On his return to Constantinople he was not initially a vociferous opponent of union. Only in 1444 did Mark Eugenikos pick him out as his successor. He was one of the few in the upper ranks of society not tainted by adhesion to the union of Florence. He took on the leadership of the synaxis, as the group opposed to union was called, out of a sense of patriotism: to defend Orthodoxy against Latin innovations, which were facilitated, as he saw it, by the ill-judged union of Florence. His actions divided Byzantine society at a critical moment. He had no wish to see Constantinople conquered by the Turks, but it turned out to be a solution of sorts. It ended the schism that the union of Florence had produced. Byzantine society united in condemning the betrayal ofOrthodoxy at Florence, as a way of explaining the fall of Constantinople. The conqueror Mehmed II made a shrewd choice when selecting him as the new patriarch of Constantinople. Here was a man willing to cooperate with the new dispensation because he believed that it safeguarded the essentials of Orthodoxy. One of Gennadios's first actions as patriarch was to burn Plethon's Book of the Laws on the grounds that it constituted a codification of neoplatonic paganism. His condemnation of Plethon's doctrine owed much to Thomas Aquinas. Under the guidance of Gennadios the ecumenical patriarchate embraced Latin scholasticism, now that the question of union with Rome ceased to matter. At the same time Plethon's autographs became the prized possessions of Italian libraries, confirmation in its way that Byzantium's classical heritage had passed to the west. Here at last was some kind of a resolution to the impasse that faced Byzantine intellectuals in the empire's closing years.
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