Constantinople and the West: Essays on the Late Byzantine (Palaeologan) and Italian Renaissances and the Byzantine and Roman Churches

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The glory of the Italian Renaissance came not only from Europe's Latin heritage, but also from the rich legacy of another renaissance - the palaeologan of late Byzantium. This nexus of Byzantine and Latin cultural and ecclesiastical relations in the Renaissance and Medieval periods is the underlying theme of the diverse and far-ranging essays in Constantinople and the West . Addressing the disputed, provocative question of Palaeologan influence on Italian Renaissance humanism, the author systematically demonstrates that Byzantine scholars were not merely transmitters of ancient Greek writings to the West. More significantly, the Byzantine emigre scholars in Italy, through their intimate knowledge of the Alexandrian and Byzantine traditions, alone were able to unlock and authentically interpret the more difficult texts of Aristotle, Plato, Hermogenes, and other Greek thinkers. Geanakoplos shows that the Byzantine refugee scholars and their Italian disciples were able to promote a fusion of elements of both the Italian and Palaeologan renaissances. Other essays concern the careers of influential Palaeologan humanists such as Theodore Gaza, the leading secular Aristotelian of the early Italian Renaissance, and John Argyropoulos, who was probably chiefly responsible for shifting the emphasis of Florentine humanism from rhetoric to Platonic philosophy. The essays in the second half of the book deal primarily with ecclesiastical relations. The author probes deeply into encounters between Greek and Roman churches at councils in Lyons, Florence, and elsewhere, which reflect the centuries of recurring religious schism and attempted reunion. He also offers a revealing glimpse of the Greek exaltation, and of Hagia Sophia and its properties, after Constantinople's liberation from Latin rule in 1261. While all of the essays have been printed previously, the author has revised and brought them entirely up to date for this volume. Constantinople and the West should be invaluable to those interested in the Byzantine and Italian Renaissance, and reward students of Medieval history, church history, and those who are interested in the comparative history of the East and West.