eating <them>, I shall eat two, having given their heads and feet to my slave.’ They said these things, making fun and mocking and putting our people to shame, since they were not being thrifty with the Pope’s expenses. But the Orthodox people <from among> the islanders and from those of Methone were saying to us, ‘Now you are like those three hundred and eighteen God-bearing Fathers,[41] or even those who distinguished themselves after them in the other councils.’ As for what they said when we returned, this will be spoken of in the appropriate part of this account.


14. Having sailed away from there, we began after one day to cross the gulf of Ragusa in which, as we crossed it during a whole day and night, we encountered again a severe storm, lasting from the middle of the night until dawn, and the boats were scattered from one <place> to another and were not seen by one another until after the dawning[42] of the day. Indeed, when day arrived, we found ourselves surprisingly a short distance from the land and at around the second hour,[43] we came to anchor in Corsola. And when quite some time had passed, the other boat arrived. Then the Emperor's <galley> came too, after the fourth hour,[44] and last of all, the remaining one. There it was heard how the king of the Germans had died and that the Pope had come to Ferrara and was expecting us there.


15. Then both the Emperor and the Patriarch disembarked and saw each other and deliberated alone together for quite a while, since the Emperor had not seen the Patriarch at all from the time when they had departed from the City, and two months had elapsed already. And it was also said at this time that if they had heard of Sigismund’s death <while they were> in the Peloponnese, they would not have gone to the council. Having waited there for two days, and having sailed for another two, we came to anchor on a deserted islet where a serious illness seized the Emperor. Also snow had fallen since it had become very cold, and we were freezing there for four days when the Emperor, with difficulty soon after the fourth day, was carried from his tent onto the boat and continued the voyage with us. On arrival at the city called Zara, we remained there for three days. On the next day, as we were sailing and the wind was strengthening, it then blew even more violently and the yard-arm[45] of the imperial ship cracked. And then they climbed up, as well as they could, and reinforced it. After a short time we arrived at the place called Ruvini where we stayed for that day and the following one while the yard-arm was being repaired. Having advanced a short way from there, we came to anchor in Parenzo where, since a storm had developed, we waited three days.


16. Then the Emperor wished first to send Disypatos to the Doge of Venice with the patrol boat, which had met and followed us a few days earlier, since it too was being despatched on the way to Venice. On learning of this, the Patriarch himself sent me in order that we might reach the Doge together, with me appearing to be the patriarchal ambassador in the company of the imperial ambassador. One day before we wished to depart, we were prevented <from doing so> by a storm. On the following day, after the late afternoon, we raised <anchor> and sailed and, on encountering a fair wind, we sailed straight to Venice. After a short time the remaining galleys sailed, remaining a sufficient distance behind us. Having sailed on therefore for the whole night, we caught sight of Venice. But before the day broke through completely, the imperial galley passed us by and went in front, while the rest <of the ships> were not at all visible to us. And the so-called Castellia, which are distant from Venice by about two miles, and are like its door and acropolis (for there are two tall, extremely strong, towers, standing in the middle of the sea at a short distance from each other, capable of opening or closing entrance into Venice; for there is no other way into Venice from anywhere by sea).[46] On passing through these then, the Emperor’s ship stopped inside, near the monastery of St Nicholas. But we anchored ours around the second hour of the day at the pier of St Mark and, on disembarking, we arrived at the Doge’s palace. On learning of this, the Doge at once gave orders and we came to him; and as soon as we were seen by him from the door of the reception room,[47] he at once arose, and as we walked towards him, so also he came towards us. Then, having made our obeisance in the middle of the reception room, we spoke to him.


17. He received us gladly and addressed us and, holding Disypatos’s hand with one of his hands and mine with the other,[48] and while, by his command, the first officials around him were holding each of our other hands, and other officials were similarly holding the <hands> of the official of the antiminsia,[49] who was following me; thus holding us and processing, the Doge led us to the second couch[50] on which he himself had been seated. And, having turned to sit down, he made us turn with him since he was still holding us by the hands. And he made both Disypatos and me sit immediately next to himself,[51] and then he let go of our hands. Then we addressed the Doge, with Disypatos <giving> a greeting from the Emperor and I <giving one> from the Patriarch, through an interpreter. And he thanked us and rejoiced at the good health of the Emperor and the Patriarch, as is appropriate, and <he also rejoiced> at how they had undergone toils and difficulties on behalf of peace and union for the Church of Christ, and he said some short words about this and heard the <remarks> returned by us. And after the conversation, he arose and, taking us along with him at each side and holding us as before, he passed through the reception room and led us into a chamber in which a bed was sumptuously spread out. Having sat us down again inside with his own hands, he went out and took counsel with those around him and in as short a time again, he called us back again, by means of one of his people. Then, when we went to him, he at once arose and stood, until we had been seated, and said to us, ‘We did not know earlier that both the Emperor and the Patriarch had approached so near to us, that we might be prepared and perform the appropriate honours for their meeting. On this account, let them wait there, near <the church of> St Nicholas, and tomorrow they will come, when we shall perform the honour that is appropriate for them, as is necessary.[52] But I shall come today to see the Emperor since I have learned that he is troubled by illness.


18. With such words, the Doge sent us away to the Emperor and the Patriarch. And we asked to see the houses in which our people were going to lodge. He gave orders to two officials and they came with us and showed us a splendid and attractive house which they had prepared for the Emperor, which had thirty-six beds,[53] along with another <house> elsewhere, which they had prepared for the Despot.[54] Then they led us to the other side of St Mark’s, to the Monastery of St George, and they showed us the accommodation for the Patriarch, along with four casks[55] of wine which they had supplied earlier, loaves of bread, many spices, lamps, table candles both small and large, and many fishes, procured recently, and a shed full of wood. While showing us these things, the officials conversed with Disypatos since he understood their language. Then they asked, among other things, whether the Emperor had with him the mesazontes,[56] that is to say, Kantakouzenos and Notaras. When they heard that he had Philanthropinos and Iagaris and other officials, but that he had left the former <two> behind to manage the affairs of the City, they said, ‘It seems to us that at least one of them should necessarily have been here as well.’ And we, after seeing these things, returned to the Emperor.


19. The Patriarch, since he did not wish to remain in the boat, set about disembarking and we met him in the course of his journey[57] towards the <monastery> of St George. Shortly after us, the Doge arrived and, having approached the Patriarch, he rendered the appropriate greeting and they spoke with each other for a short time. Then the Doge went off to the Emperor while the Patriarch went to St George; and it was the eighth day of February, the Saturday of the Prodigal Son,[58] and they prepared dinner for us; and on the next day, the morning meal and dinner were <paid for> at the expense of the government, <and it consisted of> meat, fowl, and fish for those who were not eating meat.[59]


20. On the Sunday, after breakfast, the Doge went out with select Venetian officials to the Emperor, using his own barge, called the Bucentaur, which in its length is much shorter than a galley, but in its breadth, wider. It was constructed with two decks and, while the lower <deck> was set apart for rowers, so that as they sat there they could row using the appropriate little windows, two other boats went in front and dragged it with cables whenever it was necessary for it to travel. The upper deck, on the other hand, was in the shape of a salon, decorated for the officials, and near the stern a couch was prepared for the Doge so that as he sat there, he was able to look at all of the officials in the room. Opposite that there was another couch, which had as much <distance> as could be found for free passage between those sitting down. From this <couch> lengthwise, <the space> was filled with other couches, with two against the parapets and others opposite, and yet others in between, so that they were distant from one another, enough to provide a passageway, and all the couches were adorned with flowered and variegated Latin textiles, which were ornamented and embroidered with all colours. Above them, <the barge> was adorned with lattices,[60] <painted> red and in a cylindrical shape, which were quite high <and> on which they placed a covering of scarlet wool which acted as a delightful shelter. Outside of the parapets, there was a decoration of carved wood carvings and certain other delicate golden[61] ornaments, as well as ones in red and blue. And golden statues of St Mark, in the form of a lion, were placed around it, two on each side of the outside of the stern and another on the prow.[62]


21. With this <barge> then, the Doge and those with him, and many others with other, almost innumerable, boats came to the Emperor and made their obeisance to him with trumpets and songs and diverse kinds of music. And the Doge was led up onto the Emperor’s galley and presented to the Emperor his own son (even though a few days later the boy reached the end of his life),[63] and the Doge asked the Emperor to go across to the Bucentaur and, by means of it, to arrive in Venice. But the Emperor did not go across, since he was not able to do this easily,[64] but he received him gladly and sat the Doge down on his right while his own brother, the Despot Demetrios, was on his left. [65] And so by order of the Emperor, the imperial galley, having raised anchor, and sailing forward at a leisurely pace, as if on foot, was sent in front and escorted by both the Bucentaur and by others, with some following along and some circling about, while some were also led on by the crowd <of boats>.[66] For such a crowd of little boats had collected that the sea that forms the forecourt of Venice was almost covered by the boats. On seeing this spectacle, one might say that this shore was a separate, moving Venice. Thus then they led ahead the Emperor, with applause and singing in a celebratory manner, to his prepared house, not only with trumpets but with all the bells in the whole of Venice sounding piercingly and ringing for a good space of time. Only one thing darkened slightly the splendour of the escort, namely, the darkness and wetness of the day.


22. And they did not allow the Patriarch to be without a part in the festal honour. For having made ready two little boats and covered them with small, Patriarchal symbols, closely packed on all of its parapets, they prepared raised, purple, painted glass[67] vessels in the middle and placed verdant cedar trees within them, so that they seemed to have sprouted within the vessels, and were irrigated by the water in these <vessels> and overshadowed them; and bringing these, they placed them in front of the patriarchal residence and they stood there through the whole day. Thus they formally recognised[68] the Patriarch with festal honour and pomp.[69]


23. And so these events took place in such a way. But Christopher, as soon as we arrived in Venice, departed immediately to the Pope, leaving in his place to look after us the man from among the Venetian officials who was called Micheleto Tzio. After two days had passed, this man said to the Patriarch that he was entrusted with providing our allowance for a few days, until the Pope should send <money> from where he was.[70] Therefore he gave <money> to the people surrounding the Emperor. ‘And now I seek,’ he said, ‘to learn what you decide that I should give to those around your great holiness.’ The Patriarch asked him what he had done for those surrounding the Emperor and he said that he had referred it to the Emperor to determine how much he wished the donation to be. And the Emperor had decided that it should be five hundred florins, but he had answered, “You have decided on five hundred, but I am already giving out six hundred.” I gave <this amount> there in order that they might distribute it to those who surround the Emperor. In a similar fashion, then, I am leaving it up to you to determine this yourself, just as you wish.’ The Patriarch then decided that, ‘Since this gift is for a few days, give <us> three hundred florins.’ But he immediately said, ‘You have decided on three hundred, but I am already giving four hundred.’ Then they took this <money> and distributed it to the Patriarch and to his people.[71]  Then the Doge came and saw the Patriarch. He also sent to him a basket <containing> forty sugar cakes,[72] forty large candles, and wine. And after some days, the Cardinal of the Holy Cross was sent by the Pope, and with him <came> the Marquis of Ferrara, and they saw the Emperor and the Patriarch. And when he came to the Patriarch, the Doge followed, holding the borders of the Cardinal’s gown. He remained in Venice for a few days and then the Cardinal returned to the Pope.


24. Many speeches were then exchanged concerning whether we should go to the Pope or to the council in Basle. Then the Doge said to the Emperor, ‘Venice is, as it were, your own and you are able to be accommodated well here for as long as you wish. Therefore I advise that it is better that you remain in Venice and put both the Pope and the council to the test. For they will come to you from each place and ask and entreat you to go to themselves, and then you in turn will ask things about them, and whichever you find is more profitable for you—then, go there. Therefore wait to see what each one says to you and thus you will find out what is beneficial for you.’ The Venetian grandees also said the same things and added, ‘If you will be willing, the council will take place here and that will be even more for your honour and convenience.’

The Emperor summoned the Patriarch that they might confer about this, for he was ill. The Patriarch also happened to be ill and neither was able to come to the other, and the Emperor was displeased about this. So after the second and third invitation, <the Patriarch> pointed out clearly, ‘Let your holy Majesty consult with your own people. Then give an order that I myself may learn the decision of your council, and from that I shall deliberate on whatever seems to me to be more profitable.’ But these words did not please the Emperor. For he commanded, ‘How should one deliberate well without having heard the opinions of everyone in the council? For many speeches are exchanged in the council and some state reasons for which it seems to them useful for something to be done, whereas others, taking hold of opposite arguments, state reasons why they consider it not useful to adopt the opinion of the former <people>. Thus, when the reasons are well exposed and the members of the council hear all of the arguments and the counter-arguments of each, then they are able to select from all of these and to choose the useful plan from among many, just as in the present case. Many arguments are being exchanged here about this and the matter is being exposed; and some are opposing those who advise that our journey to the Pope will be more profitable, and up until now, those who are advising <us> not to go to him seem to speak better. Let the Patriarch then come without equivocation, since the council about this <matter> is essential.’ The Patriarch, on hearing these words, said, ‘I know how such arguments are spoken by some and whenever I come there, I shall overturn them all with one word.’ Then he let the Emperor know that he was feeling better that day and if on the next day it was easier, he would come on the day <after that>.


25. Christopher who, as has been described, had departed from Venice to the Pope, returned quite soon and was in Venice, prompting our people and promoting as far as possible the journey to the Pope. He then again gave 500 florins to the Patriarch’s group, partly for their subsistence. Of this, the Patriarch took 123 florins and, having paid out 105 of these, he bought a paten and chalice of silver shot with gold, which was constructed with marvellous skill, and he divided the rest <of the money> between the other <members> of his retinue. Then <Christopher> gave 1000 florins personally to the Emperor and 1000 to the Patriarch. And he also made for the Patriarch, at the expense of the Pope, a silver basin for washing his face, as well as silver bowls.

On the day which he had assigned to go to the Emperor, the Patriarch went first to the church of St Mark and saw there the holy treasures, which were very sumptuous and valuable, in which there were <set> precious stones which were both very large and very splendid, as well as every form of holy object, fashioned from all the best and most valuable materials; some were very cleverly carved out of choice stones; others were excellently put together from the purest gold. And indeed, inside we saw the divine icons <belonging to> the holy place called the iconostasis,[73] which sparkled with the splendour of gold, and with their wealth of precious stones and with the size and beauty of pearls, and by the distinction and variety of their art, causing amazement to the people who saw them. At the time of the conquest, when the City, alas, was taken by the Latins, these were brought here from there by the law of plunder and were placed together into the form of one great icon, which was placed above the altar in the main sanctuary. And it was made very strongly secure from both in front and behind by very strong doors, and it was protected by locks and seals. When the doors are opened twice a year on the feasts of Christ’s Nativity and Resurrection, and when all those who are present see that icon, which was put together out of many, it becomes a <source of> pride, delight, and pleasure to those who possess it, while to those from whom it was taken, if they should be present, <it becomes a source> of despondency, pain, and dejection, as was the case for us at this time. Except that even though we heard that these <icons> came from the iconostasis of the most holy Great Church, we knew accurately from inscriptions and also from the paintings of the Komnenoi that they came from the Pantokrator Monastery. And so, if such objects came from a monastery, one should consider how much greater the objects belonging to the Great Church would have been, in the brightness and splendour of their material, in the brilliance and variety of their art, and in their superior value.


26. The Patriarch observed all of these things attentively and seemed delighted by the sight. He was accompanied by the Doge, who had earlier been notified by the Patriarch and had sent the ships by means of which we had arrived at St Mark’s: <the Doge> came along, escorted us, and ordered for all the items mentioned above to be presented.[74] And after the Patriarch had examined them sufficiently, he, along with the Doge, arrived <in the presence of> the Emperor. The Doge, on seeing the Emperor, spoke with him cordially and sailed off on his own, whereas the Patriarch stayed alone with the Emperor for some time. A meal had been prepared for the Patriarch and us in Philanthropinos’s house <and>, having gone there, we ate with the Patriarch. After this, the Patriarch went immediately to the Emperor. And after a short time, the officials of the council were summoned, including six bishops and three of us.[75] It was discussed whether we should go to the Pope. While the arguments were exchanged and the majority was saying that it was necessary, the bishop of Heracleia said: ‘We hear that Cardinal Julian from the council is on his way and that he is nearby. It seems to me better to wait a while, in case we receive any news from him and then we will make a better decision’. The Emperor replied: ‘I think that it would be better if, on conferring together, we established what appears to be in our best interest so that when he comes, he will find that the outcome of our conference has been decided. Thus he may not attempt to incline our opinion in favour of another. So make a decision on this issue and stop talking about Julian.’ But the Emperor, as though as he had forgotten what he had said earlier, was all for going to the Pope, just as the Patriarch <had advocated> before him. So even while three of us, along with Boullotes who was added as a fourth, said it was better not to go now to the Pope, all the remaining people declared in favour of going, and this was confirmed. After two days Julian came to Venice. Then he saw the Emperor and also came to the Patriarch, with the Doge following him and holding the hem of his garment. And then he also went to the Pope. But our people also prepared themselves to depart to the Pope. First the Emperor sent the two brothers <called> the Disypatoi, while the Patriarch <sent> the bishops of Heracleia and Monemvasia.


27. On Cheesefare Saturday,[76] the Patriarch entered the church of St George. First he sprinkled himself, using their holy water which seems to be <intended> for a blessing,[77] then the Latin monks who were there showed him a good-sized and well-tended hand, which they said belonged to St George, and which was contained in a hollowed out piece of wood and very cleverly sealed up and protected in a coffer. And the Patriarch kissed it. When the megas chartophylax[78] said to him, ‘It is not the hand of St George, for they burnt up the holy martyred body of that saint and scattered the ashes,’ the Patriarch said scoffingly to him, ‘Be silent. You do not know what you are saying.’ Then the monks sang a great and elaborate Vespers, at which the Patriarch stood with us at his side. Then he went up into the sanctuary and inspected the altar and the things that were on it; and he commanded us to remove our hats from our heads and we removed them. Then the Disypatoi came to receive a blessing before departing to the Pope and the Patriarch said to them severely, ‘Take off your hats!’[79] When one of them said that they did not have this custom, he said, ‘If you do this, you will perhaps fall from your high positions. It is nevertheless on account of these things that you came to hold such positions as you have.’ Then one said to the other, ‘Come, let us leave.’ And they abandoned the blessing.


28. And so they departed. The officials kissed the Pope's foot and found in him a warm reception and good will. But when the bishops did not kiss the Pope’s foot, he became completely ill disposed towards them. Therefore it was necessary to report something about this to the Patriarch, but they provided him with no information at all. After five days had passed, the Emperor left Venice and came to the Pope, and the Marquis went before him to the place called Francolino, which is at a distance of an hour and a half from Ferrara.[80] There the Emperor disembarked from his ship. The Marquis received him with great honour while his sons[81] went on foot, holding a canopy suspended over the Emperor’s head. And so he conducted him to the Pope, after which he brought him to his own palace.[82]


29. The Patriarch was annoyed that the Emperor had departed for the Pope first, for he said, ‘The Emperor and the Patriarch should either have arrived together or the Church should have gone in advance—it should not by any means follow behind.’ Four days later, the Patriarch also departed. And we, having first passed by with him the sea that lies in front of Venice, and then the lagoon,[83] entered the river, up which we went. And on reaching the Marquis’s territories, we found his boat[84] there, waiting to receive the Patriarch. It had the form of a ship: its lower deck was level, with a sufficient width and proportionate length. A part of the length had been separated off into a chamber by means of curtains, and in it there was a bed, prepared very splendidly. The remainder had been adorned in the manner of a reception room, having couches along the walls, which were covered with pleasant and diverse fabrics that were decorated in many colours. In the middle <of the room> lay two great iron braziers,[85] carried around on wheels, in which a fire could be lighted when necessary. And indeed, the walls of the boat were not higher than the heads of those who were sitting on the seats, since their upper portion consisted only of columns; but the whole space between was divided into window-shaped openings by means of the columns, which were double and which preserved, with complete skill, the likeness of small pillars that were finely interwoven and decorated, brightly gilded with gold and coloured with the hues of deep blue and crimson. These columns were joined at the top by iron bars, while on the columns, placed opposite one another, there were iron bars providing support for the upper deck. On the one hand, it provided shelter for the reception room underneath, and on the other, it provided what was necessary for the kitchen above, as well as lodging for the servants. In about the middle <of the boat> it had a mast, which was not standing there for the sake of sails. It did not need sails to navigate, for being tied from the mast, it could be pulled along from the outside on dry land by men who were marching along. Occasionally another ship, going ahead of it with multiple oars, pulled it along by a cable and so it went wherever the captain ordered.


30. The Marquis then sent <the boat> with his own official and entertained the Patriarch on it. Evening was approaching and the Patriarch remained on board <the boat>. When dawn came, he invited both the bishops and ourselves on board, and on entering, we stayed with him. It happened then that the boat on which the monks and the Patriarch’s property were had hit an impediment in the river and was not able to journey with him. The Patriarch ordered all of us to stop until that <boat> caught up with us. But when it had been delayed for the better part of the day, Christopher said to the Patriarch, ‘If you so ordain it, command that we go quite slowly and that <boat> will catch up <with us>. For there is neither danger nor anything to fear here. The Patriarch then said to him, ‘My property is worth half of Venice. How then can I depart and leave it behind? We must wait until it arrives.’ As we stayed there again for most of a day, while the men, who had become impatient, began to prepare to drag the boat, the Patriarch said, ‘I see that they aren’t heeding my words. Tell them that they should disembark us, and let them depart as they wish.’ On learning this, they all remained, although unwillingly. <The boat> then arrived just after midday, and, having traversed a short part of the river, it was already evening so we passed the night there. At dawn, having cast off, we departed and, before we had reached the first hour of the day, we saw Karystinos on horseback, who had been sent from the Emperor and who was galloping towards us. On arriving, he said to the Patriarch, ‘The Pope is expecting that your great Holiness, on arrival, will make your obeisance and kiss his foot. The Emperor, however, is opposed to this and has been striving for three days that this may not take place. He is making this known to your great Holiness that you may consider how you may approach <the Pope>’.


31. This seemed very terrible to the Patriarch, since he had been confident of finding another great reception, relationship, and assurance from the Pope. For this reason, when he was still in Venice, he said to one of the Pope’s personal counsellors, ‘I have determined to myself that if the Pope should have precedence over me in years, I will view him as my father. But if he is equal to me in years, I will hold him as my brother. But if he should happen to be younger, I shall hold him as my son; and I wish that if there is a good lodging near his residence, which has a passageway above the road, that he will give it to me. Thus, as I pass privately over to him, or he to me, I will counsel him as to what needs to be done and this will be greatly to his advantage. For I know that he has no good counsellors around him.’ Thus he hoped to have such assurance and he was confident, through the Pope, of freeing the Church from the servitude which had been imposed on her by the Emperor by means of the privileges, as he explained to some of his associates. And he often said, when he was still there, ‘I shall appear as someone else there and I shall call on my authority, just as befits me.’ But when he heard about the kissing of the foot, he was astonished. Nevertheless, he departed and, <at the time> when the public square was full, we entered Ferrara and stopped in front of the castle near the bridge. And before noon, six bishops came and brought the Pope’s greeting to the Patriarch and told him that he ought to offer the Pope the greeting which all people customarily accorded him. But the Patriarch said, ‘I do not owe him such a greeting since we are brothers; we should instead embrace and kiss each other in a fraternal fashion. Therefore I shall not do otherwise.’ The Patriarch made some other speeches on this subject, to which the men from the Pope responded and then departed. Such a first greeting was thus indeed disdainful. For <the Pope> did not make a salutation when the Patriarch was still at a distance; nor did he send a Cardinal, as was his custom even when meeting Cardinals, or even a number of bishops.


32. The Patriarch summoned the bishops and ourselves close to himself and said, ‘Did you hear what the Pope has disclosed to us? He wishes us to kiss his foot.’ Then the bishop of Trebizond said, ‘Are you specifying these things for us now? What were those words that you spoke to us in Constantinople, <namely> that “we have arranged everything well there[86] and they will receive us with great honour and love, and we will find every service and comfort from the Pope and the Latins?”’ But the Patriarch said, ‘And how could I have inferred this?’ The bishop of Trebizond answered, ‘But it was necessary to infer and to establish this, as well as many other such things, for whenever we asked and enquired, so that we might know how and in what manner we would reach the Latins, you told us, “Just prepare to depart: you will see that everything there has been well prepared and agreed by all of us, <and> we have taken thought that nothing that was sought for and agreed has been left out from what is required.” Meanwhile, Christopher was making much fuss there about the throne of the Pope’s delegate. If for no other reason, your great Holiness must consider your rights on account of this alone.’ Then he, along with all of them, said, ‘This is not just, nor is it fitting, nor is it in our interests that it should happen, whatever the consequences may be.’ And the Patriarch said, ‘It is impossible for me, as it would be for you, to submit to what they are saying. Where are the bishops who were sent before by us? They should have written and given us information about this when we were still in Venice. But they have not appeared in our presence even now. Let them be told to come here.’ When this had been done, only the bishop of Heracleia came, since the bishop of Monemvasia was ill, and <the former> told us, ‘When they made their obeisance to the Pope, one of his assistants at once lifted the hem of the papal robe, and waited for them to kiss his foot. But when this happened, they stood still and did nothing further. The Disypatoi <brothers> then approached and kissed <his foot>. For this reason, the Pope was well disposed to them and received them, but he was ill disposed towards the bishops and looked askance at them, taking no account of them. From then on they simply stayed in the residence[87] which they gave to them on the orders of the Marquis.’ When the Patriarch said, ‘When you knew that things were so, you should have told us,’ the bishop of Heracleia said, ‘It was not easy for us to find a messenger.’


33. The Emperor at once sent Boullotes, declaring to the Patriarch that he was striving on his behalf with regard to the Pope through messengers and that it was necessary that he also should resist. Then towards late afternoon, the bishops came again from the Pope and demanded the kissing of the foot. The Patriarch replied, with appropriate resistance, ‘Where does the Pope have this from or which of the councils gave it to him? Show where he has it from and where it is registered. Nevertheless, the Pope says that he is the successor of St Peter. If then he is the successor of Peter, we also are successors of the rest of the apostles. Did the apostles kiss the foot of St Peter? Who has heard of that?’ The bishops replied that it is an ancient custom of the Pope and that everybody bestows this kiss on him, both bishops and kings, the Emperor of the Germans and the Cardinals who are greater than the Emperor and are also ordained. The Patriarch said, ‘This is an innovation and I will never submit to doing it. But if the Pope wishes me to kiss him like a brother, according to our ancestral and ecclesiastical custom, I shall go to him. If he does not accept this, I am renouncing everything and turning back.’ So the bishops went off to tell these things to the Pope and were away for a long time. Then they came again, saying the same things and, ‘How is it possible for the Pope to be deprived of such honour?’ But the Patriarch stuck to his earlier speeches and struggles. In the meantime many words were exchanged on both sides and much opposition was made about the kiss both by the Patriarch and by his entourage. In the end the Patriarch ordained, ‘If the Pope does not renounce the kissing of the foot from our bishops and my cross-bearing officials,[88] it is impossible for me to disembark from the ship. It seems to me that the present gathering and discussion is not in accordance with God’s will, which is why God has brought to us such a great obstacle, whence I shall return without fail, while still in the ship, before I am troubled also by other terrible things.’ The bishops returned and informed the Pope of this and after a long time they returned and said this: ‘His Holiness the Pope, for the good of the peace and so that there should be no obstacle in this divine undertaking of the Union because of this reason, sets aside his own right and behold, he invites your great Holiness to come. However, he stipulates that he wished to prepare his reception of you in a different manner, for he thought to make this in public in the gathering of officials and with a great display. Now, on the other hand, he will not do this because he is greatly robbed of his own honour and is not willing to make this obvious to all. Instead he will receive you in his own apartment, with only the Cardinals present. So come first with six of your own men with whom you wish to come and, after they have made their obeisance, let another six come and make their obeisance and, when they have left, again let another six come and make their obeisance, and let as many as you ordain make their obeisance in the same manner.’


34. The Marquis came with the bishops in this last gathering and he invited the Patriarch to disembark and to go to the Pope and then to take rest at his lodging. Since it was evening (all the day passed by, while we were lingering in the ship, until the things mentioned above were resolved), we remained on the ship. In the morning we docked near the castle, and disembarking, we immediately mounted the horses prepared by the Marquis; and the Marquis went first and also the Cardinal, who was the nephew of the Pope Martin, along with other bishops and officials, and we came to the forecourt of the Pope and, dismounting from the horses, we crossed the courtyard on foot, while the Patriarch was on his horse as far as the steps of the palace. And there he also dismounted and we ascended with him, and passing through the first door, where the Pope’s servants were holding silver spears, we entered the reception room and, passing through that, we came to the door of another reception room, in which we found more than ten officials, I think, holding red staves which were five span long each, covered in red velvet, and adorned in the middle with silver gilt sockets. They opened the door of the second reception room and allowed us to enter, and some of them going in front of us, took us into a room in which there was a bed, elaborately prepared, and having led us after this into another room, they led us all immediately into another reception room, when the key-holding chamberlains of the Pope had opened the door of this reception room and locked it again with their keys after we had entered. For such is always their custom, and they enter and exit the doors of the rooms by securing the doors with keys from inside and outside since all chamberlains have chains of keys hanging from their belts. When we were locked inside, they asked us to remain there and they called the Patriarch. 


35. And he, having taken with him the bishops of Ephesos, Kyzikus, Sardis, Nicaea, and Nikomedia, entered with them when the chamberlains had opened the door of the room and closed it with keys immediately after they had entered. And on entering, the Patriarch, with those who have been mentioned, kissed the Pope in the manner that had been appointed,[89] and sat down. And those who were with <the Patriarch> kissed <the Pope> in the same way, and then they spoke to each other briefly, the Pope to the Patriarch and then the Patriarch to the Pope. After a short time the chamberlains came with the bishop of Nicomedia and brought in another six of the bishops, and they did obeisance and kissed the Pope. Then they dismissed them and brought in the remaining bishops, and after their departure, they brought us, the cross-bearers, in. We thus saw the Pope seated on his raised throne, which was placed near, and on the right side, of a closed door which led into another chamber. On the right of the Pope, at a distance of one chair, were seated the Cardinals in order, on chairs that were equal in every respect and similar to the Pope’s footstool, whose height was equal to our stools.[90] In a space on the left, which was the same breadth as the indicated door and another of the same width, Christopher stood in the role of interpreter; next to him was seated the Patriarch on one of the footstools that has been described, and after him were standing, in the role <as it were> of his servants, those principal bishops who had come in from the beginning. Then, having also made obeisance to the Pope, we kissed the hand which he offered to us, then his cheek, and we went out. No other person came in after us, but after a short time the Patriarch also came out, and the Pope’s chamberlains, at the entrance and exit of each of our groups, opened the doors with the keys and immediately closed them in the same way. All of us who had left <the chamber> gathered together in the same reception room in which they had enclosed us at the beginning. However, when the Patriarch had also come out, they opened the door of the reception room, offering us freedom of departure, and so, having left the palace and mounted the horses, we conducted the Patriarch to the house which had been prepared for him and each of us repaired to the lodging that had been provided. It was the second Saturday of the fasting period when these events occurred, the eighth of March. The Marquis made breakfast and dinner for us, and in a similar way, <he did this> on the day after.



36. On that day, after midday, the Patriarch notified the Pope <saying>, ‘After entering the boundaries of your Blessedness, we have not performed any episcopal practice, observing the rite of the divine and holy canons. But now that we have come here, we ask to have our usual ecclesiastical ritual and our liturgy, and the whole order which we have, with the will and consent of your Blessedness.’ For after passing by Corfu, when the vesperal hymns were sung and all of the rituals and liturgies were carried out, even on the trireme and on dry land and in Venice itself, the Patriarch did not give the usual blessing at the completion of the hymns, either to us or to those who were also found there. It is for this reason that he requested such <authorisation>. The Pope conceded these things and ordained that the Patriarch might have his own rite, as he wished. Thus, when the vesperal hymnody took place publicly along with the liturgy on the following day, he blessed those who were present.


37. After four days had elapsed, the Pope notified the Patriarch, <saying>, ‘We must begin to speak about the pending matter.’ But the Patriarch answered, ‘I am still suffering from the long voyages and from the commotion and exhaustion <that resulted> from them; I am not able to talk <with you>.’ But both Cardinals and bishops came and conversed with the Patriarch in a friendly way. Then the Patriarch sent word to the Pope that he wished to come and see him, and that he should appoint a day on which he was ready to do this. Then when the appointed day arrived, they brought horses in order that we might go to him on horseback. But the Patriarch gave orders, and they made a new covering cloth and dressed the horse on which he was about to ride, from its head to everywhere except its nostrils and feet; and he ordered that they should also carry the dibamboulon and the dekanikion in front of him. Then the megas chartophylax said, ‘It is not appropriate for these things here to be carried in front; and <so>, if you command it, let them be left behind.’ And the Patriarch said, ‘Let them take them and proceed in front with them.’ The megas chartophylax said, ‘And did your great Holiness notify the Pope about this?’ And the Patriarch said, ‘I did notify him, and he replied that I may have the whole of my rite.’ However, he left behind the dibamboulon. Having seated himself on the horse with white trappings and passing along the road, he gave a blessing to those who were present. And they were tailors, furriers, and tanners, for the road along which we were travelling contained them from its point of departure, and they were sitting in their workshops and contemplating such an unusual cavalcade and blessing, as they watched, speechless as they sat there.


38. They conducted us into another entrance of the palace in which we dismounted from our horses. But the Patriarch, preceded by us and followed by them, went up on horseback by means of the stepped ramp[91] that was there and set his feet on the ground in the reception room. And on taking the dekanikion, he entered the room in which we also joined him. Then from there, with Christopher leading the way, he entered the presence of the Pope and conversed with him, one to one, while Christopher acted as interpreter. After a sufficient time had passed, he came out and while they were preparing the horse for him to mount it at the place where he had set his feet on the ground, the Patriarch said, ‘Let them lead him below’. Then the Patriarch went down there with us and, having mounted the horse, he said, ‘Tell the man who is carrying the dekanikion to hide it under his own cloak so that it doesn’t show’, and in this manner he kept it safe in his own quarters. On the following day, the Patriarch was asked how the Pope was disposed towards him and how <the latter> proposed to deal with him with regard to the ecclesiastical matters. And he said, ‘<It is going> well. The only thing that he reproached us with was that we have placed the Church under great servitude to secular power.’ Then he was asked about the dekanikion and he said, ‘Do you remember how the <papal> legate gave his benediction in Constantinople and it seemed serious to some? As for me, I said, “Let him do as he wishes”. Nonetheless, some people opposed my words and stopped him. That is the one who came now and did what you are seeing now against us.’ The bishop of Trebizond replied to these <words>, ‘Even as I saw the throne and the rank in which the Pope placed you, as well as the superiority which he assigned to himself, I was confused and said to myself, “Can it be the Patriarch, the Lord Joseph, who has accepted such treatment? And how does he endure such things?” And from then, I speculate that nothing healthy will occur for us as a result of this.’


39. The Pope then gave orders that all should gather in the church, organise the ecumenical council, and give consideration to the matters under discussion, in order that he might proclaim everywhere that the ecumenical council was taking place in Ferrara. But this was in order that the Pope might be strengthened and fortified by such fame, while the council in Basle might be diminished and weakened. Then the Patriarch ordered the bishop of Nikomedia, the archbishop of Tornovo, the megas chartophylax, and myself, that on going there, we should see how they planned to arrange the seats. We therefore arrived in the cathedral of the bishopric of Ferrara, which is elongated and large, and which is dedicated in name to St George. But the Emperor sent Lord Manuel Iagaris and Lord George Disypatos. We also found the Cardinals Julian and Firmanos there, as well as some bishops. Then we saw that in the eastern part of the church, in the middle where the altar stands, standing on the right-hand side,[92] was a raised throne, which had a brocaded canopy lifted up on high, while behind the canopy down to the throne, it was adorned with a curtain in the same style. Its distance in length from the altar was about twenty-five feet. At a sufficient distance behind the throne, benches were arranged one after the other on each side, like steps, so that the bishops might sit on them. Then Julian said to us, ‘See the throne of the Pope: he will sit and so also will his entourage on this side; while on other <will be seated> the Emperor and the Patriarch and the rest of the Greeks.’ He spoke thus straight from the beginning. Then he said, ‘Come here so that we may sit in private and speak about these things more fully.’ When it had come to pass that they had deliberated in private for a short time, Julian again said ‘Since there is one group of Latins and one group of Greeks, and since one will sit on one side of the church and the other on the other, it is necessary for the Pope to sit in the middle as the first and unifier of all, in order that he may join together each of these groups.’


40. But this did not seem right to us. Therefore we said to him, ‘Since your Reverence has said that we are in two groups, the Pope should instead sit and be amongst his own group, just as the Emperor and the Patriarch <should> again be with their own <group>.’ But Julian said, ‘But it is necessary for there to be some kind of link between the groups. The Pope will therefore be in the middle.’ But we said, ‘There is no need for this link. Nevertheless, if the Pope wishes to sit incontrovertibly in the middle, it necessarily follows that the Emperor and the Patriarch should also sit in the middle and be near him; for it is impossible for them to sit in any other manner.’ Julian said, ‘But it is necessary for there to be one link, through whom the two parts may be joined into one. Two or three do not create one link.’ When many speeches had therefore been exchanged on such matters, we departed and reported these matters to the Emperor and the Patriarch who, being very annoyed, took up the dispute, as Cardinals and bishops came to them, and especially to the Emperor, and disputed about the thrones.

After many altercations and resistance <had been made>, they said that the Pope’s throne should be placed in the very middle of the width of the church; then from the left-hand side of the Pope, behind the steps of the throne, a space should be left as big as the Emperor’s throne, and there the imperial throne would be placed. And <it would be placed> along the length behind so that the front parts of the imperial throne would be at a level with the back of the papal throne. Then, at a similar distance behind the imperial throne, calculated from the breadth and length behind it, <they would place> the Patriarch’s throne, and in this fashion they would hold the council, fighting among each other and oriented towards each other face to back. Since this <arrangement> was also considered ridiculous, they eventually conceded, after many arguments and objections, that the Pope should sit with his entourage on the right-hand side, just as Julian had stated at the beginning, while the Emperor and the Patriarch <should sit> with their entourage on the other side. But even now, they did not concede simply or straightforwardly, but with precise conditions. For they said that behind the Pope’s throne and its steps, allowing a certain distance, the throne of the Emperor of the Germans should be placed and behind him, in order, the Cardinals should sit. On the left side, opposite and exactly level with the throne of the German, should be placed the Emperor’s throne and after it, the throne of the Patriarch. But the Emperor was annoyed and was asking to sit opposite the Pope, saying, ‘What need is there for the German throne, since no Emperor is present here, nor indeed is there <an Emperor> at all?’ (For he had died earlier). But they said, ‘We must always preserve and protect the place of our Emperor even if he is not among the living; it is impossible to arrange the seats in any other superiority of rank than that which we have proposed.’ The Emperor was perforce persuaded to accept these <arguments>. But the Patriarch was still annoyed and did not concede to such a demotion of the throne, and the Emperor was forced to persuade the Patriarch also to <accept> this <position>. Indeed the Patriarch asked for a canopy over his own throne and a curtain behind, and the Pope did not allow this; for this reason, the Patriarch was grieved, but the Emperor, in indignation, said, ‘Now I truly know that the discussion about the throne and the seat was not pursued with regard to synodical order, but rather on account of pride and worldly illusion, which are far removed from our spiritual situation. So the Emperor sent officials (since the Patriarch did not want to send them). They came into the church and, with the help of the Pope’s bishops, measured the distance from the German throne with a small cord, and at an equal distance opposite it, they placed the throne of our Emperor. And next to it, leaving a little distance, they placed the throne of the Patriarch; and beyond it, <they placed> the benches for the delegates.


41. Then the Latins drafted the letter of inauguration[93] just as they wished, with the name of the Pope at the top, which stated[94] that, with the presence of the most serene Emperor of the Greeks, along with the Patriarch and the whole of the Eastern Church, the ecumenical council had convened in Ferrara and had already begun to examine the difference in doctrine. But both the Emperor and the Patriarch, with the Pope and the Cardinals, had prepared another letter in which they privately agreed that until four months had passed after the announcement, they would not yet hold any other discussions about the doctrine in order, it would seem, that they might send envoys to the kings and rulers, and that their delegates might also come to the council.[95]  Meanwhile, during the interval, some of the members of the council[96] would gather and examine certain particular divergences. The <questions> surrounding the thrones were discussed and put in order, as has been described above, for more than twenty days.


42. As soon as we had arrived in Ferrara, the Emperor had considered how all of us, the Greeks, might have our subsistence in accordance with the content of the decretal. Then the Pope's people said that they would provide bread, wine, meat, and fish each day, at a quantity agreed in litra. However, the Emperor did not wish for this, saying that it would be both difficult and inappropriate <for assuring> the comfort of officials and gentlemen, but that they should give a payment in proportion to the rank of the people, so that each one might feed himself as he wished, along with those people and servants that he had with him. They did not wish to provide a payment, however, but <insisted> instead on daily provisions in accordance with the agreement which they had with the Marquis in the event that the council was held in Ferrara. The Marquis had agreed that he would give <the Pope>, without payment, lodgings and beds and daily provisions, on behalf of the Greeks, at a quantity determined by litra—I don’t know how much—and it was on this basis that the Pope had called the council there. The Marquis doubled whatever customs taxes he normally had and collected more revenue, since more than 5000 guests were gathered there. In the same way, the merchants also doubled the prices of all their goods.

Then the Marquis gave lodgings to all of us, but beds only to those who were in the Patriarchal household. The others unwillingly slept on a pallet or on the bare ground, and if ever they were suffering from this, and said something to any one of the Pope’s entourage, we heard nothing but, ‘Habeas patientiam!’, which means, ‘Have patience!’, and they consoled our hardship with such words. The Pope’s people then wished that the Marquis should give us the provisions, as he had agreed. But since the Emperor was not persuaded in any way to accept this, they agreed to provide ducats; and they established that they would give them to the people accompanying the Emperor and the Patriarch, who were named and possessed titles; <they gave> four florins to each per month, but to their servants and subordinates <they gave> three <florins>. Meanwhile, they gave the Emperor thirty florins per month, twenty-five to the Patriarch, and twenty to the Despot; the Latins called these <payments> an ‘imposition’. And so these things were all decided at the beginning of our stay in Ferrara. However, they did not remember the allowance. Whereas the Venetians had easily and generously offered florins before even being asked, now, when we were seeking this in Ferrara, one and a half months after the distribution in Venice, they did not wish to give anything at all before our people had been persuaded and adopted their views concerning the seating arrangement and the inauguration <of the council>. But when <the Greeks> had acquiesced to the things that they wished and sought, then they gave to the people in our Church, on the second of April, 691 florins for a month’s subsistence.


43. The inauguration <of the council> was adjourned to the ninth of April on account of the Patriarch’s indisposition.[97] Meanwhile, during those days, the Emperor and the Patriarch considered how they should organise the delegates. For the Patriarchal letters which had arrived by means of Antiochos granted to the bishop of Heracleia and to another person the representation of <the see> of Alexandria; to the bishop of Russia, along with the spiritual Confessor Gregory, the representation of <the see> of Antioch, and to the bishops of Ephesos and Sardis, that of Jerusalem. And having been assigned <to do this>, the Lord John Chrysokephalos by the Emperor and myself by the Patriarch, we had distributed <the letters> to those who have been mentioned and had convinced them, both by means of the directives of those who had sent them and by our own words. And they had accepted the positions[98] and also taken the letters before their departure from Constantinople. However, other letters had been discovered in Ferrara— duplicates in my opinion, but which were signed and genuinely from the Patriarchs— which changed the personages. So when we had taken back those which we had formerly given to the representatives, that is, all of the <other> letters, the Emperor and the Patriarch considered them carefully. Then they chose three from among all of them, in which the bishop of Heracleia and the spiritual Confessor Gregory <were designated> as representatives by the <Patriarch> of Alexandria, the bishops of Ephesos and Russia <were designated> by the <Patriarch> of Antioch, and the <bishop> of Sardis alone <was designated> by the <Patriarch> of Jerusalem. Then, having authorised them, they sent them to the people who have been indicated with <the help of the bishop> of Tirnovo, the megas chartophylax, and myself, with the Lord Manuel Boullotes as the Emperor’s emissary.


44. Then we went to <the bishop> of Heracleia and conveyed the words of the Emperor and the Patriarch to him, along with many <words> of our own, but we did not find him ready to accept this even though he had been persuaded quickly in Constantinople. Therefore we exchanged many words with him. But he said, ‘I do not want to be someone’s representative;[99] I would prefer simply to be seated as the bishop of Heracleia.’ We were then each forced, both together and individually, to beg and supplicate him to accept the role of representative, and we said that we would not depart from there until we had accomplished this. It was thus only after many arguments and an immeasurable passage of time that he only just, and unwillingly, accepted the letter. And we also saw the spiritual Father and told him the commands and directives from the Emperor and the Patriarch. He replied that he had known about <these> earlier, but that he was listening to it now. He would then consider and do whatever seemed appropriate to him. However, he later accepted such a <command>. Then we went to the bishop of Ephesos and, having conveyed the arguments from the Emperor and the Patriarch concerning <his> representation of <the see> of Antioch, we found him in no way willing to accept this. For this reason, we undertook to persuade him with entreaties and with persuasive arguments. But he contradicted us and complained, saying, ‘They appointed me as representative of <the see of> Antioch when I was a hieromonk; now that I have become bishop of Ephesos, they are demoting me with <the see> of Antioch. For this reason, I am not accepting this; I shall sit simply as myself, <bishop of> Ephesos, in the council.’ Then we said many things and counselled him that he must not resist such a <command>, since <such behaviour> was inappropriate with regard to his virtue and spiritual reputation and <we argued> that the Patriarchs had not yet learned that he had been ordained bishop of Ephesos, but were writing to him as if he were still a hieromonk. However, we did not persuade him at all. Then, having been forced to this, I said, ‘In Constantinople, when you were <already> bishop of Ephesos, you accepted the place of the <see of> Jerusalem— and I myself, with Chrysokephalos, gave you the letter—and do you now not wish to accept <the place> of Antioch?’ And he said, ‘I did not accept that, but you left the letter and went away. The nomophylax kept it safe and brought it here.’ I then said, ‘It is not appropriate for you to contradict these things.’ We thus flattered him with worthy arguments and with much good counsel, and then, as he became more gentle in comparison with his previous speeches and we allowed him no refuge at all, he finally agreed and accepted the letter. After this, we came to the bishop of Sardis. He was at once persuaded by the Emperor’s and Patriarch’s command and accepted the letter. We accomplished all these things on Palm Sunday after midday and just before the evening. And since the bishop of Monemvasia felt hurt (for when they persuaded him to relinquish the throne of the bishop of Trebizond and to be placed elsewhere, he had asked to have the position of that city, but it was not given to him until that moment), on this account they gave him the place of the bishop of Ankyra.


45. But I wish here also to make known what <occurred> with regard to our ranking.[100] The foremost officials of the Great Church, the cross-bearers, who were <also> called ‘eksokatakeloi’, held a place among the thrones, whether in synodal or private <meetings>, both in <liturgical> gatherings and in assemblies, so that they might be found near the Patriarch. There were five <of them>, ranked equally, who were like the five ‘senses’ of the Patriarch.[101] And just as a man is never separated from his five senses, so were these five never separated from the Patriarch; for this reason they were seated before the archbishops and were reputed to be presiding over the council, except that they were sitting on benches while only the archbishops, and above all the metropolitans, were seated on stools in the form of thrones. Therefore, when both the archbishops and ourselves were gathered in Ferrara around the Patriarch, we asked that our ranking might be preserved—and it did not happen. We referred the matter a second time to the Patriarch, and he did not reply. We often spoke about this and he gave us no word, doing these things willingly, I think, and distancing us from himself. We petitioned about this and, when the seats for the council were being prepared, the Patriarch made no kind of speech about us, not even then. Out of necessity, we were therefore seated as it chanced to be and, in the course of speeches, replies, and investigations, when those who were near the Emperor and the Patriarch spoke and replied, we were always to be found in a seat <which was> some five, ten or thirteen <spaces> lower down. For this reason, we kept quiet and, unwillingly, were not able to cry with a stentorian voice and to contradict, or to intervene with those who were placed so far away. Even when we were occasionally asked for our opinion, we expressed it briefly and this was rarely. Finally, however, they stopped even this since they did not accept it, as my account will show, and the specific speech that we possessed remained entirely mute since, for many reasons, we had imposed silence on ourselves.


46. The Patriarch asked the Pope for a large church belonging to one of the monasteries so that he might celebrate the feasts in it, which did not seem good to most of us, and especially to the Confessor Gregory; for he very much disparaged and criticised this development and shrugged off those who were accepting it, as engaging in advance in the union with the Latins by means of this. He, together with many other people who were pointing to him as not accepting the things of the Latins, said the following in front of the Patriarch, the bishops, and all of us: ‘When I enter a Latin church, I do not venerate any one of the saints there because I do not recognise them. Perhaps I only recognise Christ, but I do not even venerate him.[102] For I do not know how it is inscribed, but I will make my <sign of the> cross and I will venerate <that>. The cross that I make, I venerate, and nothing else of the things seen by me there.’ This is the attitude towards Latin things which he revealed to us from the beginning, and he rejected our sojourn with them strongly.


47. As for <Gregory>, that was how he was; but the Pope replied to the Patriarch’s request, ‘This is not for me to decide, but for the bishop of Ferrara, and the request should be made to him.’ After the bishop was informed, he said, ‘In the larger churches, not only the monks but also the officials, along with many people, are worshipping. During these celebrations the monks cannot relinquish their own services and psalmodies, nor can they perform the service elsewhere, and the outsiders[103] cannot be left without a place of worship and be deprived of their usual offices. In the smaller churches, no one will perform services with them and, because the place is small, it will not be suitable. This is why I can’t give the Patriarch a church.’ But when the Patriarch was again informed about a church, the Pope’s people said, ‘It is not written in the decretal that we shall give you a church (for we have not made any agreement about this); this is why we shall not provide one.’


48. The Pope was pushing for the inauguration <of the council> to take place. Then, since the Patriarch was ill and was not able to go to the council—I don’t know whether <in fact> he was prevented because he was ill or because of the negotiations about the wretched canopy that he wished for— he prepared a written exhortation for the bishops. And they went to the church of St George with the delegates leading <them>, and the Pope was seated in front with his retinue, as had been decided, and on the other side, the Emperor, the delegates, and the bishops; on the Emperor’s right hand, the Despot and the senatorial officials and the rest, and all were seated according to their rank. Then the bishop of Portugal went up from among the Latin bishops and read out the letter of inauguration in Latin, while from our side, the bishop of Mitylene read it out in Greek (for it had been written in each language), and that is how the inauguration took place on Great Wednesday, on the ninth of April.


49. Then the ranking which had taken place with regard to the placement of the bishops produced a great scandal among some of them. For the bishop of Ephesos was upset when he saw how the place belonging to the Alexandrian <Patriarch> had been given to the Confessor Gregory and that he would sit higher than himself, although he was a hieromonk. And he did not tolerate this, but requested the place which belonged to the Patriarch of Antioch. And again, when the Confessor learned of this, he sat not on the stool but lower down, and so <the bishop> of Ephesos was seated as <the Patriarch> of Antioch. However, the Confessor was scandalised because <the bishop> of Ephesos had been unreasonably upset on his account and, perhaps in order to avoid a scandal, he did not sit in front of <the bishop> of Ephesos at all, but sat elsewhere, randomly throwing himself down there like a man carrying a burden, apparently humiliated and not caring about the place. However, the terrible division in our ranks arose from such a false and negligible cause—a division which my account will reveal in due course.

After the holy days of Easter, the <bishop> of Kyzikos left his home without a mantle and, having dashed through the marketplace and streets of Ferrara with two monks following him and carrying the episcopal mantle, in such a state he reached the imperial lodgings and asked to be shown to the Emperor. On seeing him and considering such apparel unworthy of him, the officials demanded that he put on his mantle. But he said, ‘I no longer wish to be a bishop since the bishop of Monemvasia has a place before me. I want to see the Emperor and I shall leave my mantle here.’ As the officials said to him, ‘You may not see the Emperor, for he is indisposed and even we are not seeing him,’ he insisted that he would not leave the imperial lodgings unless he saw him. Then the officials were pressing him with many demands, requests, words of counsel, and promises that through their care there would be a remedy, which would be forthcoming to him from the Emperor. But it was late and only with difficulty that they constrained him; and indeed, he went home without his mantle.

The inauguration of the ecumenical council provided us with such a prologue to the projected union. For instead of bringing a beginning of union for us with those from whom we were divided, it instead presented us, ourselves, with the beginning of schisms and discords.







[1] According to Lampe 1961, σπασμός normally means a ‘salutation’ or ‘greeting’. Although the seminar translated the word as ‘kiss of peace’, it seems more appropriate to reserve that expression for the liturgical action which occurs in the course of the Eucharist (cf. Dionysios the Areopagite, Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 3.3.8, PG 3, 437A; Maximos the Confessor, Mystagogia 13, PG 91, 692C, etc.). Here Syropoulos is referring to the protocol surrounding the meeting of the ecumenical Patriarch and the Pope, which took place in Ferrara, Laurent 1971, 230-41. M.C.

[2] In other words, November 24th, 1437.

[3] It is not clear what this meal was, but it was probably early in the day: breakfast or lunch. M.C.-J.M.

[4] See Laurent 1971, 196, n. 3 for bibliography on this rite and on its accompanying texts, known as συγχωροχάρτια, which were commonly employed in this period. M.C.

[5] The first earthquake Syropoulos refers to took place on either the 3rd or the 24th of September 1437, when the papal galleys arrived in Constantinople. (Laurent 1971, 172-7 and n. 12) V.A.

[6] In July 1347, Pope Eugenius IV commissioned four Venetian galleys to transport his envoys to Constantinople. The light galley of Hector Paqualigo (Laurent 1971, 198 n.2) carried the three bishops: the papal envoy, bishop of Corone and the bishops of Portugal and Digne, who represented the minority of the Council of Basle who supported the Pope. (Laurent 1971, 172-3; Cecconi 1869, doc.CLXXXVIII). They departed from Venice on 26 July, arrived in Crete on 15 August, where they arranged the transport of archers from this island, and arrived in Constantinople on 4 September 1347 (Gill 1959, 79). The other three ships were great galleys under the command of Antonio Condulmaro, a nephew of the Pope, transporting the papal legate, Marc Condulmaro, also the Pope’s relative and Nicolas of Cusa . On their way to Constantinople, where they arrived on 24 September 1437, these galleys stopped in Euboia (September 1st) and took with them the Despot Constantine, the Emperor’s brother, who remained in Constantinople in the place of John, while the Emperor was in Italy (Laurent 1971, 173, n. 10). V.A.

[7] Ecclesiastic official connected to the sakellion, the treasury of the Great Church of Constantinople. The epithet megas was added at the end of the 11th century, when the sakellarios became the second ranking official of the Patriarchate, after the megas oikonomos. (ODB, 1829-1830) He was also one of the officials that Syropoulos calls archontes staurophoroi or eksokatakoiloi. V.A.

[8] Garatone travelled to Constantinople a total of five times during the period 1433-1437 (Setton 1978, 65), in the capacity of papal envoy. He was one of the key negotiators between the Byzantines, the Pope and the Council of Basle and played an important role in persuading the Emperor and the Patriarch to travel to the West for the Council. For the missions of Garatone mentioned in Syropoulos’ account, see Laurent 1971, 128, 134, 172. V.A.

[9] Note the pun involving a congregation of stars and one of ecclesiastics, using the word σύνοδος twice. Syropoulos may also be referring obliquely to the forth-coming ecclesiastical council. M.C.

[10] Syropoulos reveals his poetic ability in this passage as he vividly describes the scene of the stormy night. M.C.

[11] Syropoulos uses the rhetorical device of metaclisis here, employing the word συμβουλή twice in different forms. M.C.

[12] According to Lampe, the adverb φιλοτίμως may mean ‘liberally’ or ‘generously’. The implication here is that the imperial galley sailed unnecessarily and ostentatiously close to Gallipoli, a city that was held by the Ottoman Turks in this period. M.C.

[13] It should be remembered, on the basis of what Syropoulos says later, that the Patriarch did not make this request face to face with the Emperor. It must have been conveyed by a messenger from one ship to the other. M.C.

[14] The term ‘Hagarene’ is frequently used in Byzantine texts for Muslims. Here Syropoulos is of course referring to the Ottoman Turks. ‘Hagarenes’ are the descendants, according to both Christian and Muslim tradition, of Sarah’s maid-servant and Abraham’s mistress, Hagar, who gave birth to Ishmael and was later expelled from Abraham’s house (Genesis 16). M.C.

[15] Later, instead of λέμβος, Syropoulos uses the word ‘βάλκα’ for ‘dinghy’ (202.6.8). It would appear that the two words are interchangeable. M.C.

[16] Turkish title for a military governor, in use at least from the 13th century. (Laurent 1971, 200, n.2; Moravcsik 1943, 289). M.C.

[17] The Greek word λαλάζω is similarly onomatopoeic. M.C.

[18] This appears to be a classical tag or proverb. According to Ruth Macrides, thirteenth-century writers such as Akropolites use the term ‘Scythian’ rather than ‘Mysian’ in contexts such as this. M.C.-R.M.

[19] That is, the Peloponnesian peninsula.

[20] The word βάλκα comes from ‘barca’ (Latin). M.C.

[21] Trapp cites Syropoulos, 202.15 and 620.32, for this word, suggesting that it is derived from the Italian ‘galeotta’. In the shorter recension of Syropoulos, the term ‘fousta’ is used instead. The name may refer to a one-masted vessel of Arab origin or to a type of Mediterranean pirate ship which is not big but long and shallow, enabling it to travel quickly and silently. M.C.

[22] Cf. John 20: 1. M.C.

[23] Cf. II Pet 1: 19. M.C.

[24] The Venetians showed themselves very tolerant in matters of orthodox religion and Greek language in the case of Methone, since they allowed a Greek Bishop, although the fortune of the Greek church had passed to the Latin church and the Greek bishop should always reside outside the town (Maltezou 1993, 137; Georgopoulou 2001, 166). Also the Venetian administration of Methone used to announce the official decisions both in Latin and Greek (Maltezou 1993, 290). The person mentioned here was Joseph Kontaratos (PLP 13025), Greek bishop of Methone for the period 1437-1439. He also led the receiving ceremony of the Byzantine delegation when they were on their way back to Constantinople in 1439 (Laurent 1971, 204, 537). F.K.-V.A.

[25] The kastellanos of Methone was not only responsible for the administration and protection of his castle, as in other Venetian colonies, but he was the governor and the supreme power in his region (Maltezou 1993, 284). The castellans as the primary representatives of Venice were both military and judicial officials. Some of their main duties included the defence and administration of the castle and its hinterland, as well as the enforcement of the laws and decisions of Venice (Hodgetts 1974, 74; O’Connell 2003, 161-2). Already from the mid 14th c. the salary of the castellan of Methone had increased, and in the 15th c. there was an even greater increase matching the salaries of the Duke of Crete and the bailo of Constantinople (Hodgetts 1974, 63-4). F.K.

[26] ‘Keeper of the vessels’. Ecclesiastic official looking after the liturgical vessels of a church. The megas skeuophylax was the skeuophylax of the Great Church, one of the archontes staurophoroi. Until the 11th century he was ranked second in the hierarchy, after the megas oikonomos, but was moved to the third place by the megas sakellarios (ODB, 1909-10; Darrouzès, 1970, 314-318). V.A.

[27] Processions of the Holy sacrament, the cross and church icons were usual occurrences in the 15th c.  Methone (Georgopoulou 2001, 224) F.K.

[28] According to Laurent, the verb πεσεντζαρίζειν represents an adaptation of the Latin ‘prehensare’, meaning ‘to offer’ or ‘to present.’ (Laurent 1971, 205, n. 5). M.C.

[29] The word συναρπαγή may mean ‘robbery’ or ‘plunder’. An alternative meaning, cited by Lampe, however, is ‘a being carried away’ e.g. by the passions. M.C.

[30] This phrase appears in the Great Litany of the Orthodox office of Vespers. See Hapgood 1975, 5. M.C.

[31] Tana was the main source of slaves, although the whole region of the Black Sea exported slaves. Slaves were carried in Venetian ships apart from galleys where it was prohibited by law but in many cases disobeyed, and were brought to Venice, where wealthy citizens would buy them usually as domestic slaves (Lane 1973, 132-33). F.K.

[32] Theodore and Thomas Palaiologos, sons of Emperor Manuel II, were despots of Mistra in 1437, when John VIII visited them on his way to Italy. Constantine, who later succeeded John to the throne, was already in Constantinople in the place of the Emperor. The youngest brother, Demetrios, was forced to accompany John to Italy. V.A.

[33] This is not a usual way of describing the hours of the afternoon. The Byzantines divided both day and night into twelve hours each, numbered 1 through 12. The numbering began at the break of day and at nightfall so that hours would vary according to the season of the year or latitude. The ‘first hour’ was at sunrise, the ‘third hour’ in mid-morning, and so on. M.C.

[34] The legate was the Venetian Mark Condulmer.

[35] There is an echo here of I Corinthians 13: 1, ‘If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol…’, although the wording is not the same. M.C.

[36] It is likely that this was a piece of rigging.

[37] It is possible that this was the phenomenon known as the ‘fire of St Elmo’, a spark of light caused by static electricity, especially in storms at sea. The phenomenon is attested in classical and medieval literature. M.C.

[38] σκοτοδινία should be corrected to σκοτοδινίᾳ (dative) here.

[39] In contrast with the Orthodox bishop at Methone, at Corfu, as in other Venetian colonies, the title of bishop was used only for the Latin Bishop. The orthodox priest and representative of the orthodox population was called protopapas meaning chief priest. The chief priest was elected by the clergy and the nobles and could hold the position for five years. He was dependant on the Patriarch of Constantinople and was allowed to correspond with the Patriarch through the bailo of Constantinople (Muller 1903, 218-9) F.K

[40] Although Syropoulos is using the term kastellanos to describe the governor of the island, Corfu was actually governed by a bailos, as was also Negroponte, along with the  proveditor e capitan, who dealt with legal cases regarding taxation (Bury 1888, 352; Maltezou 1993, 283). The term bailos (from the Latin word baillirus, which means high ranking official) is used by Venice already at the end of the 11th c. for her high official in coastal towns. Only member of noble families of Venice could be appointed in such a position, and there was even a distinction of rank among the various officials, with the bailo of Constantinople being the highest and most important (Maltezou 1970, 25-34). F.K.

[41] In other words, the bishops who attended the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. See also Genesis 14:14. M.C.

[42] Φάνσις is a somewhat unusual word meaning, according to Lampe, ‘morning twilight’. M.C.

[43] That is, the second hour after sunrise, or perhaps 9 a.m. M.C.

[44] In other words, ca. 11 a.m. M.C.

[45]So called because it sticks out like a ‘horn’. See also

[46] Although Syropoulos mentions that there was only one entrance to the city of Venice, there were four entry portals. However the entry from S. Nicolo di Lido, was the entrance point for travellers coming form the East (Fortini Brown 1990, 140). F.K.

[47] The word τρίκλινος normally means a ‘dining-room’ in Classical Greek. Here, and elsewhere in the text, it seems to refer to a reception room. Ambassadors were received in the Sala delle do Nape, also known as Salla del’Audientia and were met by the Doge at various distances from his throne depending on their importance (Fortini Brown 1990, 148). M.C.-F.K.

[48] The Doge would touch hands only in the case of receiving high officials. In all other cases he simply extend his hand to be kissed (Hazlitt 1900, 431). F.K.

[49] The ἀντιμίνσιον or ἀντιμίσιον is a cloth, ornamented with the cross, crucifixion, or entombment of Christ, consecrated by the bishop, and containing the relics of saints, which was used as a portable altar or else placed on an unconsecrated altar. It was later held to be essential for the celebration of the liturgy. See Lampe, 155; Euchologion, 517. This would be the ecclesiastical official who was appointed to take care of this precious cloth. M.C.

[50] A σκιμπόδιον is a low bed, according to Lampe. Giovanni de’Pigli describes a piece of furniture, which is translated by Setton as ‘couch’, made on two benches with a small mattress. (Setton 1958, 227) This is what probably Syropoulos describes as ‘skibodion’. This account is very important as it is one of the few which contain material culture related to lodgings connected to the council of Florence and give a first-had insight on the material culture of Italy in the mid-fifteenth century. E.P.

[51] Seating arrangement was a very important aspect of the Venetian ritual as it was associated with rank and paying respect to a guest. Thus sitting close to the Doge, especially to his right side, suggests great honour (Fortini Brown 1990, 149). F.K.

[52] The ceremonial welcome of distinguished guests into Venice was a very important official event, used by Venice as a powerful means of propaganda and an opportunity to display not only her power but also her wealth. Such an event required money and time to be organised and thus when guests arrived earlier or Venice was not informed on the exact date of their arrival (as in this case), guests were forced to wait until all necessary preparations had been made  (Fortini Brown 1990, 137-8). F.K.

[53] John stayed at the marquis of Ferrara’s palace at San Giacomo dell’Orio, which was used for receiving high ranking visitors. This was originally the palace of the Pesaro family and late presented to the Este family by Venice and was named the Casa des Marchese. The palace was built in the 13th c in Veneto-Byzantine style. Being located on the Grand Canale, it enjoyed great views of the canal, especially since it has a wide arcaded façade and many windows. The building still survives today and is known as the Fondaco dei Turchi (Fortini Brown 1990, 139; Romano 2007, 136) F.K.

[54] Title created in the 12th c. and ranking second only to the Emperor and co-Emperor. From the 13th c. it could be bestowed to several people at the same time, without necessarily signifying their right to succession, usually to the Emperor’s sons. Under the Palaiologoi, there were also Despots outside Constantinople, who were at the head of political entities such as Thessalonike, Epiros and Morea. (ODB, 614) V.A.

[55] The word βουτζίον (cask) is a borrowing from middle Latin. It is cognate with the English word ‘butt’. M.C.

[56] This was a title used for the highest ministers of the Byzantine state. In the 11th -12th c. the title of mesazon was still semi-official, but under the Palaiologoi the office was institutionalised. The mesazon has been identified by the 15th c. historian Doukas with the Turkish vezir (ODB, 1346). Under Manuel II and John VIII in particular, the mesazontes took part in several councils, which prepared, examined and studied the communication of Byzantium with the Pope (Verpeaux 1956, 285). V.A.

[57] The implication is that this was a journey by boat.

[58] The Saturday and Sunday of the Prodigal Son is the second in the three preparatory weeks before the beginning of Lent in the Triodion. It is not strictly a fasting period in the Orthodox Church. M.C.

[59] In other words, probably the monks in the delegation.

[60] Liddell and Scott gives the meaning ‘latticed gates’ for κιγλίς, ἡ. These would have held up a form of canopy to keep out the sun or rain, as Syropoulos describes. M.C.

[61] Χρυσόπαστος: sprinkled or shot with gold, gilded (Liddel-Scott 1977); inlaid or overlaid with gold (Lampe 1961). The use and the timeline in which the word χρυσόπαστος was used is extent. It is attested in the 5th century B.C. Herodotus (χρυσόπαστος τριήρης, Liddel-Scott 1977) but also in later Greek writers like Plutarch who in the Life of Antonius writes ‘ὑπό σκιάδι χρυσόπαστο (Perrin 1920, 927). In the Christian terminology the word was associated with basilicas as it is the case in Clemens of Alexandria (PG 8 col.489) and also in Nikolaos Mesarites’ description of the church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople ‘ὡς ἐπί τινός χρυσοπάστου καί κλίνης Σολομωντείου βασιλικῆς.’(Downey 1957, 906, XXIII.1) But as stated, the word is found in various contexts. For example Clemens of Alexandria uses it also to denote the veils in churches ‘χρυσοπάστοις πέπλοις’. (PG 8 col.560) Theodoretos of Cyrus uses the word metaphorically (PG 83 col. 140): ‘Ερμήνευσον ἡμῖν, πῶς τό εκ δύο φύσεων λέγεις, ὡς τόν χρυσόπαστον ἂργυρον;’, while Syropoulos uses it to describe a sculpted piece of decoration inside a Venetian ship. Asterios of Amaseia (PG 40 col. 209) uses the term not to describe directly a basilica but its use is associated with buildings generally ‘Οἱ μέν υπ’ ὀρόφοις κατάκεινται’, which does not differ in meaning from that of Plutarch mentioned above. We can however safely argue that the word is much more associated with buildings that any other form of material civilization as it is also the case of Simokates ‘ἐν σηκῶι χρυσοπάστῳ’(Janin 1969, 168). E.P.

[62] It was part of the welcoming ceremony to decorate the Bucentaur as well as all accompanying ships with tapestries and colourful panels. Although Syropoulos gives a very detailed description of the Doge’s ship, he fails to mention the famous statue of Justice, which adorned the Bucentaur’s prow (Fortini Brown 1990, 140-1). F.K.

[63] This was the Doge’s younger son, Domenico who, as Syropoulos mentions, died shortly after (Romano 2007, 136). F.K.

[64] According to Laurent, the Emperor suffered from gout so severely that some of his lower limbs were paralysed. On the other hand, this did not prevent him from riding horseback or from hunting. See Laurent 1971, 217, n. 5. M.C.

[65] One of the characteristic of Venice’s skills was their flexibility and readiness to change and adjust their plans and the schedule of the ceremony depending on the circumstances. Thus although it was accustomed for the honouring guest to board on the Doge’s ship and enter into Venice accompanied by the Doge on the Bucentaur, due to John’s illness, arrangements were quickly made and the Doge boarded on John’s ship and the Bucentaur  became a simple escort of the imperial galley (Fortini Brown 1990, 144). F.K.

[66] This escort of boats was also part of the welcoming ceremony. The boats described here are most likely a fleet of 20-40 small fighting galleys, which Venice used on such occasions. Their military nature was covered by colourful decorations, such as tapestries and panels (Fortini Brown 1990, 141). F.K.

[67] At the end of the 13th century, Venice decided to move all the furnaces for glassmaking to Murano in order to protect the city from possible future fires, and thus Murano became the headquarters of the industry. (Lane 1973, 15) Venetian glassmakers were famous for the good quality of glass, the variety of coloured glass and their ability to combine glass with precious materials such as enamel and even to imitate precious stones and pearls (Lane 1973, 156-59). Many Venetians of the richer classes became patrons of the glassmakers and all the rich neighbourhoods had at least one glass warehouse in each street (Hazlitt 1900, 597). However, the glassmakers formed a guild only in 1436, when obtained their own governing party and their own cognisance (Hazlitt 1900, 598). F.K.

[68] ἀφοσιόω is a Classical word meaning ‘to purify from guilt or pollution.’ It may also mean ‘to consecrate’, ‘propitiate’ or ‘make formal recognition’ of someone. It is likely that the latter meaning is the most appropriate here. M.C.

[69] Lampe gives ‘pomp’ as one meaning (4) for δορυφορία.

[70] In other words, from Ferrara.

[71] The Greek καὶ τοὺς καθόλου literally means ‘and those in general.’ M.C.

[72] It is not clear whether the term σαχαρίγδια refers to cakes of sugar or sugar cakes.

[73] The Greek word used here is τέμπλον, which means the screen that separates the altar from the main body of the church, i.e. the iconostasis. M.C.

[74] The Doge of Venice accompanied all high ranking visitors around the city and offered them a tour of San Marco, which was the proprietary church of the Doge, and its treasury (Fortini Brown 1990, 149). F.K.

[75] These delegates included the six bishops of Trebizond, Ephesos, Heracleia, Kyzikos, Monemvasia, and Sardis, along with three officials of the Patriarchate, namely the megas sakellarios, the megas chartophylax, and Sylvester Syropoulos himself, who was megas ekklesiarches. See Laurent 1971, 225, n. 7. M.C.

[76] Cheesefare Saturday is the last Saturday before the beginning of Lent, when Orthodox Christians are allowed to eat milk and cheese, but not meat. The day also commemorates all of the dead, with the day after it being the Sunday of the Last Judgement. See Mother Mary and Archim. Kallistos Ware 1978, 124-41. M.C.

[77] This passage refers simply to the holy water kept near the front of churches, with which Roman Catholics bless themselves on entering. M.C.

[78] An ecclesiastical official with archival and notarial duties. By the 11th century the office grew in importance as the megas skeuophylax ranked fourth among the eksokatakoiloi. This official also acted as an intermediary between the patriarch and the clergy, was the principal assistant of the patriarch and could represent the patriarch in a synod (ODB, 416). V.A.

[79] Here the word is σκούφια. This is a monastic type of hat.

[80] See Laurent 1971, 227, n. 6, in which he explains the inaccuracies of this account.

[81] The Marquis of Ferrara had no legitimate sons from his first two marriages and thus had appointed as his heir his illegitimate son with Stella dall’Assassino, Leonello as his heir. Even when the Marquis had sons by his third marriage, Leonello remained his heir (Rosenberg 1997, 51-2). F.K.

[82] John stayed at the Palazzo Paradiso, built originally in 1388 for Alberto V’s wife, but during the early 15thc. it was used as a guest house for visiting nobility, such as the Emperor and also the future Pope John XXIII,  who stayed there in 1403 (Rosenberg, 1997, 22-3). F.K.

[83] τὴν γλόντζαν, meaning ‘lagoon’, appears only in Syropoulos. In Modern Greek the word γλίντζα means a ‘viscous quality’, in other words, a swamp. See Laurent 1971, 228, n. 2. M.C.

[84] For the shape and size of river and lagoon boats see Martin 2001, 181-3. F.K.

[85] According to Liddell and Scott, πυρεῖα may be pieces of wood that are rubbed together to make fire. Since these are of iron, they must represent some form of brazier which can be heated by fire. M.C.

[86] I.e. in Italy.

[87] The noun κατούναν does not appear in Liddell and Scott or Lampe. The word may derive from the Italian cantone; in Modern Greek it means ‘a tent’. M.C.

[88] The term archon staurophoros signifies the ecclesiastical dignitary who wears/carries a cross ( These were also divided into two categories: the esokatakoiloi and the eksokatakoiloi. Syropoulos, who was a member of the latter group, speaks of five dignitaries whose role he exerts by comparing them with the five senses of the Patriarch (Laurent 1971, 250). Various manuscripts from the 11th and 12th centuries preserve the five dignitaries suggested by Syropoulos; these were the: Megas Oikonomos, Megas Sakellarios, Megas Skevofylax, epi tou Sakelliou, Chartofylax (Darrouzès 1970, 58-59). In a recent article published on the web, B. Staurides suggests that at some point these eksokatakoiloi archontes were exerting great influence over the Patriarch ( The term probably derives from the word kellion, and signifies those who were in (eso-) or out (ekso-) of the kellion of the Patriarch (Darrouzès 1970, 60). The term is in use today by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, were the eksokatakoiloi archontes undertake important assignments on behalf of the Patriarchate. P.K.


[89] The text does not in fact tell us specifically what this form of greeting was. It is possible that the Patriarch greeted the Pope in the same way that his bishops and officials did, i.e. by kissing first his hand and then his cheek. M.C.

[90] Laurent gives the meaning ‘tabourets’ in the glossary for σωπεδίοις.

[91] Members of the seminar noted that there are such ramps, graded by steps placed about a metre apart.

[92] In other words, in the sanctuary or eastern end of the cathedral.

[93] Laurent gives ‘la bulle d’indiction’ for τὸ τῆς ἀνακηρύξεως γραμμάτιον here.

[94] This participle should be in the nominative to agree with τὸ… γραμμάτιον; it has been assimilated to a genitive to accompany the preceding participle, προηγουμένου, which refers to ‘the name of the Pope’.

[95] The reason for this delay may be that the council of Basle was still in session.

[96] The word used here is συνοδικῶν.

[97] As Syropoulos explained earlier, the Patriarch was suffering still from the rigours of the journey to Venice and thence to Ferrara.

[98] τοὺς τόπους literally means ‘places’ here, but Sylvester surely refers to the order of precedence which these prelates have accepted.

[99] We have been using ‘delegate’ to translate τοποτηρήτης previously; here, ‘representative’ conveys the sense better since he is a delegate to the council in any case.

[100] The Greek word τάξις normally means ‘order’. In this context, Syropoulos uses it to mean the order of precedence, or ranking, that is conferred by the seating arrangement in the cathedral. M.C.

[101] The term archon staurophoros signifies the ecclesiastical dignitary who wears/carries a cross ( These were also divided into two categories: the esokatakoiloi and the eksokatakoiloi. Syropoulos, which was a member of the latter group, speaks of five dignitaries whose role he exerts by comparing them with the five senses of the Patriarch (Laurent 1971, 250). Various manuscripts from the 11th and 12th centuries preserve the five dignitaries suggested by Syropoulos; these were the: Megas Oikonomos, Megas Sakellarios, Megas Skevofylax, epi tou Sakelliou, Chartofylax (Darrouzès 1970, 58-59). In a recent article published on the web, B. Staurides suggests that at some point these eksokatakoiloi archontes were exerting great influence over the Patriarch ( The term probably derives from the word kellion, and signifies those who were in (eso-) or out (ekso-) of the kellion of the Patriarch (Darrouzès 1970, 60). The term is in use today by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, were the eksokatakoiloi archontes undertake important assignments on behalf of the Patriarchate. P.K.


[102] Unlike Byzantine icons in this period, Western images do not usually have inscriptions to identify the figures that they portray. This is an interesting passage which reveals different devotional traditions in the Eastern and Western Churches, along with the Confessor Gregory’s perception of these discrepancies. M.C.

[103] That is, those who are not monastic.







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