Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 6, by Edward Gibbon, , at sacred-texts.com
During the period of the crusades, the Greeks beheld with astonishment and terror the perpetual stream of emigration that flowed, and continued to flow, from the unknown climates of their West. The visits of their last emperors removed the veil of separation, and they disclosed to their eyes the powerful nations of Europe, whom they no longer presumed to brand with the name of Barbarians. The observations of Manuel, and his more inquisitive followers, have been preserved by a Byzantine historian of the times: 22 his scattered ideas I shall collect and abridge; and it may be amusing enough, perhaps instructive, to contemplate the rude pictures of Germany, France, and England, whose ancient and modern state are so familiar to our minds. I. Germany (says the Greek Chalcondyles) is of ample latitude from Vienna to the ocean; and it stretches (a strange geography) from Prague in Bohemia to the River Tartessus, and the Pyrenaean Mountains. 23 The soil, except in figs and olives, is sufficiently fruitful; the air is salubrious; the bodies of the natives are robust and healthy; and these cold regions are seldom visited with the calamities of pestilence, or earthquakes. After the Scythians or Tartars, the Germans are the most numerous of nations: they are brave and patient; and were they united under a single head, their force would be irresistible. By the gift of the pope, they have acquired the privilege of choosing the Roman emperor; 24 nor is any people more devoutly attached to the faith and obedience of the Latin patriarch. The greatest part of the country is divided among the princes and prelates; but Strasburg, Cologne, Hamburgh, and more than two hundred free cities, are governed by sage and equal laws, according to the will, and for the advantage, of the whole community. The use of duels, or single combats on foot, prevails among them in peace and war: their industry excels in all the mechanic arts; and the Germans may boast of the invention of gunpowder and cannon, which is now diffused over the greatest part of the world. II. The kingdom of France is spread above fifteen or twenty days' journey from Germany to Spain, and from the Alps to the British Ocean; containing many flourishing cities, and among these Paris, the seat of the king, which surpasses the rest in riches and luxury. Many princes and lords alternately wait in his palace, and acknowledge him as their sovereign: the most powerful are the dukes of Bretagne and Burgundy; of whom the latter possesses the wealthy province of Flanders, whose harbors are frequented by the ships and merchants of our own, and the more remote, seas. The French are an ancient and opulent people; and their language and manners, though somewhat different, are not dissimilar from those of the Italians. Vain of the Imperial dignity of Charlemagne, of their victories over the Saracens, and of the exploits of their heroes, Oliver and Rowland, 25 they esteem themselves the first of the western nations; but this foolish arrogance has been recently humbled by the unfortunate events of their wars against the English, the inhabitants of the British island. III. Britain, in the ocean, and opposite to the shores of Flanders, may be considered either as one, or as three islands; but the whole is united by a common interest, by the same manners, and by a similar government. The measure of its circumference is five thousand stadia: the land is overspread with towns and villages: though destitute of wine, and not abounding in fruit-trees, it is fertile in wheat and barley; in honey and wool; and much cloth is manufactured by the inhabitants. In populousness and power, in richness and luxury, London, 26 the metropolis of the isle, may claim a preeminence over all the cities of the West. It is situate on the Thames, a broad and rapid river, which at the distance of thirty miles falls into the Gallic Sea; and the daily flow and ebb of the tide affords a safe entrance and departure to the vessels of commerce. The king is head of a powerful and turbulent aristocracy: his principal vassals hold their estates by a free and unalterable tenure; and the laws define the limits of his authority and their obedience. The kingdom has been often afflicted by foreign conquest and domestic sedition: but the natives are bold and hardy, renowned in arms and victorious in war. The form of their shields or targets is derived from the Italians, that of their swords from the Greeks; the use of the long bow is the peculiar and decisive advantage of the English. Their language bears no affinity to the idioms of the Continent: in the habits of domestic life, they are not easily distinguished from their neighbors of France: but the most singular circumstance of their manners is their disregard of conjugal honor and of female chastity. In their mutual visits, as the first act of hospitality, the guest is welcomed in the embraces of their wives and daughters: among friends they are lent and borrowed without shame; nor are the islanders offended at this strange commerce, and its inevitable consequences. 27 Informed as we are of the customs of Old England and assured of the virtue of our mothers, we may smile at the credulity, or resent the injustice, of the Greek, who must have confounded a modest salute 28 with a criminal embrace. But his credulity and injustice may teach an important lesson; to distrust the accounts of foreign and remote nations, and to suspend our belief of every tale that deviates from the laws of nature and the character of man. 29
After his return, and the victory of Timour, Manuel reigned many years in prosperity and peace. As long as the sons of Bajazet solicited his friendship and spared his dominions, he was satisfied with the national religion; and his leisure was employed in composing twenty theological dialogues for its defence. The appearance of the Byzantine ambassadors at the council of Constance, 30 announces the restoration of the Turkish power, as well as of the Latin church: the conquest of the sultans, Mahomet and Amurath, reconciled the emperor to the Vatican; and the siege of Constantinople almost tempted him to acquiesce in the double procession of the Holy Ghost. When Martin the Fifth ascended without a rival the chair of St. Peter, a friendly intercourse of letters and embassies was revived between the East and West. Ambition on one side, and distress on the other, dictated the same decent language of charity and peace: the artful Greek expressed a desire of marrying his six sons to Italian princesses; and the Roman, not less artful, despatched the daughter of the marquis of Montferrat, with a company of noble virgins, to soften, by their charms, the obstinacy of the schismatics. Yet under this mask of zeal, a discerning eye will perceive that all was hollow and insincere in the court and church of Constantinople. According to the vicissitudes of danger and repose, the emperor advanced or retreated; alternately instructed and disavowed his ministers; and escaped from the importunate pressure by urging the duty of inquiry, the obligation of collecting the sense of his patriarchs and bishops, and the impossibility of convening them at a time when the Turkish arms were at the gates of his capital. From a review of the public transactions it will appear that the Greeks insisted on three successive measures, a succor, a council, and a final reunion, while the Latins eluded the second, and only promised the first, as a consequential and voluntary reward of the third. But we have an opportunity of unfolding the most secret intentions of Manuel, as he explained them in a private conversation without artifice or disguise. In his declining age, the emperor had associated John Palaeologus, the second of the name, and the eldest of his sons, on whom he devolved the greatest part of the authority and weight of government. One day, in the presence only of the historian Phranza, 31 his favorite chamberlain, he opened to his colleague and successor the true principle of his negotiations with the pope. 32 "Our last resource," said Manuel, against the Turks, "is their fear of our union with the Latins, of the warlike nations of the West, who may arm for our relief and for their destruction. As often as you are threatened by the miscreants, present this danger before their eyes. Propose a council; consult on the means; but ever delay and avoid the convocation of an assembly, which cannot tend either to our spiritual or temporal emolument. The Latins are proud; the Greeks are obstinate; neither party will recede or retract; and the attempt of a perfect union will confirm the schism, alienate the churches, and leave us, without hope or defence, at the mercy of the Barbarians." Impatient of this salutary lesson, the royal youth arose from his seat, and departed in silence; and the wise monarch (continued Phranza) casting his eyes on me, thus resumed his discourse: "My son deems himself a great and heroic prince; but, alas! our miserable age does not afford scope for heroism or greatness. His daring spirit might have suited the happier times of our ancestors; but the present state requires not an emperor, but a cautious steward of the last relics of our fortunes. Well do I remember the lofty expectations which he built on our alliance with Mustapha; and much do I fear, that this rash courage will urge the ruin of our house, and that even religion may precipitate our downfall." Yet the experience and authority of Manuel preserved the peace, and eluded the council; till, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, and in the habit of a monk, he terminated his career, dividing his precious movables among his children and the poor, his physicians and his favorite servants. Of his six sons, 33 Andronicus the Second was invested with the principality of Thessalonica, and died of a leprosy soon after the sale of that city to the Venetians and its final conquest by the Turks. Some fortunate incidents had restored Peloponnesus, or the Morea, to the empire; and in his more prosperous days, Manuel had fortified the narrow isthmus of six miles 34 with a stone wall and one hundred and fifty-three towers. The wall was overthrown by the first blast of the Ottomans; the fertile peninsula might have been sufficient for the four younger brothers, Theodore and Constantine, Demetrius and Thomas; but they wasted in domestic contests the remains of their strength; and the least successful of the rivals were reduced to a life of dependence in the Byzantine palace.
The eldest of the sons of Manuel, John Palaeologus the Second, was acknowledged, after his father's death, as the sole emperor of the Greeks. He immediately proceeded to repudiate his wife, and to contract a new marriage with the princess of Trebizond: beauty was in his eyes the first qualification of an empress; and the clergy had yielded to his firm assurance, that unless he might be indulged in a divorce, he would retire to a cloister, and leave the throne to his brother Constantine. The first, and in truth the only, victory of Palaeologus, was over a Jew, 35 whom, after a long and learned dispute, he converted to the Christian faith; and this momentous conquest is carefully recorded in the history of the times. But he soon resumed the design of uniting the East and West; and, regardless of his father's advice, listened, as it should seem with sincerity, to the proposal of meeting the pope in a general council beyond the Adriatic. This dangerous project was encouraged by Martin the Fifth, and coldly entertained by his successor Eugenius, till, after a tedious negotiation, the emperor received a summons from the Latin assembly of a new character, the independent prelates of Basil, who styled themselves the representatives and judges of the Catholic church. The Roman pontiff had fought and conquered in the cause of ecclesiastical freedom; but the victorious clergy were soon exposed to the tyranny of their deliverer; and his sacred character was invulnerable to those arms which they found so keen and effectual against the civil magistrate. Their great charter, the right of election, was annihilated by appeals, evaded by trusts or commendams, disappointed by reversionary grants, and superseded by previous and arbitrary reservations. 36 A public auction was instituted in the court of Rome: the cardinals and favorites were enriched with the spoils of nations; and every country might complain that the most important and valuable benefices were accumulated on the heads of aliens and absentees. During their residence at Avignon, the ambition of the popes subsided in the meaner passions of avarice 37 and luxury: they rigorously imposed on the clergy the tributes of first-fruits and tenths; but they freely tolerated the impunity of vice, disorder, and corruption. These manifold scandals were aggravated by the great schism of the West, which continued above fifty years. In the furious conflicts of Rome and Avignon, the vices of the rivals were mutually exposed; and their precarious situation degraded their authority, relaxed their discipline, and multiplied their wants and exactions. To heal the wounds, and restore the monarchy, of the church, the synods of Pisa and Constance 38 were successively convened; but these great assemblies, conscious of their strength, resolved to vindicate the privileges of the Christian aristocracy. From a personal sentence against two pontiffs, whom they rejected, and a third, their acknowledged sovereign, whom they deposed, the fathers of Constance proceeded to examine the nature and limits of the Roman supremacy; nor did they separate till they had established the authority, above the pope, of a general council. It was enacted, that, for the government and reformation of the church, such assemblies should be held at regular intervals; and that each synod, before its dissolution, should appoint the time and place of the subsequent meeting. By the influence of the court of Rome, the next convocation at Sienna was easily eluded; but the bold and vigorous proceedings of the council of Basil 39 had almost been fatal to the reigning pontiff, Eugenius the Fourth. A just suspicion of his design prompted the fathers to hasten the promulgation of their first decree, that the representatives of the church-militant on earth were invested with a divine and spiritual jurisdiction over all Christians, without excepting the pope; and that a general council could not be dissolved, prorogued, or transferred, unless by their free deliberation and consent. On the notice that Eugenius had fulminated a bull for that purpose, they ventured to summon, to admonish, to threaten, to censure the contumacious successor of St. Peter. After many delays, to allow time for repentance, they finally declared, that, unless he submitted within the term of sixty days, he was suspended from the exercise of all temporal and ecclesiastical authority. And to mark their jurisdiction over the prince as well as the priest, they assumed the government of Avignon, annulled the alienation of the sacred patrimony, and protected Rome from the imposition of new taxes. Their boldness was justified, not only by the general opinion of the clergy, but by the support and power of the first monarchs of Christendom: the emperor Sigismond declared himself the servant and protector of the synod; Germany and France adhered to their cause; the duke of Milan was the enemy of Eugenius; and he was driven from the Vatican by an insurrection of the Roman people. Rejected at the same time by temporal and spiritual subjects, submission was his only choice: by a most humiliating bull, the pope repealed his own acts, and ratified those of the council; incorporated his legates and cardinals with that venerable body; and seemed to resign himself to the decrees of the supreme legislature. Their fame pervaded the countries of the East: and it was in their presence that Sigismond received the ambassadors of the Turkish sultan, 40 who laid at his feet twelve large vases, filled with robes of silk and pieces of gold. The fathers of Basil aspired to the glory of reducing the Greeks, as well as the Bohemians, within the pale of the church; and their deputies invited the emperor and patriarch of Constantinople to unite with an assembly which possessed the confidence of the Western nations. Palaeologus was not averse to the proposal; and his ambassadors were introduced with due honors into the Catholic senate. But the choice of the place appeared to be an insuperable obstacle, since he refused to pass the Alps, or the sea of Sicily, and positively required that the synod should be adjourned to some convenient city in Italy, or at least on the Danube. The other articles of this treaty were more readily stipulated: it was agreed to defray the travelling expenses of the emperor, with a train of seven hundred persons, 41 to remit an immediate sum of eight thousand ducats 42 for the accommodation of the Greek clergy; and in his absence to grant a supply of ten thousand ducats, with three hundred archers and some galleys, for the protection of Constantinople. The city of Avignon advanced the funds for the preliminary expenses; and the embarkation was prepared at Marseilles with some difficulty and delay.
In his distress, the friendship of Palaeologus was disputed by the ecclesiastical powers of the West; but the dexterous activity of a monarch prevailed over the slow debates and inflexible temper of a republic. The decrees of Basil continually tended to circumscribe the despotism of the pope, and to erect a supreme and perpetual tribunal in the church. Eugenius was impatient of the yoke; and the union of the Greeks might afford a decent pretence for translating a rebellious synod from the Rhine to the Po. The independence of the fathers was lost if they passed the Alps: Savoy or Avignon, to which they acceded with reluctance, were described at Constantinople as situate far beyond the pillars of Hercules; 43 the emperor and his clergy were apprehensive of the dangers of a long navigation; they were offended by a haughty declaration, that after suppressing the new heresy of the Bohemians, the council would soon eradicate the old heresy of the Greeks. 44 On the side of Eugenius, all was smooth, and yielding, and respectful; and he invited the Byzantine monarch to heal by his presence the schism of the Latin, as well as of the Eastern, church. Ferrara, near the coast of the Adriatic, was proposed for their amicable interview; and with some indulgence of forgery and theft, a surreptitious decree was procured, which transferred the synod, with its own consent, to that Italian city. Nine galleys were equipped for the service at Venice, and in the Isle of Candia; their diligence anticipated the slower vessels of Basil: the Roman admiral was commissioned to burn, sink, and destroy; 45 and these priestly squadrons might have encountered each other in the same seas where Athens and Sparta had formerly contended for the preeminence of glory. Assaulted by the importunity of the factions, who were ready to fight for the possession of his person, Palaeologus hesitated before he left his palace and country on a perilous experiment. His father's advice still dwelt on his memory; and reason must suggest, that since the Latins were divided among themselves, they could never unite in a foreign cause. Sigismond dissuaded the unreasonable adventure; his advice was impartial, since he adhered to the council; and it was enforced by the strange belief, that the German Caesar would nominate a Greek his heir and successor in the empire of the West. 46 Even the Turkish sultan was a counsellor whom it might be unsafe to trust, but whom it was dangerous to offend. Amurath was unskilled in the disputes, but he was apprehensive of the union, of the Christians. From his own treasures, he offered to relieve the wants of the Byzantine court; yet he declared with seeming magnanimity, that Constantinople should be secure and inviolate, in the absence of her sovereign. 47 The resolution of Palaeologus was decided by the most splendid gifts and the most specious promises: he wished to escape for a while from a scene of danger and distress and after dismissing with an ambiguous answer the messengers of the council, he declared his intention of embarking in the Roman galleys. The age of the patriarch Joseph was more susceptible of fear than of hope; he trembled at the perils of the sea, and expressed his apprehension, that his feeble voice, with thirty perhaps of his orthodox brethren, would be oppressed in a foreign land by the power and numbers of a Latin synod. He yielded to the royal mandate, to the flattering assurance, that he would be heard as the oracle of nations, and to the secret wish of learning from his brother of the West, to deliver the church from the yoke of kings. 48 The five cross-bearers, or dignitaries, of St.Sophia, were bound to attend his person; and one of these, the great ecclesiarch or preacher, Sylvester Syropulus, 49 has composed a free and curious history 50 of the false union. 51 Of the clergy that reluctantly obeyed the summons of the emperor and the patriarch, submission was the first duty, and patience the most useful virtue. In a chosen list of twenty bishops, we discover the metropolitan titles of Heracleae and Cyzicus, Nice and Nicomedia, Ephesus and Trebizond, and the personal merit of Mark and Bessarion who, in the confidence of their learning and eloquence, were promoted to the episcopal rank. Some monks and philosophers were named to display the science and sanctity of the Greek church; and the service of the choir was performed by a select band of singers and musicians. The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, appeared by their genuine or fictitious deputies; the primate of Russia represented a national church, and the Greeks might contend with the Latins in the extent of their spiritual empire. The precious vases of St. Sophia were exposed to the winds and waves, that the patriarch might officiate with becoming splendor: whatever gold the emperor could procure, was expended in the massy ornaments of his bed and chariot; 52 and while they affected to maintain the prosperity of their ancient fortune, they quarrelled for the division of fifteen thousand ducats, the first alms of the Roman pontiff. After the necessary preparations, John Palaeologus, with a numerous train, accompanied by his brother Demetrius, and the most respectable persons of the church and state, embarked in eight vessels with sails and oars which steered through the Turkish Straits of Gallipoli to the Archipelago, the Morea, and the Adriatic Gulf. 53
22 The Greek and Turkish history of Laonicus Chalcondyles ends with the winter of 1463; and the abrupt conclusion seems to mark, that he laid down his pen in the same year. We know that he was an Athenian, and that some contemporaries of the same name contributed to the revival of the Greek language in Italy. But in his numerous digressions, the modest historian has never introduced himself; and his editor Leunclavius, as well as Fabricius, (Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 474,) seems ignorant of his life and character. For his descriptions of Germany, France, and England, see l. ii. p. 36, 37, 44 - 50.
23 I shall not animadvert on the geographical errors of Chalcondyles. In this instance, he perhaps followed, and mistook, Herodotus, (l. ii. c. 33,) whose text may be explained, (Herodote de Larcher, tom. ii. p. 219, 220,) or whose ignorance may be excused. Had these modern Greeks never read Strabo, or any of their lesser geographers?
24 A citizen of new Rome, while new Rome survived, would have scorned to dignify the German with titles: but all pride was extinct in the bosom of Chalcondyles; and he describes the Byzantine prince, and his subject, by the proper, though humble, names.
25 Most of the old romances were translated in the xivth century into French prose, and soon became the favorite amusement of the knights and ladies in the court of Charles VI. If a Greek believed in the exploits of Rowland and Oliver, he may surely be excused, since the monks of St. Denys, the national historians, have inserted the fables of Archbishop Turpin in their Chronicles of France.
26 Even since the time of Fitzstephen, (the xiith century,) London appears to have maintained this preeminence of wealth and magnitude; and her gradual increase has, at least, kept pace with the general improvement of Europe.
27 If the double sense of the verb (osculor, and in utero gero) be equivocal, the context and pious horror of Chalcondyles can leave no doubt of his meaning and mistake, (p. 49.)
Note: I can discover no "pious horror" in the plain manner in which Chalcondyles relates this strange usage. Gibbon is possibly right as to the origin of this extraordinary mistake. - M.
28 Erasmus (Epist. Fausto Andrelino) has a pretty passage on the English fashion of kissing strangers on their arrival and departure, from whence, however, he draws no scandalous inferences.
29 Perhaps we may apply this remark to the community of wives among the old Britons, as it is supposed by Caesar and Dion, (Dion Cassius, l. lxii. tom. ii. p. 1007,) with Reimar's judicious annotation. The Arreoy of Otaheite, so certain at first, is become less visible and scandalous, in proportion as we have studied the manners of that gentle and amorous people.
30 See Lenfant, Hist. du Concile de Constance, tom. ii. p. 576; and or the ecclesiastical history of the times, the Annals of Spondanus the Bibliotheque of Dupin, tom. xii., and xxist and xxiid volumes of the History, or rather the Continuation, of Fleury.
31 From his early youth, George Phranza, or Phranzes, was employed in the service of the state and palace; and Hanckius (de Script. Byzant. P. i. c. 40) has collected his life from his own writings. He was no more than four-and-twenty years of age at the death of Manuel, who recommended him in the strongest terms to his successor: Imprimis vero hunc Phranzen tibi commendo, qui ministravit mihi fideliter et diligenter (Phranzes, l. ii. c. i.) Yet the emperor John was cold, and he preferred the service of the despots of Peloponnesus.
32 See Phranzes, l. ii. c. 13. While so many manuscripts of the Greek original are extant in the libraries of Rome, Milan, the Escurial, &c., it is a matter of shame and reproach, that we should be reduced to the Latin version, or abstract, of James Pontanus, (ad calcem Theophylact, Simocattae: Ingolstadt, 1604,) so deficient in accuracy and elegance, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 615 - 620.)
Note: The Greek text of Phranzes was edited by F. C. Alter Vindobonae. It has been re-edited by Bekker for the new edition of the Byzantines, Bonn, 1838 - M.
33 See Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 243 - 248.
34 The exact measure of the Hexamilion, from sea to sea, was 3800 orgyiae, or toises, of six Greek feet, (Phranzes, l. i. c. 38,) which would produce a Greek mile, still smaller than that of 660 French toises, which is assigned by D'Anville, as still in use in Turkey. Five miles are commonly reckoned for the breadth of the isthmus. See the Travels of Spon, Wheeler and Chandler.
35 The first objection of the Jews is on the death of Christ: if it were voluntary, Christ was a suicide; which the emperor parries with a mystery. They then dispute on the conception of the Virgin, the sense of the prophecies, &c., (Phranzes, l. ii. c. 12, a whole chapter.)
36 In the treatise delle Materie Beneficiarie of Fra Paolo, (in the ivth volume of the last, and best, edition of his works,) the papal system is deeply studied and freely described. Should Rome and her religion be annihilated, this golden volume may still survive, a philosophical history, and a salutary warning.
37 Pope John XXII. (in 1334) left behind him, at Avignon, eighteen millions of gold florins, and the value of seven millions more in plate and jewels. See the Chronicle of John Villani, (l. xi. c. 20, in Muratori's Collection, tom. xiii. p. 765,) whose brother received the account from the papal treasurers. A treasure of six or eight millions sterling in the xivth century is enormous, and almost incredible.
38 A learned and liberal Protestant, M. Lenfant, has given a fair history of the councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basil, in six volumes in quarto; but the last part is the most hasty and imperfect, except in the account of the troubles of Bohemia.
39 The original acts or minutes of the council of Basil are preserved in the public library, in twelve volumes in folio. Basil was a free city, conveniently situate on the Rhine, and guarded by the arms of the neighboring and confederate Swiss. In 1459, the university was founded by Pope Pius II., (Aeneas Sylvius,) who had been secretary to the council. But what is a council, or a university, to the presses o Froben and the studies of Erasmus?
40 This Turkish embassy, attested only by Crantzius, is related with some doubt by the annalist Spondanus, A.D. 1433, No. 25, tom. i. p. 824
41 Syropulus, p. 19. In this list, the Greeks appear to have exceeded the real numbers of the clergy and laity which afterwards attended the emperor and patriarch, but which are not clearly specified by the great ecclesiarch. The 75,000 florins which they asked in this negotiation of the pope, (p. 9,) were more than they could hope or want.
42 I use indifferently the words ducat and florin, which derive their names, the former from the dukes of Milan, the latter from the republic of Florence. These gold pieces, the first that were coined in Italy, perhaps in the Latin world, may be compared in weight and value to one third of the English guinea.
43 At the end of the Latin version of Phranzes, we read a long Greek epistle or declamation of George of Trebizond, who advises the emperor to prefer Eugenius and Italy. He treats with contempt the schismatic assembly of Basil, the Barbarians of Gaul and Germany, who had conspired to transport the chair of St. Peter beyond the Alps. Was Constantinople unprovided with a map?
44 Syropulus (p. 26 - 31) attests his own indignation, and that of his countrymen; and the Basil deputies, who excused the rash declaration, could neither deny nor alter an act of the council.
45 The naval orders of the synod were less peremptory, and, till the hostile squadrons appeared, both parties tried to conceal their quarrel from the Greeks.
46 Syropulus mentions the hopes of Palaeologus, (p. 36,) and the last advice of Sigismond,(p. 57.) At Corfu, the Greek emperor was informed of his friend's death; had he known it sooner, he would have returned home,(p. 79.)
47 Phranzes himself, though from different motives, was of the advice of Amurath, (l. ii. c. 13.) Utinam ne synodus ista unquam fuisset, si tantes offensiones et detrimenta paritura erat. This Turkish embassy is likewise mentioned by Syropulus, (p. 58;) and Amurath kept his word. He might threaten, (p. 125, 219,) but he never attacked, the city.
48 The reader will smile at the simplicity with which he imparted these hopes to his favorites (p. 92.) Yet it would have been difficult for him to have practised the lessons of Gregory VII.
49 The Christian name of Sylvester is borrowed from the Latin calendar. In modern Greek, as a diminutive, is added to the end of words: nor can any reasoning of Creyghton, the editor, excuse his changing into Sguropulus, (Sguros, fuscus,) the Syropulus of his own manuscript, whose name is subscribed with his own hand in the acts of the council of Florence. Why might not the author be of Syrian extraction?
50 From the conclusion of the history, I should fix the date to the year 1444, four years after the synod, when great ecclesiarch had abdicated his office, (section xii. p. 330 - 350.) His passions were cooled by time and retirement; and, although Syropulus is often partial, he is never intemperate.
51 Vera historia unionis non veroe inter Graecos et Latinos, (Hagae Comitis, 1660, in folio,) was first published with a loose and florid version, by Robert Creyghton, chaplain to Charles II. in his exile. The zeal of the editor has prefixed a polemic title, for the beginning of the original is wanting. Syropulus may be ranked with the best of the Byzantine writers for the merit of his narration, and even of his style; but he is excluded from the orthodox collections of the councils.
52 Syropulus (p. 63) simply expresses his intention; and the Latin of Creyghton may afford a specimen of his florid paraphrase. Ut pompa circumductus noster Imperator Italiae populis aliquis deauratus Jupiter crederetur, aut Croesus ex opulenta Lydia.
53 Although I cannot stop to quote Syropulus for every fact, I will observe that the navigation of the Greeks from Constantinople to Venice and Ferrara is contained in the ivth section, (p. 67 - 100,) and that the historian has the uncommon talent of placing each scene before the reader's eye.