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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe

VIII: The Crusade of Varna,   pp. 276-310 PDF (14.1 MB)

Page 282

tin V died on February 20, 1431, a Greek embassy was en route to Rome to
discuss a union council. It turned back at Gallipoli when news of the pope's
death reached the emissaries. 
 Eugenius IV (1431-1447) continued Martin's policies, and fully accepted
the concept of convening an ecumenical council to end the schism and reunite
the Latin Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. In competition with the conciliarist
prelates of the Council of Base!, who "deposed" him on January 24, 1438,
he conducted lengthy and intricate negotiations with John VIII, resulting
in the emperor's arrival at Ferrara in March 1438, accompanied by the patriarch
Joseph II and other Greek prelates. On April 9 the council, considered by
the papacy but not by the conciliarists a continuation of the Council of
Basel, was formally opened. Early in 1439 fear of the plague led it to move
to Florence, where intensive discussion culminated in a decree of union,
signed on July 5 by Latin and Greek participants, including the emperor.
 This act of union represented an agreement based on political necessity,
which was accepted by the higher Greek clergy. It did not take into account
the hatred of the Latins by the Byzantine population and the regular clergy,
who would unite successfully to prevent its implementation. Nevertheless,
Eugenius could point to a very solid achievement, one which tipped the scales
decisively in his favor in his struggle with the conciliarists. Thereafter
Eugenius steadily reestablished papal authority. He could claim the overwhelming
acceptance of union by the Byzantine hierarchy, supported by the patriarchs
of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, as well as envoys of Alexius IV Comnenus,
the emperor of Trebizond, the Georgians, Ruthenians, and Wallachians. John
left Florence on August 26 and sailed from Venice on October 19, arriving
home on February 1, 1440, only to learn of his wife's death and to face strong
opposition to union. 
 In January 1439, well before the formal consummation of union, John VIII
had had Isidore of Kiev open negotiations for aid from the papacy and the
western rulers. Eugenius had responded with a delegation of three cardinals,
who promised that the pope would provide the Greeks with transport and with
three hundred soldiers and two ships as a permanent garrison for Constantinople.
If the city were attacked, Eugenius would send ten ships for a year or twenty
for six months, and if an army were needed the pope would attempt to have
the European rulers send contingents to form a united army. John agreed to
these proposals and requested that this agreement be placed in writing and
sealed, and that arrangements be made with banks in Venice, 

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