The patriarch's own words betray the immense impression that these friars made on him. They seemed to represent a different and more attractive face of Latin Christianity. Their piety was in tune with the Byzantine ideal. They held out the hope that there might still be a peaceful way of settling the differences that existed between the two churches. The negotiations that ensued over several months in 1234 are among the best documented of any exchange between the two churches.5 They laid down a pattern that would be repeated over the next two centuries. At its starkest it turned into a series of recriminations, which revealed how far apart Greek and Latin were. It also offered hope that these might be resolved. Dialogue was fruitful because the friars had a good command of Greek and were well versed in Greek patristics. They were able to argue out their case in terms that their Greek counterparts understood. They made some sort of apology for the sack of Constantinople in 1204, insisting that it was done not with the permission of the Roman Church but 'by laymen, sinners, excommunicates presuming on their own authority'.6
Amongthe delegation offriars was a Dominican working at Constantinople, who in 1252 completed the Contra errores Graecorum.7 This tract is notable not only for its rigorous organisation in the best scholastic manner, but also for its use of the Greek Fathers. The author was convinced that the Greeks used their own authorities erroneously in order to support heretical notions. It was his intention to persuade the Greeks on the basis of their own patristic tradition that the Latin position was correct. In this he was building on the works of Hugh Eteriano and his brother Leo Tuscus, who had been in the service of Manuel I Komnenos (1143-80). Their works represented the first systematic attempt by Latin theologians to address the differences between the two churches on the basis of Greek patristics. The Dominican author was familiar with Orthodox practice. Over the question of purgatory he cited wall paintings he had seen in Greek churches, along with extracts from the Greek Fathers, as evidence that the Orthodox had some notion of purgatorial fire.8 The treatise was translated into Greek and was intended for missionary purposes. The activities of the friars were limited pretty much to Latin Constantinople, but there they met with some success among those of mixed Latin and Greek
5 H. Golubovich (ed.), 'Disputatio Latinorum et Graecorum seu Relatio apocrisariorum Gregorii IX de gestis Nicaea in Bithynia et Nymphaeae in Lydia 1234', Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 12 (1919), 418-70; P. Canart, 'Nicéphore Blemmyde et le mémoire adressé aux envoyés de Grégoire IX (Nicee, 1234)', OCP 25 (1959), 310-25.
6 Golubovich, 'Disputatio', 451-2.
7 PG140,487-574; A. Dondaine, '"Contra Graecos". Premiers ecrits polemiques des Dominicains d'Orient', Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 21 (1951), 344-5.
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