On the eve

The aftermath of the council of Florence demonstrated once again the unwillingness of Byzantine society to follow its leaders down the path of union. The career of George Scholarios, the future Patriarch Gennadios, provides testimony of the strength of anti-unionism.61 Still a layman he was added to the Byzantine delegation to the council. He was selected on the strength of his expertise as a scholastic theologian. He knew Latin well. He had also experienced the hostility that learning Latin provoked at Constantinople. News of his Latin lessons was cause enough for the mob to attack his house. At Florence he was for a long time an advocate of union. He had a very poor opinion of the intellectual level of the Byzantine delegation when compared with the Latins. During the council he cooperated with Bessarion and Isidore, the leaders of unionist opinion, in drafting the Byzantine statement on the procession of the Holy Spirit, but its mixed reception by both Byzantine and Latin was humiliating for Scholarios. This may be part of the explanation for his precipitate withdrawal from the council. He left Florence on 14 June 1439, scarcely a month after drawing up the Byzantine statement, in the company of two anti-unionists: the emperor's brother Demetrios and George Gemistos Plethon. Like them Scholarios was departing early, so as to avoid signing the union decree. How are we to explain this sudden change of heart? The death of the patriarch Joseph was unsettling; working with convinced unionists, such as Bessarion and Isidore, perhaps even more so. It forced him to ponder his loyalties: did his admiration for Thomas Aquinas necessarily point towards conversion to Rome? He decided not, because his purpose in studying scholastic texts was to provide a defence of Orthodoxy that met the requirements of Latin theology. He saluted Demetrios Kydones and Manuel Kalekas for their mastery of scholastic thought, but was bitterly critical of their defection to Rome.62

61 Gill, Personalities, 79-94; C.J. Turner, 'The career ofGeorge-Gennadius Scholarius', B39 (1969), 420-55.

62 C.J. G. Turner, 'George-Gennadius Scholarius and the Union of Florence', JThSt 18 (1967), 83-103; Podskalsky, Theologie, 222-6.

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