Info

the Byzantine identity. Bekkos and his supporters were too high minded to articulate their ideas in a way that had popular appeal. They were formed by a historical perspective, which sought to liquidate four hundred years of increasing friction with the Roman Church and to return to the fraternal relations which had previously existed; to a time when the papacy had so often proved itself the strongest defence of Orthodoxy.

Today Bekkos's revisionism seems very attractive, but at the time it flew in the face of papal intransigence. Michael Palaiologos may have convinced himself that union meant no substantial concessions; John Bekkos may have seen it as the first step towards the restoration of harmonious relations between the two churches, but the papacy viewed it as the reduction of the church of Constantinople to obedience to the mother-church of Rome. To ensure satisfactory implementation the papacy insisted on the presence in Constantinople of a papal legate. Under pressure to prove his commitment to union Palaiologos embarked on the persecution of its opponents. The most vivid testimony to its range and brutality comes from the report submitted in 1278 to the papal legate by the emperor himself.17 It set out the scale of opposition that the latter faced. It was disturbing how many of the imperial family now opposed union. At their head was the emperor's favourite sister, the nun Eulogia. Palaiologos sent the papal legate on a guided tour of the dungeons of the Great Palace, so that the latter could see for himself how opponents of union were being treated. The emperor also sent back with the legate as a token of his good faith two dissident monks, Meletios and Ignatios.

For his opposition to union Meletios is revered by the Orthodox Church as a confessor.18 His activities led to exile on the island of Skyros. There as part of a larger work he composed a polemic against the 'Errors of the Latins'. It was written in political verse, which indicates that it was intended for wide circulation. Its purpose was to confirm opponents of the union in their cause and to convince waverers that Latins represented everything repugnant to a good Byzantine. It was, in other words, presenting opposition to union as a patriotic duty. Another product of anti-unionist propaganda was a tract which purported to be a dialogue between an Orthodox bishop and a cardinal.19 If it turns into the usual list of Latin errors, it begins quite differently. It has one

17 R.-J. Loenertz, 'Mémoire d'Ogier, protonotaire, pour Mario et Marchetto, nonces de Michel VIII Paléologue auprès du Pape Nicholas III. 1278 printemps-été', OCP 31 (1965), 374-408.

18 T. M. Kolbaba, 'Meletios Homologetes On the customs of the Italians', REB 55 (1997), 137-68.

19 D. J. Geanakoplos, Interaction of the 'sibling' Byzantine and Western cultures in the Middle Ages and Italian Renaissance (330-1600) (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1976), 156-70.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment