The Projects for an Ecumenical Council in 1367: An Unpublished Dialogue between John Cantacuzenus and the Legate Paul

By John Meyendorff

Translated from French and Greek and Edited by Steven Bigham

Translated and edited by Steven Bigham, with permission, originally published as “Projets de Concile Œcuménique en 1367 : Un dialogue inédit entre Jean Cantacuzène et le légat Paul,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 14, 1960, pp. 147–177.
November 29, 2023
© 1960 Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Trustees for Harvard University. Originally published in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 14.

1. The Manuscript

The vast collection of theological texts contained in the manuscript Lavra Λ 135 (no. 1626 in Eustratiades’s catalog), dating from the fifteenth century, includes a copy of an important document for the history of Byzantium and the Balkan Peninsula in the fourteenth century, as well as for the relations between Eastern and Western Christians. This document is a detailed account of an audience that took place at the Blachernae Palace in 1367. During this meeting, the former Emperor John-Joasaph Cantacuzenus met with Paul, the titular Latin patriarch of Constantinople and the legate of Pope Urban V.

The text is a reproduction and is copied in a fine, yet hasty hand. It is preceded and followed in the collection by fragments of Gennadius Scholarius, all written by the same hand. The rest of the collection is in different hands. The manuscript has been damaged by worms at the top edge, resulting in some letters being illegible in the first line of each page.

The copyist has made numerous spelling errors, and the author himself presents the text without much refinement in style and expression. The gaps in the manuscript Lavra Λ 135 are filled in by a later copy of the text found in the same Athonite library, Lavra 154 (Eustratiades, no. 1138), dating from the eighteenth century.1 The text published below takes into account this latter manuscript only where Lavra Λ 135 (L) is materially defective.

The conversation between Cantacuzenus and Paul is reported in a direct and vivid manner, although the author’s bias in favor of the emperor monk is evident, with the emperor’s words and actions taking center stage. The extraordinary precision of the facts and dates, which can easily be corroborated by other sources, gives undeniable historical value to this document. The text is presented below, divided into paragraphs, and preceded by a detailed analysis, closely resembling the Greek text, especially in the significant passages.2 As in the case of other Byzantine texts, such an analysis will be of greater help to the reader than a literal translation.

We will begin by placing in their historical context a few important facts noted by our summary.

2. The Historical Context

2.1 Cantacuzenus after His Abdication

In the autumn of 1354, Emperor John Cantacuzenus was compelled to relinquish his imperial duties. He took monastic vows under the name Joasaph and settled at the Mangana Monastery in Constantinople. This retreat was directly triggered by the popular uprisings that resulted from Cantacuzenus’s financial and foreign policy and coincided with John V Palaeologos’s return to Constantinople. Despite being the victor, John V seemed willing to share imperial power with his former tutor and adversary. However, Cantacuzenus chose to withdraw voluntarily. In the latter chapters of his History, he maintains that his entry into the monastery was a deliberate and long-prepared act,3 and this viewpoint is not entirely without merit. Moreover, as G. Ostrogorsky notes, “The authority and the historical role of the house of Cantacuzenus also survived the fall of John VI.”4 His sons, Matthew and Manuel, continued to govern significant provinces within the empire, ultimately reaching an agreement with John V, the ruling emperor. Their father played a prominent role in this reconciliation. His renunciation of direct political responsibility seems to have granted him greater moral authority and a popularity he had never achieved as a reigning emperor. The many humiliations John V Palaeologos was forced to endure during his long reign, at least partially, justified his former tutor’s pro-Turkish policies. According to Patriarch Philotheos, in a text written during his second patriarchy (1364–1376), the former emperor’s situation was described as follows:

Formerly, his subordinates prostrated themselves before him, because he was the master, although not all of them did so honestly for the reasons mentioned above. But today, everyone does so honestly, with the benevolence and love that is fitting, beginning with all the emperors and empresses. This golden-robed family loves him like children love a father. . . . That is also the attitude of the one who is now, with God’s help, our reigning emperor [John V Palaeologos] . . .

According to Philotheos, John V considered Cantacuzenus “the support of his own power, a divine counselor, the soul of his policy, his life, his empire, and that of his children; he sees in him an advocate, a protector, a defender, a father, and a guardian, and he encourages his family to adopt the same attitude.”5 It is possible that Philotheos, a partisan and friend of Cantacuzenus, may have been overly optimistic and exaggerated Cantacuzenus’s influence on John V, but as a sitting patriarch, he could not have spoken in such a manner without at least partially reflecting the true state of affairs.6 Despite being clothed in monastic garb, Cantacuzenus continued to wield significant influence over the empire.7 He had direct and indirect means to exercise this influence with his sons, Manuel and Matthew, governing Byzantine Morea in the Peloponnese, and his friend Philotheos returning to the office of patriarch in 1364 after the death of his rival, Callistus.8 Cantacuzenus himself continued to carry the imperial title in practice if not in name. It does not appear that he ever visited Mount Athos.9 From 1354–1359, he resided in Constantinople and played an active role in the reconciliation between his son Matthew and John V. In 1361–1362, he spent a year in the Peloponnesis, governed by his son Manuel, then returned to Constantinople. In 1367, he was still in the capital, where he held an official audience with the legate Paul at the Blachernae Palace. In 1379, while still in the capital and supporting his son-in-law John V against the usurpation of Andronicus IV, he was arrested and held hostage in Pera. He only returned to the Peloponnesis in 1381, where he passed away on June 15, 1383. During the final years of his life, Cantacuzenus tirelessly fought to clear up misunderstandings that still persisted regarding Palamite theology, the triumph of which he had ensured during his reign.10

In fact, Cantacuzenus exercised a moral power that likely explains many of the contradictions in Byzantine policy during this period, especially regarding relations with the West. While John V Palaeologos desperately sought the support of Catholic powers against the Turks and was willing to renounce his Orthodox faith to do so, Cantacuzenus, backed by the clergy and the majority of the Byzantine population, represented loyalty to Orthodoxy and envisioned the union of the Churches through an ecumenical council. As for the empire’s salvation, the former emperor saw it either in a Turkish alliance or in a crusade of Orthodox peoples, which his friend Philotheos sought to promote. These two policies were pursued simultaneously, and it is worth considering whether John V and Cantacuzenus, whose personal relationship was, as seen earlier, correct and even friendly, were not acting in agreement or at least not dividing their tasks, and if they did, it would explain the near-complete secrecy in Byzantium about John V’s actions, such as a written promise of obedience to the pope in 1355 and an official reconciliation in Rome in 1369. In Constantinople, Palaeologos could enjoy the moral backing granted by his father-in-law, and in Rome, he could refer to his opposition to explain the difficulty of achieving union. In any case, the Roman Curia was aware of Cantacuzenus’s authority. On November 6, 1367, Pope Urban V sent him a letter, seeking the support of the one “who could do more for the union than anyone else, if not more than the reigning emperor.” However, this acknowledgment did not lead the pope to give greater credence to Cantacuzenus’s suggestions. As we will see later, the pope preferred to trust in John V’s personal conversion rather than jointly convene a council.

2.2 The Legate Paul

O. Halecki rightly emphasizes the particular role played by Paul in the union negotiations in the second half of the fourteenth century. Originally from Southern Italy, Paul likely spoke Greek and, like Barlaam the Calabrian, belonged to the category of Italo-Greeks who seemed suitable to serve as a bridge between Byzantium and the West. His ecclesiastical career was entirely spent in the East, where he held a series of Latin bishoprics established after the Crusades. He was the bishop of Simisso (Samsun, Amisos) and was transferred to Smyrna by Clement VI on July 10, 1345. In this capacity, he traveled to Constantinople after the fall of Cantacuzenus and obtained from John V the signing of a chrysobull containing a promise of obedience to the pope in exchange for immediate military assistance, not conditioned on a prior union. The agreement had no consequences because Innocent VI demanded that the union be officially proclaimed before the start of the Crusade. This was precisely the point that Paul had realized was unworkable: on May 15, 1357, he was removed and transferred to the archiepiscopal seat of Thebes. In 1359, Peter Thomas was appointed papal legate for the East and managed to organize a crusade with the help of Venice, the kingdom of Cyprus, and the Hospitallers. Innocent VI’s papal bulls, related to this attempt, authorized Peter Thomas to use force to convert “infidels and schismatics.” In these circumstances, union talks were no longer feasible. They only resumed around 1364. On April 12, 1366, after the death of Peter Thomas, Pope Urban V appointed Paul as the titular patriarch of Constantinople. It is in this capacity that we see him appear in Byzantium in 1367.

2.3 John V, Louis of Hungary, and the Serbians of Bulgaria

The political events of the years 1362 to 1367 clearly illustrate the futility of military campaign projects aimed at saving the ailing empire. Emperor John V, in his constant appeals to the Holy See, overestimated both the political authority of the popes and their benevolence toward Eastern Christianity. In reality, the theoretical scheme in which the emperor of Constantinople and the pope of Rome would be the political and religious leaders of a single Christendom no longer corresponded to reality. In the East, the emperor’s voice was far from decisive in Church affairs, and as for the pope, his calls for a crusade—accompanied by the inevitable condition of prior union with the Roman Church—were only heeded to the extent that they aligned with the political interests of various Western princes. The Roman pontiff was, in fact, reduced to taking advantage of circumstances.

Only King Peter I of Cyprus displayed a decisive spirit, but his courage was insufficient to confront the Turkish threat. The only result he achieved was the occupation of Alexandria for six days in October 1365. Two other rulers seemed ready to follow his example: Count Amadeus of Savoy, a first cousin of John V, and the powerful king of Hungary, Louis the Great. The latter, in particular, possessed sufficient strength to seriously threaten the Turks, but his own Balkan ambitions were the true motivation behind the campaign he engaged in. In May 1365, he seized Vidin and took the son of the Bulgarian King John Alexander, Stratsimir (Страцимир) or Sratsimir (Срацимир), as a prisoner.

To clarify the situation and form a formal alliance with Louis, at the beginning of 1366, John V traveled to Hungary himself, accompanied by his sons Manuel and Michael. As G. Ostrogorsky writes, “For the first time a Byzantine emperor entered a foreign country, not as a general at the head of his army, but as a petitioner seeking help.”11

Cantacuzenus’s dialogue with Paul provides us with new information about the negotiations in Hungary. It reveals that Louis of Hungary and his mother, Elisabeth of Poland, demanded, as a precondition for their alliance, that John V and his entourage receive the baptism of the Roman Church. It also discloses that a son of the Bulgarian King Alexander—who can only be Stratsimir, taken prisoner the previous year at Vidin—was required to undergo a second baptism to enter into communion with the Roman Church. Louis and his associates are thus portrayed by Cantacuzenus as examples of unacceptable religious intolerance.

This new perspective on the issue significantly changes the understanding of the reasons for the failure of the Buda negotiations. It had previously been generally accepted that the negotiations failed due to the inflexibility of Pope Urban V. However, our dialogue instead presents the Hungarians as “more papist than the pope,” shedding new light on the documents available to us regarding the events of 1365 to 1366.

The events in Vidin are mentioned in a letter from the General of the Franciscans, dated 1366, which reports on a conversion of the Bulgarians to the Roman faith in the city captured by the Hungarians. This report, whose text has not been preserved, requested the General to send Franciscan monks to convert the Bulgarians, as those who were already ministering in Vidin were no longer sufficient. Eight of them had baptized 200,000 people in fifty days. The General’s letter also mentions “infidel” princes accepting baptism, “heretics” and “schismatics” returning to the true faith, as well as “Manichaeans,” referring to the Bogomils. It does not appear that a clear distinction was made between the “infidels” and the “schismatics” regarding their reception into the Roman Church. The entire Bulgarian population is considered to be delivered from “perdition.” Moreover, it is unlikely that the city of Vidin had a population of 200,000 “infidels” or Bogomils. It is evident that all, including the majority of the Orthodox population, underwent the same baptism. Stratsimir himself is not mentioned in the letter from the General of the Franciscans, but we know that he, like all his subjects, converted to the Roman Church when he was deported to the fortress of Gumnik in Bosnia. Our document informs us that he was baptized for a second time, just like the others.

The type of crusade led by Louis, therefore, did not suit the Byzantines. It is not that John V was particularly concerned about the fate of the Bulgarians, who were seeking Turkish support at the time, but the religious attitude of the Hungarians directly affected him. Nevertheless, he had received a letter from Pope Urban V, dated April 18, 1365 (so it was almost contemporary with the events in Vidin), with a conciliatory tone. While inviting him to Rome, the pope called him the “son of the same Church” and promised his support.12 Thus, the Palaeologos could hope that the pope would moderate the fanaticism of the Hungarians, making an agreement with them possible.

The negotiations in Buda encountered the same obstacle as the previous ones: the conversion of John V as a precondition. Our document reveals that Louis and his mother, Elisabeth of Poland, demanded that the emperor and his sons undergo a new baptism.13 This extreme demand explains several passages in the letters that Urban V sent to Buda at the time. From these letters, we learn that John V, while accepting the principle of his conversion, requested that the procedure be defined by the pope. He knew that Rome would not impose a second baptism on him. A two-party embassy, consisting of a Hungarian bishop, Stephen of Nyitra, and a Byzantine official, George Manikaites, traveled to Avignon. Two papal legates reported the pope’s response in July 1366. This response was given in letters addressed to the principal parties, including John V, Louis, and Elisabeth of Poland.

In one of the letters to John V, dated July 1, 1366, the pope praised the agreement reached with Louis and reiterated its terms: the emperor and his sons had sworn to fulfill whatever the pope would ordain for their conversion to the Roman faith. In another letter, Urban V outlined the reconciliation procedure, primarily consisting of a confession of faith similar to that of Michael VIII, accompanied by an oath of allegiance to the pope. The letter to Elisabeth of Poland confirmed the rigorous zeal attributed to the Queen Mother by Cantacuzenus and formally limited her intransigence: “for her information,” Elisabeth received from the pope a copy of the reconciliation procedure as defined by the Apostolic See.

Since John V was willing to convert anyway, it seemed that Urban V’s response was favorable to him in avoiding the humiliating procedure of a second baptism required by the Hungarians. However, the crusade did not materialize. Louis may have been disappointed by the relatively moderate stance of the pope. It is also likely that the personal note signed on June 23 by Urban and addressed to Louis had an unfortunate impact on the outcome of the negotiations. In this note, the pope advised caution to the king of Hungary and expressed doubts about the sincerity of John V’s conversion. The pope’s mistrust, even if expressed privately, was not conducive to facilitating the union.

Humiliated, John V resumed his journey to Constantinople. Along the way, he faced one final indignity: the Bulgarians denied passage to the emperor, who had sought to negotiate with their enemies. The Palaeologos was forced to stay in Vidin, which was under Hungarian occupation and where the second baptism of Stratsimir had just taken place.

2.4 The Negotiations of 1367

Our document relates to the renewed union negotiations that took place upon John V’s return to Constantinople, facing more accommodating interlocutors than the Hungarians. His cousin, Amadeus of Savoy, arrived to assist him with a relatively powerful army, and he had expelled the Turks from Gallipoli in August 1366, returning the city to the Byzantines. Amadeus had also secured a right of passage for the emperor from the Bulgarians. Alongside him was the legate Paul, invested with the title of “patriarch of Constantinople” by Pope Urban V. Both had a meeting with John V at Sozopolis at the beginning of 1367.14 According to our account, the emperor would not negotiate union without consulting “his father” Cantacuzenus and the patriarch. This was clearly the attitude that the Orthodox faction in Byzantium wanted the Palaeologos to adopt. Nonetheless, throughout his reign, John V had secretly pursued a more daring policy, but after his setbacks in Hungary, he may have temporarily abandoned these personal initiatives and decided to embark on the path recommended by his father-in-law. Negotiations continued in Constantinople.

Our document speaks of the formal difficulties that arose in the capital: the Patriarch Philotheos refused to receive the legate officially since he did not carry a written mandate from the pope. However, the patriarch was not presented as an opponent of the union; he declared himself willing to meet the legate privately and speak to him “amicably.” This attitude of the Byzantine prelate was perfectly understandable: a written mandate from the Holy See would have made Paul a spokesperson for the pope, but in the absence of such a mandate, Paul could only speak in the capacity of his own functions. These functions were those of the “patriarch of Constantinople” and reminded the Byzantines of the Latin occupation. Philotheos could not officially receive someone who claimed to usurp his own patriarchal seat.15

As no one wanted to break off negotiations, it was agreed, by mutual consent, that Cantacuzenus should act as the spokesman for the Greeks. Thus, from a canonical perspective, the negotiations were no longer official, but the personality of the former emperor, his friendship with the patriarch, and the presence of three metropolitans, members of the synod, demonstrated their exceptional importance to ecclesiastical circles.16 The entire imperial family was present: Emperor John V, his wife Hellen, daughter of Cantacuzenus, and his sons Andronicus and Manuel. Cantacuzenus’s religious policy, as presented in our Dialogue, seemed to be endorsed by the ruling Palaeologos family. The policy that Paul declared to accept was the union “in accordance with the ecclesiastical order,” not achieved “by force and tyranny,” as happened under Michael VIII Palaeologos.

The legate did try, at the beginning of the Dialogue, to persuade Cantacuzenus to agree to the union by imperial decision, preceded by an agreement with the pope: the alternative between a union of that kind and a free union in the unity of faith constitutes, finally, the essential debate between Cantacuzenus and Paul. However, the former emperor categorically refused to engage the imperial authority, especially his personal authority, in such an adventure. According to him, the imperial power could not regulate dogmas without an ecumenical council of the Church. Moreover, he claimed that the council itself was not an infallible organ, and its decisions did not absolutely impose themselves on the conscience of the faithful: Does not a small group of opponents still resist the decisions of the Palamite councils of 1341, 1347, and 1351? Cantacuzenus’s speeches reflect a conception of the Church as a unity of faith. Only such a supernatural unity can overcome the national and economic dissensions that divide humanity, as eloquently classified by the former emperor. According to him, this unity cannot be resolved by the submission of all to the bishop of Rome. When Paul proposed to him to personally visit the pope, Cantacuzenus considered this journey unnecessary, implicitly opposing the plans of John V, which he was certainly aware of. He remained steadfast even when Paul raised the threat of the Turks, God’s punishment on the Greek schismatics for their disobedience to the pope, or the prospect of a new Western crusade against Byzantium.17 Indeed, the successes of Islam preceded the schism, and furthermore, the Turkish occupation does not prevent Christians from maintaining their faith intact.18

The only way to achieve union, according to Cantacuzenus, was through a council, which would reflect the universal perspective that several Byzantine patriarchs, including Philotheos, were seeking to promote in the fourteenth century. In the project he presented to Paul, Cantacuzenus deliberately ignored the various political differences that divided the Balkan peoples and that he had mentioned at the beginning of his speech. He wanted delegates from the patriarch of Trnovo and the “archbishop” of Serbia19 to join those from the four traditional patriarchates and the catholicos of Georgia (Iberia). Leaders of dioceses “distant” from the patriarchate of Constantinople were also to attend: the metropolitan of Kiev, with several of his suffragans, and the metropolitans of Trebizond,20 Alania,21 and Zyakia.22

The union talks in 1367 thus appear as distant preliminaries to the Council of Florence. This program, of which the archives must have retained traces, was implemented and formed the basis of the most serious attempt at union the Middle Ages had known.

The transcript specifies that the colloquy at the Blachernae Palace resulted in the decision to convene an ecumenical council in Constantinople, with a tentative period from June 1, 1367, to May 31, 1369. It is surprising that the date was fixed with such imprecision. However, the terms of the agreement are reported precisely in our document and are confirmed in the letter sent by Patriarch Philotheos to the Bulgarian patriarch, inviting him to the proposed council in Constantinople. Philotheos states that Emperor John V had submitted the outcome of the negotiations to the patriarchal synod and the involvement of Niphon of Alexandria and Lazarus of Jerusalem, who were in Constantinople and had approved the council proposal. Letters of convocation were immediately sent to the absent patriarchs. Philotheos, Lazarus, and Niphon also wrote to the pope. An impressive Byzantine embassy, including delegates from the emperor, like at the time of the Union of Lyon, and patriarchal ambassadors like Metropolitan Nil (of Rhodes?), and the chartophylax of the patriarchate, traveled to Italy and were received in Viterbo by Pope Urban V. This marked a significant step toward unity, as the Byzantine Church appeared genuinely committed to the negotiation, unlike any previous efforts since the schism.

Cantacuzenus had multiple discussions with Paul, not limited to the official dialogue outlined in the document. They debated the issue of Palamite theology, and the results were transcribed into a correspondence between Cantacuzenus and Paul, with an explanatory preface in the manuscripts.23 Cantacuzenus also composed letters addressed to Paul, explaining the Palamite position. The former emperor finally asked the metropolitan of Nicaea, Theophane, a renowned theologian and preacher at the time, to respond to Paul’s questions.24 All of this demonstrates a sincere desire on the part of Cantacuzenus and his circle to reach a genuine mutual understanding. Once again, their efforts may have influenced the agenda of the discussions in Florence, during which Palamite theology, the official doctrine of the Eastern Church, was not considered a point of division.25

Unfortunately for Cantacuzenus, and for the cause of union, Byzantine politics did not present a united front to the Latins. While his father-in-law tried to convene a council, John V secretly negotiated with the same legate, Paul, and with Amadeus of Savoy. He made concessions in advance on contentious points, always with the hope of provoking a Western crusade against the Turks. He formally pledged to go to Rome himself or, if unable, to send his son Andronicus. He even entrusted the legate with a promise of 20,000 florins and jewelry, agreeing that a written agreement on this matter would be deposited with a notary in Pera!26

Pope Urban V was thus forced to choose between a difficult theological negotiation with the entire Eastern Church and a prearranged personal capitulation of only John V. Like his predecessors, he chose the easier path.

The discussions in Viterbo lasted for four weeks but yielded no results. On November 6, 1367, the pope signed a series of letters addressed to the leading Byzantine figures involved in the union. Surprisingly, the council proposal was not even mentioned in these letters. Urban V simply offered encouragement to those who were already committed to union,27 interpreting the desire for unity among the three patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem as an intention to “bring the Greeks back to the unity of the Roman and universal Church.” He also urged Cantacuzenus to “exhort” Emperor John V “to come to the Apostolic See, as he promised!”

It is known that the pope eventually achieved his desired outcome. In October 1369, John V personally converted to the Roman Church, but this act did not lead to the union of the Churches or the salvation of the empire.28 As for Urban V, in 1370, he formally rejected the idea of a council, as he believed that futile discussions would cast doubt on doctrines already approved by the Roman Church.

2.5 Cantacuzenus and the Union of Churches

During the final two centuries of Byzantine history, the issue of the union of Churches was viewed from both a religious and political perspective. These two aspects were formally acknowledged by those who were involved, directly or indirectly, in negotiations with Rome, and they determined the choices of each individual. John Cantacuzenus, the most capable statesman produced by Byzantium in the fourteenth century, was no exception to this rule.

All too often, Byzantine society during this period is depicted as sharply divided into two camps: on one side, there was a faction of uneducated and fanatical monks, proponents of aberrant theology, unhealthy mysticism, and a nationalist religion fervently opposed to all the “enlightenment” that only the Latin West could provide. On the other side, there was a faction of enlightened individuals who possessed an open mind, recognizing that both religious truth and the salvation of the empire came from the West.

The central figure of Cantacuzenus, who has been waiting for a comprehensive biography for so long, alone contradicts this viewpoint. Throughout his career, John Cantacuzenus made attempts to promote religious unity with the West while faithfully supporting Gregory Palamas and his disciples. These disciples, who are often mischaracterized as systematic, anti-Latin figures, had themselves tried to establish contact with the Latins, especially during the civil war of 1341–1347. Cantacuzenus, in explaining the essential elements of Palamite theology to Paul, might have successfully resolved some misunderstandings that unfortunately resurfaced later.

Cantacuzenus’s own contact with the Latins dated back to the beginning of his career. As the grand domesticate of Andronicus III, he was the protector of Barlaam the Calabrian, and it is likely that, on his initiative and with his consent, Barlaam was sent to Avignon in 1338–1339 to propose the convocation of an ecumenical council to Pope Benedict XII. Once on the imperial throne, Cantacuzenus continued this policy. One of his early actions was to send an emissary, Nicholas Sigeros, to Avignon to make new overtures. Sigeros returned to the West with a similar mission after Cantacuzenus’s retirement in 1354. This demonstrates that there was no real discontinuity in Byzantine policy between the reign of John VI and that of John V Palaeologos. What distinguished their attitude toward the West was that Cantacuzenus was aware of the doctrinal difficulties of the union and did not expect immediate political gain from it. Nevertheless, he never ceased to promote the union, both as a spiritual necessity and as a long-term political benefit.

Remarkably, Cantacuzenus never wavered in his fundamental position regarding relations with the West: the union of the Churches could only be achieved through a conciliar path. In 1338, Barlaam was sent to propose a council to Benedict XII. Regarding the negotiations in 1347, Cantacuzenus elaborated more on his unionist program:

This great, admirable, and precious work could not be treated superficially, randomly, or lightly. . . . If those who initially proposed the doctrines that the Roman Church venerates today had not been too audacious, if they had not disregarded others, and if instead, they had presented these doctrines for the examination of other Church leaders, the schism and conflict would not have been as severe; the members of Christ would not have been so divided and would not have fought among themselves. . . . This audacity did not succeed with the Emperor Michael, the first of the Palaeologues: the rupture only became deeper and the conflict more violent. For my part, I can have confidence only in an ecumenical council, being properly called together and declaring its firm opinion on the faith. . . . If Asia and Europe were still under Roman rule, as in the past, the council should have been convened in Byzantium, but since that is impossible, if our father the pope so wills, we will, by common agreement, choose a coastal city equidistant from the homes of all. . . .29

This program seems like a direct precursor to the negotiations preceding the Council of Florence, where they chose a coastal city, Ferrara, precisely because it was easily accessible for the Byzantine delegation. According to our Dialogue, these plans came very close to being realized in 1367, with the Latin interlocutor even accepting the council to be held in Constantinople.

Cantacuzenus’s work on the union was not limited to the council project. After retiring from politics, he was surrounded by a group of scholars who had a keen interest in Western theology. Under his patronage, the works of St. Augustine and, most notably, St. Thomas Aquinas were translated into Greek. These translations provided Byzantine theologians with firsthand information about Latin theology. While the main translators, the Cydones brothers, Demetrios and Prochoros, eventually converted to the Latin faith, this was not the case for all who benefited from their work. Theologians like Nil Cabasilas and, in the fifteenth century, Gennadius Scholarius, could speak to the Latins with much more insight into the thinking of their interlocutors than the Latins had about Greek thought. Cantacuzenus and his group thus contributed significantly to a profound rapprochement between the two worlds, which could have produced results if circumstances had been different and if Byzantium’s days had not been numbered.

Furthermore, like all his contemporaries, Cantacuzenus recognized the political value of union. While not approving of the actions of John V Palaeologos, he never personally severed ties with the “young emperor.” When the latter returned to Constantinople after his abjuration in 1369, he did not face excommunication from Patriarch Philotheos, a friend of Cantacuzenus. Moreover, Cantacuzenus supported him in 1379 against his son Andronicus, who had rebelled. The old statesman seemed to be giving John V a chance, hoping that his actions, which did not have significant consequences in themselves, would eventually lead to a genuine dialogue with the West.

Cantacuzenus’s example shows that in Byzantium, the dividing line did not run so much between pro-Latin and anti-Latin factions but rather between those who believed that politics alone could solve the union problem and those who were willing to consider the doctrinal problem itself, which pitted the East against the West. Depending on one’s perspective, both sides could be viewed as utopian. The former, however, were able to implement their program, as the union attempts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were their work. Since all of these attempts ultimately ended in failure, one may wonder if the application of Cantacuzenus’s program, accepted by Legate Paul, could have led to more tangible results. Some aspects of this program were adopted during the Council of Ferrara-Florence, but even there, the dialogue, initiated too late and hastily, was not pursued to its conclusion with the final result being primarily due to political pressure.

3. English and French Translations of Lavra Λ 13530

3. English


The dialogue which the Emperor Cantacuzenus had with the Count of Savoy, along with the envoy of the pope, Lord Paul, previously metropolitan of Thebes, now named by the pope [Latin] patriarch of Constantinople. This took place in the month of June, in the fifth year of the indiction of the year six thousand eight hundred and seventy-five [6875, AD 1367].

3. French


Le dialogue que l’Empereur Cantacuzène a eu avec le comte de Savoie et celui que le pape a envoyé, Seigneur Paul, qui était autrefois le métropolite de Thèbes, mais désormais nommé patriarche [latin] de Constantinople par le pape. Cela s’est déroulé au mois de juin, pendant la cinquième année de l’indiction de l’an six mille huit cent soixante-quinze [6875, AD 1367].


3.1 English

And so having arrived from Hungary, the emperor—John V Palaeologos—[Amadeus] the count of Savoy from his own home country and Paul, formerly the metropolitan of Thebes, now having been named by the pope the [Latin] patriarch of Constantinople, came together in the city of Sozopolis where they, that is, Paul and the count, inquired about uniting the Churches. The emperor replied to them as follows: “I alone cannot make a decision on this matter unless we go to Constantinople. My father the emperor [John VI Cantacuzenus] is there and the patriarch, along with the synod around him; they will likely listen to your request. All of us together will give an answer regarding this matter.”

3.1 French

L’Empereur Jean V Paléologue, venant de Hongrie, de même que le comte de Savoie, arrivant de sa patrie, avec le seigneur Paul, autrefois métropolite de Thèbes, mais maintenant, nommé par le pape patriarche [latin] de Constantinople, se sont réunis à Sozopolis ; là, eux, c’est-à-dire le comte et Paul, ils ont interrogé l’empereur, sur l’union des Églises.

L’empereur :

― Moi seul, je ne peux rien dire à ce sujet, sauf si nous partons pour Constantinople, car mon père l’empereur [Jean VI Cantacuzène] s’y trouve, et aussi le patriarche et le synode autour de lui ; ceux-là sans doute écouteront votre demande, et tous ensemble nous donnerons une réponse à ce sujet. 


3.2 English

So when they arrived in Constantinople, Paul wanted to meet and talk with the patriarch regarding Church matters, but the patriarch declined, saying, “How can I see this man and discuss Church matters with him in an official manner when he did not carry with him a letter from the pope? But if he wishes to speak with me in a friendly manner alone, I am willing to receive and welcome him.” However, both the count and Paul considered this answer to be very disrespectful, so Paul pressured [the patriarch] to give an answer on this matter. Therefore,

  • the Emperor [John V] Palaeologos,
  • the patriarch and
  • the chief bishops

thought it good to meet with the Emperor [John VI] Cantacuzenus [asking him] to discuss the matter with Paul. The Emperor [John VI] Cantacuzenus accepted the challenge [to speak with Paul]. And indeed, on the specified day, they all gathered in the Blachernae Palace:

  • the Emperor [John VI] Cantacuzenus, his “son” [the Emperor John V Palaeologos]
  • the Despota, Lady Helen, wife of the Emperor John V Palaeologos and daughter of John VI Cantacuzenus,
  • the co-Emperor Lord Andronikos Palaeologos, son of the Emperor John V Palaeologos
  • the Despot, Lord Manuel Palaeologos, son of the Emperor John V Palaeologos, other important, civil officials,
  • Lord Mark, the spiritual teacher of John V Palaeologos,
  • the archbishop of Ephesus,
  • the archbishop of Heraclea,
  • the archbishop of Adrianople,
  • other distinguished ecclesiastical leaders.

Paul entered and, after the customary greetings, took his seat.

3.2 French

Alors, eux étant arrivés à Constantinople, Paul a exprimé le désir de rencontrer le patriarche et de discuter avec lui des affaires de l’Église, mais le patriarche a décliné [l’offre].

Le patriarche : 

― Comment vais-je voir le légat et parler officiellement avec lui de quelque chose concernant l’Église, puisqu’il n’a pas apporté avec lui une lettre du pape ? Mais s’il veut parler amicalement seul à seul, j’en suis d’accord et j’accepte de le rencontrer.

Cependant, le comte et Paul considéraient cette réponse comme très irrespectueuse, et Paul a pressuré [le patriarche] à donner une réponse sur la question. Par conséquent,

  • l’Empereur Jean V Paléologue,
  • le patriarche et
  • les évêques principaux

décidèrent de rencontrer l’Empereur [Jean VI] Cantacuzène et [lui proposant] d’avoir une conversation avec Paul. Il accepta le défi. Et en effet, à un jour désigné, ils se réunirent tous au palais de Blacherne :

  • l’Empereur Jean VI Cantacuzène,
  • son « fils », l’Empereur Jean V Paléologue,
  • la Despota Hellen, femme de l’Empereur Jean V Paléologue et fille de l’Empereur Jean VI Cantacuzène,
  • le co-Emperor Seigneur Andronic Paléologue, fils de l’Empereur Jean V Paléologue,
  • le Despote Seigneur Manuel Paléologue, fils de l’Empereur Jean V Paléologue,
  • d’autres fonctionnaires importants,
  • Seigneur Marc, le père spirituel de l’Empereur Jean V Paléologue,
  • l’archevêque d’Éphèse,
  • l’archevêque d’Héraclée,
  • l’archevêque d’Adrinople,
  • d’autres chefs distingués de l’Église.

Paul entra et, après les salutations d’usage, prit place.


3.3 English

And after everyone was seated, the Emperor [John VI] Cantacuzenus asked Paul, “What is your will and desire, and what do you seek?” Paul replied, “The unity of the Church.” The emperor said to him, “You desire a good and pleasing work, but in what manner: by force and tyranny or through persuasion and truth, in accordance with the order and tradition of the Church?” Paul replied, “Through persuasion and truth, in accordance with the ecclesiastical order and practice.”

3.3 French

Et lorsque tous avaient pris place, l’Empereur [Jean VI] Cantacuzène demanda à Paul :

― Quels sont votre vœu et votre désir, et que recherchez-vous ? 

Paul :

― L’unité de l’Église.

L’empereur :

― Vous désirez une œuvre bonne et agréable, mais de quelle manière : par la force et la tyrannie ou par la persuasion et la vérité, conformément à l’ordre et à la tradition de l’Église ? 

Paul :

― Par la persuasion et la vérité, conformément à l’ordre et à la pratique ecclésiastiques. 


3.4 English

Upon hearing Paul’s words and response, the emperor thanked God and him, saying the following: “Men do not keep the divine commandment of peace, having fallen into horrible desires and practices. Some of them, dividing up the booty, have become enemies of Christians and their possessions, both in body and soul [materially and spiritually]. These are the impious followers of Muhammad, but some, by accident, are enemies of our possessions and sometimes even of our bodies; they are our fellow believers and followers of the Church, namely the Bulgarians, Serbs, and those similar to them.

“They desire to turn our possessions into booty; consequently, wars arise, and physical deaths inevitably follow and rain down [on the people]. However, there are also others who appear to be mutual friends but only appear to be of the same race and are enemies of those who engage in commerce. For even if someone deceives another and manages to obtain something valuable for a small price, he does not consider this as theft or deceit, but rather rejoices as if he has accomplished something praiseworthy. Thus, one man’s gain becomes another man’s loss.”

3.4 French

En entendant les paroles et la réponse de Paul, l’empereur remercia Dieu et lui, disant ce qui suit :

― Les hommes ne respectent pas le commandement divin de la paix, ayant sombré dans des désirs et des pratiques horribles. Certains d’entre eux, en se partageant le butin, sont devenus ennemis des chrétiens et de leurs biens, tant dans le corps que dans l’âme [matériellement et spirituellement]. Ce sont les impies disciples de Mahomet. Cependant, certains, par accident, sont des ennemis de nos biens, et parfois même de nos corps ; ce sont nos semblables croyants et adeptes de l’Église, à savoir les Bulgares, les Serbes et ceux qui leur ressemblent. Ces derniers désirent transformer nos possessions en butin ; par conséquent, des guerres éclatent et des morts physiques s’ensuivent inévitablement et s’abattent sur les gens. Cependant, il y a aussi d’autres personnes qui semblent être des amis mutuels, mais qui ne sont que des semblables de race et sont ennemis de ceux qui s’adonnent au commerce. Car même si quelqu’un, en trompant un autre, parvient à obtenir quelque chose de valeur pour un petit prix, il ne considère pas cela comme du vol ou de la tromperie, mais plutôt se réjouit comme s’il a accompli quelque chose de louable. Ainsi, le gain d’un homme devient la perte d’un autre. 


3.5 English

And just as it is with enemies, so it is with friends. There are friends who, having come together from different places and regions, love each other, just as we do. You are from Calabria—for Paul was a Calabrian—and I am from here. There are others who, while not being from the same city, have become friends: some from the same homeland and lineage, and still others who are even closer, like a father and a son, a brother and his own brother. But a wife and her own husband are not just friends but one flesh. Yet, none of these relationships and pure unions I have mentioned can be compared to the spiritual unity and love of the Church. And why talk about many men? One single man, being indivisibility itself, cannot unite himself to himself in the same way as the spiritual man is one with the Church. For the Church, indeed, is itself the body of the Lord, with Christ as its head.

3.5 French

― Et tout comme il en est ainsi avec les ennemis, il en est de même avec les amis. Il y a des amis qui, venant de différents endroits et régions, s’aiment, tout comme nous le faisons. Tu es de Calabre — car il était Calabrais — et je suis d’ici. Il y en a d’autres qui, bien qu’ils ne soient pas de la même ville, sont devenus amis ; certains viennent de la même patrie et lignée, et encore d’autres sont plus proches, comme un père et un fils, un frère et son propre frère. Mais une femme et son propre mari ne sont pas seulement des amis, mais une seule chair. Cependant, aucune de ces relations et unions pures que j’ai mentionnées ne peuvent être comparées à l’unité spirituelle et à l’amour de l’Église. Et pourquoi parler de beaucoup d’hommes ? Un seul homme, étant l’indivisibilité même, ne peut s’unir à lui-même de la même manière que l’homme spirituel est uni à l’Église. Car, en effet, l’Église elle-même est le corps du Seigneur, avec le Christ comme sa tête.


3.6 English

For this reason also whoever is willing to divide the Church, indeed divides the very body of the Lord and is the one who crucified the Lord and pierced his side with a spear. And the one who first caused such a division [the pope, according to Cantacuzenus], I consider him to be like the one who crucified the Lord. However, he who can unite the Church but, because of his own passion or for whatever reason, he does not do it, he is no better than the first, and I would not hesitate to say that he will not be able to escape punishment through torture and blood. I also have on my side the one who said, “If anyone competes [in an athletic event], he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” But I say that Christ did not save just a multitude of men, his incarnation has become an economia, but also if there were only one man in the world, Christ would have become incarnate and would have suffered for him, just as for the many, in order to save him. Therefore, if I were unaware of such a great evil, God might punish me moderately; but since I understand exactly to what extent unity is good and division is bad for the Church, if such unity is in our power, and it does not occur, then I do not know how I will bear the just punishment. I say this while testifying before God and His chosen angels that if he brought about my death by fire for the sake of the unity of the Church, I myself would gather wood, light the fire, and willingly jump into it with great enthusiasm and desire.

3.6 French

― Pour cette raison également, quiconque est disposé à diviser l’Église divise en effet le corps même du Seigneur et est celui qui l’a crucifié et a percé son côté d’une lance. Et celui qui a d’abord provoqué une telle division [le pape, selon Cantacuzène], je le considère comme celui qui a crucifié le Seigneur. Cependant, celui qui peut unir l’Église, mais, en raison de sa propre passion ou pour quelque raison que ce soit, ne le fait pas, n’est pas meilleur que le premier, et je n’hésiterais pas à dire qu’il ne pourra pas échapper à la punition par la torture et le sang. J’ai également de mon côté celui qui a dit : « Si quelqu’un participe [à une compétition sportive], il n’est pas couronné à moins de participer selon les règles. » Mais je dis que le Christ n’a pas sauvé seulement une multitude d’hommes, son incarnation est devenue une économie, mais même s’il n’y avait qu’un seul homme dans le monde, le Christ se serait incarné et aurait souffert pour lui, tout comme pour les nombreux, afin de le sauver. Par conséquent, si j’ignorais un si grand mal, Dieu pourrait me punir modérément ; mais puisque je comprends exactement dans quelle mesure l’unité est bonne et la division est mauvaise pour l’Église, si une telle unité est en notre pouvoir et ne se réalise pas, alors je ne sais pas comment je supporterai la juste punition. Je dis cela en témoignant devant Dieu et ses anges élus que s’il provoquait ma mort par le feu pour l’unité de l’Église, je rassemblerais moi-même du bois, allumerais le feu et sauterais volontiers dedans avec grand enthousiasme et désir.


3.7 English

And please do not say, “I should simply say to our Church that you want me to go to the Church of Rome.” For I am thoroughly convinced that our Church thinks rightly, as Christ Himself taught, as his disciples and apostles taught, and, I will die for this a thousand times. This is evident everywhere, and there is nothing that says the opposite. For you also testify to this: we speak truly and straightly together with you. Moreover, you say that this is also true for you. What is correct for you is not different from what we think and say, and for this cause, I declare that I am ready to offer my body willingly so that the truth may become evident and revealed before God and men, the truth and nothing but the truth, if it is indeed the truth which you speak of, but we do not believe it.

3.7 French

― Et ne me dites pas, « Je devrais simplement dire à notre Église que vous voulez que j’aille à l’Église de Rome. » Je suis profondément convaincu que notre Église pense justement, selon l’enseignement du Christ, selon celui de ses disciples et apôtres, et je mourrai mille fois pour cela. C’est évident partout, et il n’y a rien qui dise le contraire, car vous en témoignez aussi que nous parlons véritablement et directement avec vous ; de plus, vous dites que c’est également vrai pour vous. Ce qui est correct pour vous n’est pas différent de ce que nous pensons et disons, et pour cette raison, je déclare que je suis prêt à offrir mon corps volontairement afin que la vérité puisse devenir évidente et révélée devant Dieu et les hommes, la vérité et rien que la vérité, si c’est vraiment la vérité dont vous parlez, mais nous ne le croyons pas. 


3.8 English

So, therefore, concerning the matter and the truth, no one in our Church or in the Roman Church can say that he desires Church unity more than I do. For, indeed, since the hour I was born into the world and first saw the sun, I have been longing and desiring to see the unity of the Church. However, as I believe, it has not come about because, since the time the separation of the Church emerged universally until this day, you have never in a brotherly and kindly way concerned yourselves with this matter. Instead, you speak like a great teacher, as having great power, and as if having great authority. As a result, neither we nor anyone at all can resist or answer back to what is said or will be said by the pope. Since he is the successor of Peter, and that is the same as if Christ were speaking, [we have only] to bow our heads and hearts and accept what is said by him, as if what is from him were from Christ Himself.

3.8 French

― Ainsi, concernant cette question et la vérité, personne dans notre Église ou dans l’Église romaine ne peuvent dire qu’il désire l’unité de l’Église plus que moi. En effet, depuis l’heure où je suis né dans le monde et depuis le moment où j’ai vu le soleil pour la première fois, j’ai aspiré et désiré voir l’unité de l’Église. Cependant, à mon avis, elle ne s’est pas réalisée, car, depuis le moment où la séparation de l’Église a émergé universellement jusqu’à ce jour, vous ne vous êtes jamais occupés de cette question de manière fraternelle et bienveillante. Au lieu de cela, vous parlez de manière professorale, avec un grand pouvoir, comme si possédé d’une autorité. Alors, ni nous ni personne d’autre ne pouvons résister ou répondre à ce qui est dit ou sera dit par le pape, car il est le successeur de Pierre, et c’est comme si le Christ lui-même parlait. Et [nous n’avons qu’à] nous incliner la tête et le cœur et accepter ce qui est dit par lui, comme si ce qui vient de lui venait du Christ lui-même.


3.9 English

Therefore, know this, O High Priest, that as long as such an opinion prevails among you, it is impossible to unite the Church. But if you want to pursue the common good, be persuaded by my counsel and do not accuse me of being puffed up and in very truth boastful. To make my point clearer, I will use a military example: we generals, when we intend to go out and invade the enemy’s territory, do not rely solely on our own judgment, but we consult the soldiers who are found at the frontlines, even though many of them differ in their opinions. We accept their counsel as coming from those who are knowledgeable and have experience in the matters of those distant regions, whom we also call the “eyes of the army.” Therefore, as I am more knowledgeable than you in the affairs here, accept my advice. And this is my counsel.

3.9 French

― Par conséquent, sachez ceci, ô Grand Prêtre, tant qu’une telle opinion prévaut parmi vous, il sera impossible d’unir l’Église. Mais si vous voulez poursuivre le bien commun, laissez vous persuader par mes conseils et ne me reprochez pas d’être enflé d’orgueil, ou en vérité vantard. Pour rendre mon point de vue plus clair, je vais utiliser un exemple militaire : nous, les généraux, lorsque nous avons l’intention de sortir et d’envahir le territoire ennemi, ne nous fions pas uniquement à notre propre jugement, mais nous consultons les soldats qui se trouvent en première ligne, même si beaucoup d’entre eux ont des opinions divergentes. Nous acceptons leurs conseils comme venant de ceux qui sont informés et ont de l’expérience dans les affaires de ces régions éloignées. Nous appelons ces soldats aussi les « yeux de l’armée ». Par conséquent, comme je suis plus informé que vous sur les affaires ici, acceptez mes conseils. Et les voici.


3.10 English

In order to clearly bring into being a universal and ecumenical council, this is what is needed: a gathering in Constantinople of bishops under the ecumenical patriarch, both from near and far, that is to say, those from Russia with some of its bishops, from Trabzon, Alanias, Zyakia, as well as other patriarchs from Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and also the catholicos of Iberia, with the patriarch of Trnovo and the archbishop of Serbia, and receiving envoys from the pope in accordance with the long-standing order and custom in this regard. Thus this will come about with the love of the Most Holy Spirit and brotherly disposition, in order to look into the causes of the scandal between us and you. If it is done in this way, I trust in God that he will not hide his holy will and the truth from us.

3.10 French

― Afin de mettre clairement en place un concile universel et œcuménique, voici ce qu’il serait nécessaire : une réunion à Constantinople des évêques sous le patriarche œcuménique, tant de près que de loin, c’est-à-dire ceux de Russie avec certains de ses évêques, de Trabzon, d’Alanie, de Zyakia, ainsi que d’autres patriarches d’Alexandrie, d’Antioche et de Jérusalem, et aussi le catholicos de Géorgie, avec le patriarche de Trnovo et l’archevêque de Serbie, et en recevant des envoyés du pape conformément à l’ordre et à la coutume établis à cet égard depuis longtemps. Ainsi, cela se réalisera avec l’amour du Très Saint-Esprit et une disposition fraternelle, afin d’examiner les causes du scandale entre nous et vous. Si cela se fait de cette manière, je fais confiance à Dieu qu’il ne nous cache pas sa volonté sainte et la vérité.


3.11 English

But if things do not happen according to my counsel, but as you seek them to be, according to the present irrational manner, not only will there be no unity, but the discord will be worse than before. For this disruption within the Church has reached such a level of absurdity that some of your people rebaptize those of our Church. Indeed, the king of Hungary does this without hesitation, as he has baptized many, including the son of the king of the Bulgarians, Alexander, because our baptism was worthless. And what need is there for me to mention this or that person? There, my own son was present, seeking assistance from the king against the impious. He, the king, along with his mother and the rulers of his people, compelled him and those with him to be rebaptized, saying that, otherwise, we cannot offer you.

3.11 French

― Mais si les choses ne se déroulent pas selon mon conseil, mais selon ce que vous cherchez, selon la manière irrationnelle actuelle, non seulement il n’y aura pas d’unité, mais la discorde émergera pire que la précédente. Car cette perturbation au sein de l’Église a atteint un tel niveau d’absurdité que certains parmi les vôtres souhaitent rebaptiser les fidèles de notre Église. En effet, le roi de Hongrie fait cela sans hésitation, car il a baptisé de nombreux individus, y compris le fils du roi des Bulgares, Alexandre, car notre baptême était sans valeur. Et quel besoin y a-t-il pour moi de mentionner telle ou telle personne ? Là-bas, mon propre fils était présent, cherchant de l’aide du roi contre les impies. Celui-ci, le roi, avec sa mère et les dirigeants de son peuple, l’ont contraint, ainsi que ceux qui étaient avec lui, à être rebaptisés, disant que, autrement, nous ne pouvons pas vous offrir d’aide.


3.12 English

And besides, consider the absurdity of it: for one of us who has been rebaptized has completely denied and renounced his first baptism. There is no second baptism, for there is only one Christian baptism, and we are baptized only once. Such a person has become, out of necessity, an atheist, for one who does not have baptism clearly does not have God. And pay attention to this, as it was previously stated, instead of being friends and brothers and part of the same spiritual body of Christ, those who practice this have become enemies, not only in terms of physical bodies and possessions, but even in their very souls. This is the characteristic of the impious, as we declared from the beginning.

3.12 French

― De plus, considérez l’absurdité de la situation : celui parmi nous qui a été rebaptisé a complètement nié et renié son premier baptême. Il n’y a pas de deuxième baptême, car il n’y a qu’un seul baptême chrétien, et nous ne sommes baptisés qu’une seule fois. Une telle personne est devenue, par nécessité, athée, car celui qui n’a pas le baptême n’a clairement pas Dieu. Et faites attention à ceci, comme cela a été dit précédemment, au lieu d’être amis et frères et faisant partie du même corps spirituel du Christ, ceux qui pratiquent cela sont devenus des ennemis, non seulement en termes de corps physiques et de possessions, mais même dans leurs âmes. C’est la caractéristique des impies, comme nous l’avons déclaré dès le début.


3.13 English

So if things happen as I advise, it will be good. But if not, not only those far away [from Constantinople] but also those in Constantinople will be divided among themselves; some will flee to foreign lands, some will submit to our will, and others will stand up against us face to face until death, calling themselves martyrs. Thus it happened in the time of the autocrat, my grandfather, Emperor Lord Michael, the first of the Palaeologos family. Then things did not happen as I now plan, but as you wish them to happen at the present. And from this, no small tyranny and persecution arose, to no one’s benefit. Therefore, the results of such actions did not last long, but the situation returned to the former state. Be persuaded by my words and advice, so that, at least now, things may not happen again in that way.

3.13 French

― Alors, si cela se produit selon mes conseils, ce sera bien. Mais si ce n’est pas le cas, non seulement ceux qui se trouvent loin [de Constantinople], mais aussi ceux de Constantinople se diviseront entre eux : certains fuiront vers des terres étrangères, certains se soumettront à notre volonté, et d’autres se dresseront contre nous face à face jusqu’à la mort, se proclamant martyrs. C’est ainsi que cela s’est passé à l’époque de l’autocrate, mon grand-père, l’Empereur Seigneur Michel, le premier de la famille des Paléologues. Cela ne s’est pas alors produit comme je le planifie maintenant, mais comme vous cherchez que les choses se déroulent actuellement. Et de cela, une tyrannie et une persécution, et pas les moindres, ont surgi, sans bénéfice pour personne. Par conséquent, les résultats de telles actions n’ont pas duré longtemps, mais la situation est revenue à l’état précédent. Soyez persuadé par mes paroles et conseils, afin que, au moins maintenant, cela ne se reproduise pas de cette manière.


3.14 English

Having heard these things from the emperor, Paul said, “And what need have I of a grand assembly? I seek only you, and then I will have gained everything. For you are like the spit, on which all pieces of meat hang, and whatever you may move, they also turn with you.”

3.14 French

Ayant entendu ces paroles de l’empereur, Paul répondit :
― Et quel besoin ai-je d’une immense assemblée ? Je ne recherche que toi, et alors j’aurai tout gagné. Car tu es comme la broche, sur laquelle toutes les pièces de viande sont suspendues, et tout ce que tu peux déplacer, ils se tournent aussi avec toi.


3.15 English

And the emperor said, “It is not so, High Priest, but I say this about myself, that if I were such a person as to be easily persuaded by your words, I thus would not have a firm faith, and you would necessarily not have faith in my word, being so easily persuaded, as it is said. For if I so easily accepted your points, my opinion could again be changed into something else. I love and accept with all my soul to investigate the state of affairs and stumbling blocks; I desire this with all my soul. If it appears that things are being rightly and justly spoken according to our unopposed doctrines, I will be the first to receive and cherish them. I myself will be [the first]. Apart from this, I have no hope of doing what you seek.”

3.15 French

― Il n’en est pas ainsi, ô Grand Prêtre, mais je dis cela à propos de moi-même, que si j’étais une personne facilement persuadée par vos paroles, moi qui n’ai aucune foi ferme, vous n’auriez pas foi en ma parole, étant ainsi persuadé, comme on le dit. Car, si j’acceptais si facilement vos arguments, mon opinion pourrait de nouveau être transformée en autre chose. J’aime de tout mon cœur étudier l’état des choses et des obstacles et j’accepte de le faire [volontiers] ; je le désire de tout mon cœur. S’il apparaît que les choses sont dites de manière correcte et juste selon nos doctrines incontestées, je serai le premier à les recevoir et à les chérir. Je serai moi-même [le premier]. À part cela, je n’ai aucun espoir de faire ce que vous cherchez.


3.16 English

But, then, if I am a spit and all are skewered on me, as you say, things are not so simple; those who accept and obey my words do so because they consider them as truth and as correct doctrines according to God. If my words are anything else, they will not follow. For some time now, during an examination concerning Church doctrines, there was an investigation, not only once, but also twice and three times, and an ecclesiastical decision was made on the matter [about St. Gregory Palamas and his theology]. However, even then some, not being persuaded, said that “in all matters of this world, we accept, love, and embrace the things commanded, yielding to our emperor, but in those that seem to harm our souls, we cannot follow you.” Therefore, they still persist in their opposition, although I could, as autocrat, have exercised my authority over them in whatever way I wanted: confiscation of property, exile, or death. But this is not the way of our Church, since faith cannot be forced. Therefore, if indeed these few, restricted to a small area, did not wish to be convinced by the decision of both the Church and our authority, the many, far away, will [resist] all the more.

3.16 French

― Mais, alors, si je suis une broche et que tous sont suspendus à moi, comme vous le dites, ce n’est pas aussi simple. Ceux qui acceptent mes paroles et y obéissent le font parce qu’ils les considèrent comme vérité et droites doctrines selon Dieu ; sinon ils ne me suivront pas du tout. Depuis un certain temps maintenant, lors d’un examen des doctrines de l’Église, il y a eu une enquête, non seulement une fois, mais aussi deux fois et trois fois, et une décision ecclésiastique a été prise sur la question [concernant saint Grégoire Palamas et sa doctrine]. Cependant, même alors, certains, n’étant pas persuadés, ont dit que « dans toutes les affaires de ce monde, nous acceptons, aimons et embrassons les choses commandées, t’obéissant en tant qu’empereur, mais dans celles qui semblent nuire à nos âmes, nous ne pouvons pas vous suivre. » Par conséquent, ils persistent encore dans leur opposition, bien que moi, en tant qu’autocrate, j’aurais pu exercer mon autorité sur eux comme je le désirais : confiscation des biens, exil ou mort. Mais ceci n’est pas la voie de notre Église, car la foi ne peut pas être forcée. Par conséquent, si vraiment ces gens-là, en petit nombre et localisés dans une région, ne voulaient pas être convaincus par la décision ecclésiastique et la nôtre, les nombreux, qui sont loin, seront encore plus enclins à [résister].


3.17 English

And Paul said, “There is no true faith without the judgment of the pope, and it is evident that since you separated from his communion, the ungodly have prevailed against you and also plundered our lands.”

And the emperor replied, “As for the fact that, as you say, the ungodly have prevailed against us since we separated from the pope’s communion, the argument does not hold. For they plundered Antioch, which was great and famous, and many other fortresses in those regions before the schism, and not only those, but they also seized many of our territories near your regions, including Africa, Carthage, and other places near Spain. Therefore, the argument you have made that the ungodly plundered our lands due to the schism of the Church does not hold, but they have prevailed because of our many other sins that we commit without repentance.”

3.17 French

― Il n’y a pas de vraie foi sans le jugement du pape, et il est évident que depuis que vous vous êtes séparés de sa communion, les impies l’ont emporté sur vous et ont aussi pillé nos terres.

― Quant au fait que, comme vous le dites, les impies ont prévalu contre nous depuis que nous nous sommes séparés de la communion du pape, l’argument ne tient pas. Car ils ont pillé Antioche, qui était grande et célèbre, et beaucoup d’autres forteresses dans ces régions avant le schisme, et non seulement celles-ci, mais ils ont aussi saisi de nombreux territoires près de vos régions, y compris l’Afrique, Carthage, et d’autres endroits près de l’Espagne. Par conséquent, l’argument que vous avez avancé, selon lequel les impies ont pillé nos terres en raison du schisme de l’Église, ne tient pas, mais ils ont prévalu à cause de nos nombreux autres péchés que nous commettons sans repentir. 


3.18 English

[The emperor said,] “Regarding our faith, I say this: until today, not only do we have a firm faith that we have received from Christ, the apostles, and their successors, but this is also witnessed to by you yourselves until now and even by you yourself saying that what we say and what you say are not antithetical. And if you are so bold to say that what we believe and say lacks truth, correctness, and righteousness, let fire be brought right here, and let us enter it.” [A trial by fire.]

When Paul asked when this would happen, the emperor replied, “I will not rise from this throne until the fire is kindled.”

And so, thinking for a while that the emperor’s words were simply “hot air,” Paul gave some approval. However, when he was convinced that the words were not so simple and empty but rather firm, he immediately protested, saying, “I want to live, not die.” The emperor responded, “I too want the same, but having a firm assurance that, with God’s help, I will not be burned for the sake of the true doctrine, I take up the challenge of the fire. Moreover, it will be useful for you, but it seems that you hesitate out of doubt about your faith, [fearing] death.”

3.18 French

― En ce qui concerne notre foi, je dis ceci : jusqu’à aujourd’hui, non seulement nous avons une foi ferme, celle que nous avons reçue du Christ, des apôtres et de leurs successeurs, mais vous-mêmes en êtes témoins jusqu’à maintenant et même vous dites que ce que nous disons et ce que vous dites ne sont pas opposés. Et si vous êtes assez audacieux de dire que ce que nous croyons et disons manque de vérité, de droiture et de justice, qu’on apporte du feu ici même, et entrons-y. [Épreuve du feu]

Paul demanda quand cela se produirait.

― Je ne me lèverai pas de ce trône tant que le feu ne sera pas allumé.

Ainsi, pensant pendant un moment que les paroles de l’empereur n’étaient que des paroles en l’air, Paul donna son accord. Cependant, quand il fut convaincu que les paroles n’étaient pas si simples et vides, mais plutôt fermes, il protesta immédiatement.

― Je veux vivre, pas mourir.

― Moi aussi, je veux la même chose, mais ayant une assurance ferme que, avec l’aide de Dieu, je ne serai pas brûlé pour la vraie doctrine, je relève le défi du feu. De plus, cela vous sera utile, mais il semble que vous hésitiez par doute sur votre foi, [craignant] la mort.


3.19 English

After being silent for a while, the emperor asked Paul, “What do you think of what I said?” Paul said, “I speak the truth, I do not lie; what you say is good, true, and just. Only one thing remains: you need to go to the pope, and when that is done, many good things will come to pass.” The emperor responded, “I think it is foolish to want to cross a river without first considering how to get to the other side, to jump in blindly and foolishly. I use this example in relation to your words. For what you say and strongly affirm now is the same thing as said by the pope. So, if you are pleased with my words and counsel as stated, the matter is resolved. Otherwise, if I go there, I will hear the same words as those you are addressing to me today, and since I will tell him what I am telling you, my journey to him will be pointless.

3.19 French

Après être resté silencieux un moment,

― Que pensez-vous de ce que j’ai dit ?

― Je dis la vérité, je ne mens pas ; ce que vous dites est bon, vrai et juste. Une seule chose reste : votre visite au pape, et une fois que cela sera fait, beaucoup de bonnes choses se produiront.

― Je pense qu’il est insensé de vouloir traverser une rivière sans d’abord considérer comment arriver de l’autre côté, d’y sauter aveuglément et sottement. J’utilise cet exemple par rapport à vos paroles. Car ce que vous dites et affirmez fortement maintenant est la même chose que celle dite par le pape. Donc, si mes paroles et la proposition telle qu’elle est formulée vous plaisent, la question est résolue. Sinon, si je vais là-bas, j’entendrai les mêmes paroles que celles que vous m’adressez aujourd’hui, et comme je lui dirai ce que je vous dis, mon voyage vers lui sera inutile.


3.20 English

Paul says, “You, O Emperor, are firmly seated at the height of your imperial authority, and you say no to visiting the pope; that is why you do not want to go to him. ” [You do not want to leave your imperial authority.]

The emperor: “The emperors before me, as I judge, and I am certain of this, rightly and reasonably did not go to him. I [will] allow [you] to speak in fuller detail on this matter a little later, so that we do not neglect the subject at hand and devote ourselves to secondary matters. For the sake of Church unity, I would go to him not only with horses and ships, but also on foot, even if he were at the ends of the earth. And everyone who goes to him kisses his feet, which is a great wonder to me, but for the sake of Church unity, as it is said, I would not only kiss his feet, but also those of his mule. I would even kiss the ground it treads on.”

3.20 French

― Toi, ô Empereur, tu es fermement installé à la hauteur de ton autorité impériale, et tu déclines de visiter le pape ; c’est pourquoi tu ne veux pas aller le voir. [L’empereur ne veut pas abandonner son autorité impériale.]

― Les empereurs avant moi, comme je l’estime, et j’en suis certain, n’allaient pas justement et raisonnablement vers le pape. Je [vous] permets de parler tout à l’heure de cette question en plus grand détail, afin de ne pas négliger le vrai sujet et de [ne pas] nous consacrer aux questions secondaires. Pour l’unité de l’Église, j’irais voir le pape non seulement avec des chevaux et des navires, mais aussi à pied, même s’il était aux extrémités de la terre. Et quiconque va le voir embrasse ses pieds, ce qui est pour moi un grand étonnement. Mais pour l’unité de l’Église, comme on le dit, je n’embrasserais pas seulement ses pieds, mais aussi ceux de sa mule. J’embrasserais même le sol qu’elle foule.


3.21 English

Paul said, “If you accept my words and go to him in order to fulfill his will, which is both just and honorable, the pope will not only give you power in a different way on the borders, but also the very ring which he wears is destined to be yours. However, if not, know that a great and mighty power is coming and will fall on you; you will have to endure great and dreadful things.”

3.21 French

― Si tu acceptes mes paroles et que tu vas le voir afin d’accomplir sa volonté, qui est à la fois juste et honorable, le pape te donnera non seulement du pouvoir d’une manière différente aux frontières, mais aussi l’anneau même qu’il porte est destiné à être le tien. Cependant, si ce n’est pas le cas, sache qu’une grande et puissante force s’approche et s’abattra sur toi, et tu devras endurer des choses grandes et redoutables.


3.22 English

And the emperor, smiling a little, said to him: “The alliance binds the ring to something superior. It is indeed possible for the pope to give his mantle along with the ring, and nothing more. Thus, your word will be fulfilled, but for us there will be nothing useful resulting from it. I said this in jest, but now I say seriously that if what is said by the pope and you is found to be correct and true doctrine, we alone will accept these things willingly, without any assistance or gift. Otherwise, if not, neither fire nor dagger, nor sword will be able to turn us away from the true and correct doctrines. For we have the one who said, “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” and again, “No one can snatch my sheep out of the hand of my Father.” Therefore, no one will be able to snatch the sheep found in the hand of Christ, even if they kill ten thousand bodies.

3.22 French

Et l’empereur, esquissant un léger sourire
― L’alliance lie l’anneau à quelque chose de supérieur. Il est en effet possible pour le pape de donner son manteau avec l’anneau, et rien de plus. Ainsi, ta parole sera accomplie, mais pour nous, il n’en résultera rien d’utile. J’ai dit cela en plaisantant, mais maintenant je le dis sérieusement : si ce que dit le pape et ce que tu dis se révèlent être une doctrine correcte et vraie, nous accepterons ces choses volontiers, sans aide ni cadeau. Autrement, si ce n’est pas le cas, ni le feu ni le poignard ni l’épée ne pourront nous détourner des doctrines vraies et correctes. Car nous avons celui qui a dit : « Ne craignez pas ceux qui peuvent tuer le corps, mais ne peuvent tuer l’âme », et encore, « Personne ne peut arracher mes brebis de la main de mon Père ». Par conséquent, personne ne pourra arracher les brebis trouvées dans la main du Christ, même s’ils tuent dix mille corps.


3.23 English

Paul said, “I consider those Christians among the infidels to be no different from the infidels themselves, since they hear the name of Christ blasphemed every day and endure it.” The emperor replied to him, “I do not regard all of them, as you say, as infidels, but many of them I consider superior and more devout than many right here. For they, though delivered into captivity and subjected to the judgments of the infidels—why? God knows—cannot easily escape from there, yet they hold their faith and piety more steadfastly [than we do]. Some here go over to the other side; others, not going over but inclined to do so, remain here not wanting to do it. That is why I said that I consider those there to be orthodox, but those [here] infidels. But the final judgment of these matters is known to God, the righteous judge. But the fact that Christians in captivity, hearing the name of God blasphemed, are not harmed at all is evident from this that the renowned and holy martyrs, located among the idolatrous infidels, being Christians and hearing blasphemy against God, were not harmed by it. Those who died a natural death, not being martyrs, left a record of their deeds, while those whom the opportunity called and who voluntarily endured the death of martyrdom gained eternal and incorruptible crowns.”

3.23 French

― Je considère que les chrétiens parmi les infidèles ne diffèrent en rien des infidèles eux-mêmes, puisqu’ils entendent le nom du Christ blasphémé chaque jour et le supportent.

― Je ne les considère pas tous, comme tu le dis, comme des infidèles, mais beaucoup d’entre eux je les estime supérieurs et plus dévots que beaucoup ici. Car eux, bien qu’ayant été livrés en captivité et soumis aux jugements des infidèles — pourquoi ? Seul Dieu le sait — ne peuvent pas facilement s’échapper de là, mais ils tiennent leur foi et leur piété de manière plus ferme [que nous]. Certains ici passent de l’autre côté, mais d’autres, ne passant pas, sont enclins à le faire ; quand même, ils restent ici ne voulant pas le faire. C’est pourquoi j’ai dit que je considère ceux là-bas comme orthodoxes, mais ceux [ici] comme infidèles. Mais le jugement final de ces questions est connu de Dieu, le juste juge. Le fait que les chrétiens en captivité entendant le nom du Christ blasphémé ne soient pas du tout blessés est évident du fait que les martyrs renommés et saints, situés parmi les infidèles idolâtres, étant chrétiens et entendant le blasphème contre Dieu, n’ont pas été blessés par cela. Ceux qui sont morts d’une mort naturelle, n’étant pas des martyrs, ont laissé des documents de leurs actes, tandis que ceux que l’occasion appelait et qui ont volontairement enduré la mort du martyre ont acquis des couronnes éternelles et incorruptibles.


3.24 English

So, these words having been spoken, the conversation came to an end. After a brief pause, the emperor asked once more, starting from a different point, “What do you think, O High Priest? If the words spoken are unjust, then prove the injustice, but if they are true and just, be persuaded by my words and counsel.”

And Paul replied, “In the presence of Christ and the truth, just as I said before, I say again now that the things you have said are holy, beautiful, and true. For this reason, I embrace and welcome the coming of the synod.”

3.24 French

Ainsi, ces paroles ayant été prononcées, la conversation prit fin. Après une courte pause, l’empereur posa une fois de plus une question, en changeant de sujet :

― Que penses-tu, ô Grand Prêtre ? Si les paroles prononcées sont injustes, alors prouve l’injustice, mais si elles sont vraies et justes, sois persuadé par mes paroles et conseils.

― En présence du Christ et de la vérité, tout comme je l’ai dit auparavant, je le répète maintenant, que les choses que vous avez dites sont saintes, belles et vraies. Pour cette raison, j’accepte et je salue la convocation du synode.


3.25 English

And the emperor said, “Let my action and words be clear and evident, so that there is no need for further explanation. If you wish the affairs of this ecumenical council to be like the previous ecumenical councils, that is good, and there will be no word [argument against it]. However, if you come as teachers of truth, we will not welcome you as teachers. And if you come as judges, this is worse, for how can you be both judges and opponents at the same time? But if you come in a friendly and brotherly manner, seeking truth from the heart and desiring peace and harmony, without contention and arrogance, this is acceptable to God, and pleasing to us, his servants. So, coming together, let us examine the things that have been said, and let us all be of one mind, to the glory of the Holy God. If God, who governs and upholds all things, grants to those whom he knows [a favorable] judgment [which resolves the disagreements], and still differences and disputes are found among us, let there not be, because of them, a rupture between us, nor a greater schism. But let each Church remain in the position it will find itself in. And from our souls, let us seek the peacemaking God and beseech him to send us his holy peace and unity, as he knows best.”

3.25 French

― Que mes actes et mes paroles soient clairs et évidents, de sorte qu’il n’y ait pas besoin d’explications supplémentaires. Si vous souhaitez que les affaires de ce concile œcuménique soient comme les conciles œcuméniques précédents, c’est bien et il n’y aura pas d’argument contre. Cependant, si vous venez en tant qu’enseignants de la vérité, nous ne vous accueillerons pas en tant qu’enseignants. Et si vous venez en tant que juges, c’est pire, car comment pouvez-vous être juge et partie en même temps ? Mais si vous venez de manière amicale et fraternelle, cherchant la vérité du cœur et désirant la paix et l’harmonie, sans controverse ni arrogance, cela sera acceptable à Dieu, et agréable à nous, ses serviteurs. Ainsi, réunissons-nous, examinons les choses qui ont été dites, et soyons tous d’un même esprit, à la gloire du Saint Dieu. Si Dieu, qui gouverne et supporte toutes choses, accorde aux personnes qu’il connaît un jugement [favorable qui résout les désaccords], et que malgré cela des différences et des disputes subsistent entre nous, que cela ne provoque ni de rupture ni d’hostilité entre nous ni de plus grand schisme. Mais que chaque Église reste sur les positions où elle se trouvera. Et de nos âmes, recherchons le Dieu pacificateur et demandons-lui de nous envoyer sa sainte paix et son unité, selon ce qu’il sait être le meilleur.


3.26 English

After saying these things, the emperor confirmed them, and Paul agreed that the convoked synod be held and restored [as the earlier councils] in Constantinople. It was ordered to hold the council from the beginning of the month of June, on the fifth day of the indiction, of the year 6875, until the end month of May, on the seventh day of the indiction.

3.26 French

Après avoir prononcé ces paroles, l’empereur les confirma, et Paul acquiesça que ce synode ainsi convoqué soit tenu et rétabli [comme les conciles de jadis] à Constantinople. Il fut ordonné de tenir le synode du début du mois de juin, le cinquième jour de l’indiction, de l’année 6875, jusqu’à la fin du mois de mai, le septième jour de l’indiction.


1 Fr. Marcel Richard, during his journey to Mount Athos in July 1959, kindly compared the two Lavra manuscripts for us and transcribed the missing passages in the fifteenth-century manuscript. Here we express our gratitude to him.

2 We have not included these passages since we have provided translations of the Greek.

3 According to Philotheos, Cantacuzenus had prepared his plan for retirement along with a group of friends, including himself and Nicholas Cabasilas. Demetrios Cydones was also part of this circle.

4 George Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1969, p. 531.

5 Against Gregoras XII, PG, CLI, col. 1129 BC.

6 Cantacuzenus too speaks to him of the friendly relations that tied him to the “young emperor” and praises him.

7 For prominent figures, donning monastic attire often symbolized a somewhat theoretical abandonment of secular interests. In this regard, it is sufficient to mention the contemporary example of Irene-Eulogia Choumnos, the widow of Despot John Palaeologos.

8 In his History, Cantacuzenus does not conceal his joy regarding this event and reciprocates the compliments that Patriarch Philotheos directed to him.

9 Cantacuzenus speaks only of a desire he had in 1354 to retire to the Athonite Monastery of Vatopedi. Some authors erroneously claim an actual stay on Athos.

10 Regarding Cantacuzenus’s correspondence, he was in contact with the regions of Asia Minor occupied by the Turks, as well as Cyprus, Egypt, Trebizond, and Cherson. A letter from Cantacuzenus dedicated to this subject and addressed to a bishop in Cyprus was recently published by J. Darrouzès, Revue des études byzantines XVII, 1959, pp. 7–27.

11 Ostrogorsky, History, pp. 535–538.

12 Halecki analyzes very well the elements that caused Urban V to abandon the rigorist policy of Innocent VI which he had himself followed at the beginning of his pontificate.

13 The brother of Elisabeth, Casimir the Great, king of Poland, in a letter to Patriarch Philotheos of Constantinople, dated 1370, also threatens to “baptize” the Russians of Galicia into the Latin faith. It appears that the practice of rebaptizing Orthodox Christians who embraced the Roman faith was common in Central and Eastern Europe, as the rulers of these countries were somewhat indifferent to the canonical practices accepted in Rome.

14 The date given in our document (year 6875, 5th indication—September 1366–1367) is confirmed by the valuable Account Book of Amadeus of Savoy: January 23–27 to February 14, 1367.

15 In the letter to the Bulgarian patriarch, written after the end of the negotiations, Philotheos avoids mentioning the episcopal title of Paul and simply refers to him as a “Western bishop.”

16 It is also worth noting the presence of Cantacuzenus’s “spiritual master,” Mark, alongside him. Perhaps this latter figure could be identified as the monk Mark Kurtos, who had played a certain role as a theologian and Palamite polemicist during the civil war of 1341–1347.

17 Louis of Hungary indeed contemplated extending his advance into the Balkan Peninsula all the way to Constantinople.

18 Cantacuzenus’s perspective, which led him to accept the alliance with Emir Orhan, was quite prevalent in Byzantine circles. It is known that Gregory Palamas, who spent a year in captivity among the Turks, gave a favorable description of the life of Christians in occupied Asia Minor and hoped for the conversion of the Turks to Christianity.

19 The Serbian archbishopric of Peć had been elevated to the rank of a patriarchate by the will of Stefan Dušan in 1346 and, as a result, incurred excommunication pronounced by the patriarch of Constantinople, Callistus. The schism would not be resolved until 1375. Without granting it the usurped title of patriarch, which Constantinople would nonetheless tolerate after 1375, Cantacuzenus anticipates its presence at the planned council. The differences between Serbs and Greeks appeared minor to him; it will be his friend Philotheos who will preside over the reconciliation in 1375.

20 Since the thirteenth century, the Empire of Trebizond had been entirely independent of Byzantium. However, the metropolitan was still appointed by Constantinople. Lazarus, who held the see of Trebizond from 1364 to 1368, had been in epistolary and political relations with Constantinople.

21 The Alans, a people living in the northeast of the Caucasus, were converted by Byzantine missionaries in the 10th century. The diocese of Alania has been mentioned in Byzantine sources since that time. The signature of Metropolitan Laurence of Alania thus appears at the bottom of the synodal tome of 1341 against Barlaam the Calabrian. His successor, Simeon, was deposed by Patriarch Callistus in 1356 and reinstated upon the return of Philotheos in 1365.

22 Zyakia was also located north of the Caucasus, on the Black Sea coast. The archbishopric of Zyakia was promoted to a metropolitan see during the reign of Andronicus II.

23 This preface talks about the arrival of Paul in 6877 (1369). It explains that the legate was misinformed about the dogmatic decisions of 1351. Cantacuzenus convoked him to the palace and explained to him, on many occasions, the position of the Church. These oral debates were later transcribed in the form of a correspondence, possibly by Cantacuzenus himself. The date given in the preface for Paul’s arrival (1369) is clearly problematic. As we have seen, the legate arrived in the spring of 1367, returned again with Urban V’s response in the fall of the same year, and was still in the capital in October 1368. He left for Viterbo, where the pope resided, at the end of August 1369, to announce the imminent arrival of John V. The most likely hypothesis regarding the “Cantacuzenus-Paul correspondence” is that the actual debates took place in 1367 when the council seemed like a feasible project. As for the “correspondence,” it was later compiled and published by Cantacuzenus as an overall result of his interactions with Paul.

24 The treatise of Theophanes presents itself as an answer to a letter, the first of Paul’s letters to Cantacuzenus.

25 In his work Opuscula aurea theologica, Arcudius published a letter from Paul to Urban V that mentions the dialogues between the legate and Cantacuzenus concerning Palamism, as well as the written report that the former emperor gave of these debates. According to this letter, Paul remained completely impervious to Cantacuzenus’s explanations. However, the authenticity of this letter is highly doubtful. We only have a Greek text of it from the fifteenth century, which is a compilation that is not very reliable. The title is quite unusual, and the content resembles some sort of encyclical. The piece is likely a forgery intended to discredit Palamism among the Latins.

26 See the letter from Urban V, written in 1369. The Chronicle of Savoy recounts John V’s prolonged hesitations before reaching an agreement; the emperor only yielded to the insistence of his uncle, Amadeus of Savoy.

27 Twenty-three papal bulls were sent on November 6 by Urban V to various Byzantine figures.

28 In an article written in 1923 but only published in 1931, A. A. Vasiliev ascribed the conversion of John V the value of a true union of the Churches. O. Halecki, in his seminal work on John V, has convincingly shown that such an interpretation was inaccurate and has placed the events of 1369 in a more modest perspective.

29 Cantacuzenus, History IV, 9, Bonn Edition III, pp. 58–60.

30 Because we have made translations of the Greek text found in Fr. John’s article, we have not included or translated his summary of each section of the Dialogue. To find the summaries, see the original French text.

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