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

VII: The Ottoman Turks and the Crusades, 1329-1451,   pp. 222-275 PDF (24.1 MB)

Page 268

 The negotiations for the union of the Greek church with Rome and for a crusade
were taken up in Rome more zealously than ever when, in the wake of the fall
of Thessalonica, the Byzantines had serious fears of the Ottoman capture
of Constantinople. The Golden Horn was then closed off by the chain at its
entrance. Emperor John VIII Palaeologus (1425—1448) himself left for
Italy on November 24, 1437, to attend the council in Ferrara (and then, from
February 1439 on, in Florence) and finally to conclude the union of the Latin
Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. This time high dignitaries of the Greek
church, including the patriarch Joseph II, accompanied the emperor. The union
of the churches was declared in Florence on July 6, 1439. For the crusade,
the real objective of the Greeks, a plan was offered to the council by John
Torcello (or Torzello), the emperor's "chambellan".'37 In their efforts to
persuade the west to launch a crusade, the Greeks claimed that to defeat
the Ottomans it was sufficient to invade the Balkans with a crusading army
of 80,000. In the Balkans, he added, not only would the regular forces of
the Serbian despotate, the Greeks of the Morea, and the Albanians join the
crusaders, but also Christian soldiers in the service of the sultan, 50,000
in number, would desert to the side of the west. According to Torcello, the
bulk of the Ottoman soldiery were not as well armed as the westerners. To
sell the project the Greeks further asserted that the recovery of the Holy
Land would be an easy task for the westerners after the Ottomans' defeat.'38
 The union was the decision of the ruling elite, who saw the sole hope for
the salvation of Byzantium in full cooperation with the west. It was, however,
a decisive step which opened a critical period ending with the fall of Byzantium.
139 Thus far the emperors, anticipating the protests of the conservative
Orthodox masses and a strong reaction on the part of the Ottomans, had acted
with caution on this matter. As soon as John VIII was back in Constantinople,
the sultan sent an envoy to inquire about what had occurred in Florence.
The emperor tried to conceal the real political objective of the union,14°
but as is clear from the contemporary Ottoman sources'41 the Ottomans were
fully aware of the negotiations for preparation of a crusade against 
 137. On Torcello see ibid., II, 68, note 103. 
 138. Torcello's report is in Bertrandon of La Brocquière, ed. Schefer,
and see La Brocquière's criticisms, pp. 263—274; cf. Setton,
The Papacy, II, 69, note 107. 
 139. Sphrantzes, ed. Bekker, p. 173; ed. Vasile Grecu (Bucharest, 1966),
p. 178. 
 140. Ducas, op. cit., tr. Magoulias, p. 181. 
 141. Ghazavât-iSultân Murâd, pp. 2—4; see also FerIdün,
op. cit., I, 613-614, and Paris, Bibl. nat., MS. arabe no. 4434, fols. 133"~138".

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