10 June 1439, apparently leaving a profession of faith, which accepted that Latin teaching conformed to the Greek. But as the Byzantine delegation prepared to depart it was put under considerable pressure by the papacy to make a number of concessions over important points: demands which fuelled charges that the union was forced. The pope then wanted to have Mark Eugenikos tried by the council. This was a demand too many and the Byzantine emperor stood firm. The council ended on a bad-tempered note. The pope refused any concessions to the Byzantines once the decree of union was signed. They were expected to participate in the Roman liturgy at the close of the council, but were not allowed to celebrate their own liturgy the next day. The emperor's comment revealed a disappointed man: 'We thought that we were correcting many Latin errors. Now I see that those guilty of innovations, who err in so many ways, are correcting us, even though we have changed nothing.'56 The pope could act in this way because leading figures on the Byzantine side had succumbed to the attractions exercised by Italy. Two, Bessarion and Isidore of Kiev, accepted cardinals' hats. The splendour of the papal curia did not simply dazzle. It also seemed to offer a superior ecclesiastical order. Bessarion found the atmosphere of Florence particularly congenial. The culture of the Florentine humanists was much to his taste with its emphasis on the classical past. He could bask in the reflected glory of his master George Gemistos Plethon,57who was added to the Byzantine delegation to give it intellectual muscle. Despite doubts about his commitment to Christianity Plethon made some telling interventions in the debates. At one point he noted an inconsistency in the presentation of the Latin case. Its apparent reliance on logical proof was little more than a debating ploy, since it was historical proof that would be decisive.58 His advice was highly valued by the Byzantine delegation. He won the confidence of the patriarch, who told him that he was 'an old man and a good one, who puts the truth before everything'.59 He emerges as something of a traditionalist in ecclesiastical matters. He criticised the emperor for having earlier advocated entering the debate on Purgatory with an open mind. 'What could be worse than that', was his comment, 'for if we have doubts about the faith of our Church, then we do not have to believe in its doctrines.'60 Along with Mark Eugenikos he had the intellectual self-confidence to stand up to the Latins.
56 Syropoulos, x.xiv; 500-3.
57 F. Masai, Pléthon etle platonisme de Mistra (Paris: Belles Lettres, 1956); C. M. Woodhouse, Gemistos Plethon: the last of the Hellenes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).
58 Syropoulos, vi.xxxi; 330-3.
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