Paschalis M Kitromilides

The dramatic milestone of 1453 put an end to theological and philosophical contacts between eastern and western Christianity. The intellectual ties and exchanges of the fourteenth and the early fifteenth century had introduced scholastic philosophy to Byzantium and had revived - to a limited degree to be sure - the knowledge of Latin in the east. The Greek-speaking regions of European culture with focal points at Constantinople, Mistras, and Tre-bizond, together with the Venetian-held territories of Crete and Cyprus, all experienced their own version of the Quattrocento Renaissance. After 1453 the survivors of this culture found refuge in the west and made their own distinctive contribution to the Renaissance in the west. In the east, under Ottoman rule, ecclesiastical, cultural and spiritual life took a radically different turn. The conquest sealed off Greek-speaking Orthodoxy for almost a century and a half and interrupted all interchange with western culture. Those who left almost never came back to share the benefits of their experience with the Orthodox world. Contacts between Orthodoxy and the west were largely in the hands of Latin missionaries, such as the Jesuits, whose activities - religious, educational and political - the Orthodox condemned as an unwarranted western intrusion. A particularly acute act of this confrontation was unfolding in Palestine over the guardianship of the holy places: the antagonism between the Franciscans and the Orthodox brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre became so sharp in the seventeenth century that it escalated into an issue of European diplomacy, with France championing the Catholic cause while the Orthodox patriarchs of Jerusalem appealed to the Russian tsars and other Orthodox princes in Wallachia and Moldavia and elsewhere for support and protection.1

1 Archbishop of Athens Chrysostomos Papadopoulos, IcTopía T-s 'EKKA-qjías 'lspocoAúiJa>v, second edition (Athens, 1970), 501-866; C. A. Frazee, Catholics and sultans: the Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453-1923 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 59-60, 62-3, 145-8.

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